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Practice and Record on the Best Keyboard in 2022

  1. Korg microKEY2-49 - Key iOS-Powerable USB Keyboard
  2. Samson Carbon 49 USB MIDI Keyboard
  3. Akai LPK25 Laptop USB MIDI Keyboard
  4. M-Audio Keystation 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard
  5. Alesis V49 49-Key USB MIDI Drum Pad and Keyboard Controller
  6. M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 (2014) USB Keyboard MIDI Controller
  7. Korg nanoKEY2 - Slim-Line USB MIDI Controller (Black)
  8. Korg Krome EX 73-Key Synthesizer Workstation, Keyboard
  9. Roland Jupiter-Xm Synthesizer
  10. Korg microKORG XL+ 37-Key Synthesizer
  11. Novation Bass Station II Analog Mono-Synth
  12. microARRANGER 61 Mini Key Portable Keyboard Arranger
  13. Korg Pa300 61-key Arranger Workstation
  14. Roland Roland FA-06 Keyboard Workstatiion
  15. Korg KROSS61 61 Key Mobile Workstation
  16. Casio PX360BK Key Digital Piano
  17. Teenage Engineering 002.AS.001 OP-1 Mini Synthesizer Pack
  18. Buyer's Guide

The term "keyboard" covers many specialized key-based instruments, including traditional pianos, synthesizers, and MIDI controllers. The style may determine what purpose the keyboard serves best - whether it's practice, recording, or live performances. The keyboards we've featured on the list below include portable, MIDI, and synth keyboards, as well as keyboard workstations. Basically, there are plenty of digital keyboard options for every musician’s need. We've also put together a buying guide to help you understand what features are important in a contemporary keyboard. Check it out now to help pick out the right keyboard for you!

Our Top Seventeen Keyboards

Korg microKEY2-49 - Key iOS-Powerable USB Keyboard - Best Keyboard Overall

Korg’s microKEY2 49-key MIDI keyboard is compact enough to be your travel buddy without the hassle, yet also offers 49 mini keys that are velocity sensitive and flanked with a pitch wheel, mod wheel, and octave selector – you’re getting the best of both worlds with this one. The microKEY2 is compatible with any Mac computer or iOS device, and easily connects via USB cable (included with the keyboard). You can also plug in a sustain pedal (not included) to give you greater control over the instrument’s performance. This keyboard also comes equipped with software from Korg, Propellerhead, Ableton, and UVI to give you a world of sounds to explore and take advantage of with your compact MIDI instrument.

Samson Carbon 49 USB MIDI Keyboard - Runner Up

The Samson Carbon 49 provides 49 velocity-sensitive, semi-weighted keys that give you a very realistic MIDI keyboard to trigger your sounds. A 3-digit, 7-segment LCD screen displays all of your functions in real-time, which also adds to the “live” and direct nature of this device. The Carbon 49 is compatible with Mac OSX and Windows, and can also be used with software instrument apps on the iPad; if that wasn’t enough, it also includes an integrated iPad stand that doesn’t just keep it in easy view for your convenience, but also allows you to power the keyboard directly off the iPad itself. Dedicated transpose and octave buttons give you an easy way to get in the right key and octave, and the keyboard also offers MIDI Out and sustain pedal input connections. The Carbon 49 also comes equipped with Native Instruments’ Komplete Elements software, giving you plenty of sounds to play with as soon as you take this MIDI keyboard out of the box.

Akai LPK25 Laptop USB MIDI Keyboard - Honorable Mention

The Akai LPK25 is a 25-key USB-MIDI controller that is small enough to fit into your average laptop bag or backpack. Like most things about this user-friendly device, just plug it in to either your Mac or PC, and you’re up and running without any driver installation necessary. It also doesn’t require any AC power, so hooking it up to the sounds that you’ll be triggering is all you need to power the keyboard. In addition to the keys on the LPK25, this keyboard also features an arpeggiator, a sustain button, octave up and down, and tap tempo controls, giving you a handy bag of tricks to bring to both your live performances and studio sessions. The LPK25 also comes Ignite, a music creation software that includes more than 275 instruments that include keyboards, drums, basses, guitars, synths, brass, strings, and woodwinds.

M-Audio Keystation 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard - Consider

M-Audio’s Keystation 49 MIDI keyboard is a great device for those who want something simple yet effective for use in the recording studio and at an affordable price. Transport controls on the unit allow you to shift parameters in your computer’s DAW without having to use your mouse. The Keystation 49 is compatible with Mac OS X and Windows computers, as well as with the iPad via their proprietary Camera Connection Kit. Alongside the synth-action keys, you’ll also find pitch and modulation wheels to add greater depth and control to your performance. The Keystation’s volume slider can also be assigned to control other MIDI values such as filter sweeps or expression control. This keyboard can either be powered via USB or a 9-volt power adapter.

Alesis V49 49-Key USB MIDI Drum Pad and Keyboard Controller - Best Budget MIDI Keyboard

Alesis’ V49 MIDI keyboard gives you all you’ll need to trigger and shape the sounds coming from your software instruments or plug-ins. Full-sized, synth-action keys allow you to play with ease, while eight velocity and pressure-sensitive LED pads give you the option to deal with more percussive and rhythmic elements like drum parts, loops, and more. Four assignable knobs and four buttons give you a wide range to control the parameters of your virtual instruments. The V49 is USB bus powered, which gives you one less thing to worry about bringing when you travel and set up with this keyboard. It also comes with Ableton Live’s Alesis Edition software, so you can begin making music and sequencing it instantly.

M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 (2014) USB Keyboard MIDI Controller - Best Budget Portable Keyboard

M-Audio’s Keystation Mini 32 keyboard provides 32 low-profile, velocity-sensitive that provide a great feel coupled with their mini size. Octave shift allows you to access the entire range of notes you want to work with. Three buttons and a knob can be assigned controls to various parameters in your DAW and/or its virtual instruments. The Mini 32 also comes with selectable velocity curves that let you tweak the sensitivity of the keyboard to fit your playing style. Because this was made with the idea it would be out and about a lot, this pick is built in a robust, high-quality fashion that allows it to take on the wear and tear of being outside of your contained studio. The unit also features multi-color, LED-lit buttons that make it easy to see and use when on a dark stage or in a dim studio setting.

Korg nanoKEY2 - Slim-Line USB MIDI Controller (Black) - Best Budget Portable Keyboard

The Korg nanoKEY2 is a ridiculously portable keyboard that offers many features and functions that its bigger brothers have. This keyboard has 25 keys that are velocity sensitive; you can switch through octaves via the up and down buttons. Modulation and sustain buttons provide additional playability and expressiveness. The device’s Control Change Mode gives you the ability to not just trigger notes with the keys, but also send CC messages. Korg Kontrol editor software allows you to make further specifications and customizations to the keyboard so it fits your exact preferences. And because the nanoKEY2 is USB powered, you don’t have to worry about carrying an adapter with you.

Korg Krome EX 73-Key Synthesizer Workstation, Keyboard - Best Keyboard Workstation

Korg definitely kept the musician’s needs in mind when creating their Krome 73-key workstation. It plays extremely well with a semi-weighted keybed that sits right in between piano-like action and faster synth-related performance. To compliment the great feel this keyboard workstation offers, the Krome is stocked with 640 instruments and sounds, drawing from the well-respected Kronos workstation which is also made by Korg. 900 arpeggiator patterns and more than 600 drum grooves also provide you ample tools to get your work started. While the Krome is definitely a full-blown DAW in its own right, the workstation also comes with a free downloadable plug-in editor that allows you to use it as a plug-in in your computer-based DAW.

Roland Jupiter-Xm Synthesizer - Best Budget Synth Keyboard

The Roland GAIA SH-01 is powered by three virtual analog engines, with each one sporting its own oscillator, filter, amplifier, envelope, and LFO. These are all features that really allow you to tweak and transform your sound, and that expandability only widens with the effects built into this synth keyboard. You can layer up to five different effects at a time on the SH-01, including flanger, reverb, low boost, distortion, delay, and more. With 37 full-size keys and a 64-voice polyphony, there are no limitations to what you can physically play on this unit. The unit also features USB ports that allow you to save your patches externally to USB flash drives; in fact, those same ports also give you an easy way to connect your sounds to computers via either audio or MIDI.

Korg microKORG XL+ 37-Key Synthesizer - Best Budget Synth Keyboard

The Korg microKORG synth keyboard features 37 velocity-sensitive mini-keyboard keys, making this unit a friendly travel companion due to its compact size. Two oscillators and a noise generator give you plenty of options to tinker with your sounds; there are also a multitude of great-sounding presets to help you get started. An 8-band vocoder and microphone component is what distinguishes the microKORG from many of its peers; speak or sing into it and transform your voice, or capture a sample and map it out across the keys to create a new instrument sound. Modulation effects like the chorus/flanger, phaser, and ensemble (along with delays and a two band EQ) provide further methods to craft a sound that’s all your own.

Novation Bass Station II Analog Mono-Synth - Best Budget Synth Keyboard

The Novation Bass Station II offers 25 keys that feature "aftertouch", a feature which allows you to put realistic expression into your performances. Two separate filter designs allow you to modify your sounds as you see fit. This unit is mainly known for its rumbling bass sounds which can be harnessed and altered via two oscillators and a sub-oscillator. If you just want to dive in and start playing, the Bass Station II offers 64 factory presets along with 64 user slots for you to save your own customized sounds and recall them for later use. While the Bass Station II can be powered by AC, it also can be powered by USB as well. Combine that perk with this unit’s relatively compact size, you're left with an instrument that’s appealing to the musician on the go.

microARRANGER 61 Mini Key Portable Keyboard Arranger

microARRANGER 61 Mini Key Portable Keyboard Arranger - Best Portable Keyboard

Just as cell phones got smaller but also ironically began to offer way more than what could fit into the phones of the past, the Korg microARRANGER keyboard provides a slew of incredible music-making features into one compact unit that weighs less than 10 pounds. With 61 keys strewn across 34”, this is a keyboard you can transport easily in your car or even in your hands. Despite its small size, the microARRANGER comes equipped with over 650 sounds, 89 effects, 304 styles, and a 16-track sequencer. Four single touch setting buttons allow you to split up sounds, layer them across the keyboards, and switch between them with just one button. This is ideal for when you’re playing gigs and want to have your favorite sounds cued up and ready to go. The keyboard’s Jukebox function allows you to stack up backing tracks that can be triggered and played in a sequence, with realistic sounding instrument sounds like drums, keyboards, horns, and more. You can also load songs into the sequencer via the unit’s SD card slot.

Korg Pa300 61-key Arranger Workstation - Best Portable Keyboard

The secret to the great sounds of the Korg Pa300 keyboard is the Real eXperience sound engine, which allows this portable unit to offer detailed, natural patches that can cover you for nearly any genre imaginable. As if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also get access to a bevy of built-in effects, including reverbs, delays, choruses, and more. Korg’s REMS guitar-based effects are also included here, so you can emulate the six-string when necessary. While many people tend to think of keyboard backing tracks as being cheesy and lifeless, that’s definitely not the case with the Pa300 as these backing tracks are rich and realistic. You’ll also have plenty to work with as each loaded Style comes with four fills/breaks, three intros, and three endings.

Roland Roland FA-06 Keyboard Workstatiion - Best Budget Keyboard Workstation

Roland’s FA-06 keyboard workstation offers more than 2000 sounds that come straight out of the company’s flagship INTEGRA-7 sound module, giving you a handle on both natural acoustic tones, synthetic sounds, and drums. The instrument’s onboard sampler is based around the SP-404SX and feature 16 pads, 4 banks, and direct recording/playback through SDHC cards. 16 independent MFX engines allow you to color your sounds with studio quality effects while six separate EQ/compressor processors give you a great way to improve the sound of your drums. If you want to use your keyboard in conjunction with your computer’s DAW, simply hook it up via USB cable and hit a single button to configure the unit to the program’s parameters. The FA-06 also features a dedicated input reverb that offers natural-sounding ambience to your instrument when recording or performing.

Korg KROSS61 61 Key Mobile Workstation - Best Budget Keyboard Workstation

Korg’s Kross keyboard workstation offers 61-keys and a wealth of sounds to give you the versatility to handle numerous styles and genres of music. Staple sounds such as organ, strings, brass, and synths are here, but you can also expand your musical vocabulary with more niche settings like toy piano, vintage tape sampler, accordion, and more. A "favorites" feature allows you to save up to 64 sounds or songs so that you can easily recall them with one button, making it ideal for quickly switching patches during gigs. The Kross also features a step sequencer inherited from Korg’s classic Electribe, giving you a visual way to layer your music. The Kross is also easy to travel with (weighing in at under 10 pounds) and is powered by six AA batteries.

Casio PX360BK Key Digital Piano - Best Budget Keyboard Workstation

Sit down with the Casio Privia PX-360 keyboard workstation and you’ll instantly take notice of just how intuitive it plays and feels, just like a real acoustic piano. The 88 keys on this unit feature tri-sensor scaled hammer action that provide a touch response 127 times the resolution of the typical keyboard. What distinguishes the PX-360 from its contemporaries is its color touchscreen interface, giving it a cool-looking, easy-to-navigate feel that allows you to seamlessly scroll through the 550 high-quality sounds contained within. You can further shape that sound via the onboard digital effects built into the keyboard. It also features a 16-track recorder which allows you to easily capture ideas, arrange compositions, or practice along with backing tracks.

Teenage Engineering 002.AS.001 OP-1 Mini Synthesizer Pack - Best Budget Keyboard Workstation

The Teenage Engineering OP-1 keyboard is not like most traditional keyboard units, as you can tell just from glancing at its layout and design. It draws upon several synthesizer engines including the Dr. Wave raw 8-bit yupe sound engineer, FM synthesis engine, pulse square wave engine, string physical modeling, phase distortion engine, and more. A built-in 24 voice live sampler allows you to bring in external sounds using the onboard mic or from a line-level input. The unit’s 4-track tape recorder allows you to layer ideas for quick idea capturing or full-blown arrangement/composition. The mixer also features EQ, effects, drive, and master out controls, giving you further control over the manipulation of your sounds.

Buyer's Guide

While the term 'keyboard' may seem straightforward, there are various types depending on the primary purpose of the instrument. Whether it’s a keyboard for touring, practicing at home, as a recording facilitator in the studio, or a tool for experimentation, musicians will need to consider portable, MIDI, and synth keyboards. Furthermore, each keyboard will come with a range of effects, tool choices, and designs that will also need to be considered. Fortunately, this buyer’s guide will help point you in the right direction towards finding your ideal keyboard.

Keyboard Types


Great for traveling to gigs or as a substitute for a full-size piano at home, a portable keyboard can be the perfect solution for practice and performance with all the extra features afforded by a digital instrument. Thanks to advances in technology, these small and lightweight instruments mimic the feel, sound, and pitch range of an acoustic piano.


MIDI keyboards function as an essential part of many digital audio workstations (DAWs) working with synths for sound customization. Accordingly, those looking at MIDI keyboards will want pitch/modulation controls, sliders, programmable buttons, faders, and other options for maximum control.


A synthesizer allows for experimentation, manipulation, and customization of all kinds of sounds and patterns with the ease of keyboard style playing. The result is a keyboard allowing for any sound the user can imagine to create a world of versatile, dynamic music.


For musicians seeking full-service performance and production all in one place, keyboard workstations provide a plethora of sound, recording, connectivity, and creative options. Using a workstation, users can create their own songs complete with melody, harmony, and other accompaniments.


Keyboards have a variety of functions for performance, recording, and studio work.

Number of Keys


With 88 keys, this size keyboard has the same number of keys as a full-size piano. These are particularly for individuals looking for an in-home alternative to the acoustic piano or those using the instrument primarily for performance.

72 or 61-key

Keyboards with fewer keys allow for a more portable instrument, though this curtails the range of available pitches. Often budget keyboards offer 72 or 61 keys, which helps reduce cost or provide a manageable choice for young musicians. If effects are just as important as the performance aspect of the instrument, these size keyboards may be ideal.

Key Style


Mimicking the weight and feel of an acoustic piano, weighted keys develop realistic muscle control and more command of tone and volume. At the highest levels, the lower notes on the instrument have a heavier weight and the higher notes are lighter, expertly mimicking an acoustic piano.


These lightweight keys often found on smaller keyboards, are easy for fingers to manipulate and naturally move faster because they have little resistance. However, for those anticipating they will play on an acoustic piano at some point, the transition from organ-style keys to the weighted keys of a piano can be a difficult one.

Digital Features


Among a keyboard’s statistics may be the polyphony, a fancy way of letting you know how many notes can be played at the same time. Depending on the complexity of music and the number of voices layered into the recording, more voices may be desired. For regular use, the polyphony of any given keyboard is usually sufficient.


One of the most popular features of digital instruments is the ability to switch up the tone or "voice" with the push of a button, from a grand piano to strings, voice, drum kit, and many more. Different model keyboards will offer any number of pre-programmed sounds, from 30 high-quality sampled sounds to hundreds for maximum creativity.

Backing tracks

Backing tracks come pre-programmed into the keyboard to accompany a wide range of musical genres and can be adjusted for tempo with intro and outro buttons. These are great for practice, recording all-in-one tracks, and performance.


Keyboards can come with several USB and MIDI options, including the ability to both upload and download data to and from the keyboard or plug directly into a system. For those interested in syncing up with a computer, USB and MIDI in/out ports are highly desirable. For high-use as a part of a DAW, multiple USB and MIDI ports are ideal.

Additional Accessories


Unless the keyboard comes with its own legs, a keyboard stand is helpful. Typically made of lightweight metal in a folding X style, keyboard stands fit neatly away for travel and facilitate comfort/good posture while playing.

Sustain pedal

Used often in piano performance, a sustain pedal holds the tone of a note out longer for smooth transitions from note to note. For a keyboard, this pedal is normally an add-on, plugged in through a jack on the keyboard for additional performance and technique flexibility.


Some keyboards will come with their own software to interface with a computer for recording purposes. Those looking to build their DAWs or a more standard software may want to look into more powerful or universal software packages, such as Garage Band at the entry-level, or Pro Tools at the professional level.


The difference between reputable budget instruments and higher-grade professional keyboards is often in size, several keys, features, and extras, depending on the type of keyboard. When considering the price it’s often helpful to determine the purpose of the instrument. If it’s for recreational, lightweight use, and fun, a budget instrument will probably suffice.

For those looking for specific performance features, like weighted keys or additional controls, the higher-priced, professional-level instruments are the way to go. Thanks to technological advances over the last 50 years, keyboards sound great, offer a lot of options on the road or at home, and are loaded with extra features in a relatively small package, even at the budget level.

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