Best 25 Key MIDI Controllers


As the smallest of the keyboard controllers, the best 25 key MIDI controllers need to be as compact as they are feature-packed.



Not made for real pianists, these micro MIDI controllers are usually used by DJs, new producers or people who are generally just trying to produce or play music in places with a limited amount of space.

The following 5 pieces of hardware are the 5 best 25 key MIDI controllers available on the market today, the criteria for that needed to be met to end up on this list was based on the following 4 factors: customer satisfaction and sentiment, build quality, features, and cost.


Akai MPK Mini II

Akai made a splash in the world of midi controllers when they brought their famous trigger pads to MIDI controllers with the introduction of its first foray into controllers, the MPD. Nearly 7 years after the company’s new found love of MIDI controllers came the first successful innovation of the market after nearly a decade, MPC pads on keyboard controllers with their MPK line.

Though a similar route had been taken with Korg’s 2003 Kontrol line, Akai has always been the king of the beat pads, and from the moment it debuted, every hip hop producer wanted one due to the age of fully computer-based production. As time has gone on Akai has made many variations of the MPK line, but one of the biggest hits of the line came in its Mini series.

Though it doesn’t feature the same thick MPC style pads that Akai had been perfecting for MIDI controllers, the MPK Mini second iteration, the MKII, features something just as playable in an affordable package.

Features:

  • Keybed: 25 Shallow synth action mini-keys, playable but don’t get crazy.
  • Pads: MPC-style pads, but think thinner, not the thick pads that show up across the rest of the MPK lines larger counterparts.
  • Build: Sturdy, lightweight but plasticky.
  • Knobs: 8 assignable pots
  • Pedal Inputs: Sustain
  • Octaves: 10
  • Extra Features: Arpeggiator, Tap Tempo and Multiple Banks, also it comes in 3 color combinations.

Akai LPK25

If you’re looking for a truly portable 25 key MIDI controller then you should look no further than Akai’s LPK25. Not only is the LPK25 small enough to poke out of your back pocket, it will also work with your iOS and Android devices. Not only does it work with your wireless devices, but it also has a completely wireless version that can run off batteries.

Of course, this doesn’t have the technology that Akai is famous for, but it really does give IK Multimedia a run for its money in its portable iRig line that corned the iOS market pretty much immediately. Bonus points? The LP series is designed to perfectly fit in front of a 13-inch laptop.

Features:

  • Keybed: 25 Shallow synth action mini-keys, playable but don’t get crazy.
  • Pads: None.
  • Build: Lightweight and very plasticky.
  • Knobs: None
  • Pedal Inputs: None
  • Octaves: 1 Up, 1 Down
  • Extra Features: There is a wireless edition.

Arturia MiniLab 25 MKII

Arturia’s MiniLab is a power packed 25 key MIDI controller that has a little something for everyone, but definitely the synth enthusiasts.

Features:

  • Keybed: 25 velocity sensitive mini-keys.
  • Pads: 8 RGB backlit some stiff and extremely shallow, gel pads.
  • Build: Lightweight and very plasticky.
  • Knobs: 16 programmable encoder knobs, 2 are clickable.
  • Pedal Inputs: Sustain
  • Octaves: 1 Up, 1 Down
  • Extra Features: 2 touch-sensitive strips for pitch bend and modulation. Comes with Analog Lab Lite.

Novation LaunchKey Mini MKII

Novation’s answer to the portable 25 key MIDI controller craze is the LaunchKey Mini. Spinning off from the Launchpad design that made them a household name for Ableton Live users, the Launchkey gives the same accessibility of a Launchpad Mini with the added bonus of a mini-key filled keybed.

Features:

  • Keybed: 25 velocity sensitive mini-keys.
  • Pads: 16 velocity-sensitive RGB backlit drum pads.
  • Build: Lightweight and very plasticy.
  • Knobs: 8 programmable knobs
  • Pedal Inputs: None
  • Octaves: 1 Up, 1 Down
  • Extra Features: Works with iPad, comes with bonus software. 2 track and navigation buttons.

ROLI Rise Seaboard

Not since Akai added drum pads to MIDI controllers has there been a real breakthrough in the MIDI controller market until ROLI premiered their Seaboard series. The Seaboard is a new sort of MIDI controller all its own. The easiest way to think of the Seaboards is to think of it like a velocity and pressure-sensitive Kaoss pad, mapped to each individual key of a controller allowing for control of modulation and a host of other opportunities.

Though this is the priciest of the controllers on this list, it has its reasons, and they’re all spectacular. The Seaboard Rise is amazing, and while I typically wouldn’t recommend someone spending this amount of cash on a 25 key MIDI controller, the amazing feats of production you can reach with it are amazing because of 5D Touch. With truly no limits to what you can control, as a producer or a┬áproducing DJ, the Rise 25 could be the perfect addition to your rig to bring new sounds to life or to bring a level of realism to your productions that hasn’t been possible without being a proficient keyboardist or multi-instrumentalist.

Features:

  • Keybed: 25 velocity sensitive 5D Touch enhanced standard sized gel “keywaves”, it will take some getting used to..
  • Pads: None.
  • Build: Extremely durable rubber mixed with another plastic-like polymer..
  • Knobs: None.
  • Pedal Inputs: Sustain
  • Octaves: 1 Up, 1 Down
  • Extra Features: Has an actual XY pad with another set of parameters above it that can be mapped for X, Y, and Z controls. Can work wirelessly with MIDI over bluetooth, which also means you can use its internal rechargeable battery. Comes with the custom Equator for RISE plugin, which is a custom built for all of the intricacies of 5D Touch. As a bonus it also now comes with FXpansion’s Strobe2 and Bitwig 8 Track, but who would be using that if they just spent $800 dollars on a 25 key MIDI controller? No one.