Best Music Keyboards for Musicians and Composers

Review & Comparison, Last Update October 9, 2022
A music keyboard is an essential part of every band, along with lead/bass guitar and drums, they allow playing, composing, and arranging music. The selection of music keyboards is wide, there are several types of them, designed for different goals and skill levels. Check out these 5 best music keyboards to find your perfect instrument. ...Read more ...Read less
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BEST 2022
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Keyboard (Type/Mechanics)
Effects and Presets
Display
Interfaces
Power
Size & Weight
Accessories
Warranty
 
PROS

Smart, optimized keyboard controller for all your effects. Full support for VSTi and VST FX. Integration with MASCHINE software. Intuitive controls for Logic Pro X, GarageBand, and Ableton Live.

CONS

There is no power switch.

OUR VERDICT

This product can be easily used as a MIDI controller. Play chord progressions and arpeggios with a single key, or assign any scale to white keys only. All A-series keyboards are USB bus powered, no power outlet needed.

detailed parameters
Keyboard (Type/Mechanics)

NI keybed, Available with either 25, 49, or 61 semi-weighted keys

Effects and Presets

100 scales and modes, NKS plugins

Display

OLED display for at-a-glance navigation

Interfaces

USB powered

Power

USB port, TRS pedal input, Assignable to sustain

Size & Weight

38.7" x 10.1" x 3.5"

10.4 lbs

Accessories

8 touch-sensitive control knobs, Ergonomic pitch and mod wheels

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The LED-lighted keys provide visual stimulation so that you can learn quicker. Despite its compact profile, the keyboard features an ergonomic layout with generous spacing, minimizing misclicking. The piano stickers will make reading the music a little less challenging. 

CONS

The integrated speakers are not very loud. 

OUR VERDICT

The Best Choice Products 61-Keys Beginners Electronic Keyboard Piano Set is an attractive product in multiple respects. The keyboard sounds sweet, the teaching modes are easily digestible, the stand and the bench will let you practice anywhere, with 6 AA batteries enabling comfortable long-term portable use.

detailed parameters
Keyboard (Type/Mechanics)

Full-sized piano-style keyboard, 61 LED-lighted keys

Effects and Presets

Not listed

Display

255 tones

Interfaces

AC or 6 x "AA" batteries

Power

Headphones out, Microphone in, USB port

Size & Weight

33" x 10.5" x 3"

~8 lbs

Accessories

Power supply, Stand, Stool, Headphones, Sticker sheet

Warranty

60 days

PROS

If you're a lucky iPad owner, you have the opportunity to expand the functionality of this music keyboard. Additionally to the keyboard itself, there is a stool specifically designed to go with it.

CONS

Piano Maestro is an iPad only app.

OUR VERDICT

One of the top choices when it comes to buying your kids their first music keyboard. The iPad learning app was created specifically for children, from simple functionality down to colorful interface.

detailed parameters
Keyboard (Type/Mechanics)

N/A

Effects and Presets

50 demo songs, 100 beats, 100 different sounds included 

Display

LCD backlit screen

Interfaces
  • Headphones
  • Mic In jack
Power

- AC Adapter, or
- 6x 1.5V Size D batteries

Size & Weight

35.4" x 9.8" x 5.9"

19.8 lbs

Accessories

Power supply, Stand, Stool, Headphones, Sticker sheet

Warranty

30 days

PROS

MPK Mini offers confident control and comfortable operation to the player. The 4-way joystick lets you dynamically control the pitch and modulation. You can also try the built-in arpeggiator for better sound.

CONS

Quite difficult for the beginners to master.

OUR VERDICT

This comprehensive device gives you full control over all virtual instruments and plenty of room for mixing. A perfect solution for professional musicians, it will surprise you with its versatility and comfort in use.

detailed parameters
Keyboard (Type/Mechanics)

25 mini MIDI keyboard velocity-sensitive keys

Effects and Presets

1500 plus sounds

Display

8 360-degree knobs

Interfaces

USB Bus-powered

Power

TS input for sustain pedal, USB port

Size & Weight

12.5" x 7.13" x 1.75"

1.65 lbs

Accessories

Assignable backlit pads, Velocity- and pressure-sensitive, 2 banks, Built-in arpeggiator

Warranty

90 days

PROS

RockJam keyboard piano features 54 full-size keys, giving this keyboard the feel of a traditional piano. The built-in stereo speakers provide excellent sound quality. Larger speakers or 3.5 mm headphones can also be used.

CONS

The sheet stand is not too comfortable.

OUR VERDICT

RockJam provides exclusive access to content in the Simply piano app for iOS and Android devices that will help aspiring pianists. A great choice as a gift for a child and an alternative to costly piano lessons.

detailed parameters
Keyboard (Type/Mechanics)

54 full-size keys

Effects and Presets

100 tones and 100 rhythm

Display

LCD backlit screen

Interfaces

6 * 1.5V D batteries, Power supply

Power

Headphone and mic jacks

Size & Weight

33.5" x 13" x 4.7"

8.27 lbs

Accessories

The sheet music stand

Warranty

30 days

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Native Instruments 25230

Covers Your Instruments and Effects

Looking for a smart keyboard controller to take care of all your virtual instruments plus the effects? Native Instruments may have a perfect solution for you. This controller keyboard is streamlined, semi-weighted, and caters to your musical talent with no problem.

The Komplete Kontrol model lets you find the right sound, perform, or capture without compromising on quality. It features 4 premium instruments and the MASCHINE Essentials to unlock your creativity. Highly compatible with MASCHINE software, this midi keyboard will be a great find for experienced users. In case you need an entry level device, Komplete Kontrol will not be disappointing as well.

When you buy this keyboard, you’re free to choose from 25, 49, or 61 semi-weighted keys. Also note that they are standard size, which is an added bonus for a keyboard player. Unlike the mini keys, they will also suit a person with bigger fingers and won’t hinder their performance.

Navigating this controller keyboard is easier than ever with a handy OLED display. This model is intuitive in use and doesn’t discriminate against the newbies.

Review of Native Instruments 25230 Komplete Kontrol A25 Controller Keyboard

Unleash Your Creativity

Komplete Kontrol is called this way for a good reason. The 8 control knobs are touch sensitive, allowing you to play or pause, record, choose the tempo, adjust level and loops, and more. You’ll like the integration with your DAW – and get a chance to level up your performance.

This device helps you stay in key with 100+ SmartPlay scales and modes. There’s also the pre-mapped control of instruments/effects by Komplete. As for its build, it’s perfectly sturdy, so no worries here. The only issue for some buyers will be that it doesn’t have an off switch, so you’ll have to unplug it manually. However, this is more of a preferential complaint, as many others won’t even need it.

If you’re already imagining the hunt for the right outlet, now is a good time to stop. This controller is USB 2.0 bus powered and can be plugged right into your PC or laptop. Keep in mind, though, that “slow” computers can cause the interface to get unresponsive.

Komplete Kontrol comes with ergonomic pitch plus mod wheels. All for your comfort as a customer.

Overall, this midi controller keyboard will satisfy a broad range of players, from beginners to more experienced users.

Native Instruments 25230 Komplete Kontrol A25 Controller Keyboard in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer

Last updated price $0.00
Stock In stock
ASIN B07GYD3587

 

Best Choice Products 61-Keys Beginners

LED-Lighted Keys

Ironically, products from companies with names like Best Choice Products usually disappoint. This is not the usual case though. No, this keyboard from Best Choice Products does not disappoint. We're not crazy about the embedded speakers, with them being a little too quiet. Apart from that, this full-sized piano-style keyboard easily tussles with premium models. Matching these premium models, 'the board adopts 61 LED-lighted keys, illuminating to display the right key. Between these keys, the device contributes 255 timbres and 255 rhythms, imitating everything from classical music to pop, rock, and more.

These tones also include multiple sound effects, so you can experiment with different instruments and create unique tracks. Not unlike most music keyboards nowadays, this model integrates 50 demo songs that serve as an excellent starting point, engaging beginners without overwhelming them. Keeping the starting tempo at 120 BPM, the 'board familiarizes you with standard pianos, with 32 keyboard percussion sounds offering decent variety.

Of course, these keyboards are seldom complete without teaching modes. In this case, we're offered One-Key, Follow, and Ensemble modes, with the names already providing sufficient description. In addition to these modes, you will also have piano stickers, so reading music will feel a little less daunting initially.

Review of Best Choice Products 61-Keys Beginners Electronic Keyboard Piano Set w/LCD Screen, Headphones

Even More Compact

Fitting the standard 61 keys, controls, and timbre/sound instructions is almost impossible without making the device fairly sizable too. Still, with some effort, you can shave an inch here and there, something that the people behind this keyboard have managed with almost unparalleled success. Measuring just 33 x 10.5 x 3 inches, the 'board is a lot more compact than its contemporaries but, what's even more impressive, the device still offers decent key separation, keeping the layout ergonomic and the spacing between the controls quite generous. Plus, the keyboard weighs just 8 pounds, enabling hassle-free relocation.

Last but not least, what we have here is not just a music keyboard but a full-blown piano set, including a power adapter, stand, stool, headphones, and the aforementioned sticker sheet. As you can imagine, these accessories let you learn piano anywhere, even in a room with no furniture at all.

In closing, the Best Choice Products 61-Keys Beginners Electronic Keyboard Piano Set will let you customize the sound, learning and playing without adhering to strict rules.

Best Choice Products 61-Keys Beginners Electronic Keyboard Piano Set w/LCD Screen, Headphones in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer

Last updated price $139.99
Stock In stock
ASIN B07YXXZLCM

 

RockJam RJ561

Fun Way to Learn

This RockJam model is primarily known for its educational program. Usually, when we speak about educational programs coming with music keyboards we mean the preinstalled ones which merely show you where to put your hands and what keys to push. Well, a system like this is surely workable (it is time tested, after all) but how fun is it for kids, for example? Now RockJam has a special iPad/iPhone compatible app to make even a fidgety preschooler fall in love with music thanks to its game-like interface. Your young musician will work hard to earn stars and will rejoice every time they make a result better than before. Besides, the app has not only simple kids songs but also a variety of pop hits for teenagers and young adults and even classic pieces like Beethoven, Bach, and other famous composers. There is a way to go and a motivation to upgrade.

Review of RockJam RJ561 Electronic Keyboard SuperKit with Stand, Stool, Headphones & Power Supply

Middle Ground

One of the reasons this music keyboard is often recommended for children, besides the fun educational app, is that it is truly not demanding when it comes to maintenance. The construction is quite strong. One could think that plastic is not the most reliable material for a body but fear no, we assure you it is of high quality and will endure most usual situations and come out unscratched. However, we do recommend a hard case for transportation, not soft. The keybed is responsive and there is a music note rest where you can put either note sheets or your iPad when you use the app to study.

RockJam RJ561 Electronic Keyboard SuperKit with Stand, Stool, Headphones & Power Supply in the use

All Included

Not every musical keyboard comes with a full set of additional items right away but this one does. Aside from the keyboard itself, you'll find in the box a comfortable stool for practice, a sturdy stand to put the board on, and quality headphones for practicing without bothering your family and neighbors. It's almost everything you may need.

Detailed review of RockJam RJ561 Electronic Keyboard SuperKit with Stand, Stool, Headphones & Power Supply

Additional Purchase

The lack of Android supported app might be a drawback but if you are determined to make your kid love music with this fun and simple music keyboard, you might consider buying an iPhone after all.

RockJam RJ561 Electronic Keyboard SuperKit with Stand, Stool, Headphones & Power Supply application
Last updated price $119.99
Stock In stock
ASIN B01AJJIQQQ

What customers say about this product

Features

The headphones work well and the keyboard itself works perfectly.

Key Specs

It has several tones, rhythm and percussion options, along with some nice demo songs.
 

Akai MPKMINI3

Write Music Like a Pro

Want to boost your music skills to a real pro level? Akai MPK Mini keyboard controller will help you achieve the studio experience at home and create hits without too much sweat.

This impressive device comes with 25 mini MIDI keys that are velocity sensitive. It can be used for controlling virtual instruments and beat production. If you’re a complete beginner, MPK Mini comes with every tool you’ll need for your creative projects. Note, however, that with so many elements and a really complex setup, working with this keyboard may be confusing for you.

But if you’re more or less experienced with keyboard controllers, MPK Mini will simply shine when used correctly. It’s your ultimate toolkit for writing and performing amazing music. Which is more, you’ll be in control of the production every step of the way.

Although a classic model, MPK Mini doesn’t shy away from innovations. The 4-way joystick is designed for dynamic pitch/modulation control and complemented by an integral arpeggiator that lets you customize the range, resolution, and modes. It’s always nice to see an established brand walk in step with the times and cater to the new generations of musicians.

Review of Akai MPKMINI3 Professional MPK Mini MK3 - 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

Multifunctional Controller Keyboard

Want to tweak your drum tracks and make them sound more natural? Not a problem with MPK Mini. It comes with 8 backlit MPC-style beat pads, velocity sensitive and convenient in use. They allow you to program drums using Note Repeat and Full Level. Feel the amazingly responsive finger drumming with this system.

MPK Mini is not limited to drumming, though. Exercise complete control over your virtual instruments/FX with 8 knobs that turn at 360 degrees and pair up with studio plugins. The keyboard controller gives you the full freedom to mix or tweak your music. No assignable DAW parameter will be left unnoticed, and you’ll be impressed with how much you can do thanks to your new assistant.

Now, let’s go back to the omnidirectional joystick. It lets you manage pitch and modulation, or anything you decide to assign to it. While it’s a fun feature for sure, you have to be very precise when moving it so as not to accidentally mess up the axes – and what they stand for.

Summing up, this keyboard controller may be a bit too much for the beginners, but the experienced players will find it amazingly good.

Akai MPKMINI3 Professional MPK Mini MK3 - 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer

Last updated price $0.00
Stock In stock
ASIN B0886ZPWC8

 

RockJam Compact Digital Keyboard Piano

Unlock Your Creativity

How about getting a traditional piano experience with your new electro keyboard? It’s possible if you decide on the 54-key model from RockJam. Enjoy an interactive LCD screen and a wide variety of features that also include convenient teaching modes.

Let’s start with the fact that this keyboard is lightweight and portable, which makes it easy to move from room to room. You can choose between batteries or a power cord, although the latter is a bit short and binds you to the outlet without an extension. Still, the battery option lets you play and compose music on the go; a great way to brighten up a long vacation trip.

With RockJam, you can hear what you’re playing right out of the built-in stereo speakers. Placed on each side, they produce quality sound that is clear and pleasant. If you want to level up your performance, there’s an option to connect larger speakers. And in case your oversensitive neighbors protest any rehearsals, there’s a 3.5 mm headphone jack that you can use.

Note that the keys may sound a little loud for some users. But with the variety of alternate options, this shouldn’t be a big problem.

Review of RockJam Compact Digital Keyboard Piano for Kids

Amazing for Beginners

So, what’s the deal with teaching modes for this keyboard? It’s a real treat for kids that dream to learn how to play the piano. The LCD screen will easily show which keys or chords to play at the given moment. And if the child starts losing tempo, they can use the beat point to get back on the right track.

RockJam can be a nice alternative to costly piano teaching lessons, and kids will find it fun to learn playing this way. But that’s not all; the keyboard comes with handy keynote stickers to help them learn what every key stands for. As for the more experienced players, they’ll love the sheet music stand that also supports a tablet.

This keyboard never blocks your creativity. With 100 piano effects plus 100 rhythms, you can create millions of melodies – and support them with 8 percussion options. RockJam gives you a shortcut to writing and performing any music to your taste. Also, why not accompany your own singing? Much better than the standard karaoke.

The manufacturer provides access to exclusive content with the iOS/Android Simply piano app.

All in all, this electronic keyboard is an amazing learning device – or a compact music assistant that unlocks your creative self.

RockJam Compact Digital Keyboard Piano for Kids in the use

Additional Info

User Manual

Last updated price $72.49
Stock In stock
ASIN B018AVHOJ0

 

Infographics

Comparison of Music Keyboards for Musicians and Composers

What Is a Music Keyboard?

An electronic musical keyboard is an instrument visually resembling a portable piano. Speaking technical terms, it produces sound by mixing one or several sound wave generators. Digital keyboards do this by using processor settings whereas analog ones deal with adjusting the electric signal properties. However, in contrast to a conventional piano, music keyboards often offer many additional functions from accompaniment features to connecting a microphone and adding your voice to the part and recording your music into the built-in memory or onto an SD card. They are really versatile.

One of the types of music keyboards is a digital piano on which we have a separate review if you're interested.

What Features to Compare

Music keyboards today are offered in a variety of types for people with different goals and needs. It is hardly necessary to buy an expensive work station with tons of bells and whistles for a complete beginner or a kid. Check out these parameters before setting off to make a purchase.

Intended Use

There are simpler music keyboards for those making their first steps in music. Some hi-end features might be sacrificed in favor of simplicity of use and the option to add educational apps, helping guides, a number of presets and tones, etc. On the other hand, if you have some skills already and use the keyboard to practice learning programs are of less importance, you'd probably prefer better sound quality and an option to adjust settings. If you compose or mix music, a good sound recording and a full set of keys is a must—in this case, a work station with the largest number of settings would be great.

Keybed Type

If you're into classic and aim for the feel as close to a conventional piano as possible, a weighted keybed with hammer action is your best bet, it'll sound and feel just like the real thing. Semi-weighted bed is also close to the traditional feel and it is also quite widespread, it works with instrumental effects as well as with digital ones. At the same time, synth action keybeds are great for fast playing and can usually be found on MIDI keyboards that work with digital effects.

Display and Interfaces

A display is a good addition, especially if you go for a work station with a blinding number of features. With a display, you will always see the current settings and sometimes it will even let you control them (if it's a touchscreen). An educational guide can also be displayed on the screen. As for the interfaces, a headphones port is necessary, of course, as you will be able to hear what you play better (and your neighbors won't nag you about the noise). You'll need a mic in if you plan on recording voices and ambient noise. With a USB port, connecting to your PC or laptop to transfer files will become faster and easier, not mentioning that you'll be able to use a synthesizer or a work station as a MIDI keyboard. With a sequencer and pads feature, it'll be possible to record parts of sound and assign them to buttons to create sequences for further use.

Portability

Portability becomes an issue if you're buying a musical keyboard for both home and outside practices as well as for performances. In this case, you'll have to move a lot and carry it around. You wouldn't really enjoy a bulky and heavy machine if you need to cross a city on your two feet or via public transportation. Likewise, for a portable model, it is important to have the option to use batteries as a power source in addition to a cord. Finally, a carrying case would be nice, too.

Differences Between Music Keyboards and Pianos

One can argue that the piano is the most complex music instrument, so starting with the piano, even when the end goal is learning to play the piano, is not always the smartest decision. At the same time, there are differences between music keyboards and pianos, so we cannot quite say that the former are the perfect precursor to the latter as well.

To start with, pianos use weighted keys, meaning that pressing them takes extra effort compared to keyboard keys. Even the least experienced players can feel the difference between the two types. That being said, unlike pianos, music keyboards are tremendously versatile, so you can play practically any genre, accommodating variable musical tastes. Playing classical music, blues, and jazz pieces on any piano is not an issue but playing anything else can be a little challenging since, as you would imagine, pianos are not that good at imitating different instruments.

But, adding to the previous argument, besides the plastic, non-weighted feel, the keys on music keyboards are usually smaller and thinner, making the transition from a keyboard to a piano a tad difficult at times. Of course, there are countless models available on the market right now, including models with weighted keys and with keys that match the average pianos'. Aside from that, pianos have 88 keys, ranging between A0 and C8. Music keyboards, on the other hand, usually cap at 61 keys, but employ different controls/settings that you can use to emulate the missing keys, including the pedals.

As much as we love pianos, the cost is where the contest between the two becomes uneven. See, above-average music keyboards cost as little as 150 bucks, with premium models capping at 300 bucks tops. Meanwhile, above-average pianos cost above 2,000 bucks, which is a huge investment as far as most people are concerned.

When it comes to transitioning from one instrument to the other, it is not always about preferences but, more often than not, about needs. Pianos are great, sure, but, in this case, great describes both the experience and the size. An average piano measures around 50 inches in height, 60+ inches in width, and ~25 inches in depth. To add more, even the smallest upright models weigh above 300 pounds, with big pianos reaching 600-800 pounds. In the meantime, music keyboards usually weigh less than 10 pounds and measure less than ~13 x 35 x 4 (HxWxD) inches, meaning that, when you're moving apartments, you can easily bring the keyboard with you, whereas the piano will always present considerable transportation challenges, not to mention the fact that the new place will often have no space for the piano anyway.

As far as the learning part is concerned, music keyboards are all about rhythm, speed, and finger placement. While pianos are about that life too, you will also have to learn the techniques required to play acoustic instruments in general. Plus, apart from the keys, you'll have to learn how to use the pedals, which is not something that comes naturally to most people.

FAQ:

Q: How is a music keyboard different from a piano?
A:
A piano is an acoustic instrument whereas musical keyboards are digital. The sound they make differ, as does the response of keys. Even with the most expensive keyboard you won't get a complete piano sound and feel.

Q: Should I really buy a keyboard instead of a piano?
A:
If you are looking for an option to place at home and alternate between it and the piano you use at your classic music school, a keyboard might not be a too good option due to the difference in size and sound. A keyboard will do as a temporary solution but hardly as a permanent one. However, for those aspiring to go into popular music and arrangement a keyboard is an obvious choice, it is smaller, lighter, more portable, and offers quite a number of features like mimicking other instruments, for example.

Q: What is a synthesizer? Is it the same as a music keyboard?
A:
Strictly speaking, a music keyboard is not the whole instrument but simply the part with keys. An instrument we are much too used to calling a music keyboard is actually called an electronic keyboard. Anyway, the synthesizer is a type of "music" keyboard designed mostly to create synthetic sounds. They are usually professional devices as opposed to simple music keyboards we buy for home practice and performances.

Q: What's a workstation?
A:
A work station is usually a hi-end music keyboard with a full set of keys (which is 88) and a wide range of additional features to not only play but compose music. They often offer multiple effects, tones, sequencing options, etc. It's a choice of professional or highly skilled performers. They can be rather costly and bulky.

Q: What is a MIDI?
A:
Originally, MIDI is a signal protocol used to connect your keyboard to a PC or to another instrument. A MIDI keyboard, however, is an instrument that works using this protocol. Simply put, a MIDI music keyboard does not create the sound as it is but reproduces it using the protocol signals and samples. It's the simplest music keyboard.

Q: Does it take as long to learn the music keyboard as it takes to learn a piano?
A:
 Well, most music keyboards have a display and some have special mobile apps that can quicken the process of learning significantly, but in the end, it all depends on how dedicated you are and how much time you spend practicing.

Sources:

1. Electronic keyboard, Wikipedia.

2. How to Buy a Keyboard, wikiHow.

3. Home Keyboard Buying Guide, Sweetwater.

4. Keyboard Buying Guide, eBay. March 3, 2016.

5. Pianos and Keyboards: How to Choose, THE HUB. July 13, 2016.

6. How to Buy a Keyboard, wikiHow.

7. Christopher Breen Choosing a musical keyboard, Macworld. February 13, 2012.

8. Brandy Kraemer 6 Considerations for Electric Keyboard Shopping, ThoughtCo. January 25, 2017.

9. Which should I choose: a portable keyboard or a MIDI keyboard controller? Quora.

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Publish Date: 2017-08-16 16:05:48