Input midi keyboard recommendation

I’m sure enjoying Dorico and it’s inspiring to write more. It’s way more intuitive than Finale. I’ve never used a midi keyboard for note entry but am impressed with how fast and easy that seems to be. Are there recommendations for a simple, small keyboard for note entry? I don’t care about playback or anything fancy – just for note entry into Dorico. (I prefer to play and listen to music on acoustic keyboards!) Of course, Steinberg isn’t endorsing products, so I hope this topic is ok for this forum.

I use MPK Mini mkii. Laptop sized. But those really small Korg ones work great as well.

No problem ! I think this topic has already been suggested like a year ago. You can use whatever MIDI keyboard you want — I have an Arturia one with three octaves, portable, with pads that costed me 99€ (MIDI USB) and also a venerable Yamaha SY-85 (25 years old…) at home. It’s way faster when you have all the octaves you need, but of course the keyboard is bigger! What I mean is that, if you need, you can buy any old MIDI stuff (or even have it for free, people put anything to trash nowadays), just make sure you have a proper MIDI interface.
Hope it helps!

Dorico accepts input from virtually any device that can send MIDI note on/offs (and you probably can’t imagine what a big variety of devices exist that can). So it is just a matter of picking one that suits your particular needs. Keyboards from small to full range, Guitar-to-MIDI-convertors, Wind-to-MIDI-convertors, MIDI-controllers,…the list is nearly endless.

Is there not a thread somewhere, however, about some MIDI input devices that send a constant stream of data in the background? Those may be very esoteric devices, but it’s worth a heads-up if someone is looking at MIDI keyboards.

OK, I looked at the 25 key “MPK Mini mkii”, which is a nice size. Is it relatively easy to tell Dorico which octave I’m trying to enter?

For ultimate portability, check out the CME Xkey 25-key Mobile Keyboard Controller. It looks like it was designed by Apple. That’s what I have and use with my laptop. If you prefer bluetooth, they make one (more $) - CME Xkey Air 25-key Bluetooth MIDI Controller. If you want to go a little larger, they have the CME Xkey Air 37-key Bluetooth MIDI Controller. But there are so many out there… nice to have choices.

rubberfingers - what I do is input the note - if wrong octave UNDO and set with the octave up/down and start again. One of the limitations with a 25-key keyboard.

“OK, I looked at the 25 key “MPK Mini mkii”, which is a nice size. Is it relatively easy to tell Dorico which octave I’m trying to enter?”
Yes, it has buttons that light up for up/down octave. Never had a problem.

That’s one disadvantage of the CME XKey, by the way: it has buttons for switching octave, but no visible indication on the keyboard itself what octave the keyboard is currently set to. John had his XKey with him at NAMM last week, and I found the lack of any kind of octave display very awkward. I use my M-Audio Keystation mini 32 for this very reason. I don’t feel bad recommending this keyboard these days as of course M-Audio is no longer part of the evil purple empire.

I’m looking at getting the X-Key Air. I notice that CME has an app (called XKeyPiano) in the Mac app store. This appears to display the key names. But since I don’t have a keyboard yet, I was wondering if someone could verify that when an XKEY is attached, and you press a key that the key name is displayed in the app and that the octave keys do the appropriate thing in the app. This would eliminate the concern Daniel mentioned if that works as I think it does. You can just run that app along with Dorico to view the octave.

I have the X-Key Air 32 (the bigger number of the 2, and I believe 32 is correct). The only drawback as mentioned, is that you have no display of the octave. However, pressing the octave up and octave down button together, resorts to its default setup. It is never too hard to no what is going on. Except on the first note you enter.

Here is an excerpt go XKeyPiano doing whatever it does. Sadly, it doesn’t show the same size keyboard as I have.


You must mean 37 keys, right? It’s three octaves, plus one extra key.

Also, it’s strange that when you connect a 37-key unit that xkeypiano is only showing 25 keys. When it’s not connected it shows 37 keys. So it is capable of showing both.

So in the image you showed did you press the C3 key? If you press the octave up and then press the same key does it show that key as C4?

Also, I assume you can hear the octave when xkeypiano is running, right?

Yes, you can hear the sound (octave and pitch), and you see the different octaves C3, B2, etc. And yes, the 37. I have the 3 full octaves, plus the next C.

I also bought the bluetooth one, thinking it would be AMAZING. Honestly, the bluetooth is setup differently on MacOS, so you don’t connect directly just by turning the thing on. You need to open some menus in the MacOS and connect each and every time you want to use it. So if Bluetooth is a huge selling point… I would maybe think twice about that.


Thanks, that’s helpful.

I am glad I could be of help.

I would look into the steps to connect a bluetooth MIDI device (I am sure a simple Google search would yield the instructions). I was highly let down about the steps it takes, and now I just leave the thing plugged in via USB the whole time.

Aside from that small complaint. I have used several MIDI keyboards (small ones like this), and for what I do, this keyboard works well. As mentioned earlier, the octave window, so you know where you are with out resetting or testing, is missed by me. But is certainly not a deal breaker.


I’ve pretty much decided to get the CME Xkey 25. The form factor is great – fits on my desk with a laptop with room for papers, etc. I probably won’t lug it around in a backpack. My biggest concern is reports of failures, so I’ll buy it at a place with a good return policy. And it’s not available at the moment (on back order) at the place I want to buy it. I don’t think the octave thing will bother me too much (I hope!). I don’t need the drum pads, pressure-sensitive keys, or other features that make it more bulky on my desk. Just note entry! Thanks for all the advice, everyone.


There’s a program on the Mac App Store from Korg called Bluetooth MIDI connect. It claims to only support Korg products, but I have a Yamaha UDBT01 and it works with that. So it probably works with any bluetooth device. It makes connection a breeze.

I do use the same little keyboard mini 32 when I am on tour. Getting the right octave is no problem: If one presses both up and down keys -+ at the same time, they both turn red and one starts in the default middle octave. If the first note I input ends up in another octave by my mistake, it is only two little actions to correct them. 1st in the software I shift/correct the last (=1st) note into the right octave (let us say one octave) and secondly press the octave shift key once. Then go on with note input. These two possible extra steps don’t really count, if they are followed by hundreds of further notes/actions.
I have found though that it always needs some time to get used to the smaller keys :musical_keyboard:.
So I can not input as fast as with the regular sized keyboard at home.
The octave thing reminded me visiting a polish catholic church service three weeks ago. They had a very gifted organist, who - after the (unaccompanied) priest sang the liturgy out of pitch or rather out of key - would catch the key for the liturgical answer (sung by the congregation) by starting the answer with the note he thought it was and then in the fraction of a second correcting it and adding the full chord harmony. He was very capable in doing that. So he obviously had no perfect pitch, but his kind of private little roulette game I am sure hardly anybody noticed…:slight_smile:

I’ll check it out! Thanks for the advice!