A 25 key MIDI controller is the starting point for many producers. Over time, that trusty portable MIDI keyboard can become the centerpiece of the studio, and the number one companion on the road. So, if you’re looking for your first mini MIDI keyboard, then look no further. In this article, I’ll go over all of the best 25 key MIDI controller options on the market today.
In the past, I’ve made articles that cover all of the most popular MIDI keyboard sizes. That includes key counts of 49, 61, and 88. I will link to those articles below if 25 keys is a little too small for you.
If not, well then let me tell you why a key count of 25 on a MIDI controller might be just right for you.
Why Go For 25 Keys?
First of all, MIDI keyboards of this size are perfect for taking on the road. They’re lightweight, compact, and easy to pack up in a backpack.
Secondly, the best 25 key MIDI controllers still offer all the same great features as their bigger brothers, but feature a more streamlined design. This makes it easy to jot down ideas as they come to you due to their “pick-up-and-play” nature.
Lastly, mini MIDI keyboards are simply less intimidating, especially for beginners. If you’re not ready to learn how to play piano on a full-size keyboard, then you can easily start out on a small one like this. 25 keys is plenty for learning simple melodies and triad chords. Once you gain some confidence on a small keyboard, then you can level-up to the big guys.
All in all, a 25 key MIDI controller has numerous benefits, and it’s easy to see why they’re such a popular option in the industry.
How To Choose The Best 25 Key Controller
I have an Ultimate Guide to MIDI Controller Keyboards and The 8 Factors to Consider article to help you on your hunt. Refer to that article first if you’re somewhat unsure what to look for.
Best 25 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards List
Without further ado, let’s dive into the list.
Akai Professional MPK Mini MkII
“The MPK Mini MkII takes the top spot on this list due to its ability to check all of the boxes.”
First up, we have an all-around great performer from Akai. The Akai Professional MPK Mini MkII offers a healthy balance of all things expected out of a 25 key MIDI keyboard controller. It’s compact, easy to pick up and play, and comes with bountiful features. All of this comes at a reasonable price as well.
Akai is well-known for making MIDI keyboards that not only perform well, but come packed with great features that producers love. The Akai MPK Mini MkII does not disappoint in that area. You get 8 backlit MPC pads, 8 assignable knobs, octave control, and an arpeggiator.
The coolest feature of them all is the 4-way pitchbend/modulation joystick which takes the place of a pitch wheel, saving space on this mini MIDI keyboard. The joystick does lend to some interesting capabilities in your creative process, and it’s quite enjoyable to use.
Now, on to the keys themselves. This MIDI keyboard features velocity-sensitive synth-action keys that are good, but not great. With that, the keys are responsive and reliable, despite being a little too small for some. If you have big fingers or are used to wider keys, then this MIDI keyboard might be uncomfortable for you.
That being said, all 25 key MIDI controllers on this list are going to have smaller keys by nature. All in all, the MPK Mini MkII takes the top spot on this list due to its ability to check all of the boxes. It’s affordable, comes with more than enough essential features, and integrates well with all of the most popular DAWs.
Arturia MiniLab MkII
“One can easily say that the Arturia MiniLab MkII is one of the best 25 key MIDI controllers ever made, and they’d probably be right!“
One can easily say that the Arturia MiniLab MkII is one of the best 25 key MIDI controllers ever made, and they’d probably be right! Arturia knows how to put out high-quality keyboards that have that undeniable sound quality to them.
The Arturia MiniLab MkII somehow manages to be just as powerful as a full-sized keyboard. It comes with all of the great features seen in premium controller options such as 8 RGB pads that feel great, 16 encoders for your DAW, octave control, and sustain control. On top of that, you get a small suite of software that consists of Ableton Live Lite, Analog Lab Lite, and UVI Grand Piano.
The keys on this mini MIDI keyboard are velocity-sensitive and really have excellent feedback. They’re tactile and a pleasure to play on, but it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. To save space, Arturia used 25 slim keys, which might be too narrow for some of you. Not a huge issue for those looking for a plug-and-play keyboard like this though, but worth keeping in mind.
The best part about the MiniLab MkII is the fact that it’s made by Arturia. You know you’re getting a MIDI keyboard of the utmost quality that’s going to be the perfect outlet for your on-the-spot ideas. Overall, this 25 key MIDI controller is sure to add loads of functionality to your studio.
Nektar Impact LX25+
“The Impact LX25+ is by far the best value on this list, and just seeing the plethora of controls onboard makes that apparent.”
Nektar MIDI keyboards tend to have an awesome vintage synthesizer look to them, and the LX25+ certainly gives that vibe at first glance. This 25 key MIDI keyboard controller is by far the best value on this list, and just seeing the plethora of controls onboard makes that apparent.
This is a doozy, but here we go. The list of control options on this 25 key controller are as follows: pitch bend wheel, mod wheel, octave control, transpose shift buttons, 8 potentiometers, a 30mm fader, 6 transport controls, and 5 preset locations. Yup, now that’s a lot of controls for such a small keyboard, hence why I say it’s an incredible value.
This ultra-powerful MIDI controller keyboard also features 25 velocity-sensitive synth-action keys that are surprisingly responsive and quite enjoyable to play. Some folks even say that the keys on the Nektar Impact LX25+ have a better feel than the acclaimed Akai MIDI controller options on this list. That’s for you to decide, but the point is these keys are quite nice.
The only downside to this mini MIDI keyboard is the pads. They do have a good responsive feel to them, but they’re quite small. This can undoubtedly lead to annoying and unintentional mistakes that can throw your creative process off course.
Again, the Nektar LX25+ is easily the best value among 25 key MIDI controllers. It’s an excellent option for those of you that want a keyboard that goes above and beyond what would be expected with its modest price tag.
Akai Professional MPK225
“If you’re looking for a high-end 25 key MIDI keyboard that has no shortage of great features, then look no further than the MPK225.“
You can’t have a roundup of MIDI keyboards without featuring at least two options from Akai. The Akai Professional MPK225 is definitely the premium option on this list that comes with a number of high-end features.
So, you get 8 MPC pads that are simply amazing, 8 rotary knobs, pitch/mod wheels, and a whole lot more! You also get an excellent bundle of software and plugins with this 25 key MIDI controller to get your creations started. This bundle includes two virtual synths (Air Hybrid 3 and SONiVOX Twist), Ableton Live Lite, and the MPC Essentials sampler.
On top of all that, the keys are semi-weighted, which is rare in a mini MIDI keyboard like this. To say the least, the keys feel great to play on. Also, the LCD screen is very useful and makes this keyboard feel like more than a simple input device.
Despite all of the praise I’ve given this mini MIDI keyboard thus far, there are a few shortcomings to be aware of. First among them is obviously the price. As I said, it’s a premium option and it’s priced as such. Second is the size. Although it’s still got a small overall footprint, this MIDI keyboard is a little heavy and bulky compared to others.
The MPK225’s downsides are to be expected though. You can’t have a MIDI keyboard that’s this powerful without sacrificing in some areas. At the end of the day, the price is fair, and the bulkiness isn’t completely unbearable. It’s also necessary to house all of it’s premium capabilities.
So, if you’re looking for a high-end 25 key MIDI keyboard controller that has no shortage of great features, then look no further than the Akai Professional MPK225. It’s sure to impress you just like it has impressed countless others.
For Ableton Users
Novation Launchkey Mini MK3
“What makes the Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 stand out is it’s abundance of great features.“
I’m sure it’s no surprise to see a 25 key MIDI keyboard controller option from Novation on the list. Ableton is one of the most popular DAWs used among producers and sound engineers everywhere, and the Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 is it’s perfect companion.
This 25 key MIDI controller comes with mini synth-action keys that have a more than adequate feel to them. Yet again, these keys might be too small for some of you as to be expected. The Launchkey Mini MK3 does have a slightly larger footprint than others on this list, but it still only weighs a little over 1 lbs.
What makes this mini MIDI keyboard stand out is it’s abundance of great features. You get plenty of control options in the form of 8 rotary knobs, 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, pitch bend and modulation controls, octave and transpose controls, transport controls, and an arpeggiator.
The Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 seamlessly integrates with Ableton, making all of those controls responsive and very easy to plug-and-play. That actually brings me to the one downside of this mini MIDI keyboard. Now, it will integrate with other DAWs besides just Ableton, but the setup time will be more of a pain, especially when mapping controls.
With that, this mini MIDI keyboard is certainly meant for Ableton users. It gives you the ability to have full control over sample triggering, note for note performances, and real-time manipulation and modulation. Everything works like a dream on this MIDI controller if you’re an Ableton user.
Again, none of this is to say that this mini MIDI controller is perfect. For example, even though you get 16 pads, they’re a tad small. They could’ve saved space by including 8 pads which is typically all you need. Also, some of the knobs have a tendency to pop off if you’re not careful with them.
At the end of the day, this is the best 25 key MIDI controller for Ableton users looking for an easy way to jot down their ideas.
“The Alesis V25 is an extremely popular mini MIDI keyboard. This is mainly due to its affordability and it’s large drum pads.“
Here we have another 25 key MIDI controller option that integrates well with another popular DAW: Pro Tools. The Alesis V25 is an extremely popular mini MIDI keyboard. This is mainly due to its affordability and it’s large drum pads.
The Alesis V25 is a simple little MIDI controller that comes with all of the bare essentials in terms of controls. You get 8 backlit MPC pads, 4 rotary knobs, pitch and mod wheels, and octave control. The keys are full size, velocity-sensitive and synth-action. They have a good feel, but also feel a little cheap at the same time. Should be adequate for most users though.
Although the V25 mini MIDI controller doesn’t come with an abundance of controls, it makes up for it with the great software that’s bundled with it. You get Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite 9, Eleven Lite, Mini Grand, DB-33 and Xpand!2. At this affordable price, that’s an excellent value.
Another great thing about this mini MIDI keyboard is it’s looks. As you can see in the picture above, the case is a smooth black and the pads emit a cool blue light. It’s also very lightweight and easy to pack in a bag if you’re on the move.
The V25 is by no means perfect though. The overall feel of this mini MIDI keyboard could be best described as flimsy. It’s made entirely of plastic and the longevity of this MIDI controller is questionable. It would be wise to take good care of this device if you decide to purchase it for your studio.
Despite that, the best part about the Alesis V25 is certainly the price. It’s a very affordable keyboard that does it’s job well while giving you an incredible suite of software.
Alternative Pick – Alesis VI25
If you’re looking for something similar to the Alesis V25 then the VI25 is worth checking out as well. It’s quite a bit more expensive, but it comes with more features and a slightly better build-quality. You get 16 backlit MPC pads instead of 8, 16 knobs instead of 4, 48 assignable buttons, more transport controls, and a 5-pin MIDI port.
You also still get the same software bundle as the V25. The velocity-sensitive keys are pretty much the same and still leave much to be desired in terms of overall feel, but this is simply more of a feature-rich MIDI controller. It can certainly be a great little workhorse in your studio.
Novation Launchkey Mini MK3
“It has one job and it does it well, and if you just need some keys to play around on, then this is the best choice.“
Last but not least, we have an ultra-portable MIDI keyboard option from, yet again, Akai. I felt that it was only fair to include a keyboard of this style on the list. Some of you aren’t looking for any bells and whistles, and just need a set of 25 keys. The Akai Professional LPK25 will fulfill that need just fine.
This is a simple 25 key MIDI controller that won’t break the bank and offers plug-and-play capabilities to the finest degree. It does come with a few onboard controls like octave control, an arpeggiator and a program control. By and large, the main function of this mini MIDI controller is the keybed.
The keys are velocity-sensitive and are somewhere between full-size and mini. No, these aren’t the best feeling keys ever made, but they’ll do a fine job for beginners or those of you who just want to quickly jot some stuff down.
There’s really not a whole lot to say about the Akai Professional LPK25 MIDI controller that you can’t see in the picture. What you see is what you get. This is a no-frills option that’s very affordable and very portable. It has one job and it does it well, and if you just need some keys to play around on, then this is the best choice.
There you have it. The list of the best 25 key MIDI controllers has come to an end. There’s a lot here for producers of any kind. A mini MIDI keyboard is an essential tool for any studio, and a good place to start for beginners as well.
My top choice is the Akai Professional MPK Mini MkII for a number of reasons. It’s a solid all-around choice that offers a perfect balance of features as well as a good keybed. It’s also surprisingly affordable and it integrates very well with most of the popular DAWs out there.
Each mini MIDI keyboard option on this list is great in its own way though. Whether you’re looking for a premium keyboard with loads of features or a simple one that just has keys, there’s something here for everyone.
I only hope that this article has given you some useful information on your search. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out at any time!