Best Portable Midi Keyboards For Mobile & Laptop Producers
Post date:Thu, 05/28/2020 - 13:32
Mobile virtual synthesizers and digital audio workstations have come a long way and these days it's not unusual to see people using them when out and about. However, if you are going to try your hands at being a mobile producer, then you are going to need a backpack friendly keyboard for the best results. Midi keyboard manufacturers appears to have realized that there is a growing market for gear that is sturdy, portable and packing a lot of features. So, if you want to continue making music on your mobile devices or laptop when you step outside of your home and studio, then take a look at some of these portable keyboards to complete your setup.
IK Multimedia iRig Keys 2
IK Multimedia released the original iRig Keys in 2013 and it was one of the first Midi controllers to feature onboard iOS connectivity and a reasonable price tag. For the iRig Keys 2 they have gone back to the drawing board and improved or enhanced all the features that made the original such a hit with mobile producers. The iRig Keys 2 has a three octave mini keyboard that is leaps and bounds ahead of the original, feels much sturdier and while larger, it is still quite compact. IK Multimedia has also upped the number of assignable knobs from one to four. Thanks to Midi input and output you can also use it to control your stand-alone gear and other analog synthesizers. Best of all it can be run off your computer or mobile device, USB power supply or USB battery packs. It thankfully also comes with a new headphone output, which means you don't have to rely on the built-in speakers of your mobile device. The only downside of the iRig Keys 2 is that it is much more expensive than the original, but the added features definitely makes up for the price increase.
The CME Xkey37 features 37 full size keys that gives you enough room to allow for two handed playing. However, it is still very portable with a width of 553 mm, height of 135 mm, and weight of only 890g. The Xkey37 features a robust aluminum body with the same finish as a MacBook and the velocity sensitive keys has 128 levels of sensitivity. It is USB powered, so no battery is needed while the free Xkey Plus application that you can download allows you to configure the keyboard to your liking. In addition to the keyboard keys the Xkey37 also has pressure sensitive pitch bend and modulation buttons with continuous Midi control data. For those who require something even more compact, there is also a 25 key version that sacrifices the extra octave of the CME Xkey37 for smaller dimensions. The Xkeys37 is not cheap, but it is compatible with the Xport connector, which gives users access to Midi Out, as well as sustain and expression pedal inputs.
The Arturia Keystep is not only compact and affordable, but also comes with a lot of interesting features not found on other Midi controllers. It features a 32 key Slimkey keybed with velocity and aftertouch while it's arpeggiator mode offers up, down, inclusive, exclusive, 3 random modes, note order, double up, and double down modes. The keystep also has a an 8 polyphonic step sequencer with rest, tie, and legato note entry. Each sequence can have 64 steps and each step can have up to 8 notes. Best of all, the Keystep doesn't require a lot of power, so it can be powered by an Apple iPad if you make use of a camera connection kit.
Akai Professional LPK25 Wireless
The Akai Professional LPK25 Wireless is another wallet friendly Midi keyboard that is aimed at everyone using their laptop or mobile device to create music. It features 25 velocity sensitive mini-keyboard keys, a sustain button, octave up and down as well as tap tempo controls. The LKP25 also has an arpeggiator and four programmable memory banks. Although the LPK25 can be powered by USB bus, it also runs on just four AA batteries if you want to skip the wires. Another advantage is its size as it is less than 13 inches across and weighs less than a pound. Of course, the biggest draw of the LKP 25 wireless as that you can connect via Bluetooth, so there's no risk of tripping over cables or accidentally connecting the USB connection while playing.
Let us know in the comments below or on the forum what your Midi controller of choice is when you create tunes on your mobile device or laptop.