Best 25 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards – 2020 Guide

Modern technology tends to favor portability as a feature and the ability to work remotely. That’s why we’re going to cover today the most portable group of keyboards that come with 25 keys, what’s essential to know about them and what are the pros and cons compared to other models.

Comparison Chart of the Best 25 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Equipped with 25 velocity sensitive keys
  • Portable design allows easy movement
  • Gives dynamic pitch for better sound
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Compatible with Mac and PC
  • Navigation and control buttons for easy use
  • Completely USB bus-powered
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Best for the Money
  • Great for use with laptop and computers
  • Designed for much better accuracy
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Offers instant parameter feedback
  • Comes with production software package for Mac and PC
  • Has eight velocity sensitive trigger pads
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews
  • Very responsive keyboard for better use
  • Ideally suited for music production
  • Comes with 16 assignable encoders
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews

Are All 25 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards the Same? 

25 Key MIDI Keyboards offer different controls based on price range and main purpose. It can provide you with pads, sliders, knobs, encoders or any mix of those controls. Some act like a sound card with keys and there are even models that are so portable you can actually roll them up!

And while they all come with 25 keys, even those keys come in different sizes because of the small-form concept. But at the end of the day, they all provide you some controls for music production leaving it up to you to decide what you would find the best.

Can You Really Find a Quality Model That’s Affordable?

Affordable models always trade features for its price. For example, some may have decent pads with terrible keybed. That’s completely fine for a hip-hop producer that would use keys occasionally. Being affordable doesn’t mean it can’t be good enough and searching for the best quality can lead you to overkill paying hundreds while buying something even under $100 range would do the trick for you. 

And as we’re talking about controllers, bear in mind that the actual sound will come from an external source. Every MIDI Keyboard sends only notes and controls to your computer no matter how expensive it is.

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Review of the Best 25 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards

The Best 25-Key MIDI Controller Keyboards coming up. We hand-picked for you some of the best bang-for-buck models out there.

Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII – 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller With 8 Drum Pads, 8 Assignable Q-Link Knobs and Pro Software Suite Included

PROS

  • Plug ‘n play device - no drivers required
  • Beautiful and authentic black & red modern design
  • Road-friendly - incredibly lightweight and USB powered
  • 8 editable Q-Link knobs and pads with sustain pedal input provided 
  • A lot of MIDI features packed in a very small format including 4 banks for instant preset recalling

CONS

  • Keybed is not meant for more than basic notation
  • Mixed feelings about the joystick controller option

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers love its design and consider it as a very affordable way to get more into music. But, we also need to say that they complain that the keys can snap off easily. Also, you shouldn’t rely too much on Akai customer support and especially about free software it comes with.

Why it Stands Out to Us

As we expected from Akai, 8 pads set up-right are wonderful. We are amazed at how compact this unit is built and how many features are packed inside. Akai even placed shortcut commands on keys if you press the shift button first and preset banks allow you to store settings for different software.

Who Will Use This Most

Younger musicians will be thrilled by its awesome modern design. The ability to pick between several color variations will be especially praised. Pads will intrigue those who would want to create beats anytime anywhere and its miniature size will make it fit into every travel plan you have in mind.

Bottom Line

This device won’t be your main studio MIDI Keyboard but it will be the one you’re going to carry everywhere and reach out to write down something fast or to lay down drum demos before the real drummer comes for recording.

Novation Launchkey 25 MK2 USB Keyboard Controller for Ableton Live

PROS

  • Comes with free software and tutorials
  • Designed for Ableton Live and FL studio users
  • Excellent 25 full-size keys with decent keybed quality
  • Thanks to In Control software all major DAW software are supported instantly
  • 16 RGB pads and 8 knobs - additional slider and dedicated pitch and mod wheels

CONS

  • MIDI OUT port could be included
  • Pad performers would appreciate 8 regular size pads more

What Recent Buyer Report

While being designed for Ableton Live, buyers are amazed at how Automap works instantly with other software. Keybed gets only kudos and over met users’ expectations. Design is praised and the only complaint comes for the pad size as it may appear small for playing drum patterns on the fly.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Regular size 25 keys controllers are getting harder to find these days. Novation offers an Automap feature to instantly link all controls in order to save you some serious time for setting everything up. And 16 pads are appealing for any FL Studio or Ableton user who doesn’t enjoy mouse clicking. 

Who Will Use This Most

Trained keyboard players will praise the regular size keys and their decent response. Its key size is ideal for playing synth bass and well-built wheels make it excellent for leads. Triggering samples is intuitive thanks to RGB backlit and while it could find a place in the studio, we would recommend it for live performance. 

Bottom Line

When you think about your regular small-form MIDI Keyboard, this is something that you should imagine. Everything works flawlessly, so giving that decent build quality and layout that’s intuitive for Ableton and FL Studio users makes this offer sound even better. 

Korg, 25-Key Midi Controller (NANOKEY2BK),Black

PROS

  • Comes with free software
  • Sustain, pitch and mod buttons included
  • The smallest keyboard controller on the market
  • 25 keys, innovative modernly flat designed USB-powered device
  • Ridiculously lightweight, you may even forget you have it with you

CONS

  • Device could be provided with backlit illumination
  • Keys are so small that they are on the verge to be called so

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers are very satisfied with this product and especially with the free software it comes with. They are well aware of their limitations and price range. DAW software compatibility is excellent and the only drawback is that because of drivers it requires USB reconnecting if your computer goes to sleep mode.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It was made to be carried in a bag and occupy the minimum space. That’s why KORG decided to go for a modern and somewhat futuristic flat-surface design and leave out any knob or slider. It’s also nice that it comes with buttons for sustain, pitch, and mod allowing you at least some extra control.

Who Will Use This Most

Modern music producers and composers, people who spend most of their time outside, musicians on a tour, composers that want to have some gear always with them in case of an instant burst of inspiration, young people that are still exploring if music is their call.

Bottom Line

Laptop touchpad can help you when you don't bring a mouse with you. We could say you should think the same way about this KORG product. It can’t replace a regular MIDI keyboard but you may find it handy because of its almost non-existing weight.

M-Audio Oxygen 25 IV | USB Keyboard and Pad MIDI Controller Featuring Pad/Velocity - Sensitive Keys

PROS

  • 25 full-size semi-weighted keybed
  • USB type-B cable provides power supply and MIDI connection
  • Transport buttons can make your DAW recording process more intuitive
  • Provided with a slider, sustain pedal input and 8 knobs and 8 backlit pads
  • M-Audio versions of Pro Tools and Ableton Live included among others free software

CONS

  • Keybed feels cheap
  • Build quality is not the best we’ve seen

What Recent Buyers Report

Based on the buyers’ buzz, there are several reports of returned devices. Those who got their model working properly comment pads’ excellent response even for advanced use. They also comment that touch sensitivity of keys could be calibrated better and that modern OS isn’t fully supported and may require manual setup. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

8 rotary knobs allow you to tailor this MIDI keyboard to your needs thanks to DirectLink instant mapping feature. Pads are bright and big enough so you can make beats in real-time or trigger samples. M-Audio improved this purchase with several lite versions of professional DAW and virtual instrument software.

Who Will Use This Most

Studio users may use it as a “set and forget” tool while live performers will appreciate the full size of the keys. Guitarists or bassists may enjoy faster and more shallow response this keybed provides while both professional and inexperienced users may find a place for this kind of unit.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an additional MIDI keyboard for your performing live or some small-form controller to fit your project studio but you know you could benefit from full-size keys, this M-Audio model can work well for you.

Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 Slim-Key Controller

PROS

  • Excellent keybed and great build quality 
  • Comes with free software, even Ableton Live Lite included
  • Contains the whopping amount of controls - 16 encoders, 8 backlit pads plus sustain input and 2 dedicated touchpads for pitch and mod control

CONS

  • Traditional pitch and the mod wheel would be much more appreciated
  • 16 pads and 8 knobs would be a more versatile layout, especially for FL Studio users

What Recent Buyers Report

People are amazed by the quality and design of this product. Yet, while it works excellently with Arturia software it seems that current drivers for the encoders don’t respond the best with third-party software. It’s worth mentioning that pads appear to be a little bit smaller than usual.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We can’t think of another model in a given price range with encoders instead of knobs. Encoders allow 360 degrees rotation without starting and ending point - this provides more fluent virtual instrument control. Keybed is probably the best mini-keys we’ve seen so far and proves that you can have a decent keybed despite small-form factor.

Who Will Use This Most

Users that play Arturia virtual instruments frequently as a hardware design was optimized for it and people who are aiming towards becoming professional musicians or producers. It could be used as a decent DAW controller because of 16 encoders and electronic and hip-hop composers can utilize those 8 pads definitely.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a professional MIDI keyboard, Arturia did an excellent job. Everything about it was designed for advanced and long-hour work and we can only recommend it to anyone who plans to get more serious with their musical adventure.

Pros and Cons of 25 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards

Now that we covered the best models available, here’s some quick features reminder about 25 Key MIDI Keyboard in general:

Pros

Below are the main pros.

Price Friendly

25 Key MIDI Keyboards are the cheapest MIDI Keyboards you can find on the market which makes them ideal if you’re on a budget.

Small-Form Factor

If you have limited space, you will appreciate every inch you can save to maintain order in your bedroom or project studio. If you don’t play keyboards daily, you may find this size to be ideal.

Kings of Portability

25-keys MIDI Keyboards did a similar thing that laptops did for computers and made it possible to work on music remotely.

A smaller number of keys makes them a lot lighter. Manufacturers reduce the weight further with less physical controllers and cheaper keybed. They even make special types where carrying them around is an uncompromised priority so we can find MIDI keyboards weighing less than a pound.

Cons

Below are the main cons.

The Number of Keys

25 keys are not meant for regular keyboard playing. Most keyboard lines require a bigger key range. One could handle songs within the 37-keys, but the real fun starts from 49-keys.

Build Quality

Portability is always traded for build quality. These units are made to be lightweight and exclude high-quality material. It’s rare to find models in this range that are built to last.

Conclusion

Whether you’re looking to grab something ultra-portable or you’re building your studio gear, 25-keys MIDI Keyboards offer both of the worlds while definitely saving you some budget and space. Think of it more as a handy than an essential part of your music equipment that can only improve your workflow.

People Also Ask

The next FAQ section will help you with a couple of doubts that bother most of the inexperienced buyers. It can help you to decide if you’re really looking for 25-keys MIDI Keyboard or you’re going for a bigger and less portable product and how good can it be for piano lessons.

Is 25 Keys Enough For a MIDI Keyboard?

It’s based a lot on what you have in mind to play or record. 25 keys can be enough for playing bass lines or synth leads but it won’t be sufficient for anything more technically demanding. 25 keys are considered as an extra keyboard gear, not your first choice.

Can You Learn Piano With 25 Keys?

You can learn how to read notes. But, because of the small number of keys, you won’t be able to use it with both hands. Also, keybed type is much lighter and smaller than regular piano keys (those are made from wood) so the feel and response would be much different.