Best Small Midi Keyboard

My old crappy midi keyboard is closed somewhere in the attic in my hometown ever since my parents moved. I decided that it’s no use digging it out since it was loads of crap anyway, and my friend had broken the pitch-bend weel long before. I figured you guys here might help me choose something decent, since for a few years I concentrated on recording and got a bit out of the music-writing business. I wish to get back however.

I want a keyboard that’s:

  • small - 2 octaves is fine
  • well built
  • with some additional controllers, such as sliders, knobs, pads or whatever
  • cheap

I don’t need:

  • wieghed keys - I’m not a pianist, I NEVER input notes live, I just need an input device for Renoise that’s easier to use than the laptop keyboard
  • 65765 octaves - I share a room with a fellow student, so I don’t have the space for big stuff
  • built-in sound interface, synthesizer etc - these add to the price, I don’t want such stuff

I made a little research and found that the market is rather small considering my needs. The largest choice is given by M-Audio, but I’m not really fond of their products (although the ProFire 2626 makes me drool… especially considering the price, and Pro Tools compatibility).

In the end, here’s my list of cadidates:

  • Novation Nocturn keyboard - it’d be perfect feature-wise, but seems to be unavailable in Poland, although I haven’t asked the distributor directly about that
  • CME UF50 - too large, but the price/features ratio is awesome. I heard some good things about these keyboards
  • Korg microKontrol - expensive, but looks PERFECT and the brand is good
  • Edirol PCR 300

There are also the M-Audio Axiom series, but I don’t trust M-Audio.

Does anyone have any experience with these devices? Are there any other recommendations I should consider?

My needs were about the same and after an obsessive mount of browsing I hung on until I could find a 2nd hand Novation remote 25 le. Titchy. A load of control knobs. X/Y pad. Decent keys. Very solid.
Bit old and perhaps not easy to find though.

It’s indeed hard to find. On the other hand the newere SL series are very expensive. The 25 SL mkII is even more expensive than the larger microKontrol and CME UF50.

although you don’t like M-Audio, the Axiom 25 is pretty good, and judging by the “Studio Pics” thread on this forum, also quite popular :)

There’s also new Akai LPK-25 for keys and Akai LPD-8 for pads/knobs. They’re small and inexpensive at least.

akai LPD 8 + LPK25

i got them both and they are very well built, cheap, small and awesome!


I have a PCR-30, it’s decent. No real complaints about it, except that the USB aspect of it didn’t seem to work so I just use it connected to my rig via MIDI cable.

I had a good time attaching all the knobs and sliders to parameters in my synths. :)

Hmm I have the first version of M-audio Oxygen 8 and it’s pretty good really. But I wish I bought one with more octaves, just make really sure you don’t get the need to play a bass like notes while playing high freq notes and vice versa.

Happy user of microkontrol here, it is the only piece of gear in my setup which act just as i expected. Pros could complane about “toyish” feeling of keys, but if wont play Chopin it`s just fine. Great controller for stuff like Liveslice or Effectrix.

How about this? -->

The Akai stuff looks totally frikkin awesome! On the other hand, the Korg microKontrol is available at a very good price on Music-town, so the decision between the two is hard… Obviously, in my limited desktop space the Akai stuff would probably be better, but in case I ever want to get live, the Korg could be the better choice.

Are the keys in the Akai the standard size width-wise?

I still love my m-audio axiom 25.
Its very solid, great response, drumpads and knobs and if you buy it second handed it should almost costs nothing. I’m not saying other controllers are bad or something, I just know the axiom 25

IMHO if you’re not using it live and you don’t use key velocity, I’d get a pad controller instead of a keyboard. A PC keyboard is not more complicated to use than a piano keyboard; I’ll say it’s less so. Matter of taste obviously, but you’ll probably feel a lot better off with a cheap pressure sensitive pad controller with more knobs and sliders than a cheap 2-octave keyboard.

Ugh, 2 octaves… That’s abysmal. Even 5-octaves feel a little cramped at times ;)

Hell, buy a proper vintage (90s is vintage enough) midi-capable synth. The price isn’t huge, you’ll get better keys, probably more than enough controllers, and a hardware synth to boot. My Z1 sees 80% controller duty.

I’m going to be purchasing an Akai-MPK25 soon. You might want to look in that. It’s got 25 keys (semi-weighted, even though that doesn’t matter to you.) 12 drum pads, 12 knobs, Pitch & Mod wheels, an arpeggio feature (which is supposed to be awesome), and a note repeat button. So yeah. It at least has everything I need, so that’s why I plan on buying it. It’s pretty portable. I could see myself using it for live sets.

I’ve got the Korg Kontrol (not the micro) and it has always just worked and is reliable. However, I’d love to have something even smaller but will probably put up with the size for the extra octaves.

I had a chance today to play with a couple of keyboards at a shop, and it turned the smaller keys of the Korg microKontrol and Akai LPK are awkward to use in my case. Well, I guess in the end I’ll have to go for one of the Axioms or the CME UF50.

Akai MPK25 is almost twice as expensive as the Axiom 25. Considering that I also need to buy some decent audio interface I have to watch my budget, although I have to say it looks cool.

I’ve got an Axiom 49 here. Though I really love this controller, one small thing bothers me (in my case): the velocity sensitive pads are too far away from the sliders. I don’t really like to use knobs tbh, they’re not as precise/visual as a slider. :P

And the Axiom 25 has no sliders omgz. D:

I just got the LPK25 today (impulse buy ftw!) and this little thing is freaking amazing :dribble: build quality and overall feel are lightyears ahead of the Korg Nanos… will get the LPD8 too as soon as possible (was out of stock, unfortunately)


Are those pads velocity-sensitive, dblue?