Portability vs. function. When it comes to electronic devices, prioritizing these two functions have always been a tough balancing act. Be it laptops, speakers or other gadgets, choosing portability often means sacrificing features related to power, performance or utility. As such, the best portable devices are those that manage to keep as many key features as possible despite the reduction in real estate. It’s the same question posed when looking at the Korg microKEY 25 mini MIDI keyboard.
The smallest of Korg’s microKEY line, the device is also the most portable of the bunch. It measures 395 millimeters (15.6 inches) wide, 131 millimeters tall (5.2 inches) and 53 millimeters (2 inches) thick. It’s also relatively light at about 1.43 pounds. The compact size and lighter weight makes the microKEY a versatile device for folks who want to work on music projects while moving around. You can use it to lay out some quick tracks while having breakfast, for example, or you can plop it in your backpack and take it with you on the go.
Compatibility is also quite good. You can connect it to a Windows computer and download the programs included with the microKEY (note than some are just trial versions). The device is verified to work with Windows XP, Vista and 7. The keyboard also works with Apple’s Garage Band — not just for Mac OSX but also with the iPad. The compatibility with Apple’s slate is especially nice because it expands your options as far as portability is concerned. The ability to power the device with just the iPad is another plus for the microKEY.
Performance-wise, the keys themselves feel good with nice give and depth. This works well with the microKEY’s velocity-sensitive capability. Responsiveness is also good with no lag. Additional options include a “Sustain” button as well as an “Arpeggiator” button for folks who want additional sound effects. The device also allows users to adjust pitch and modulation, although it combines both functions into a single joystick as opposed to two separate dials or wheels. You can adjust your octave settings up or down via two separate buttons, which is a necessity since the microKEY 25 only comes with 25 buttons.
Speaking of its number of buttons, although portability is a strong suit of the microKEY 25, it’s size can also be a drawback. If you have bigger hands, for example, the smaller keys can be harder to hit accurately, especially when making more complex movements. The fewer number of keys (as opposed to, say, the iRig Keys or Korg’s larger keyboards) also means you’ll have to do more layering separately when putting together more complex pieces that require notes across various octave ranges. Folks who want to use the microKEY with the iPad will also need to purchase a separate adapter because the device does not come with a compatible connector.
Overall, the Korg microKEY 25 will not replace its full-size brethren when doing some serious sound work. For quick stuff or layering down ideas on the go, however, the Korg works quite well. The microKEY certainly has a nice, quality feel to it and I especially like its pressure-sensitive keys, which have just the right give. Its plug-and-play function also makes using the device a piece of cake. If you’re looking for a portable keyboard for doing quick work or something you can easily take with you when you’re out and about, then the microKEY25 is worth a look.
KORG MICROKEY 25
- Cost: $70
- Keys: 25
- Controllers: Joystick, Arpeggiator button, Sustain/TAP button, Octave Up and Down
- Compatibility: Windows, Mac and iPad