Music has always been influenced by the tools we use. Classical music is a reflection of the arsenal of orchestral instruments available at the time, and modern music has been enriched by the use of electric guitars, synthesisers, and drum machines. Of course, music is all about creativity and expression, but it’s important to remember that the tools you use also have an important influence on how you play.
Compact keyboard controllers are among the best selling keyboards for beginners, and for good reason; they’re portable, affordable, and easy to use. But as you continue to develop your skills and expand your repertoire, you might find that 25 keys just isn’t enough any more. Most music extends beyond 25 keys, and being limited to a couple of octaves could actually be stifling your development and creativity.
If you’re feeling tethered down by having a limited range of keys, or if you’re sick of hitting that octave-shift button every time you want to play a bass line, it might be time for an upgrade. Whether you need something compact, you’re on a tight budget, or you want something that will last you a lifetime; we’ve got a line-up of the best keyboards that won’t get in the way of your creativity.
One of the main attractions of a 25 key controller is its compact size. If portability matters to you, don’t worry, it is possible to get more keys yet still fit your controller into your backpack so you can practice with Melodics on the move.
The NI Komplete Kontrol M32 is a great micro-sized controller for traveling musicians. With its 32 slim keys, they’ve managed to fit more keys into the same footprint of a 25 key controller. Unlike a lot of micro-sized keyboards, these keys feel solid to play and the build quality is excellent while still being light enough to take with you.
If you’re wanting the best bang for your buck, look no further than the Novation Launchkey 49. As well as 49 full-sized keys, this feature packed keyboard has eight assignable knobs and faders, and 16 velocity sensitive pads so that you can practice your finger drumming and keys all on one controller.
The Launchkey 49 has all the features you need but it won’t break the bank, all while offering a solid key feel and reliable build quality.
For serious keyboard players, the Roland A-49 ticks the most important box of all: sturdy, responsive key feel. For years Roland have been producing some of the best feeling synths and keyboards, and the A-49 continues to deliver on that high standard.
Not only do the semi-weighted keys feel great to play, the A-49's simple design means it’s about as compact as a 49 key controller gets. Roland have also managed to fit in a couple of useful assignable knobs, switches, and their D-Beam controller which is a joy to use.
If you prefer playing Melodics™ on iPad, we’ve got you covered. While a lot of controllers will work on iPad, the iRig Keys 2 is designed specifically with that in mind. That means you don’t need an external power source, you don’t need to worry about buying extra adaptors, and it even has a built-in headphone output so you’re not stuck using your iPad speakers.
The iRig Keys 2 has 37 slim keys so as well as giving you more keys to play with, it remains lightweight and portable – perfect for when you’re on the move with Melodics™ for iPad.
If you don’t like to compromise on features and quality, then the Akai MPK249 is the one for you. With its 49 full sized keys, 16 MPC style pads, and loads of assignable knobs, faders, and buttons, there’s not much the MPK249 can’t do.
But it’s not the amount of features this keyboard has, it’s the quality feel of the keybed, the responsive pads, and the solid construction that make the MPK249 a keyboard that could last a lifetime.
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You can play it with your computer keyboard, but it is a much better experience with access to a MIDI keyboard, pad controller, or MIDI drum kit.
These MIDI devices are connected: