Making music is great, but spending a lot of money is not. And buying gear can get expensive. So are there any inexpensive 25 key MIDI keyboards out there?
If you are looking for the best MIDI keyboards for under $100, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I will go over the top 3 MIDI keyboards of the year. I’ll also be looking at some pros and cons of each. So whether you are an aspiring artist or a seasoned producer, this post is for you.
Here’s my featured pick. Scroll further down to see our full roundup, or click here.
The MPK Mini MKII from Akai Professional is an ultra-compact keyboard controller for the on-the-go musician and studio producer.
The Impact LX25+ is a compact yet powerful MIDI keyboard controller with features that make creating music enjoyable and easy.
What is a MIDI keyboard?
A MIDI keyboard is a type of keyboard used to play and control the sounds generated by other instruments, such as software or hardware synthesizers. Information about the notes played, their duration, and the intensity with which they were played is transmitted to the computer or synth through MIDI from the controller.
Some MIDI controllers contain faders that may be directly attached to the mixing in your DAW, while others have touchpads that are ideal for performing percussive parts like drums. Pitch wheels are also common, allowing you to recreate the expressive pitch bends you hear on a guitar.
AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3
AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3
What’s the difference between a keyboard and a MIDI keyboard?
A MIDI keyboard’s primary purpose is to manage, transmit, and receive MIDI data, which sets it apart from a regular keyboard. Unlike a MIDI keyboard, a normal keyboard is a computer- and software-independent instrument.
A digital audio workstation (DAW) is where a MIDI keyboard shines since it is more of a controller than an instrument. The abbreviation for “Musical Instrument Digital Interface” (which is what MIDI stands for) explains everything. Of course, a keyboard isn’t limited to musical use. It also has MIDI controller functionality.
Best 25 key MIDI Keyboards under $100
Here is a list of the top 25 key midi keyboards currently available for purchase.
1. Best overall 25 Key MIDI controller
Be in charge anywhere you go! You can safely become mobile without giving up any power. The MPK Mini MKII from Akai Professional is an ultra-compact keyboard controller made for the on-the-go musician and the studio producer.
- New and improved keybed
- Highly portable and lightweight
- Thumbstick design might not appeal to some users
- Mini keys may be uncomfortable when playing for long periods
Why we picked it
This is one of the most popular MIDI controllers for pros and novices alike and for a good reason. It’s got two octaves and 25 keys in total, and you can switch between octaves really easily. It’s got eight drum pads, some of the biggest at this price point, eight programmable knobs, a built-in arpeggiator, and it even has a sustainment pedal port which is awesome for such a small device since not many controllers this small have one.
I really like the arcade-like thumb-stick instead of a pitch wheel. It gives it a sense of playfulness. The thumb stick is used to control the pitch and modulation. If you move it up and down, control the but radon, and left to right, control the pitch. It’s a lot of fun and an interesting way to get a mod wheel-like feature in such a tiny device. Finally, it includes some additional software to start making music immediately.
Who it’s for
This is, without a doubt, the best travel option at this price point. It’s got tons of features in a compact package that you can carry anywhere. I say the Akai MPK Mini is definitely for anyone who is trying to be as mobile and lightweight as possible.
2. Best 25 Key MIDI controller for beginners
The Impact LX25+ is a compact yet powerful MIDI keyboard controller with features that make creating music enjoyable and easy. It works with any computer music application and has extensive smart controller features.
- Authentic feel
- Value for money
- Non-weighted keys
- Limited knob rotation
Why we picked it
The Nektar Impact LX25 Plus has many customization features and navigation options that will help you be more efficient and help you speed up your workflow. This is best for someone who has a dedicated studio and is a little more seasoned at mixing.
The Nektar Impact LX25 Plus is not what I would call travel-friendly, but it has many more features than the standard 25-key MIDI keyboard. One of the biggest draws to this device is its 25 full-sized keys. Yup, full-sized! They are really comfortable to play with, especially for someone like me who is used to a full-sized piano.
Another great thing about the Nektar Impact LX25 Plus is that you can do a lot of work without touching your computer. This device has tons of built-in controllers on it, so you don’t need to go back to the mouse and keyboard as much. Very cool.
It has eight velocity-sensitive drum pads. Eight programmable endless turn knobs (they don’t stop when you move them to the right or left) and one slider, which is also programmable. It also has the standard Pitch and modulation wheel.
The light’s on this thing are cool. The pad LED is programmable and can change color depending on what bank you are on, and the LED display helps to show what mode or setting you are on. It can even display pressure pad sensitivity.
Who it’s for
The Nektar Impact LX25 MIDI Keyboard is indeed suitable for beginners. Its compact size and 25 velocity-sensitive keys make it easy for beginners to learn and play. The keyboard also features eight pads, which are great for triggering drum beats or samples. It is a user-friendly and affordable option for beginners to dive into the world of MIDI music production and performance.
3. Best value 25 Key MIDI controller
- Compact and portable
- Extensive control and integration
- Limited key range
- Limited playability for larger hands
Why we picked it
The Minilab MK2 is great for the intermediate who is comfortable using all the knobs the device offers but doesn’t need too many bells and whistles.
The attention to quality on the Minilab MK2 is amazing. It feels super thick and sturdy and, frankly, a little heavy. The knobs are long, rubberized, and super smooth. And a ton of them too! Better to have them, not need them, right? It’s got eight drum pads. And instead of a classic wheel for pitch and modulation, you have a touch-sensitive pad. The keyboard is not full-sized, but it still feels great.
A huge bonus is the amazing software you get with the Minilab MK2. You get Ableton live light, a powerful digital audio workstation for all kinds of music. And you get the analog lab software with some of the best software synths sounds.
Who it’s for
The pads are smaller than most other controllers and are placed in a row. Not the standard 4×4 grid. So, this might require some getting used to.
What to consider when choosing a MIDI Keyboard
There is a wide variety of MIDI keyboards available to meet the needs of musicians of all skill levels and price ranges, from total beginners to seasoned pros. There are perks to each that you may find useful and some that may be overkill. So how to pick the best low-cost midi keyboard for your recording studio? Some of the things you need to consider include:
- Number of keys
- Control pads, dials, sliders, etc
- Pedal inputs
- Power supply
- Digital audio workstation compatibility
- Software bundles
1. Number of keys
Your play style and the environment in which you intend to use the controller will determine how many and what kinds of buttons you’ll find most useful. Two-handed gamers can get by with a 37- or 49-key controller. If you want to use your MIDI controller for playing or recording lead, bass, and drum lines, a device with 25 keys will suffice.
2. Control pads, dials, sliders, etc
You might want to go for a MIDI keyboard that doesn’t have a ton of controllers on it if you’re more interested in playing the notes than shaping the sound. If you prefer to tinker with sounds, you’ll want a set of tools that make it easy to experiment with different sounds.
3. Pedal inputs
A sustainment pedal input on your MIDI controller will allow you to perform more fluidly. Some more compact versions use a dedicated button instead of a pedal.
4. Power supply
Most MIDI keyboard controllers provide USB connectivity, allowing you to link the instrument to a computer. If you want to power your controller without using a computer, you’ll need a USB hub or an external power adapter.
5. Digital audio workstation compatibility
It’s important to note that not all digital audio workstations (DAWs) are created equal and that not all MIDI controllers integrate equally well with those DAWs. Fortunately, although some tweaking may be necessary, these controllers may be used with a variety of other digital audio workstations. Most controllers are made such that you may remap the MIDI controls to the ones most useful to you.
6. Software bundles
The majority of MIDI controllers have software packages available for download. This shouldn’t be the decisive factor in whatever board you choose, but it is important to consider. You could save money by purchasing a MIDI keyboard that is a little more expensive because it includes useful software.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Do you still have questions about midi controllers? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions.
What does the MIDI controller do?
A MIDI controller makes using virtual instruments and creating musical sequences on a computer a breeze. It generates music by transmitting MIDI data (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) to a synthesizer or computer.
Does a MIDI controller have built-in speakers?
No. Most MIDI keyboards do not have built-in audio output. It is not a standalone piano-emulating console but works with other tools, such as a virtual instrument or digital audio workstation (DAW), to produce the desired sound.
Is it worth getting a MIDI controller?
A MIDI keyboard is a useful addition to any home recording setup. They are very popular and inexpensive and can allow you to play many instruments with just a few clicks.
Why I chose these products (ranking criteria and methodology)
I began by looking at all the $100 MIDI controller keyboards available from major US retailers and placed the best ones on a list for close examination. Then I collected relevant reviews, ratings, and forum discussions about each one and processed that data to produce the rating scores out of 10 you see here. Below are some of my ranking criteria.
- Features (45%)
- Reviews (30%)
- Style (10%)
- Price (10%)
- Warranty (5%)
We used the resultant ratings to select the highest-rated models to recommend above.
You really can’t go wrong with any of these options. The important thing is to find something that fits your unique requirements. I truly hope you enjoyed this Best MIDI Keyboards Under $100 post. If you did and want to see more like it, check out our full blog.
So, do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments below (we read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out our full blog for more tips and tricks on home and kitchen maintenance.
This article covered the best 25 key MIDI controllers under $100 and how to choose one that’s right for you. Here are some key takeaways:
- A MIDI keyboard is used to play and control the sounds generated by other instruments.
- Best 25 key MIDI Keyboards under $100
- Akai MPK mini
- Nektar Impact LX25
- Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 Slim-Key Controller