Bluetooth technology has come a long way over the last few years. Nowadays, it seems like you’d be hard-pressed to find someone walking around outside with wired headphones. It doesn’t matter where you’re at, the gym, on the street, on the train, etc, Bluetooth is slowly becoming the norm.
Some of your favorite MIDI keyboard manufacturers are now coming out with Bluetooth-enabled models. AKAI, for instance, has their immensely popular MPK Mini series that a lot of beginners start out with because of its portability and quality. If you’re new to the game, you might be wondering if it’s Bluetooth?
The AKAI MPK Mini series including the MPK Mini Play MK3, the MPK Mini, and the MPK Mini VIP Ready, is not Bluetooth-enabled. However, AKAI has come out with the LPK25 Wireless MIDI keyboard which is battery-operated and wireless. A few other companies have released Bluetooth models too.
If you’re anything like me, you’re slowly moving toward portability as well. I recently got an iPad and I’m figuring out how much gear and equipment I could take on the road with me if I wanted to make music wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. If you have a lot of wires to worry about, it’s a bit more challenging, but if everything is Bluetooth it makes your life much easier. Either way, I’ve got a few more suggestions for you…
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Bluetooth Alternatives to the AKAI MPK Mini 25 and Mini Play
Because the AKAI MPK Mini doesn’t have MIDI IN/OUT ports on it either, you can’t make it Bluetooth with an adapter which I’ll talk about briefly later in the article. Thankfully, the portable, Bluetooth, MIDI controllers are typically not that expensive so I think there are a few on the market that is worth sharing with you now.
1) Korg NanoKEY Studio
The versatility of the Korg nanoKEY Studio (on Amazon) probably plays a big role in why so many people seem to like it. You can use AAA- batteries to power it, or it can be USB-bus-powered, and it can be used with almost any smartphone, tablet, or PC. It’s reliable, the Bluetooth works great, and it does everything it’s supposed to.
It has 8 different knobs for controlling various parameters, you can use the touchpad as an X/Y controller (essentially like a trackpad), and then it also has 8 drum pads on the top-right hand corner. The keys on the keyboard, on the other hand, might be where you don’t like it as much because it’s not like a traditional MIDI keyboard.
While they do follow the structure of a traditional piano-key bed, they depart from that in terms of their shape, color, and also how they feel. They’re more like buttons, instead of keys.
Another thing I can say that I wouldn’t like about this keyboard is that I believe you have to update the firmware or install drivers on certain devices (Korg’s site here). I prefer to use equipment that’s just plug-and-play, but if you don’t care so much about that, then you’re probably good to go.
Just as an aside, I’ve found that I struggled to get Korg products to work in GarageBand, so be wary if you’re a GarageBand user, particularly on GarageBand iOS.
2) LPK25 Wireless
The LPK25 Wireless (on Amazon) is another wireless MIDI keyboard and it’s been out for a few years now. I know that there’s a video from John Mike, the YouTuber, where he notes how when you buy it, it comes with a CD-ROM which kind of indicates how old the device is.
It works for iOS, macOS, and PC (allegedly), and a lot of people love how portable, light-weight, and convenient this little guy is. If you needed to stuff a small keyboard into your bag, this is probably a nice one to get because it’s pretty small and portable.
Unlike the Korg nanoKEY Studio which may or may not work in GarageBand, I know that this one does for sure. A lot of people like to use this one for Apple products. A moment ago, I said that it worked for PC “allegedly,” and that’s because I haven’t heard of anyone using this for Android products yet.
I know that the description for it says that it will connect via Bluetooth to PC products and Windows software, but apparently, there are issues with the MIDI aspect of the Bluetooth connection on PC.
In other words, if you’re an Apple product user, you shouldn’t have any problems with this one. But if you’re using a PC, it may be worth your time to demo it before buying.
3) CME Xkey Air25
The last keyboard on the list is the CME Xkey Air25 (on Amazon) or Air37, which is less of a MIDI controller, and more of a wireless miniature piano for your device. That said, it does work great as a MIDI controller too, and it works for iOS, iPad, macOS, and PC and Android devices as well.
It comes in 2 different Bluetooth models, the Xkey Air25 and the Air37, which just means one is 25-keys and the other is 37-keys. Make sure that you don’t mistake it for the non-Bluetooth models which are just called Xkey. What I like about the Xkey Air series is what others might not like about it.
Notably, I like how it’s a bare-bones MIDI keyboard that doesn’t have many knobs or anything like that. I find that on most MIDI keyboards that I own, I rarely use the knobs, sliders, and other parameters, and prefer to just use my mouse instead.
If you’re the kind of person who just wants a solid Bluetooth MIDI keyboard, and you don’t care about bells and whistles, then there is a good chance that this one is for you.
How to Make Any MIDI Keyboard Bluetooth
In case you didn’t know, if your MIDI keyboard has the MIDI IN/OUT ports on the back of it, it can also function as a Bluetooth device. But you’ll need the Yamaha Wireless MD-BT01 MIDI Adapter (on Amazon).
To make your MIDI keyboard wireless, you just have to plug in the Yamaha Wireless MD-BT01 adapter into your MIDI IN/OUT ports and then your computer, tablet, or smartphone will be able to recognize it. Personally, I haven’t used one of these yet, but I know that the adapter has stellar reviews and a lot of people swear by it.
Other AKAI MPK Mini And Related Articles
- How to Use the AKAI MPK Mini Without A Computer [EASY]
- What’s the Difference Between the AKAI MK2 & MK3? [ANSWERED]
- The Best Bluetooth Headphones For Music Production
- The Best Portable Speakers For Music Production
- How to Fix Out of Sync Audio on TikTok [And Eliminate Delay]
Important Things to Note About Bluetooth MIDI Keyboards
1) You Can Still Run Into Latency and Lag
Even though Bluetooth technology has come a long way already, even since I wrote my article on latency, it’s still possible that you’ll experience some lag and latency when trying to use a Bluetooth connection with music production.
Ultimately, there is nothing more reliable than a standard wired connection, so If I were you, I would at least get a MIDI keyboard that has the ability to do both: Bluetooth and Wired. Most of them will have that capability, I imagine, so it shouldn’t be a problem.