The Best Cheap MIDI Keyboards! (Ultimate Guide 2023)

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Looking for the best cheap MIDI keyboard in 2023? We’ve got you covered! In this ultimate guide, we compare and review the top 5 cheapest MIDI keyboards on the market, based on price, features, and performance. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, we’ve got a keyboard for you.

 

1. AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

BEGINNER-FRIENDLY CHOICE

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2. Arturia MiniLab MKII

COMPACT AND VERSATILE

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3. Nektar, 49-Key (SE49)

EXPRESSIVE CONTROL

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4. AKAI Professional APC Key 25 MK2                               

ABLETON FOCUS

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5. M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3

PORTABLE POWERHOUSE

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6. Donner DMK25 Pro MIDI                               

AFFORDABLE EXCELLENCE

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1. AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

BEGINNER-FRIENDLY CHOICE

Very Portable!25 velocity-sensitive mini keys.
8 Backlit MPC pads for triggering.Knobs and faders for control.
Picture by AKAI

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Picture by Alesis

PROS

  • The Akai Professional MPK Mini MK3 is an excellent choice for musicians on a budget, as it offers a range of positive features that make it a worthwhile investment.                                                                                                                                                                          
  • First and foremost, its portability and affordability set it apart from other MIDI keyboards on the market. The MPK Mini MK3 is compact and lightweight, making it easy to take with you wherever you go. Its affordable price tag makes it an attractive option for musicians looking to save money without compromising on quality.

    One of the standout features of the MPK Mini MK3 is its 25 velocity-sensitive mini keys. These keys allow for expressive playing, as the velocity sensitivity allows for different levels of dynamics depending on how hard the keys are pressed. This gives musicians a greater range of control over their performance.

    In addition to the keys, the MPK Mini MK3 is equipped with 8 backlit MPC pads. These pads are perfect for triggering drums, samples, and loops. They are also velocity-sensitive, allowing musicians to control the volume and intensity of their sounds by adjusting the pressure applied to the pads.

    The MPK Mini MK3 also includes 4 knobs and 4 faders, which provide hands-on control over software synthesizers and effects. These controls allow musicians to easily tweak their sounds and create the perfect mix. This level of control is crucial for musicians who want to customize their music and create unique sounds.

    Aside from these major pros, the MPK Mini MK3 offers additional features that enhance its value. It includes a built-in arpeggiator, a step sequencer, and a 64-step MIDI recorder. These features enable musicians to easily and creatively compose and record music. Furthermore, the MPK Mini MK3 comes with a software bundle that includes MPC Beats, Hybrid 3, SONiVOX Big Bang, and AIR Music Technology Mini Grand. These software programs provide additional tools and resources for musicians to explore and expand their musical capabilities.

    In conclusion, the Akai Professional MPK Mini MK3 is an excellent choice for budget-minded musicians. Its portability, affordability, and range of features make it a standout option among cheap MIDI keyboards. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced musician, the MPK Mini MK3 offers a user-friendly experience and a comprehensive set of tools. With its versatile design and excellent value for money, it is undoubtedly a top contender for the best cheap MIDI keyboard in 2023.

CONS

  • 1. Limited number of keys. The MPK Mini MK3 only has exactly 25 keys, which may not satisfy musicians who require a larger keyboard. This can be especially problematic for pianists or keyboard players accustomed to full-sized keyboards.

    2. Difficulty using the joystick. The joystick, a small, two-axis control used for pitch bend and modulation, can be challenging to utilize precisely. Users find it arduous to control the joystick and might accidentally manipulate both pitch bend and modulation simultaneously.

    Overall, the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 is a superbly priced MIDI keyboard. It’s compact, offers an impressive range of features, and comes with diverse software options. Nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge the potential drawbacks posed by the limited number of keys and the difficulty of using the joystick.

2. Arturia MiniLab MKII

COMPACT AND VERSATILE

Portable, affordable, 25 keys, 16 pads, 8 encodersFeature-packed despite small size.
Compatible with popular DAWs.“Bundled with over 500 presets.”
Picture by Arturia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

PROS

    • 1. Portable and affordable. The MiniLab MKII is a small and lightweight keyboard that is easy to transport, making it a great option for traveling musicians or producers. It is also very affordable, making it a great entry-level MIDI keyboard.

      2. Well-equipped for the price. Despite its small size, the MiniLab MKII is packed with features, including 25 velocity-sensitive keys, 16 velocity-sensitive pads, 8 encoders, and 4 knobs. This makes it a versatile MIDI controller that can be used for a variety of tasks, such as playing virtual instruments, controlling effects, and sequencing music.

      3. Compatible with most DAWs. The MiniLab MKII is compatible with most popular DAWs, including Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and FL Studio. This makes it a great choice for musicians who want to use it with their favorite software.

      4. Comes with Analog Lab Lite. The MiniLab MKII comes bundled with Analog Lab Lite, a software synthesizer that includes over 500 presets. This gives you a great starting point for creating your own sounds.

      In addition to these pros, the MiniLab MKII also has a few other features that make it a great choice for budget-minded musicians. For example, it has a built-in arpeggiator and sequencer, which can be used to create complex musical patterns. It also has a USB connection, so you can connect it to your computer without any additional hardware.

      Overall, the Arturia MiniLab MKII is a great option for musicians looking for a portable, affordable, and well-equipped MIDI keyboard. It is compatible with most popular DAWs and comes bundled with Analog Lab Lite, a software synthesizer that includes over 500 presets.

      Here are some additional thoughts on the MiniLab MKII in relation to the blog post:

      The MiniLab MKII is one of the cheapest MIDI keyboards on the market, but it still offers a lot of value for the price. It is a great option for beginners who are looking to learn about MIDI and start creating music. It is also a good option for experienced musicians who want a portable and affordable MIDI controller for live performances or studio use.

      If you are looking for a cheap MIDI keyboard that is well-equipped and compatible with most DAWs, the Arturia MiniLab MKII is a great option to consider. It offers a lot of functionality and versatility, making it a valuable tool for any musician or producer.

CONS

  • 1. Limited sound selection. The MiniLab MKII only includes 500 sounds from Analog Lab Lite, compared to the 5000 sounds included with the original MiniLab. To access the full range of sounds, users will need to upgrade to the full version of Analog Lab at an additional cost.

    2. Smaller-sized keys. With 25 mini keys, the MiniLab MKII falls short of full-size keys found on other keyboards. Musicians accustomed to playing on standard keyboards may find the smaller keys less comfortable.

    Despite these drawbacks, the Arturia MiniLab MKII remains a viable choice as a budget MIDI keyboard. However, shoppers should consider these cons before making a purchase!

3. Nektar, 49-Key Midi Controller (SE49)

EXPRESSIVE CONTROL

Affordable!Full-size keys for expressive playing.
DAW integration for easy control.Portable and lightweight MIDI keyboard.
Picture by Nektar,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

PROS

  • 1. Affordable price. The Nektar SE49 is one of the most affordable 49-key MIDI keyboards on the market, making it a great option for beginners or those on a tight budget. Its reasonable price of $100 provides excellent value for a MIDI keyboard with full-size keys and DAW integration.

    2. Full-size keys. The SE49 features full-size velocity-sensitive keys, which give you a more expressive playing experience than mini keys. These keys are much more comfortable to play and offer greater control over your sound. With a synth-action feel, they provide the perfect amount of weight and resistance.

    3. DAW integration. The SE49 comes with Nektar’s DAW Integration software, making it easy to control your digital audio workstation (DAW) with the keyboard. This software offers a range of features, including track selection, transport control, and parameter automation. It is compatible with popular DAWs like Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and FL Studio, providing seamless integration for your music production workflow.

    4. Portability. Weighing just 4.4 pounds and measuring 33.5 x 11.8 x 3 inches, the SE49 is lightweight and compact, making it easy to take with you wherever you go. Whether you’re traveling, performing, or simply moving between home and studio, the SE49 offers excellent portability without compromising on functionality.

    Overall, the Nektar SE49 is a fantastic option for budget-minded musicians. It offers an affordable price, full-size keys for superior playability, seamless DAW integration, and excellent portability. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced musician, the SE49 provides everything you need to create music on a budget.

    In the context of the blog post “The Best Cheap MIDI Keyboards! (Ultimate Guide 2023),” the Nektar SE49 stands out as an exceptionally affordable MIDI keyboard suitable for musicians seeking value without compromising on quality. Its comprehensive features, compatibility with various DAWs, and compact design make it suitable for beginners and experienced musicians alike. No matter your skill level, the Nektar SE49 is a versatile and reliable option that won’t break the bank.

    I hope this expanded information helps in your decision-making process!

CONS

  • 1. No built-in sound engine: This means it requires connection to a computer or other device, which can be inconvenient for some users. However, it helps keep the price down as built-in sound engines can increase the cost of a MIDI keyboard.
    2. Unweighted keys: While weighted keys mimic an acoustic piano, the Nektar SE49 has unweighted keys. Though unweighted keys are suitable for many music production styles, the preference for weighted keys is subjective.

    Additional cons not mentioned in the blog post include less sensitivity in knobs and faders, lack of visual indicators for MIDI assignments, and slightly inferior build quality compared to similar-priced MIDI keyboards.

    The Nektar SE49 remains an excellent choice for a budget-friendly MIDI keyboard, but understanding its limitations is crucial before purchasing.

    Each keyboard offers its own pros and cons, so research is key before making a purchase.

4. AKAI Professional APC Key 25 MK2

ABLETON FOCUS

Sturdy Build.25 velocity-sensitive keys.
40 RGB backlit drum pads.9 faders, 9 knobs: versatile control.
Picture by AKAI

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

PROS

  • The AKAI Professional APC Key 25 MK2 offers several important advantages that make it an excellent choice for budget-conscious musicians. Firstly, its portability and lightweight design make it incredibly easy to transport. Weighing just over 2 pounds and measuring 29.5 x 9.1 x 2.2 inches, it can fit into a backpack or carry-on luggage, ensuring that you can take it with you anywhere you go.

    Secondly, the APC Key 25 MK2 features 25 velocity-sensitive keys, allowing for greater control and expression in your music. These keys respond to the intensity of your touch, allowing for a dynamic range of sounds and notes.

    The keyboard also boasts 40 drum pads that are backlit with RGB lighting, making it easy to see which pad is selected, even in low-light conditions. Additionally, these pads are velocity-sensitive, enabling you to control the volume of your drums by the force with which you strike them.

    Furthermore, the APC Key 25 MK2 incorporates 9 faders and 9 knobs that grant precise control over various parameters in your music software. Whether you are working on mixing or mastering, these features provide you with the tools needed to create professional-quality tracks.

    Another benefit worth noting is the compatibility of the APC Key 25 MK2 with a range of music software, including Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and FL Studio. Furthermore, it comes with a complimentary copy of Ableton Live Lite, ensuring that you can start making music immediately.

    In conclusion, the AKAI Professional APC Key 25 MK2 is an outstanding choice for budget-minded musicians seeking a portable, lightweight, and versatile MIDI keyboard. With 25 velocity-sensitive keys, 8 RGB backlit drum pads, and 9 faders and knobs, it provides all the necessary tools for producing high-quality music. Its compatibility with various music software, as well as the inclusion of Ableton Live Lite, further enhance its value. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned musician, the APC Key 25 MK2 is an excellent investment for your music production needs.

CONS

  • 1. The keys lack weight, making them less realistic compared to weighted keys. Some players prefer weighted keys for expressive playing. Nonetheless, the APC Key 25 MK2’s keys remain playable and responsive, considering its budget-friendly nature.                                                                                                                                     
    2. The number of knobs and faders is limited, which might be an issue for users seeking more control over their software instruments and effects. Nevertheless, the APC Key 25 MK2 offers 8 rotary encoders and 8 pads that enable control of various parameters.

    To sum up, the AKAI Professional APC Key 25 MK2 appeals to budget-conscious musicians seeking a compact and portable MIDI keyboard controller. It provides compatibility with a wide range of software, including Ableton Live, and incorporates user-friendly features for effortless music control.

    Despite these drawbacks, the APC Key 25 MK2 remains an excellent choice for budget-minded musicians desiring a versatile and portable MIDI keyboard controller.

5. M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3

PORTABLE POWERHOUSE

Very Portable!Velocity-sensitive keys for expressive performances.
8 backlit pads for triggering.Includes Ableton Live Lite software.
Picture by M-Audio

PROS

  • 1. Portable and lightweight design. The Keystation Mini 32 MK3 is a great option for musicians who need a portable and lightweight MIDI keyboard. It measures just 29.2 x 9.2 x 2.2 inches and weighs only 2.4 pounds, making it easy to transport and take with you wherever you go.

    2. 25 velocity-sensitive keys. The Keystation Mini 32 MK3 has 25 velocity-sensitive keys, which means that they can detect how hard or soft you press the keys, which can be helpful for expressive performances.

    3. 8 backlit pads. The Keystation Mini 32 MK3 also has 8 backlit pads that can be used for triggering drums, chords, or other sounds. The pads are velocity-sensitive, so you can control their volume by how hard you hit them.

    4. Includes Ableton Live Lite software. The Keystation Mini 32 MK3 comes bundled with Ableton Live Lite, a powerful digital audio workstation (DAW) that you can use to create, record, and edit music.

    These are just a few of the many pros of the M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3. If you’re looking for a portable, affordable, and feature-rich MIDI keyboard, then the Keystation Mini 32 MK3 is a great option to consider.

    Here are some additional details about each of the pros mentioned above:

    The portable and lightweight design of the Keystation Mini 32 MK3 makes it ideal for musicians who travel frequently or who want to be able to take their keyboard with them to jam sessions or rehearsals. Its compact size and lightweight construction make it easy to carry around without straining your back or taking up too much space.

    The 25 velocity-sensitive keys on the Keystation Mini 32 MK3 are a valuable feature for musicians who want to add expression and dynamics to their performances. With these keys, you can subtly adjust the volume and tone of each note according to your playing style, resulting in a more nuanced and authentic sound.

    The 8 backlit pads on the Keystation Mini 32 MK3 provide a versatile and intuitive way to trigger drums, chords, or other sounds. These pads are not only sensitive to your touch, but they also display changing colors to provide visual feedback and to enhance your performance. Whether you’re playing live or recording in the studio, these pads add an extra layer of creativity and control to your music-making process.

    Finally, the inclusion of Ableton Live Lite software with the Keystation Mini 32 MK3 is a major bonus. Ableton Live Lite is a popular and powerful DAW that many musicians and producers use to create and edit their music. With this software, you can take full advantage of the MIDI capabilities of the Keystation Mini 32 MK3 and create professional-quality music right out of the box.

    Overall, the M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3 is a great option for musicians who are looking for a portable, affordable, and feature-rich MIDI keyboard. It’s a great choice for beginners and experienced musicians alike, offering a wide range of features and functionalities in a compact and lightweight package. Whether you’re a pianist, producer, or performer, this keyboard is sure to meet your needs and enhance your musical creativity.

CONS

  • 1. The keys lack weight, making them less realistic compared to weighted keys. This may not be ideal for some musicians, but beginners or those on a budget may find the unweighted keys of the Keystation Mini 32 MK3 sufficient.
    2. Without a built-in sound engine, the keyboard needs to be connected to a computer or other device for usage. While this may be inconvenient, it’s not a major problem for most musicians.

    Overall, the M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3 is a good choice for a cheap MIDI keyboard. It’s portable, easy to use, and offers valuable features for beginners. However, some musicians might be deterred by the lack of weighted keys and a built-in sound engine.

    Additional cons include small and less responsive pitch bend and modulation wheels, difficulty navigating menus and settings due to the absence of a screen, and a somewhat flimsy build quality.

    Despite these drawbacks, the M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3 remains a solid option for a budget-friendly MIDI keyboard. It’s especially suitable for beginners or those on a tight budget seeking a portable and user-friendly MIDI controller.

6. Donner DMK25 Pro MIDI

AFFORDABLE EXCELLENCE

Full-size!25 semi-weighted keys compromise
16 velocity-sensitive pads for percussive sounds.LED display provides important information.
Picture by Donner

PROS

  • 1. The first pro of the Donner DMK25 Pro MIDI is its full-size keys with velocity sensitivity. This feature allows for expressive playing as the keys respond to how hard or soft they are pressed.

    2. Another advantage is the 25 semi-weighted keys. These keys strike a balance between fully weighted keys (similar to an acoustic piano) and synth-action keys (lighter and springier). The semi-weighted keys provide a satisfying playing experience without the heaviness of fully weighted keys.

    3. The Donner DMK25 Pro MIDI also offers 16 velocity-sensitive pads. These pads are perfect for triggering drums and other percussive sounds. Additionally, they provide aftertouch, enabling sound modulation based on pressure applied to the pad.

    4. The inclusion of a 64×32 LED display is another positive aspect of this MIDI controller. This display showcases crucial information, such as the currently selected MIDI channel, key velocity, and knob values. This feature enhances the user experience by providing easily accessible information.

    In addition to these advantages, the Donner DMK25 Pro MIDI is relatively affordable, making it an excellent option for budget-conscious musicians. Additionally, its lightweight and portable design make it ideal for traveling to gigs or practice sessions.

    Regarding its fitting with the blog post, titled “The Best Cheap MIDI Keyboards! (Ultimate Guide 2023),” the Donner DMK25 Pro MIDI stands out as one of the most reasonably priced MIDI keyboards available. It is an attractive choice for beginners or anyone seeking a basic MIDI controller without straining their budget.

    The blog post emphasizes that the best MIDI keyboards for beginners should possess full-size keys with velocity sensitivity. The Donner DMK25 Pro MIDI fulfills these requirements, making it an ideal selection for novice musicians.

    While the Donner DMK25 Pro MIDI does not include additional features like drum pads or arpeggiators, it compensates with its 64×32 LED display, which adds a touch of sophistication and usefulness.

    Overall, the Donner DMK25 Pro MIDI presents itself as an excellent option for budget-conscious musicians seeking a basic MIDI controller with full-size keys and velocity sensitivity. Its suitability for beginners, as well as its affordability and portability, make it a reliable choice for those starting their MIDI journey.

CONS

  • 1. The keys lack weight, resulting in a less realistic feel compared to weighted keys, which can be vital for some musicians. However, for beginners or budget-conscious individuals, the non-weighted keys of the DMK25 Pro might suffice.                                                                                                                                                                                     
    2. The build quality doesn’t match other keyboards in this price range, according to some users who find the keys flimsy and the overall construction cheap. Nonetheless, others find the build quality acceptable considering its price.

    Overall, the Donner DMK25 Pro MIDI serves as a good choice for beginners or cost-sensitive individuals. Nevertheless, if weighted keys or superior build quality are important factors, exploring other options may be worthwhile.

    Ultimately, the ideal MIDI keyboard for you hinges on your budget, requirements, and preferences. The Donner DMK25 Pro MIDI offers a viable option for beginners or those on a budget. However, if weighted keys or superior build quality are crucial, exploring alternative options is recommended.

    Happy Playing!
 

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