Nobody has benefited more from the advancement in modern technology than the musician. Today, musicians from all genres have access to a greater number of tools and instruments than ever before. The instruments have been enhanced, yet simplified. This is clearly evident when looking at the market’s MIDI keyboards. Many are compact, lightweight and surprisingly versatile. Nevertheless, the sheer number of options can complicate the selection process. By using the information provided below, you’ll have little to no trouble pinpointing the best MIDI keyboard under $100!
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII USB MIDI Controller
The Akai MPK Mini MIDI Controller is designed for on-the-go musicians. Its compact, lightweight design offers portability and will even fit into any backpack. Measuring in at 12.4-inches in length, which is similar to that of the Alesis V Mini and the price difference will not even be noticeable.
Plug And Play Design
The Akai MPK Mini, Alesis V Mini and Akai LPK25 offer a plug & play installation and setup, so you do not have to spend hours repeating the process every time the unit is unplugged. Just plug the USB cable into the computer USB port and you are set to go.
This is one of the most diverse MIDI controllers on the market. It is compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, Windows Vista, Windows XP and Mac operating system, along with the Windows- compatible sound card. However, the brand recommends utilizing Mac 10.5 or later.
Backlit MPC-Style Pads
Many musicians tend to perform in low light conditions, making it difficult to see the features on their controller. Well, that will not be an issue with the Akai Professional MPK, with its backlit pads you will be able to see clearly even in advanced darkness! The pads are velocity-sensitive, which means that they will be able to detect and respond to the pressure applied. The pads are also embedded full level and note repeat features.
- Plug & Play design
- Powered through the computer
- Embedded with a full size sustain pedal input jack
- USB cable and software (downloadable) included
- Backlit, rubber, MPC-style drum pads
- Compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems
- 12.4 inches in length
- Lightweight and portable (1.6 pounds)
- Software may be too intimidating for a beginner
- Brand does not provide a tutorial on setup or operation process
The Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII 25-Key MIDI Controller is perfect for any beginner or skilled musician. The interface is fairly easy to adapt to, as well as the set up. The compact footprint will allow you to store the controller in your backpack during transportation.
M-Audio Keystation 49 II
If you are looking for a world-class electronic keyboard that can transform your MAC, PC, or iOS devices into virtual instruments, you need to check out the M-Audio Keystation 49 II. Fully equipped with a variety of different recording software options musicians have the ability to record, improvise, remix, or edit all their works in the studio or on the road. Musicians often times spend a lot of time on the road and the controller was truly designed for the musician on the go.
Powered By USB Hub
Whether you find yourself in a bus or on a plane, there may be times when you are limited access to an electric outlet. While this might be a problem with other keyboards, it really doesn’t play a factor for the M-Audio Keystation 49 II. With this keyboard, musicians don’t need an electrical outlet. All you have to do is hook the keyboard right into the USB port of your laptop and the keyboard will fully power up and be playable.
Lightweight Design And Easy Setup
The M-Audio Keystation 49 II is a fully sized keyboard with 49 playable keys. However, with a lightweight design of 4.5 pounds, players won’t have a problem transporting the instrument from gig to gig. In addition to this, the keyboard is incredibly easy to setup, so users can be set up and ready to play in any environment in just a matter of minutes.
Professional Grade Features
When you combine the 49 keys with octave range buttons, pitch blends, and modulation wheels the M-Audio 49 II truly arms musicians with a wide arsenal of tools to broadening their own playing skills. Some of these features will only be found on the more expensive keyboards, but you can have them all at one affordable price with the M-Audio 49 II.
- Includes a wide range of features that can enhance your playing style
- Comes with software options for recording, remixing, editing, and improvising
- Full sized keyboard with a lightweight design
- Easy to set up anywhere
- Fully powered through your laptop’s USB port
- Interface may be a little too complicated for beginners
The M-Audio Keystation 49 II is a full sized electronic keyboard that offers users unique features and 49 playable keys that not only enhances your play style, but also broadens your range of playability.
Akai Professional LPK25 25 Mini-Key Keyboard
A lot of keyboardists will be interested in having the freedom to pick and choose as they see fit. The Akai Professional LPK25 is lacking in some areas, but it also delivers extra convenience that cannot be found anywhere else. For instance, this specific keyboard can be powered with a USB cable, as well as AA batteries. This gives you the freedom to play anywhere, even if you do not have access to a power outlet or a computer. Plus, the instrument is equipped with the latest Bluetooth 4.0 technology for a wireless connection.
A Decent Number Of Options
The Akai Professional LPK25 isn’t nearly as versatile as many of the alternatives, but it still offers a decent number of options and settings. For instance, it possesses octave buttons and an Arpeggiator mode. At the same time, the unit can be connected to an assortment of iOS devices and computers via Bluetooth. This will allow you to turn your tablet into your very own portable workstation.
- Very compact and lightweight
- Features an Arpeggiator mode
- Can be connected wirelessly to iOS devices
- Powered by batteries or USB cable
- Contains Octave buttons and sustain pedal input
- Works with Mac and Windows apps
- Controls are limited
- USB port is a little delicate
Despite lacking a lot of controls, the Akai Professional LPK25 Keyboard is still fairly attractive. The addition of the Bluetooth technology and the various power options make it slightly more convenient and affordable than the others. It will prove to be a good investment for a lot of musicians.
M-Audio Axiom AIR Mini 32-Key Keyboard
The M-Audio Axiom Air strikes the perfect balance between functionality and affordability. It might be slightly bigger than the alternatives, but this makes it a little more versatile as well. The keyboard is equipped with 32 velocity-sensitive keys. The keys feel great and they’ll give you the ability to pour your heart and soul into your music. Do not be fooled by the low cost. This keyboard lacks nothing, when compared to its bigger rivals.
A Wealth Of Options
Truly, the M-Audio Axiom will not restrict your creativity in the least. Instead, the keyboard delivers enough freedom so you can achieve the precise sound that you’re after. For instance, this instrument is equipped with 8 trigger pads and 8 assignable knobs. It includes everything you could desire, including octave, sustain, modulation, and pitch bend buttons. With this combination of features, the potential is nearly endless.
- Contains 32 velocity-sensitive keys
- Equipped with octave, pitch bend, modulation, and sustain controls
- Comes with Ableton Live Lite
- Features 8 trigger pads and 8 assignable knobs
- Barely weighs over 2 pounds
- Can conveniently fit into a laptop backpack
- Knobs feel a little flimsy
- Pads are a bit too stiff
It is safe to say that the M-Audio Axiom AIR is not short on features. In fact, the keyboard could easily be described as a workhorse. It contains plenty of pads and knobs, yet it is lightweight, compact and easily portable. It makes a great instrument for any modern keyboardist.
Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note USB Keyboard
The Novation Launchkey USB Keyboard is designed for easy transportation, but it lacks very little when compared to its bigger counterparts. The instrument is equipped with 8 knobs and 16 velocity-sensitive pads. This gives the musician quick access to effects, so they can alter their music to their heart’s content. The keyboard is USB powered for added freedom to play on the go. What else sets the Launchkey apart from its competition? You’ll find out below!
Pads Allow For Seamless Loops And Beats
Playing a mini keyboard truly takes lightning fast reflexes. Simultaneously, you’ll need the right equipment so you can mix in loops and beats with the sounds produced by the keyboard itself. This is where the Novation Launchkey really excels. The 16 multi-colored pads make it possible for the musician to initiate a wide assortment of clips in the middle of jamming on the keys. In fact, with this keyboard, it is possible to play as a band, even when you’re alone.
Works With Various Software
Another major perk of the Novation Launchkey Mini is its versatility. The keyboard can be utilized with a wide variety of computer programs, including V Station, XLN Audio Addictive Keys, and the Novation Bass Station. In fact, the keyboard is compatible with almost all major DAWs, including the FL Studio software.
- Works with most DAWs
- USB powered for added freedom
- Contains 16 pads and 8 knobs
- 25 velocity-sensitive keys feel great
- Easily portable, thanks to the light weight and compact size
- Pad sensitivity could be better
- Could be improved with weighted keys
The Novation Launchkey Mini Keyboard isn’t flawless, but it still comes pretty close. In fact, it is safe to say that the keyboard will easily satisfy the mass majority of musicians. For the price, it is very difficult to top.
Alesis V Mini 25-Key Portable USB Keyboard
Portability is undeniably important for a modern musician. The Alesis V Mini Keyboard is truly the perfect solution for those demanding convenient portability. In fact, at just 1.25 pounds, the Alesis could easily be the most portable keyboard on the market. It is slightly lighter than the Novation Launchkey and the Akai Professional MPK MIDI controllers.
And, the lightweight, compact build is simply one of the keyboard’s many benefits. Others will be provided in greater depth below.
When heading out, there is a possibility that you may not be able to access a power outlet. This would make it impossible to play an ordinary keyboard. Alesis has solved this problem with their V Mini Keyboard. This product is powered via a USB port. Simply plug the USB cable into the keyboard and plug the opposite end into your computer. This allows the musician to ply their trade virtually anywhere in the world. This is different from the Akai Professional LPK25, which is actually battery powered.
Small, But Versatile
Initially, you may believe that the 25-key design of the Alesis V Mini would restrict your abilities to play an entire range of notes. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While the keyboard only contains 25 keys, it is surprisingly very versatile. The keyboard is equipped with Octave up and down buttons, thus giving the user the ability to play a comprehensive melodic range, as well as bass lines and chords. Simultaneously, the keyboard features velocity-sensitivity keys. This allows the keyboard to respond to the precise amount of pressure and speed applied.
Compatible With The V Mini Editor
How would you like to customize the keyboard to better accommodate your precise needs at any point in time? While the Alesis V Mini does not possess as many pads and knobs as its rivals, it does deliver added customization options. The keyboard works fluidly with the V Mini Editor software. With this program, the user can manipulate nearly any button on the keyboard, including the pads and knobs. This allows the user to achieve the original sound that they desire.
- Velocity-sensitivity keys feel great
- Portability is nearly unparalleled
- Contains pitch-bend, sustain, modulation, and octave buttons
- USB powered
- Compact and consumes limited space
- Keys are slightly firm initially
- Fewer pads and knobs than others
Despite a few hiccups, the Alesis V Mini is still very impressive. The keyboard’s price is well under the threshold and easily justifiable. The keyboard would make a great addition to any musician’s arsenal, but it is best for those demanding maximum portability.
Each musician is different. Therefore, it is pertinent for each to make their own decision in the end. Nevertheless, the Novation Launchkey Mini is likely the overall best MIDI keyboard under $100. It blends a compact, lightweight size with a surprising number of features. If you want the best of both worlds, this is definitely the keyboard for you!