The midi keyboard has become an essential part of modern music creation.
Especially for the so called ‘home’ music producer.
After all, it does serve as a ‘magic wand’ that helps you create the sounds you want. Who would have ever thought that one day, only one piece of equipment would help us create all kinds of sounds.
Today MIDI keyboards, midi controllers and even midi guitars come in all shapes and sizes but the most popular size of them all is the 25 key midi keyboard. Although you won’t find most of them having so called ‘full size keys’.
Which are basically as big as on a real grand piano (About 6″ in length), or semi-weighted (Like the weight of the keys on most professional pianos), most midi controllers today do the job mighty well.
By the way, don’t get a midi controller confused with a synthesizer. A synthesizer is a keyboard that comes pre-loaded with sounds. A MIDI controller has to be connected to a music software or a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
A 25 key MIDI controller just seems to be the choice for all beginners and even professionals alike.
If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. The 25 Key MIDI keyboard is small in size (Especially in comparison vs a 49 key controller or above), you can place them on your desk with your actual computer keyboard and it can be easily connected to your laptop (Heck I was making beats in the airport with my Akai).
So here we are paying homage to the best 25 key midi controllers around. Not just in 2018, but beyond.
AKAI LPK 25 – Best 25 Key MIDI Controller
- 25-key USB MIDI keyboard controller gives you expressive performance with computer-based digital audio workstations, sequencers, and more
- 25 velocity-sensitive mini-keyboard keys are highly portable; writing sessions, capturing ideas and studio use with nearly all music creation software
- Built-in arpeggiator provides melodic inspiration and versatile patterns for modern music production
- Plug-and-play USB connection for Mac and PC; no driver installation required. Perfect for Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, Studio One, Reaper, Digital Performer, Ableton, etc
- USB-powered; no additional power cable needed
This is the one that I personally have. In fact after owning it for about 5 years, I would now like to upgrade to a bigger 48 midi controller. However, the important thing here is I had this for 5 years. My Akai still works great and if you’re a beginner EDM or trap music producer, this might be all you need.
The LPK25 is a full-featured 25-key USB MIDI controller plug and play designed to help you get started in your own home studio or even at a professional recording environment.
Measuring only 38 cm and weighting around 40 grams, the LPK25 will easily fit under your computer or music desk, a backpack or even a little plastic bag if you have one. Which also makes it the best portable 25 key midi controller. At least for me.
The Akai LPK 25 offers all the essential production features with a keyboard 25 keys sensitive to velocity, perfect for playing chords, bass lines, synth leads or whatever you like.
If you’re looking for the absolute basic midi controller that is a quality product as well, the AKAI LPK 25 fits the bill quite nicely.
Now they even have the wireless version which is a great feature. The keys on the AKAI LPK25 are a little hard but you’ll get use to them pretty fast (It’s not big of a deal – at least not for me). This Akai midi controller is also quite durable as I’ve taken it on several airplane trips, etc. Maybe I should invest in getting a proper bag or case for it as well?
We’ll see . . .
AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK2
- Limited Edition 25-Key Ultra-Portable USB MIDI Drum Pad & Keyboard Controller with sleek color change
- Compact keyboard controller easily fits backpack and studio production desk (12.4" long, 1.6 lbs)
- Powered by USB connection to computer, with free virtual-instrument download packages
- 25-synth-action mini-keys, 8 velocity-sensitive rubber drum pads with two banks, and eight assignable control knobs
- Includes VIP3.0 - the ground-breaking, award-winning music software platform that provides musicians and composers with a powerful hands-on control solution for their virtual instrument and virtual effect collection
This versatile midi keyboard is great if you want to bang out some quick beats or if you are creating something more sophisticated.
This one is easy to get use to and if you are starting out, a good choice for beginners but once you get good, this would become your natural backup midi keyboard. A lot of professional producers still use this as their main midi controller though.
The Akai MPK MK2 is also very popular with Ableton users as well and rightfully so.
ALESIS – V25
- Perfect building block for music producer needing to control plug-ins and virtual instruments
- 25 full-sized, square-front keys with adjustable sensitivity
- 8 LED-backlit drum trigger pads respond to both velocity and pressure
- 4 assignable knobs, 4 assignable buttons, and Pitch & Mod wheels deliver expressive, creative control
- USB-powered with sustain-pedal input
The keys respond well, the velocity is well adjusted (You can always tweak that with your own music software anyways). It’s just overall a solid and smooth 25 key midi keyboard. Considered one of the best 25-key usb midi controller around.
Nothing to say about the finish as well as it’s just feels great. As mentioned earlier, the 25 keys are more than enough for the beginner or intermediate producer so that shouldn’t be an issue at all.
The pads are pleasant to the touch, but they trigger the sound twice from time to time. This was a little frustrating so I wouldn’t go too crazy with the drum pads. For occasional use, it’s pretty solid though. Quality midi controller all around.
- 25-key USB MIDI keyboard controller provides the ideal surface for composing and performing music with computer-based digital audio workstations, sequencers, and more
- 25 velocity-sensitive keys ensure a dynamic performance
- Pitch and Modulation wheels add musical expression; perfect for emulating the nuances of specialized musicians via DAW software
- Octave Up and Down buttons extend the note range without taking up critical desktop space
- Sustain pedal input and MIDI output for pro-level functionality and versatility
The keys are kind of cheap and has that ‘plastic’ feel to them but it does the job fairly well.
Nice to see it comes with pitch bending abilities to give you more range but to be honest, I’ve seen better. Again, great for beginners but if you’ve already tried a few 25 key midi controllers than this one might not be for you.
- Low-profile, 25-key USB-MIDI keyboard, ideal for use with laptop and netbook computers
- Advanced-design keybed offers improved accuracy and velocity-sensitive keys.
- Sustain button - ideal for entering piano parts!
A great keyboard for when you’re traveling and since it’s super small in size, you can literally place it in any tiny bag. The touch can be confusing at first, especially when you are used to a real synthesizer or a digital piano or something.
Definitely something you need to get use to but it’s not a big deal. The 6 control keys on the side respond fairly well as well. The pitch speed is adjustable thanks to the built in Korg software and you can change other parameters as well.
That said, prolonged use can hurt your hands, since the black and grey keys (i.e. the white and black keys of “traditional” pianos) are on two separate levels (Unlike keyboards of real pianos where white and black keys overlap vertically). To be honest, it’s more of a midi controller rather than a midi keyboard but it works.
ARTURIA MINILAB MK II
- Portable and Compact - MIDI Controller
- The most responsive keyboard experience in its category
- 500 of the V-Collection 6 presets / 21 Keyboard Instruments and Synthesizers / fully mapped right out of the box
- The perfect solution to get started with music production
- 16 Assignable Encoders to control your DAW
If you’re looking for good pitch bend and nice key response, the MINILab MK II might be something you might want to check out.
This MIDI keyboard is another hit with Ableton users and Logic Pro X producers alike. So that should say something.
NEKTAR IMPACT LX25
- Premium midi controller with 25 expressive synth-action keys, on-board pitch bend and modulation wheels for performances
- 8 Hyper-Sensitive backlit pads
- Mac, PC and iOS compatible
- Software instruments automatically mapped to controls
- Includes Bitwig 8-Track DAW
The finish on this midi keyboard is nice with the satin black and pearly white on the keys. They almost resemble that of a real piano or something.
You won’t have any issues configuring it and if you do, just adjust them through your DAW. Overall, the response is great. The buttons and knobs are of quality (Especially for a midi controller) and can be easily programmed.
Overall, it’s one of the best 25 keys midi controller out there. I’ve heard a few good things about this one for sure. There are always haters but this one is worth a shot.
M Audio Oxygen 25
- Versatile MIDI keyboard controller powered by USB connection to computer
- 25 full-size, synth-action velocity-sensitive keys
- 8 velocity-sensitive trigger pads for beat production, clip launching and more
- 8 assignable knobs for mixing and manipulating plug-ins/instruments
- Now Includes Pro Tools | First and Eleven Lite for all new and existing customers, as well as Virtual Instrument Player (VIP)
If this was your first midi controller, most likely it still is. M Audio is another wonderful brand in the midi controller segment that has a very loyal fanbase. Fl Studio users prefer this a tad bit more because it just seems to integrate a lot faster with it. It comes with some nice pads (Again perfect for rap beat makers) that you can be quite aggressive with actually.
The knobs have a cheap plastic feel to it but a lot of mid controllers in the entry level market have the same issue.
Overall, this midi controller is a big hit in the beginner and intermediate market.
M Audio Axiom 25
- 25-Note Tru Touch, semi-weighted piano style professional action keybed
- Proprietary hyper control MIDI mapping and host control
- 32 MIDI assignable controls total
- ASCII messages for DAW keyboard shortcuts
- 50 onboard memory locations
Now this one is not just a higher quality version of the M Audio oxygen 25 but a total beast on it’s own. If you’re a fan of the M Audio Oxygen, you will love the Axiom 25.
However, if assigning sounds to knobs is not how your music making workflow is, I wouldn’t worry about getting this MIDI controller.
Akai Professional Max 25
- 25 semi-weighted keys with aftertouch and 4 LED touch faders for hands-on expressiveness
- 8 MPC pads with MPC Note Repeat, and MPC Swing provide amazing workflow
- Included AkaiConnect software automatically maps to VST plugins/instruments
- 4 pad banks, 4 fader banks for a total of 64 assignable pads, faders, and buttons
- Built-in step sequencer and expanded arpeggiator
Welcome to the Ferrari of Akai 25 key controllers (By the way, I’m not saying that just because of the bright red on it). The Akai Professional Max 25 is literally a professional midi controller.
I’m not sure if beginners or intermediates need it but if you got your workflow down and pat and like to work with knobs and pads a lot, you’ll really have fun with this. One of the most quality MIDI controller around (Especially the quality of the knobs, etc).
Novation Launchkey 25
- 16 full-color RGB backlit velocity sensitive drum pads
- Eight rotary knobs designed to give you confidence when tweaking your instruments and effects
- Ableton Live Lite 9 is included
- Fully USB-powered and DAW-friendly
- Free keys and pad drumming lessons with Melodics
Specifically designed for the new generation that is using iPhones and iPads to create music, the Launchkey 25 by Novation is a solid midi controller all around. Don’t worry though, you can still connect to any laptop or pc as long as they have USB connection.
With Novation continuing it’s tradition of well respected keyboards, synths and recently midi controllers, the Launchkey fits right in there.
It has way more functionality than the average midi controller and if you like to work knobs, pads and keys all together, this Launchkey 25 may be a good fit.
Anatomy of a 25 Key Midi Controller
A 25 Key Midi controller is a pretty simple but powerful instrument. It mainly consists of two parts.
Number of Keys:
As you may have guessed, 25 keys. Pretty self explanatory.
There are mainly three main things that you will find as ‘extra’ on a standard 25 key midi controller.
Tiny plastic buttons or “finger” pads that serve as drum pads or are placed to control the basic settings of a midi controller (Octave change perhaps), Pitch bend wheels (Left side for a pitch wheel is pretty standard for most midi controllers and even popular synthesizers, etc) or some other features like faders.
As far as I’m concerned, as long as you got your 25 keys, you’re good to go.
The features part really depends on the model or brand you are getting but overall, a 25 key midi controller comes with straight up 25 keys and sometimes and perhaps some mini drum pads, knobs and pitch bending wheels on the sides or top.
Overall, it’s a fairly straightforward instrument.
Just plug it in, change a few setting on your DAW (You don’t even need installation software for most) and off you go making beats.
Best 25 Key Midi Controller Brands
When it comes to this very specific model of midi controllers, there are a few quality brands that you can pick from. Here are my favorite 25 key midi controller brands.
Okay I’m being a little bias because my first mid controller was (and is) an Akai (Akai LPK 25 | Amazon Link) but to be honest, not really . . . Anyone in the music production game will tell you that Akai has been holding it’s own for quite some time and since they dove in the 25 key midi controller market, things have only improved drastically for music producers everywhere.
So if you ask me which is the BEST midi controller brand, that has to be Akai. That said, there some really good ones in this space but I’ll only touch on the top 3.
This is another exciting brand and I’ll be more than happy to own a bigger midi keyboard from this brand. They are mostly known in the industry these days as the leaders of the electric drum kit market but have their hands lots of other areas of music production as well.
If you make rap or trap music, almost every urban producer uses a M Audio. Perhaps not the 25 key version but when they do decide to upgrade to 48 keys or more, this is the brand they think of.
This will be my next upgrade as well. As the legendary Scott Starch, Timbaland, and many other producers love M Audio midi controllers.
Last update on 2018-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API