Looking for a very small-footprint controller keyboard

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rogfrich
Posts: 13
Joined: 30 Aug 2016

Post 21 May 2020

Hi all,

I'm getting back into music-making after a several-year absence. Something I'm currently lacking is a controller keyboard.

I'm not a keyboard player, so I'll mostly use this for playing in little lines that I'll later edit in the piano roll. My main requirement is that it uses as little desktop space as possible (with front-to-back thinness being more important than width). I'd be fine with 25 mini keys, and I'm not that fussed about drum pads or controller knobs. Are wireless controller keyboards a thing now? I'm trying to keep clutter to a minimum, so USB-powered would be good. I'll be using this with a Mac Mini in case it's relevant.

What's good?

Cheers,

Rich

PS, I debated whether to put this in "Hardware and Other Software" or here. I decided that since it's specifically to use with Reason, this was the place - sorry if that was wrong.

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jam-s
Posts: 1037
Joined: 17 Apr 2015
Location: Aachen, Germany

Post 21 May 2020

The iRig Keys I/O might be an option (esp. if you're also using an iPad). They had a promo some time ago that got you Sampletank 4 Max when you registered one of those, so it might be worth waiting to buy one of those until they redo that promo.
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fieldframe
Posts: 790
Joined: 19 Apr 2016

Post 21 May 2020

If size is paramount, Korg NanoKey 2 is what you want. It takes a little getting used to the button-keys, but they're significantly better than the regular keys on any other sub-$100 keyboard, and the unit is not much bigger than two phones put end to end.

If you're willing to sacrifice a little more space, though, Native Instruments' M32 is by far the best for regular-style mini keys. It's really the only controller keyboard that size that has what I'd call a quality keybed, like on a hardware synth – everything else I've tried, from Akai, Novation, or Arturia, feels like a budget option in comparison.
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jjkjjk
Posts: 51
Joined: 29 Jul 2016

Post 21 May 2020

Keith McMillen Kboard or QNexus

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gullum
Posts: 777
Joined: 15 Jan 2015
Location: Faroe Islands

Post 21 May 2020

the CME Xkey air might just be the right keyboard for you https://xkeyair.com/ I have the 25 key no wirless version and it is surpricingly good to play on

DaveyG
Posts: 420
Joined: 03 May 2020

Post 22 May 2020

Look at Akai LPK25. You can't get much smaller with "real" keys.

But are you sure you don't want a few pads and knobs too?
Something like Launchkey Mini or Akai MPK Mini take up a little more space (but not width) and give you more hands-on options for not much more money.

All are USB powered.

Avoid Bluetooth keyboards. They need batteries and they have a time lag on the keys.

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zero-13
Posts: 77
Joined: 16 May 2020

Post 22 May 2020

Sadly I had to part with mine a while ago, but the OP-1 was fantastic as a controller, the transport keys and sequencer shortcuts were amazing and the form factor is just too perfect, I also loved the feel of the keys, dang I miss it a lot.

But if some company ever decided to dupe the design and feel as a simple midi controller nothing else would compare small form factor wise.

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ksniod
Posts: 51
Joined: 05 Jan 2019

Post 22 May 2020


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chimp_spanner
Posts: 2452
Joined: 06 Mar 2015

Post 22 May 2020

M-Audio Keystation Mini 32. It’s small, has a better range than most other options, and is still surprisingly playable. Of all the small keyboards I’ve owned this is the best IMO. I usually chuck it in my backpack if I take my Mac anywhere with me just in case!

EdGrip
Posts: 1856
Joined: 03 Jun 2016

Post 22 May 2020

I have a CME Xkey that I really enjoy playing on. You can adjust the velocity curve and it has aftertouch. Sure it doesn't feel like a piano or an organ, but the keys are full size and it feels good.

Bewlay
Posts: 49
Joined: 28 Aug 2015

Post 22 May 2020

I use the AKAI MPK Mini as a secondary keyboard for quick ideas, which fits nicely on my desktop. The keys aren't amazing but work as a starting point and having access to knobs, pads and buttons is invaluable, I reckon.
Especially if you're using Reason devices like Octo Rex and Kong not to mention the remote mapping on the synths.
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littlejam
Posts: 246
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

Post 22 May 2020

hello,

i would use all 3 korg nanos: keys, pads, controller
but you need 3 usb ports
i have a 10 port usb hub so it's a no brainer

cheers,

j
littlejamaicastudios
i7 2.8ghz / 24GB ddr3 / Quadro 4000 x 2 / ProFire 610
reason 10 / reaper / acidpro /akai mpk mini / korg padkontrol / axiom 25 / radium 49
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zebbleganubi
Posts: 20
Joined: 15 Oct 2017

Post 23 May 2020

i use a kboard which is decent enough and minimal. i mainly use it for the same reasons you are looking for. that said the bend key on it is too small too be useful and the octave buttons are too close to the lowest key so i trigged that by accident from time to time

another controller ive been using a lot more recently is the sensel morph. im using the "music production" overlay but you can buy different overlays like a piano or one you would use with drum sticks and they clip on magnetically. its probably the most responsive controller ive used. it has bluetooth as well which is a nice option to have

Desmondblack
Posts: 96
Joined: 15 Sep 2018

Post 23 May 2020

I just got the Nektar Impact JX25 and very happy with it, works very well with Reason. Solid buttons and knobs, as well as a lot of control options.
Tried the Arturia Minilab MK2 first but could not get it to work well with Reason.
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EdGrip
Posts: 1856
Joined: 03 Jun 2016

Post 23 May 2020

An interesting option for a playing surface, if you're okay to try something different, could be an Arturia Microfreak. Bit bigger because of the attached synthesiser.

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plaamook
Posts: 1149
Joined: 22 Jan 2015
Location: probably underwater

Post 23 May 2020

I'm gonna second the Korg Nanokey2. If you don't want to 'play' a keyboard so to speak, just trigger and edit, you can't beat it for size and cost. It's about as long as a 13' MacbookPro is. Fits right in front of it. Thin as anything.

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bxbrkrz
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Post 23 May 2020


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zoidkirb
Posts: 339
Joined: 18 Nov 2018
Location: Brisbane Australia

Post 23 May 2020

Great little unit, solid.
Really interesting joystick style pitch/mod controller too.

The micro key holds a special place in my heart for the time I brought it and installed the bundled Reason lite 10 a few years ago and discovered a whole new world...

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bxbrkrz
Posts: 1598
Joined: 17 Jan 2015

Post 23 May 2020

zoidkirb wrote:
23 May 2020
Great little unit, solid.
Really interesting joystick style pitch/mod controller too.

The micro key holds a special place in my heart for the time I brought it and installed the bundled Reason lite 10 a few years ago and discovered a whole new world...
I gave my old Novation Remote 25 to the Salvation Army a long time ago. I may look into the 37 or 49 Air. The keys are not bad. The joysitck is fun because it is as if you have a Roland modulation wheel combo.
Image

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zoidkirb
Posts: 339
Joined: 18 Nov 2018
Location: Brisbane Australia

Post 23 May 2020

bxbrkrz wrote:
23 May 2020
zoidkirb wrote:
23 May 2020

Great little unit, solid.
Really interesting joystick style pitch/mod controller too.

The micro key holds a special place in my heart for the time I brought it and installed the bundled Reason lite 10 a few years ago and discovered a whole new world...
I gave my old Novation Remote 25 to the Salvation Army a long time ago. I may look into the 37 or 49 Air. The keys are not bad. The joysitck is fun because it is as if you have a Roland modulation wheel combo.
Image
The the Roland combo mod/pitch that brings back memories of my first ever midi controller. I was surprised to discover eventually that wasn't just a typical way to do things!

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ProfessaKaos
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Joined: 17 Jan 2015
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post 24 May 2020

If you aren't concerned with width and want a 49 key controller I highly recommend the Roland A-49, its one of (if not the slimmest) 49 key controller on the market. The keys are really good also, some of the nicest keys of all 49 key controllers.
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rogfrich
Posts: 13
Joined: 30 Aug 2016

Post 24 May 2020

Hi everyone, just swinging by the thread to say thanks for all the suggestions. I'm weighing them up now :)

simonphinix1986
Posts: 33
Joined: 01 May 2020

Post 24 May 2020

Image

I would go with that one. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32.
It is expensive to buy in contrast to the others, but you have something clever for it
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gullum
Posts: 777
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Location: Faroe Islands

Post 24 May 2020

This is how little space the CME keyboard is taking on the desk
IMG_7092.JPG
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rogfrich
Posts: 13
Joined: 30 Aug 2016

Post 29 May 2020

Hi all, just a quick update...

I ended up buying the Arturia Microlab, which has just arrived. It just does the basics, which I'm fine with, and it seems very well built with a nice key action. I'm pretty pleased so far. At first, I thought they hadn't included a USB cable, but it turned out to be cleverly stored in the controller's protective jacket. It comes with some decent software as well, which I haven't installed yet.

Thanks for all the (heh) input.

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