Wednesday 17 January 2024

M-Vave SMK 25 Mini Review - The Best Midi Controller for Travel

The M-Vave SMK 25 Mini is a great product. i owned the previous version, which looks very similar but was black. It was the Nectar SE 25, a different brand but I think it was from the same factory. There is a reason I switched to the newer M-Vave keyboard and it's why I am declaring this the best midi controller for travelers.

This midi controller is a tiny keyboard with just a few buttons on the left side. You can plug it into you laptop or tablet, or even a phone with the USB cable that comes with it. I have been traveling all over the place and it takes up a very small part of my suitcase. Plus it is almost weightless. The perfect midi keyboard for traveling. You can even use it wirelessly with Bluetooth!

Best Midi Keyboard for Traveling

The big new feature is a double dose of delightful fun: Scales and Chords. When in scales mode every key is in tune, so you can noodle around like a jazz musician and it sounds pretty good. You literally can't play something out of tune. 

The scales feature is used by pressing the Scales button, then you select the key you want to play in e.g. A, B, C and so on. It is how I start making a baseline for a track of any type of music. Then later I use it for other bits and bobs.

M-Vave SMK 25 Mini review

Best Way To Use the M-Vave SMK 25 Mini Scales Feature

To make sure your song sounds great, I recommend saving it in the name of the key you are playing in. This way when you come back to it later you will immediately know where to start. Otherwise it can be a giant hassle trying to figure out what key you made the song in. 

This midi keyboard can also do chords!

The other function the SC/CH button on this baby can do is play chords. This is even more powerful and impressive than the scales feature. You press the button twice and select the key your chord will be in and the type of chord. I am clueless about musical notes but this midi controller keyboard can play chords like Triad, Rand and either Major or Minor.

The power of the chords feature is going to make you very happy. Once selected you just need to press one key on the keyboard and it will play a chord. Chords are a few notes played together to create a rich sound. Keep it in the same key as your scale and if you are using a certain chord, put it in the name for your song.

Making Music Has Never Been So Easy

The chords and scales feature on the M-Vave SMK 25 Mini are an amazing tool and it will guarentee that you make good songs. Whether you are making house tracks or hip hop songs, you will nail the sound when you use good chords. 

Here is a tip: when using the chords function you should set your DAW (music making software like GarageBand) to record 8 bars. Then play the chords one on the start of each bar. Just try pressing different keys and you will soon have a chord pattern that sounds great.

cheapest midi keyboard with chords and scales

The Best Cheap Midi Keyboard in the World

This just might be the cheapest midi keyboard in the world that has Chord and Scales functions. Seriously, you usually need to pay far more for keyboards or other midi controllers that can do this. I paid £30 (less than $38) for mine, including shipping from Ali Express.

Why use Ali Express I hear you say?

Well, it is true that the keyboard comes from China, but Ali Express sellers have recently started promising deliveries within 7 days. They used to take many weeks to arrive but the new 7 day guarantee is a godsend. Click here to go to the page where I bought my M-Vave SMK 25 Mini. You need to click that link as the others don't offer 7 day delivery.

I got my M-Vave SMK 25 Mini in 6 days and was so happy to see it so soon.

Best software to make music with the M-Vave SMK 25 Mini 

When it arrived I plugged it in to my MacBook Air M1 and started playing straight away on GarageBand. In case you don't know GarageBand is free DAW software for anyone who owns a MacBook or iMac. It isn't as powerful as the big boys like Ableton Live, but it is the perfect starting point. 

If you don't have a Mac you can use the free DAW BandLab - this one has a version you can play in your internet browser, like Chrome. It is super easy to use. It lacks some features and sounds that GarageBand has, but for a free tool it is great. You can also use BandLab to share your music. It is like a social networking site for music makers all over the world.

If you are on a budget then you will find BandLab or GarageBand are perfectly useable tools that are so easy to use that you will probably get your first song laid down in an hour or less.

Is it worth upgrading if I own the Nectar SE 25?

Absolutely yes! The chords and scales function in the M-Vave SMK 25 Mini make it a must buy purchase. I liked the old nectar keyboard, but I make much better music now I can fill songs with rich chords. I can also make music much faster now. This M-Vave SMK 25 Mini review is me letting you know that this thing is the best cheap midi keyboard in the world.

Other than the SC/CH button, this midi keyboard is similar to the old one, but it's so much more powerful that you should absolutely upgrade. For $38 or so you will have an amazing tool to make music.

Bonus: free download of amazing 80s instruments:

Besides buying this keboard, you will find that you want more sounds in your DAW at some point. King of FM is the perfect option, especially if you like the 80s. There are some very smooth sounds that came out originally on a famous Yamaha keyboard. you will recognise some of the songs if you grew up in the 80s or listen to a lot of 80s music. It is 100% free and Google will tell you how to install it in GarageBand or any other DAW.