Lightweight MIDI keyboards for creating music on the road
No need to leave this recording essential behind.
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The MIDI keyboard is arguably the most indispensable tool for music recording available thanks to its sheer versatility. From the moment you plug it into your computer’s USB port, you can use it to play any sound you can think of, from drum kits to synthesizers to pianos to violins. Many MIDI keyboards are full-sized so as to mimic the feel of a traditional piano and to pack in a ton of features, but they’re not easy to travel with and so would do better as a studio fixture. That’s where the travel MIDI keyboard comes in: they’re light and small enough to fit in a backpack, perfect for writing music at the park or on the road, and every bit as able to run your software.
Check out our list of the best currently available travel MIDI keyboards.
Best overall: Akai Professional LPK25 Keyboard
This 13-inch slim keyboard from Akai is a perfectly portable MIDI control solution for traveling musicians and laptop recording rigs. Weighing in at less than one pound, it’s got 25 velocity-sensitive keys, octave up and down buttons, and an arpeggiator function to help you create impossible melodies and textures. The included software allows users customized control of the keyboard’s functionality so you can tailor it to your specific workflow and preferences. Four onboard memory banks can store different settings to recall at a later time so you can tweak to your liking without fear.
Most versatile: Alesis V25 Keyboard Controller
While it’s not the smallest on this list, the Alesis V25 is still considerably portable and tote-bag ready at just under two feet long and eight inches wide. Its 25 velocity-sensitive keys are full-sized, which makes playing more technically demanding parts much easier. Plus, its eight onboard drum pads are a perfect size, and right within reach for every impromptu beat you dream up. The included software suite comes with an editor with which you can set knob functionality and adjust the buttons’ sensitivity to your liking. If you’ve got room in your bag, you won’t be disappointed by the well-rounded and comfortable functionality of the V25.
Most portable: Korg nanoKEY 2 25-Key Midi Controller
Those looking to maximize space in their bag and look good doing it will love the stylish Korg nanoKEY 2 and its incredibly thin 15-millimeter profile. Its decidedly understated design belies the advanced capabilities sitting under the hood, including velocity-sensitive keys and a sustain button in place of the traditional pedal, something many keyboards usually lack entirely. Available in white, black, and a few limited edition colors, the nanoKEY 2 is a rugged, stylish, and durable MIDI keyboard for every musician’s book bag.
Budget pick: Lujex Roll Up Piano
Coming in as most unconventional on the list, this roll-up keyboard from Lujex isn’t something you see every day, but it may be just the thing you need. It boasts an interesting form factor; its full 88-key keyboard lays perfectly flat on any table and rolls up easily for storage and travel. It’s got an onboard speaker with instrument samples and demo songs if you’re just looking to practice, or you can hook it up to your computer via USB to use as a MIDI controller for your software. The keys aren’t velocity-sensitive, but for low-impact practice and recording this will more than do the trick.