A MIDI controller is a particular device that converts physical actions (pressing a key, moving a fader, or turning a knob) into digital MIDI format messages, which transmits to a computer or other controlled device (sampler, sequencer). For example, if we connect the MIDI unit to special programs (FL Studio or Cubase), and the FL Keys will be designated as one of the knobs to monitor the channel’s volume, its turning will proportionally change the piano volume. It isn’t easy to choose the best 25 key midi controller because every device has advantageous design and practical features combination.
Being very lightweight and small, the MIDI keyboard includes 25 synthesizer mini-keys and is a great tool for record automation. It facilitates and simplifies the process of arrangement/mixing, so is regarded as an important element in DJing. It’s very inconvenient to use the mouse when working with the Traktor and Virtual DJ programs and with the help of portable MIDI keyboards, it becomes much easier to move the fader or scroll the handle, rather than grab the mouse and move it throughout the entire working area.
25 key MIDI keyboard is one of the most useful choices for those, who take musical instruments on a trip. The beatmakers widely use this device, because it helps play the music and record it even with only one hand. Usually mentioned keyboards produce the sound that is similar to a full-sized musical instrument.
Except 25 key MIDI controllers, the market presents the following types:
- 49 key MIDI controllers provide more musical features than smaller 25-key version, but the device stays compact and mobile. It’s perfect for those, who want to use two hands while playing and for those, who are just learning how to play such controllers. This keyboard is widely used for making beats in electro house music and hip-hop tracks.
- 61 key MIDI controllers have a considerable weight and allow the musician to play more complex music pieces with two hands. It can be an ideal variant for those, who want to get a sound very close to the real-piano sound. The keys are rather big, so the fingering might be comfortable.
- 88 key MIDI controllers have the same number of buttons as the acoustic piano has. Thus, these devices are great choices for newcomers and experienced pianists. The keyboard isn’t easy to transport since it has quite impressive dimensions.
Now, without further ado, here is our top six MIDI controllers I’d recommend most of all.
The Best 25 Key MIDI Controller Reviews
Novation Launchkey 25 – USB Bus-Powered Keyboard Controller for Ableton Live
It’s easy to configure the device in Studio One. There are no inbuilt arpeggiators or chord modes for the pads, but with the unit’s help, it’s possible to make beats in amazing RGB colors. The setup process appeared to be easy-to-understand; the only thing I had to study in great details is a volume fader. The Track Next/Previous buttons help me to switch between instruments and songs in a matter of seconds. The build quality is rather questionable because the frame seems to be light and plastic. It seems like a few keys sit lower than other keys and they require more force to press.
- The controller is run with only one cable, so transportation is rather easy.
- Most keys response to velocity. A light touch is enough for getting a soft sound, while aggressive striking makes the sound louder.
- RGB pads work amazing for Ableton Live sequencing.
- This device is hard to call the best 25 key MIDI controller for full-fledged melody writing.
- The 3/4th-inch pads don’t allow playing comfortably because the finger periodically catches the next key, because of it the music becomes inaccurate.
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII | 25-Key – USB Powered Device
I can get manual control of mute and volume while using this device with a computer-based DAW. There is a special Akai Editor app on an official website. Everyone can download and install it only after longstanding and boring registration. The keyboard has 4-way joysticks for pitch control and modulation, which are made as separate units and help preserve the keyboard compact nature. They keys size is rather small (no more than a penny), so it’s hard to become habituated to them, especially when the musician get used to a full-size keyboard earlier. The device is good for beginners because the keyboard produces relatively natural sound, it’s lightweight, and the medium-sized keys are comfortable to press.
- The keys and pads have very good velocity sensitiveness. The keystrokes intensity determines the volume and saturation of the sound.
- Note Repeat and Full Level make the Akai potentially the best 25 key MIDI controller for drums program composing.
- There is no user mode. I can use the pads to start clips, but can’t monitor the Impulse drum rack.
- The Apple Lightning doesn’t want to connect to the USB Camera Adapter.
Nektar Impact LX25+ – Medium Tension Device with On-Board Pitch Bend
The paper manual doesn’t include much useful information so it’s better to check installation peculiarities online. This small MIDI controller is able to work with different software, the keys are big enough and very easy to use. Moreover, 4 Octave and Transpose buttons allow making sound changes even while playing the melody. The Pad Learn feature is a great opportunity to make assignments by selecting a pad, playing the note, or desired drum sound. The assembly quality is perfect; there is no plastic smell and all the elements look really reliable.
- It’s possible to monitor the DAW and transform a soft synth into a real hardware synth.
- It can be called as the best midi controller for fl studio because its set up process for, for example, Windows 10 takes only 30 seconds.
- The user can download the device’s software on an official website.
- Keys are very stiff. The playing process requires some effort.
- The keyboard is bitterly lightweight and unstable. It has to be kept in an explicit place in order to stay motionless.
Korg 25-Key – Low-Profile Unit with Velocity-Sensitive Keys
This affordable MIDI keyboard allows a quick fingering obtaining because the fingers don’t move vertically and don’t get tired. “Black” and “white” keys have identical sizes and sensitivity, so the musician can hit the black keys the same way as he or she does with a regular piano type keys. The buttons that control octave location go through some lighting and color modes for every octave modification. It’s easy to transport the device and it also can be a great choice for traveling. At the same time, it looks very unserious (the plastic has a smell and is very thin, the brand image is easily erasable), and not always produces a clear sound.
- The software mixer controlling and keeping the stereo in line are possible thanks to the principal MIDI setting.
- The device greatly fits in a backpack.
- LED Status light is very helpful and complements the process of playing with bright colors.
- It always has a noticeable vibration, even being turned off.
- The sound sometimes seems very artificial and changes in settings can’t solve this problem.
Acorn Masterkey 25 – USB Device with Pitch and Modulation Wheels
The preparation for this small MIDI keyboard usage is very quick because after plugging the device into USB port, it installs all the drivers automatically. The productivity level relies upon the pressure. The unit is well-knit, lightweight, and has a very modern design. However, the keyboard consists of thin plastic and might break after the only one falling.
- It has a very solid USB port, a special plug for a sustain pedal, and a well-arranged modulation wheel.
- The device has a very simple structure. All the knobs and switchers are greatly visible and are lodged in the right places.
- The device feels cheap. It has not a very pleasant smell.
- There are latency issues while pressing the keys. The sound doesn’t appear immediately but after a couple of seconds.
AKAI Professional APC Key 25 – Compact Ableton Live Controller
It looks like a toy, but it greatly implodes with Ableton Live’s easy-to-understand interface for mobile performances and studio music creating. The musician has to map the buttons with the help of MIDI mapping to get rid of a bit of a delay. Some functions require a Shift key using. This means the owner can’t use many options with one hand or he or she has to use to this peculiarity.
- 40 tri-color LED pads help launch clips. They work well and create an inspiring atmosphere.
- It has a high-leveled build quality because all the elements are made of thick plastic and covered with special scratching protection.
- It greatly works with MAGIX Music Maker and Traktor 2.
- It has only a regular USB. Mini or micro USB ports are absent.
- The keyboard is very stiff. Even experienced musicians can’t play chords really fast.
The 25 Key Controller Advantages
The controllers can be outstanding solutions for creating transposition, additional pitches, modulation, and exceptional effects. The mentioned device has other valuable benefits as well.
- The unit is portable and compact.
- It can replace a synthesizer or digital piano (in combination with a PC).
- The controller can easily become a part of the studio.
- It’s convenient for music study.
- The current sounds get a really powerful edition.
- The controller can be an ideal tool for producers and composers, who are using the sequencer software (DAW).
- The 25 key devices include hundreds of sound variations.
- The construction includes the drum pads, which helps get a really great sound mix.
- Each portable MIDI keyboard has special q-link knobs that are used to interlink the keyboard with software controls.
- Controller mapping is the best opportunity to interface available software with the keyboard.
Most of the regarded devices are the embodiment of modern technological capabilities and have everything to become the best 25 key MIDI controller for creative people, who have a burning desire to record the sound idea in comfort conditions.
How Not to Be Mistaken in Choosing 25 Key MIDI Controller?
After understanding that you really need a MIDI controller, comes the question about the purchasing of the proper device. Before taking the final decision, it is better to answer the following questions:
How will you use it?
If you are looking for the best mini MIDI keyboard with 25 keys for making exciting live performances, then you should pay attention to the environmental influences resistance and reliability, as well as the preferred mechanism type and the number of keys. Compact controllers can become a stellar choice for club DJs. Remember that the controller still needs a lot of knobs and sliders to monitor the program’s parameters. If you do most of your recordings on the run, focus on the device’s portability.
What mechanism is used?
The mechanism must match the application of the controller. If piano realism is important to you, choose a hammer mechanism. It perfectly combines resistance and springiness.
How many knobs, sliders, and buttons do you need?
Find the way of managing and make a choice, premised on the most comfortable elements.
Do you need a USB connection to a PC?
A USB-connector amends almost all modern controllers. Many of them have 5-pin MIDI connectors, so you can plug in an external sound module to the mentioned unit.
Do you need a built-in audio interface?
If you need a comprehensive solution for MIDI and audio, choose a unit with an audio interface.