Dreaming of producing your own beats with a MIDI after listening to your favorite artist on repeat for the millionth time? Perhaps you’ve got a MIDI already that you love (or hate!) and you’re looking to find a worthwhile upgrade.
A Mini MIDI is a distinctive digital instrument capable of making some mightily impressive music, especially in the hands of an experienced user, but there are many different models on the market, each promising to be more exciting than its competitor.
Appropriate software and a computer are necessary for use alongside a MIDI, as the sound is generated digitally, so picking one that isn’t compatible with the programs or electronic devices you have could have disastrous consequences.
Professional or amateur, we’ve assembled a list of five Mini MIDIs we believe hit all the right notes, so making your choice is as simple as selecting the keyboard/drum pad hybrid that suits your needs and abilities best according to our descriptions, pros, and cons.
Our Buyer’s Guide will acquaint you with the features of a high-quality Mini Midi, helping you decide which model might be appropriate for your aspirations.
If you’re still wondering about something. check out the frequently asked questions sections to see if we’ve covered it.
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 5 Best Mini MIDI Keyboards
- 2 Best Mini MIDI Keyboards Buying Guide
- 3 Best Mini MIDI Keyboards - FAQ
Top 5 Best Mini MIDI Keyboards
OUR TOP PICK
Itching to make music with no time to waste weighing up your options? We would recommend the VMini from Alesis as an all-around MIDI that ticks all of the boxes, with everything you need to get hands-on in your production.
With just a USB connection (compatible with PC and Mac) you’ll power the MIDI and be able to send commands to your software; Alesis use class compliant specifications, so there’s no need to download any drivers before you get started.
Twenty-five speed sensitive keyboard keys, octave control buttons and assignable knobs that will allow you to control a wide variety of virtual instruments, techniques and adjustments for high-tech music making.
Fitting easily in a backpack, laptop bag or suitcase, this mini MIDI is a great size for traveling with; no need to halt recording your next Soundcloud track drop because you have to go away for a couple of days!
Four speed-sensitive backlit pads can be used for clip launching, one-shot triggering and drum programming, perfectly positioned in easy reach of the other keys so you’ll have direct access whilst playing.
Also included with your purchase is a premium suite of software tools, First Elesis Edition and Eleven Lite, alongside Mini Grand, DB-33 and Xpand!2, supplying you with the core programs for playing, producing and recording music right out of the box.
- Create your own software setup with a V-Mini Editor
- Portable but powerful despite only weighing a pound
- Simple USB plug and play
- Bundle of software includes
- Some customers report key sensitivity can vary
Access unrestricted electronic music creation with the Keystation Mini MIDI from M-Audio.
No matter if you’re a beginner looking to test the waters or a professional beat-dropper seeking a smaller setup for portable playing, you’ll find the MK3 simple yet effective.
Octave range buttons, volume knobs, pitch-blend and modulation buttons are all fully assignable, allowing you to alter your sounds considerably for such a simplistic looking device - there’s even a sustain button to mimic those classic long piano notes.
Thirty-two natural feeling mini velocity-sensitive keys are combined with a low-profile, portable footprint, working with the comprehensive controls systems to let you assign, control and play whatever you want, whenever you want.
Easy to configure, lightweight and USB powered, this class-compliant MIDI is ready to connect and play; unlike many others, it also supports iOS connectivity with the Apple Lightning to USB Adapter (sold separately).
There’s no need for additional purchases with the premium software package included alongside your purchase, boasting the likes of XPand!2, ProTools, and First M-Audio Edition so you’ve got everything at your fingertips.
- PC and Mac compatible
- iOS supported with separate purchase of adaptor cable
- 32 keys
- Software Suite included
- May require a USB hub to hit maximum power
Bold and all-black, this beautiful instrument stands out from the crowd with its unique aesthetic, but that’s not the only reason it’s so popular. The third generation of MPK mini MIDI keyboards, AKAI promises to redefine how a generation of creators make music.
You’ll find the twenty five MIDI keyboard keys more than adept at studio production, virtual instrument and synthesizer operation and producing your own beats at the touch of a button, and that’s just the start.
Eight backlit, speed-sensitive MPC-style beat pads are fully equipped with Note Repeat and Full LEvel functionality, allowing users to program drums, control a virtual synth, trigger samples and alter DAW controls with just their fingertips!
An innovative four-way joystick allows a dynamic alteration of pitch and modulation control; if that wasn’t tantalizing enough, there’s also an inbuilt arpeggiator with adjustable range, modes and resolution… so many settings to play with!
The Complete Music Production Starter Kit is filled with everything a new user needs for immediate creative expression, like six virtual instruments, MPC Beats software and an expansive sample collection boasting over 1500 sounds.
A complete command of all virtual instruments and sound effects is achieved with eight 360 degree knobs to assign with any plugins your heart desires, enabling you to mix, tweak and control anything you can think of for a truly personalized experience.
- Almost forty different keys and controls to play with
- All of the software you need to begin (and more!) is included free
- Available in all-black, funky white or standard keyboard colors
- Compatible with any electronic device
- Audible click of buttons might prove annoying
Pairing a mini design and full-sized keyboard keys, the LX+ from Nektar is a premium MIDI keyboard with twenty-five expressive action keys, built-in pitch bend and modulation wheels for your best performances yet.
Automatically paired Netkar DAW Integration software allows your Impact controllers to become fully configured remote controls for more than ten popular DAWS - manipulate mixer function, virtual instruments and focus on your creativity, not set up and installation.
Dedicated octave and transpose buttons work hand in hand with your keys and wheels, and are within easy reach for quickly shifting between functions as necessary - all four buttons can be assigned additional functions too.
A programmable real-time fader and eight potentiometers are fully amendable and allow users to send unique MIDI messages, stored in any of the five user presets you have access to, with seamless switching and DAW integration for flexible pre-mapped control.
Eight backlit pads are entirely mappable, sensitive and great to play, and assigning sounds, MIDI notes and beats is easy using Impact’s Pad Learn feature: turn it on, select a pad and press a key on the keyboard to assign it a sound or MIDI note. All done!
Save all of your setups in Pad Maps for recall at any time, and when DAW Integration is activated, pads are automatically mapped in both Reason and Bitwig (for instance, any software is applicable) to replicate a real drum machine, with instantaneous color feedback.
- Groundbreaking Nektar DAW software included with purchase
- Pre-mapped, pre-assigned keys are great for beginners but fully amendable
- Perhaps the most keys, buttons, wheels and faders of any Mini MIDI
- Supports all major DAW software
- Slightly bulkier than other mini models
Directly connected to your iPad, PC or Mac and suitable with any apps that support CoreMidi functionality, the Panda Mini from Ammoon is a versatile MIDI with plug and play USB 2.0 connection and no need for drivers.
Twenty five speed-sensitive keys allow for a variety of digital instruments to be played and manipulated, and coming in at only two pounds, you’ll be able to make music on the go, taking the Panda with you in a bag, suitcase or laptop case with ease.
Four banks of settings, each with their own assignable individual knob and sliders for controlling pitch and modulation as much or as little as you like, each completely mappable for whatever purpose you’d like.
Eight backlit trigger pads generate your core functionality and have been especially engineered for rapid sound production and potential, each assignable to any task, sound or MIDI command you set it.
With control buttons specifically for CC Mod, Mod, Bank, Prog, Pitch and Octave adjustments, making music is as simple as moving your hands around the MIDI, and everything is more than reachable for sleek, efficient production value.
- Compatible with the majority of DAW software, PC and Mac
- Assignable drum pads and plenty of editing sliders/wheels/buttons
- Remap your keys to suit you
- USB powered and connected to your electronic device - plug and play
- No DAW software included
Best Mini MIDI Keyboards Buying Guide
MIDI keyboards, also known as controller keyboards, are electronic musical keyboards that replicate the piano’s style, usually featuring wheels, sliders or buttons for sending MIDI commands through cables to other devices or a computer.
MIDI is an acronym, meaning Musical Instrument Digital Interface, referring to a method of communication between instruments and electronic devices that allows you to play multiple instruments at once, albeit virtually, by sending MIDI commands back and forth.
What is a MIDI command, I hear you ask? A series of binary digits, or zeroes and ones, sent as a signal to an instrument or computer, which recognizes and responds, combining the two communications into eight-bit messages reporting information to your software.
You see, the basic MIDI keyboard doesn’t make music on its own - the sounds you make are actually created digitally on your computer, laptop, or another compatible device, using software and alongside virtual instruments if you wish.
Although you’re playing the MIDI with your hands in real-time, the sound produced is played through your digital speakers, simultaneously reflected on your device screen when you play a virtual piano using software, for instance.
Why Make Your Midi Mini?
If you’re a musician on the go, inundated with requests to play electronic concerts or serve as resident DJ at your friends’ parties, size is a pretty important factor. You want to be able to fit your equipment into a bag you can carry - unless you’re lucky enough to have a van!
Those of us who aren’t equipped with four wheels to help transport their tech would benefit from the Mini MIDI’s more compact design, though this doesn’t interfere too much with having enough room for extra controls and features, so it’s not all bad.
Most MIDI artists don’t have access to a professional studio, so desk space might be limited when it comes to your setup. If this is the case, getting a Mini might help - you’ll still be able to find one with the majority of the functions you need to play your funky music.
As they’re more petite in nature, a MIDI costs less for the manufacturer to produce overall than their full-size counterparts, and this saving is reflected in the price the consumer pays - the money you’ll save is enough to pay for some software, too!
Features To Consider
Before you come to your conclusion, think about every aspect of the Mini MIDI you’d like to have, and then read through our list of properties to see what functions you might have missed in your brainstorming session
A lot of MIDI keyboards offer other controls besides additional keys, some of which allow users to manipulate DAW controls or the sound generating software.
As long as you can assign the correct mapped function, you can manipulate or alter your instrument’s sound.
Sliders/Faders - Usually used as drawbars for virtual organs, controlling equalizer (EQ) or altering the channel faders
Knobs - Typically able to receive a function, either for endless encoding or potentiometers
Buttons - Potentially assignable, could allow menu editing, settings, MIDI Code information, DAW transport controls or increasing and decreasing the octave
Pads - rubberized, speed-sensitive pads, used for drum hits, patch changes and inciting other musical events
Pitch Bend/Modulation - users can control pitch bend and modulation using one of several setups: two wheels, X/Y joysticks, Roland-style levers, Nord pitch sticks
Do you hate the limitations of a wired setup? Are you the kind of musician who likes as simple a process as possible? Some MIDIs have Wifi or Bluetooth connection capabilities, saving you the hassle of plugging in via USBs.
If you don’t mind things a little more complicated, you’ll probably be able to save a little money by opting for a wired model, and the MIDI’s capabilities won’t be at all limited by the lack of wireless connections.
Best Mini MIDI Keyboards - FAQ
Can you use a MIDI keyboard without a computer?
Technically, the answer to this question is yes, but you can’t use a MIDI on its own - you need something to stand in for your computer to generate sound, like a tone generator (also known as a synthesizer).
You will also need an external speaker setup if your device does not have them built-in, as the music won’t be audible otherwise, and that isn’t very useful for a budding musician, is it?
Should I get a midi controller or a synth?
Midi Controllers - in this context, keyboards, but any method that can produce a MIDI event is applicable - generate sounds but cannot play them. More compact than a synth, as a result, a MIDI is better if you have plans to use multiple devices and software.
Synthesizers are electronic instruments that produce their own sounds, with components to generate tones and internal speakers to play them, which makes them larger and more expensive than their synth counterparts.
What do you plug a MIDI keyboard into?
Your MIDI keyboard can be connected to a computer to make music using software and virtual instruments, generating sounds virtually. You can also connect them to foot pedals to control your music, with various purposes.
Piano, Sustain, MIDI stomp, Organ keyboard and expression pedals are all available and can be configured to work in conjunction with DAWs, send MIDI commands or control characteristics like volume, effects and patch changes.
Which MIDI keyboard is best for FL Studio?
Most MIDI keyboards are suitable for use with FL Studio, a DAW tool that’s especially well received amongst EDM producers, but some will offer better performance and variation in controls, depending on their affinity with the FL software controls.
There are a few models designed specifically for use with FL Studio, which have multiple pads for use with its patented Step Sequencer. The number of keys, integration with other DAWs and price tag are all other factors you could consider.
Can I use a MIDI keyboard as a piano?
You can replicate a “real-life” piano by using a MIDI keyboard alongside a computer or another MIDI command capable electronic device, but it doesn’t make any sounds independently, nor does it function in the same way as a traditional piano would.
These digital piano sounds are generated entirely through signals, as controlled by the keyboard itself, but these will play from the speaker of the computer or electronic device as they are produced through software.
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