Why do you need a 25-key midi controller?
A 25-key MIDI controller gives you a compact and portable way to play melodies and chords as well as control other aspects of your DAW. You can use them in beat-making and even trigger audio samples.
The features below are those we’ve researched and investigated closely when creating our list of the best 25 key MIDI controllers. These are things that every musician will have to think about.
Types of keys
Some of the products on this list, such as the Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 Slim-key Controller, have slim or even miniature keys. This is designed to help to fit the products in portable setups and make it really easy to store a MIDI keyboard somewhere in your house. It comes with a downside, though. They can feel very different from the hammer action of piano keys and even be harder to play.
Velocity sensitivity refers to whether the keyboard can detect how hard the pad or key has been struck. If it can, it is an easy way to play expressively and enjoy dynamics in your music. If not, everything will be recorded as the same volume, which may not sound good.
Having pads enables you to trigger drum sounds and samples. It can also be used to trigger notes and other sounds, and it’s really up to you and something you can normally set up in your software. Backlit pads such as that in the Alesis V25 25-key Keyboard Controller also make it much easier to play on stage and see exactly what you are doing at all times.
Even though 25 key MIDI controllers are small, they can pack in some other controls to go along with the keys and pads. Some have sliders to allow you to lower the volume of certain tracks or even change some of the virtual instrument controls.
Most of these small controllers also have the option to change the octave so that even within your couple of octaves, you can make use of the full range of the piano.
Presets make it easier to link with certain software. A preset might be specific to a virtual instrument or specific to a DAW, meaning that the hardware integrates easily and lets you make your changes on the fly while you are playing the songs.
Many piano players will be used to pedals. There are three on most pianos, but a lot of people use the Sustain pedal the most.
Many of the products on this list have an option to include the sustain pedal, which lets the notes ring out more.
Most modern models will connect to your computer using a USB connection. You may be looking for a 25 key 5-pin midi controller, which means you need something compatible with older hardware. Not many of the modern mini controllers have a MIDI output, but some of the bigger Alesis products can accommodate. The Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 25-key Keyboard Controller even includes a sustain pedal as standard.
You need software in order to use a MIDI controller. It won’t generate any sound on its own, so this means it is vital that you have a DAW or other software. Many models on this list have their own software to install, including the MPC software or Bitwig studio 8-track recorder.
All of the products on this list are USB-powered. In some rare instances, you might have to provide power from an outlet, but this is usually something that is required on older models as modern technology has done away with the requirement for external power.