Smallest external keyboard/controller for M:C

I would like to buy a small keyboard for playing melodies on M:C when travelling. If it has an arpeggiator and/or scales would be best, if it has scales no need for keys, pads would be fine.

Would any of these small usb midi only keyboards work? maybe I am wrong but I think the will not

Otherwise I can not think of anything smaller than Arturia´s beatstep, scales, arp, midi out and cv out also as an extra…

Not without a MIDI USB host box in between, because the Model:Cycles has no build USB host port (so you cannot connect these keyboards directly).

Update: Just seen that the Beatstep provides a MIDI out port (in contrast to what you wrote). This will work.

Ok, thank. I know beatstep has midi out, I wrote that

I’ve a Novation Launchkey Mini Mk 3 on the way exactly for this reason. It has an arp and a mini jack midi port, so you can connect it straight to the M:C with a standard mini jack stereo cable. It’ll run off a USB power bank (the one I use for the M:C has two USB ports, so both will run off the same battery). For me it was a tossup between this and the Arturia Keystep. While that has a more solid build with better keys and more connections, I went with the Novation because it was smaller and has pads and knobs I’ll be able to assign to my DAW and virtual synths too.


if you need an ultra small USB MIDI host to turn one of these USB (only) MIDI KB’s into DIN, I highly recommend this $39 Charo River USB MIDI Host


I also bought one of these with the hope that I could set up the knobs to be used as track volume/level, but they SERIOUSLY messed up… all pads, knobs, and keys all have to be on same midi channel!

Seriously stupid. Can’t fix it in Components either.


a headless raspberry pi can be a cheap (similar dosh) usb hub with this in mind and it should be doable to script some midi tricks in pd or just use alsa to connect devices

personally i think a tablet via usb would be an agreeable portable option in preference to mini-keys smaller than a keystep e.g.

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vs a non-velocity iPad, I get by fine with the 16 step keys personally.

There’s def a hole in the market for something small, velocity sensitive, with actual nonUSB MIDI output.

A launch key mini that’s only keys would be perfect

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maybe a kboard with midi expander if you are directly after smallest

I would say keith mcmillen que-nexus.
it doesn’t have arp, but the touch-sensitive keys kind of make up for it. great for expression.
just depends which is more important.
also has some cv implementation so it has the versatility factor going for it.


If you get through the USB to DIN barrier one of the smaller with full sized keys is the CME Xkey.

$100 – It’s very thin.

Not relevant to you but one of the stand apart things on this is that it has poly-aftertouch.

Also in the out-of-the-box-thinking category, though a little larger (21" long) would be one of the Yamaha Refaces. They have DIN MIDI, with a funny cable adapter. They’re also three octaves, with really nice action minikeys.


I would rather an all in one solution, rather than having to carry the controller plus the usb host and I also own a battery pack with 2 USB outputs same as phutyle.
I am also waiting for the blokas midihub to be available for different reasons (Midi round robin, midi lfo´s etc…) but this is more thinking in the studio

I can not play melodies on M:C trigger keys, if they would add scales via an update would be enough though. Function + T1-T16; 16 scales, 2 oct on normal scales and 3 oct on pentatonic ones (already sent a feature request)
For me the perfect portable midi controller would be the bottom part of the novation monostation, 4 raws of pads, 16 scales, either 4 rows same channel (4oct) or 2 rows with different midi channels. The monostation has become my main midi “keyboard” in the studio, so much fun to be had playing two M:C tracks same time …

I do not play the keyboard so unless is really portable like korg nanokeys or similar I prefer this kind of solution, with scales/pads.

I am not in a hurry anyway, whole of spain is under home quarantine, I do not see myself travelling any time soon

Although it is nice I find it expensive for what it offers and having a midi/CV converter in my rack I do not really need a CV keyboard, I had Keystep and sold it.

Thank you all for the suggestions!!!


The original Novation Circuit could also be a good controller, smaller than monostation and can run on batteries. same dual pad keyboard with 16 scales.

I was checking the CC number and unfortunately the do not seem match very well, so I do not think even the editor could help. Would have been fantastic to record those encoders in circuit sequencer to use them as LFOs for the cycles.

Still, if someone owns it seems like a good “portable” solution too, worth a try

Edit: found a few with midi out…

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i have the circuit and also use it as a controller sometimes. it only has velocity on the pads, but since the elektrons only record that (and not aftertouch for example) in the sequencer, it is a good match…

if novation would make the cc values of the encoders user programmable, that would be great! (via the components software)

it runs on 6 aa batteries, 4 would be nicer/fit my charger better :slight_smile:

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Better an Arturia Keystep at this point, same price, better keybed, more specs


A bit OTT maybe, but an OPZ?

My ideal keybord would be an Arturia MiniLab Mk II with an arp. But that doesn’t exist. The Launchkey Mini, for all it’s faults, looks like the nearest thing to me at a reasonable price. :slightly_frowning_face:

I’ll see how it goes.

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What about a launchpad pro?

They are very compact with decent playability.

It is a wonderful controller, but even bigger in size than Circuit. I wish the made a launchpad mini pro with midi out

Keith McMillien (?) kboard is tiny and class compliant.

About the width of a VHS.