Top 6 $100 MIDI Keyboards in 2019

Top 6 $100 MIDI Keyboards in 2019

November 16, 2019 100 By Kailee Schamberger


What’s up guys! A couple months ago I
posted a video reviewing the top keyboards of 2018. The prices of those
keyboards range from $100 to $300. There were some premium but very important
keyboards in the mix. The keyboards I’m reviewing today are all around $100. I’m
going to be covering the pros and cons of each one of them. Actually, oh there
they are, right there. Make sure you watch until the end of the video and you may
discover a feature you never knew you needed. Leave a comment below to let me
know which of these keyboards is your favorite. I’m going to put links to buy
any one of these keyboards in the description of the video. First let’s
compare the two keyboards with full size keys. Yes! Full-size keys for $100. If you want full-size keys that feel really good in
a clean form factor and you’re willing to sacrifice some functions for a lower
price, buy the V25 by Alesis. This keyboard is currently $84 on Amazon. The
cheapest keyboard in this comparison. It comes with a nice clean editing software
to customize your device. So how did the keys feel? Well with the factory setting,
I really needed to bang on the keys to play louder, but after I adjusted the
velocity curve in the software I was very happy. The key bed is my favorite of all of the
25-key keyboards in this comparison. The pads feel good too but it’s a little bit
too easy to trigger them twice accidentally. The four assignable buttons
are nice. You can assign them to transport controls in your DAW so that
you can play, stop, and record, or do whatever you want. You’ve also got four
customizable knobs as well. The Alesis V25 has fewer knobs and buttons than the
others in this comparison so you’ll have to pick and choose what you’re going to
control. How about the included software? Well it comes with Ableton Live Lite and
Xpand 2 by Air which is a nice virtual instrument with a ton of sounds!
Excellent to get you started. Now the Alesis does not map Ableton
controls automatically. You have to do that yourself when you set up. By the way
Alesis also makes a mini version of this keyboard – same features, smaller size if
you don’t care for the full-size keys. But this version is still very portable.
I can’t say that about our next keyboard. If you want lots of DAW control but you
don’t use Ableton Live buy the Nektar Impact LX 25+. First of all this is
not a traveling keyboard. It’s big but it may be quite nice for live
performance. It’s got full-size keys and they feel really good but I don’t like
the loud springy sound that the keys make. It makes the keys feel cheap. This
keyboard has so much DAW control and I quickly got accustomed to the intuitive
workflow. I love the button that switches the knob
controls from DAW control to virtual instrument control. However the knob size
and spacing are not optimal in my opinion. They’re a bit too tall and too
close together. The dock control features worked very well when I tested it with
GarageBand, FL studio, and Logic. The Nektar Impact includes Bitwig
eight-track ,which is a light version of a nice DAW with built-in instrument
sounds. But the Impact is not Ableton friendly. Although there are
configuration instructions for Ableton, I couldn’t get the knobs to work and
without clip triggering it doesn’t make for a good Ableton controller. If you’re
an Ableton user my next keyboard is for you. Before I get to the next keyboards
don’t forget to subscribe and also hit that little bell icon so you stay up to
date on my latest video. Also hit the like button if you’re finding this
information useful. Also if you’re looking for the basic gear you need to
start with music production, check out my video on music studio essentials –
everything you need to start making music on a low budget. Now let’s get to
the Novation keyboard. If you’re a live looping
Ableton user and want easy control for recording and triggering clips and
scene, buy the Novation Launchkey Mini. The keys are small – similar to the Akai
MPK Mini. They feel softer, squishier to the press. But they’re surprisingly
expressive. You get 16 pads! More than any other keyboard I’ve reviewed. I’m really
impressed with the sensitivity and feel of the pads as well. They feel decent for
finger drumming even though they’re pretty small. The Launchkey has some
extra tricks up its sleeve for the pads. You can use them to trigger clips and
scenes. When I tried this in Ableton it was instantly super fun. You can launch
clips and scenes and trigger clip recording. It’s so simple and great for
live looping. You also get eight knobs which control
Ableton instruments and effects. The Novation Launchkey Mini does an
excellent job mapping controls automatically. Why is this important? Well
you’re gonna spend more time making music and less time setting up and
mapping your keyboard. The downside with a Launchkey is the
lack of some standard MIDI keyboard features. There’s no sustain pedal port
or dedicated pitch and modulation wheels. That’s really surprising for a MIDI
keyboard these days. It comes with Ableton Live Lite, your
choice of a piano by XLN Audio and Novation V Station and Bass Station
plugins, which look outdated but actually sound really good! OK, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it
again – If you’re ready to dive into the deep end of virtual instruments and you
need a keyboard to help you find and control sounds it doesn’t get better
than the M32 by Native Instruments. This is the
keyboard many of you were waiting for! Unlike the other keyboards in this video
the M32 has 32 keys. It’s the first portable keyboard by Native Instruments
with mini keys, yet it packs all the functionality of the larger A-Series
keyboards. The M32 delivers a serious collection of sounds and a good
launching point for collecting a ton of amazing instruments. It comes with a wide
range of excellent Native Instruments sounds and the Maschine beat making
software it also includes Ableton Live Lite.
The downside is that the M32 does not have drum pads like all the other
keyboards. If you need a combo keyboard pad device you need to look elsewhere. Also the M32 is the most expensive in this round up at $130.
For a full review of the M32, watch my video here. This keyboard comes with a small screen
that gives you a window into what you’re doing on your compute. The M32 is fully
integrated into Komplete Kontrol, the Native Instruments software and it makes
it very easy to find and control sounds. All right we’ve got two more to go but
first, if you think you need to upgrade to a more powerful keyboard with more
keys I’ve reviewed Arturia’s Keylab MKii – it’s got a ton of features and
superior DAW control. Now in my last video I talked about the Arturia Minilab Mkii and the Akai MPK Mini. I still stand behind my recommendations for
these. If you’re looking for a keyboard that will help you sculpt sounds and
give you excellent Ableton Live control buy the Arturia Minilab Mkii. This
keyboard has solid construction and the keys are slightly larger than other mini
keyboards. The Minilab includes the highly coveted Analog Lab software that
gives you amazing control of vintage synths. It also includes Ableton Live
Lite. I didn’t love the pads on this keyboard but the Ableton integration was
excellent. If you want to see the Arturia Minilab in action, check out my full
review and a cover of the Blade Runner theme here. Lastly if you’re looking for a mini
keyboard with excellent drum pads and a variety of performance features for any
DAW buy the Akai MPK Mini. The Akai’s drum pads have the best sensitivity of all
the keyboards in this review. It has buttons to activate the arpeggiator and
note repeat. These are great for playing live The keys are okay. It’s small and light
but it feels kind of cheap. The included VIP software looked promising but didn’t
work as advertised for m. If you can get it to work, it looks like it would be
useful, I must mention M-Audio keyboards as well. Even though I didn’t have one
for this review, I have owned one in the past the M-Audio Oxygen 25 has full size
keys and many of the features of other keyboards in this review. Many owners
comment that the keys have very good velocity response. If you have any
questions leave them in the comments below. Links to buy any one of these
keyboards are in the description. Keep making the music you love. See you guys
later!