Korg microKEY2 Air-25 review: What is it?
Mini controller keyboards are big business, especially in the two-figure price range. They now come packed with a silly number of knobs and sliders, decent keyboards and even good software bundles. Yet they are also light enough to take anywhere and control anything or, if you have limited space, will fit on any desktop to control your software at home. An increasing number now work wirelessly, and this is where the Korg microKEY2 Air-25 MIDI keyboard reviewed here excels. Not only will it control any MIDI device, but it will do it with no strings attached!
The Korg microKEY Air range comprises four models with each one, as is always the case, named after its corresponding number of keys. So there is the microKEY Air-25 on test here plus the microKEY Air 37, 49 and 61. With mini keys and its almost ridiculous compact nature though, we think the 25 is the best choice for all round music production, either for the mobile musician (it can link up to your iOS apps wirelessly too) or the desktop musician with a small studio space.
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Korg microKEY2 Air-25 review: Performance & verdict
The Korg microKEY Air comes with a USB cable and batteries plus decent instructions on a foldout sheet on how to set it up, which is a breeze in practice. Insert the batteries for wireless use, switch the button along the side down and a blue light flashes indicates it's ready to pair up with your slave device or software. It's an easy process that will have you playing wirelessly in no time. You get around 30 hours of battery life and when power starts to fade the LED indicator goes purple.
You can always use it powered by USB and wired up as well; just connect up the cable supplied - although this is very short, pretty much our only gripe so far. Playing the keyboard does feel restricted – of course it does – unless you are used to mini keys. However, these feel pretty good after an extended play, the kind of keyboard you will get used to. And while the unit is light in weight, it doesn't shift around while you play, (unless you play like Liberace!).
CME Xkey Air
Controls on the unit are few – Octave Select, an Arpeggiator, Sustain/Tap options and a joystick – but do pair up with one another so you can access a surprising number of features. On the top level you get Octave Up and Down buttons that change the LED colour as you press each a number of times (up to four) in either direction. The joystick is initially set up to control pitch (left/right) and modulation. However, press the Arpeggiator button and the Y-axis controls the gate time (note duration) and X-axis the type of arpeggiation. Very neat.
Other button combinations can change other values so you can, for example, change the MIDI cc that is assigned to buttons. It is not as easy as using a screen or external software and you'll need a bit of time to appreciate it, but you get a decent number of options considering both the size of the keyboard and its price.
And that just about sums up the Korg microKEY2 Air-25: great value considering what you get. The Arpeggiator is easy to use with that joystick combo, you can also tap out your tempos while using it and there's a lot of MIDI control options in here. But it's the wireless connectivity where it really excels. Just using a keyboard like this with your DAW makes your music production experience much freer. And while latency – the time it takes between you hitting a key and for you to hear the sound – is usually an issue with Bluetooth devices, we found it not to be too much of a problem, getting particularly low values when playing iOS apps.
Add in a good Korg Software bundle and the Korg microKEY2 Air-25 is a great little controller, equally at home in your backpack as it is on your crowded desk. We were surprised by the keyboard feel and (after a bit of trial and error) the MIDI options, but the wireless connectivity is where it shines. It could change the way you make music just on this alone.
Korg microKEY2 Air-25 review: Hands-on demos
Korg microKEY2 Air-25 review: Specifications
- Compatibility: PC, Mac, iOS
- No of Keys: 25
- Key size: Mini
- Key type: Velocity sensitive
- Controls: Joystick; Arpeggiator, Sustain/TAP and Octave Shift buttons
- Connectivity: Micro USB port, Bluetooth wireless
- Power: 2AA batteries (supplied) or USB
- Software: Korg Software Bundle (includes lots of lite/LE versions of various Korg plugins plus Reason Lite, Ozone Elements and UVI Digital Sensations
- Dimensions (WxDxH): 395 x 131 x 52
- Weight (kg): 0.67
- Contact: Korg