Top 5: MIDI/USB Keyboard Controllers for Beginners in 2020 (25-key)

Portable midi controllers that have the functionality of a keyboard and the capability of being a one-person-band is all the hype now – and for good reason. The job of a MIDI controller is to help you store and loop audio samples that can assist you in creating music all by yourself. Various MIDI keyboard options have a variety of options tailored to individual artist needs – some with knobs and faders, while others have 4x4 pads and pitch control. Following are some of the 2020s most incredible selection of 25-key midi keyboard controllers:

Most Portable - Alesis Vmini 25-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

If you’re looking for a no-frills device with a minimal layout, slim design, and an affordable MIDI keyboard controller, the Vmini is a perfect option for you. If you’re a music producer with a large MIDI pad controller, and you’re looking for a simple device, that will not get in your way of production, look no further than the Vmini. It has 25 expressive velocity-sensitive, synth-action mini keys, four backlit velocity-sensitive drum pads, four backlit assignable knobs, and dedicated octave, pitch bend, modulation, and sustain buttons. If you don’t have an external pad controller, this may not be the right option for you.

Easiest to Use - Nektar Impact LX25

This controller comes pre-mapped and configured, so you don’t have to spend time assigning MIDI controls out of the box. Moreover, the controller uses intelligent mapping to give you hands-on control of your DAW session. Switch between Mixer, Instrument, and Preset modes for a fast workflow. Unlike the Vmini, if you need functional pad controls, the 4x4 performance pads can easily be assigned to do the job. The impact doesn’t skimp on knobs either. There is a whole array of sound manipulation tools to explore and create with. This supports DAW integration with Bitwig Studio, Cubase, Digital Performer, Garageband, Logic Pro, Nuendo, Reason, SONAR, Studio One, FL Studio, and Reaper.

Best Designed - Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 Slim-key Controller – Black/White

The gorgeous-looking minilab is the new and refined, quality-exuding workhorse from Arturia. To complement its good looks, the blacked-out (there’s also a white option) midi controller is a significantly smaller package with no loss in functionality. It has Pitchbend, Mod Touch Strips and 8 RGB pads. To top it off, the keys are velocity-sensitive. The black colour may interfere if you work in the dark, but the minilab brings with it 500 incredible presets from Arturia's Modular V, CS-80V, Mini V, Arp 2600V, Jupiter 8V, Prophet V, Oberheim SEM V, and Wurlitzer V all courtesy of the included Analog Lab Lite software.

Best for Ableton Live - Novation LaunchKey Mini MK3

If Ableton Live is your choice of DAW, look no further than Novation for your MIDI controller needs. The Launchkey Mini is a perfect beginner 25-key controller with 16 velocity-sensitive RBG pads, Pitchbend Touch Strip, Modulation Touch Strip, and eight Rotary Knobs. It’s compact enough for a small workspace and to tug around in a small backpack. All in all, this is a viable alternative to the Minilab.

Most Functional - Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII Keyboard Controller

Akai, the go-to name in MIDI equipment now has a mini keyboard controller that comes with 25 velocity-sensitive synth-action mini keys, Octave Up/Down buttons, and an ergonomic 4-way thumbstick for pitch-bend and mod duties. While the thumbstick is our favourite feature, it also features eight backlit, velocity-sensitive MPC-style pads with MPC Note Repeat and Full Level, plus eight assignable Q-Link knobs. It also works without an external adapter, so say hello to working outdoors by your favourite nature spot without a worry in the world.


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