I need a 25-key USB keyboard that doesn't feel like poop!

Discussion in 'Instruments' started by krameri, May 12, 2024.

  1. krameri

    krameri Platinum Record

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    I have a cheapie M-Audio Oxygen 25 and I'm not fond of it. The key action is like poop, so I'm looking for a new 25-key keyboard and I'm willing to pay more for useful features and good quality components. I see that M-Audio makes a 25-key model similar to my old one and it sells for $129 US. I'm looking past M-Audio for now. I think I'll pay up to $250 or higher for the right one if I can find it.

    I don't need pads on it, as I have a dedicated unit (MPC) for that. But if the right keyboard has pads, I'll be okay with it.

    I'm reasonable. I'm not looking for fully-weighted keys, just better than what I have now.

    Thanks in advance!
    -Mark
     
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  3. MBC_Music

    MBC_Music Producer

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    If we're only talking about key feel (action, key size, respond, key sounds) here are my recommendations -

    Novation Launchkey 25 MK3 -

    I own the 37 key version and the key action is great but unique. Has nice firmness then a nice "bump" when the key is fully compressed. It seems weird at first but then it's actually a very solid feeling especially compared to the action of other similar size keyboards.

    Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 -

    A bit springy but balanced action with great velocity sensitivity out of the box. The extra keys 7 keys make a big difference, and it's extremely compact for a 32 key keyboard. No frills on the keyboard in terms of controls.

    *This is only based on key feel and not other features!

    Sold an Arturia Minilab, Akai MPK 25 MK2, M Audio Oxygen 25 and M-Audio Keystation 49 (and returned an IK Multimedia I-rig keys I/O 49) because of how bad the keys felt.

    I'm a keybed snob and the Novation and KK M32 are the best in their classes imo!

    Hope that helps,

    - Matthew C
     
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  4. Mahapurush

    Mahapurush Member

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    Speaking from my personal experience, getting too many answers can be a downside of asking questions on internet forums. Multiple answers can make it hard to decide which is best because it requires you to evaluate each answer critically.

    But I am not gonna do that! Here are the three options:

    https://www.akaipro.com/mpk225.html ($249)
    https://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/keyboards/komplete-kontrol-a25-a49-a61/ ($169)
    https://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/keyboards/komplete-kontrol-m32/ ($139)

    Simply select one and then get to the work, work that actually maters which is making music!
     
  5. orbitbooster

    orbitbooster Audiosexual

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    I'm afraid that speaking of 25 keys you won't get much what you're looking for.
    Usually those keyboards are meant to be just a little more than keyswitches, I have a portable keystation 32 and I find it useful only to jot down chords and melodies, though it has velocity, it's almost unusable plus keys are little.

    However, I think that if the (above @Mahapurush post) full size keybed won't satisfy you, nothing else will do.

    The best option is to go to a shop and push some controller keys until you find it.
     
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  6. Lemmy

    Lemmy Audiosexual

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  7. stopped

    stopped Producer

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    keystep is 32 but is super popular for reasons (including what you're asking for), and is actually narrower than the oxygen 25
     
  8. Djord Emer

    Djord Emer Audiosexual

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    Launchkey MK3
     
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  9. timer

    timer Producer

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    Novation Remote 25 Mk. I or II.
    They have a Fatar Keyboard with Aftertouch.
     
  10. Garamondo Furbish

    Garamondo Furbish Audiosexual

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    you'll need to go somewhere you can actually try out the keyboards. If you have specific criteria you desire. They all feel different. I am fortunate I can adapt to a wide range of keyboards, they go from mushy short tiny keys to full size hammer weighted. hands on is the easiest way to see if you like it.

    Arturia sells a ton of keylab essential mk2 and mk3, might be worth a look. I own a keylab mk1 25 key, built like a tank, metal body.
    keys work well, for me 25 keys isn't enough to do much but punch in a little riff here and there. I could never compose on less than a 61 key so the 25 key will outlive me I'm sure....
     
  11. Bunford

    Bunford Audiosexual

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    I have experience here. I have owned a Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 and a Komplete Kontrol S25 Mk1. Both were very good in terms of hardware, but the Komplete Kontrol software is a little bloaty and in the way for my liking, and so I never used it. This means that in effect, the NI controllers just become 'dumb' MIDI controllers if you do not use the KK software, which I don't like at all, and so they have limited benefits in this scenario.

    Instead, I have recently invested in the Arturia MiniLab 3. Having just received it, I am already blown away by how much better the implementation is. It's doesn't force you to use a wrapper or it's own software to have tight integration with Ableton and other plugins. However, using it with Arturia's Analog Lab or other plugins will inevitably give you even tighter integration. In addition, if there is something you don't like, you can easily customise with a simple UI tool software from Arturia. They feel virtually identical to the NI offerings in terms of hardware too.

    For these reasons, I would recommend the Arturia MiniLab 3 to anyone looking for a small form factor 20 key MIDI controller, including over and above any of the Native Instruments' offerings.

    Also, off the back of it, I've also grabbed a cheap Arturia KeyLab 25 Mk1 too, for the extra faders, control,s, aftertouch and so on to see which fits my set up best for my desk top 25 key input device.

    If you're in the UK, I have a Native Instruments S25 Mk1 for sale and will soon have an Arturia MiniLab 3 or Keylab 25 probably, once I've worked out which I would prefer to keep.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2024
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  12. Talula

    Talula Rock Star

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    [​IMG]

    my keyboard - ESI KeyControl 25 XT

    you still can find brand new at ebay or other markeplaces
     
  13. ArticStorm

    ArticStorm Moderator Staff Member

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    i really like the Akai LPK25, its super cheap and for that money still good quality.
     
  14. clone

    clone Audiosexual

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    25 keys is perfect for a nice bass synth.
     
  15. Zenarcist

    Zenarcist Audiosexual

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    I use M32 without KK!
     
  16. Joe Taco

    Joe Taco Member

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    Agree Novation Launchkey MK3
     
  17. Bunford

    Bunford Audiosexual

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    Then I'm sure you will find it is just a dumb MIDI controller, having to manually flick between MIDI and DAW mode with limited controls in both modes, and having to manually map most useful things yourself. Or at least this was my thoughts on using NI gear without KK, which makes sense as that's not what they were designed for, so not a complaint, just an observation. The Arturia ones are way more intuitive, configurable, and intelligent.
     
  18. boingy99

    boingy99 Kapellmeister

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    I've had two Akai small controllers fail on their USB port connections (outside of warranty) so never again. Of the others I've used (Nektar, Novation and Korg) I'd go for the Novation every time. Arturia have always been on my radar so if/when my current Novation fails I'll probably buy a KeyLab of some sort.
     
  19. orbitbooster

    orbitbooster Audiosexual

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    Is perfect as long you don't exceed 2 octave "playing style", whatever instrument is, whatever music fits.
     
  20. slowpoke

    slowpoke Kapellmeister

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    I have the Novation Impulse 25 and 49. Great boards.
     
  21. shinjiya

    shinjiya Producer

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    I do feel like every 25~37 key midi controller feels like poop to play. I have an Arturia Minilab mkII, and it was mostly a waste of money. The keys feel fine overall, but they only respond well to light touch (even after configuring velocity) and if you touch the keys at the bottom (instead of in between or at the top). At this point, I narrowed down the issue to the size of the keys, the minilab is bigger than most mini controllers, but it's still not enough. Maybe they suck to me because I play the piano and I also have one right beside me when producing. So, in short, maybe anything with full size keys will suck less.
     
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