7 Best Portable Keyboards for Touring, Practicing, or On-The-Go Music Making

Some keyboards, although sounding great, are just too big to carry in your car when you play in different venues every night.

Whether you need a suitable keyboard for touring around clubs, band practice or you just want to save some space in your home studio, there are tons of portable keyboard options that sound just as well as a full 88-key keyboard.

Keyboards around the $500 mark will provide you with a combination of good audio quality and features.

Plus, you can choose one compact and portable enough for touring and playing different venues without the hassle of carrying a heavier keyboard.

These options are also durable enough to take a beating because we cannot avoid banging the keyboard from daily transport from your car to the stage.

Even if you are touring in a van or bus, damaging the keyboard's exterior is inevitable, so you have to make sure that you choose one that is well-built.

In this article, I will show you the best portable keyboards.

If you need a keyboard worthy of the stage and for recording in your home studio, you will surely find a capable one that will suit your needs in this extensive list.

In a rush? Here is a quick rundown for you:

Most Affordable
Casio CTK-2550 61-Key Portable Keyboard with App Integration/Dance Music Mode,Black
Beginner-Friendly
Yamaha PSR-E463 61-Key Portable Keyboard
Top Pick
Roland GO:KEYS 61-key Music Creation Piano Keyboard with Integrated Bluetooth Speakers (GO-61K)
Amazing Voices
Casio CT-X700 61-Key Portable Keyboard
Powerhouse
Yamaha PSR-EW410 76-Key Portable Keyboard
Casio CTK-2550 61-Key Portable Keyboard with App Integration/Dance Music Mode,Black
Yamaha PSR-E463 61-Key Portable Keyboard
Roland GO:KEYS 61-key Music Creation Piano Keyboard with Integrated Bluetooth Speakers (GO-61K)
Casio CT-X700 61-Key Portable Keyboard
Yamaha PSR-EW410 76-Key Portable Keyboard
-
-
Most Affordable
Casio CTK-2550 61-Key Portable Keyboard with App Integration/Dance Music Mode,Black
Casio CTK-2550 61-Key Portable Keyboard with App Integration/Dance Music Mode,Black
-
Beginner-Friendly
Yamaha PSR-E463 61-Key Portable Keyboard
Yamaha PSR-E463 61-Key Portable Keyboard
Top Pick
Roland GO:KEYS 61-key Music Creation Piano Keyboard with Integrated Bluetooth Speakers (GO-61K)
Roland GO:KEYS 61-key Music Creation Piano Keyboard with Integrated Bluetooth Speakers (GO-61K)
Amazing Voices
Casio CT-X700 61-Key Portable Keyboard
Casio CT-X700 61-Key Portable Keyboard
Powerhouse
Yamaha PSR-EW410 76-Key Portable Keyboard
Yamaha PSR-EW410 76-Key Portable Keyboard
-

We will look into each portable keyboards and dive deep into its audio quality and features that will cater to your needs.

Keyboards first emerged to replicate the acoustic grand piano sound, they are also known as digital pianos.

However, in this list, we will look into the modern keyboards that are expanded to recreate and reproducer other instruments and synths sound that is found useful in most band settings.

These choices have built-in sound engines and sampled sounds, so you do not need a laptop or computer to make it work, unlike a MIDI controller.

These are fully-functional stand-alone keyboards you can plug and play onstage.

These choices can also be played with batteries, so you can skip plugging it into a power source for your next live gig.

I only included choices within the $500 price range, perfect for musicians on a budget.

They might not have the same features and specs of high-end keyboards, but they are stage-worthy, great for practice, and capable of recording music at home.

I included some arranger keyboards on the list for the solo performers, songwriters, and composers and added some of the best regular portable keyboards for live performances.

Now, let's move onto the list!

7 Best Portable Keyboards of 2020

All right, let's get to the list, guys!

#1 Roland GO Keys

Roland GO Keys - best portable piano keyboard for travel

If you are looking for a modern portable keyboard choice, the Roland GO is an excellent option.

It sports a compact build with tons of features such as a looper, sequencer, and wireless Bluetooth functions.

The Loop MIx function allows you to record and trigger phrases for live looping, songwriting, and beginner music production.

You can also pair this keyboard with your phone via Bluetooth and playback backing tracks and songs you want to play along to.

You can also use the Bluetooth connectivity to connect it to a phone or laptop for using it as a MIDI controller to use your favorite VSTs and effect plugins.

It comes with over 500 built-in sounds,  99 songs, and a built-in mic and speakers.

Key Features:

  • USB MIDI
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • 128 notes of polyphony
  • Built-in mic
  • 99 songs
  • 500 voices
  • Built-in speakers
  • Runs on 6 AA batteries
  • 6 lbs.
  • Comes with power adapter

Pros:

  • Wireless function
  • Good audio quality
  • Compact
  • Budget-friendly

Cons:

  • Plastic feel

Final Verdict:

The Roland GO: Keys is truly one of the best portable keyboards.

It is packed with modern features and boasts an old-school style, fit into a compact case that weighs under 9 lbs.

#2 Yamaha PSR-EW410

Yamaha PSR-EW410 - best portable practice keyboard for beginners

A list of the best portable keyboards would not be complete without a Yamaha keyboard in it.

The Yamaha PSR-EW410 is a sleek keyboard that comes with digital piano features, built into a compact portable keyboard.

It has excellent key action, and comes with features such as an electronic sampler and 76 keys, unlike most items on this list that only come with 61.

The sampler makes in an excellent way to create DJ and EDM progressions to make your playing at home more fun.

Plus, you can also use it for playing live since users say that it is capable.

This option comes with 237 voices, 24 drum kits, and sound effects.

Aside from its onboard features, you can also use it as a MIDI controller and map the knobs, unlike most options on the list.

Key Features:

  • 76 keys with touch response
  • 48-note polyphony
  • USB MIDI capabilities
  • Included DC power supply
  • Runs on 6 D batteries
  • Built-in speakers
  • 237 voices
  • 59 effects
  • 40 Arpeggiators
  • 35 Grooves
  • 52 lbs.

Pros:

  • Excellent MIDI features
  • Good audio quality
  • Comes with sampler
  • Excellent for DJs
  • Budget-friendly

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Takes time to learn all features

Final Verdict:

Overall, the Yamaha PSR-EW410 has the most keys and functions on the list.

It may be a little bit heavy, but the weight shows you that it is packed with tons of features that the pros will appreciate.

#3 Casio CTX700

Casio CTX700 - best portable keyboard with weighted keys for beginners

Just like Roland and Yamaha, Casio is a well-known brand in the digital keyboard market, and Casio CTX700 is one of the best products in their portable keyboard line.

It does not disappoint in terms of audio and build quality.

It is built with 61 piano-style keys, equipped with 600 voices, and 195 auto-accompaniment rhythms.

With all of its features, including its excellent action and a quality build, this is an excellent portable keyboard you can get an affordable price.

The 61 touch-responsive and velocity-sensitive keys can be used to trigger auto accompaniment.

Another excellent feature is its arpeggiator, which is truly a refreshing way to play.

The CTX700 has beginner features such as its 161 built-in songs and step-up lesson system.

However, because of its high-quality sounds, it also makes an excellent choice for experienced players as well.

It runs on 6 AA batteries, and it is equipped with a 6-track recorder and USB MIDI connectivity so you can use it as a MIDI keyboard for computer recording.

Key Features:

  • USB MIDI connectivity
  • 48-note polyphony
  • 61 piano-style keys
  • Velocity-sensitive
  • Touch-responsive action
  • 600 voices
  • 195 rhythms
  • 6-track recorder
  • Built-in 2-way speakers
  • Sustain pedal port (optional)
  • Comes with 9.5V DC power supply
  • Runs on 6 AA batteries
  • 5 lbs.

Pros:

  • Good value for money
  • Suitable for beginners and pros alike
  • Highly-rated
  • Superb sound quality
  • Excellent piano sounds

Cons:

  • Build quality is lacing
  • No pitch and mod wheel

Final Verdict:

Overall, this choice boasts a ton of features that makes a great value for your money.

If you are looking for a keyboard with MIDI and recording features and equipped with some of the best piano songs, this keyboard makes a good choice for you.

#4 Yamaha PSR-E463

Yamaha PSR-E463 - best portable keyboard with built in speakers

Having another Yamaha on the list may not be really surprising since Yamaha makes tons of keyboard models.

They create a lot of keyboards to conquer every demographic, and honestly, they are doing really well.

The PSR-E463 is an excellent portable keyboard made with beginners in mind, although it is still a suitable option for pro players, and makes a great practice keyboard when on the road.

It is portable enough and it runs on 6 AA batteries so you can practice anytime and anywhere,

It comes with 61 velocity-sensitive keys, over 500 voices, and some arranger features that composers and solo performers will genuinely appreciate.

This keyboard also has MIDI connectivity that is compatible with tablets, phones, and laptops.

You can enjoy all of these features in one compact unit.

Key Features:

  • 32-note polyphony
  • 61 Full-sized synth-style keys
  • USB MIDI connectivity
  • 136 styles
  • Built-in speakers
  • 550 voices
  • Built-in effects
  • Runs on 6 AA batteries
  • 70 lbs
  • 2-track sequencer

Pros:

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Excellent value for money
  • USB recording capabilities
  • Superb sound quality

Cons:

  • Power adapter not included
  • Too light
  • Cheap build

Final Verdict:

The Yamaha PSR-E463 is a great option for both beginners and pros alike.

If you need a keyboard with a good combination of live performance and practice features, this option is an excellent choice.

#5 Casio CTK-2550

Casio CTK-2550 - best budget cheap portable keyboard for kids

The Casio CTK-2550 is an arranger keyboard with 61 keys.

This arranger keyboard is perfect for beginners to intermediate level.

Casio may be a brand that usually targets the pro piano players, but to conquer all markets, they created this compact keyboard.

It is packed with tons of features that make it easy and fun to play, making it an enjoyable arranger keyboard for beginners, thanks to its intuitive learning system.

The CTK-2550 is a keyboard that is made for piano students to hone their skills and practice at home, even without their instructor's guidance.

It is built with 61 synth-action keys, meaning they do not have the same weight as digital pianos.

It has enough keys to learn some classical pieces, especially the ones that piano teachers prefer students to learn first.

Aside from its beginner capabilities, it also has features made for the songwriter in you.

It has over 400 voices and 100 different rhythms.

It has a headphone output for quiet practice sessions, and auxiliary input, so you can play along with your favorite tracks.

To operate this keyboard, you can run it with 6 AA batteries or use the AC adaptor included in the package.

Key Features:

  • 48 notes of polyphony
  • 61 full-sized synth-style keys
  • Runs on 6 AA batteries
  • 3 lbs.
  • 1 ⅛-inch aux input
  • 1 ¼-inch headphone output
  • 400 voices
  • 100 rhythms
  • 50 dance music patterns
  • Sustain pedal port (pedal not included)

Pros:

  • High-quality
  • Fun playability
  • Excellent for beginners
  • Budget-friendly
  • Impressive features
  • Intuitive UI

Cons:

  • No MIDI connectivity
  • Some voices sound bad

Final Verdict:

Overall, if you are looking for an excellent starter keyboard, the Casio CTK-2550 works really great.

It may not have MIDI connectivity for recording, but if you are just in it to learn how to play piano, this keyboard is an affordable option for you, whether you are a student or teacher looking for a keyboard to teach your students.

#6 Korg EK-50

Korg EK-50 - best portable beginner midi keyboard for the money

Korg is a brand known for making some of the best synthesizers that a lot of professional musicians use for recording and live performances.

The EK-50 is no exception.

It is a superb choice that goes big in terms of overall control, audio quality, and recording features.

This particular keyboard is not aimed towards beginners, but rather for more experienced keyboardists for live performances and recording purposes.

The Korg EK-50 has an expressive set of 61 keys with equipped touch response and impressive key velocity.

It allows you to trigger a wide variety of different voicings and rhythms.

It is meant for playing solo performances with full-instrumental accompaniment built into a compact and solid unit.

It comes with over 700 onboard sounds, 280 styles, 34 effects, with over 148 variations.

For a keyboard in this price range, the EK-50 is one of the most impressive arranger keyboards on this list.

Pro sound designers will find themselves in a rabbit hole when exploring the different sounds and effect capabilities.

The fully-functional sequencer is a great addition for professional performers.

It also has playback and recording features with multiple inputs and outputs for other instruments.

For recording purposes, you can use its MIDI and USB connectivity.

It is really hard to believe that you can use all of these features with built-in speakers while running on 8 AA batteries.

Key Features:

  • 61 full-sized keys with touch control and velocity sensitivity
  • 64-not polyphony
  • USB MIDI connectivity
  • 700 voices
  • 280 styles
  • 41 drum kits
  • 18 demo songs
  • 34 effect types with 148 variations
  • 1 ⅛-inch aux input
  • 2 ¼-inch left and right stereo output
  • 1 ¼-inch headphone output
  • Included 12-volt DC adapter
  • 5 lbs.
  • Runs on 8 AA batteries

Pros:

  • Tons of voices, effects, and drum kits
  • Built-in sequencer
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Suitable for professional musicians
  • Recording and arranging features
  • MIDI USB connectivity
  • Comes with pitch and mod joystick

Cons:

  • A little heavy
  • Not all presets sound good
  • Might not be a good choice for beginners

Final Verdict:

If you are an experienced musician looking for a portable keyboard with tons of built-in sounds and effects, the Korg EK-50 makes an excellent choice.

#7 Yamaha PSR-E263

Yamaha PSR-E263 - best portable keyboard for child to learn piano

Yamaha is known for making some of the best digital pianos, keyboards, and more.

The PSR-E263 is one of their most high-rated releases yet.

It tends to conquer the portable arranger keyboard market for beginners and intermediate players, and it is doing quite a good job.

Like the Casio CTK-2550, this keyboard has 61 full-sized synth-style keys that are ideal for beginners to hone their skills through the onboard practice features.

It is an excellent option for students, thanks to the built-in accompaniment and rhythms that can help anyone work on their timing and accuracy.

Since it is a Yamaha keyboard, expect it to have innovative features and a quality build that will last for years.

This particular model is packed with 400 voices, 112 songs, and the Yamaha Education Suite that is built to help students and beginners practice playing the onboard songs based on their skill level.

Aside from al the voices and songs, it also has built-in effects.

It also has a headphone output and aux input, and it runs on 6 AA batteries if you are on the go.

Key Features:

  • 32-note polyphony
  • 61 full-sized synth-action keys
  • Reverb and chorus effects
  • Stereo DSP
  • Master EQ
  • 400 voices
  • 130 styles
  • 112 song presets
  • Optional sustain pedal
  • Runs on 6 AA batteries r a 12-volt DC adapter
  • 8 lbs

Pros:

  • High-rated model
  • Excellent playability
  • Superb audio quality
  • Tons of presets
  • A great choice for beginners
  • Works for live performances

Cons:

  • Power supply not included
  • Controls need a little getting used to

Final Verdict:

Overall, the Yamaha PSR-E263 is an excellent keyboard for any skill level.

Some people say that it can be used for gigs with no problems and hiccups, making it one of the best all-around keyboards on the list.

If you are looking for a reliable keyboard option for gigs and home practice, this option is definitely worth checking out.

What to Consider When Buying a Portable Keyboard

What to Consider When Buying a Portable Keyboard

Choosing a portable keyboard can be a little challenging, especially with so many choices.

The best way to choose the best portable keyboard is to look at the features and see if it can be useful to you.

Although these portable keyboards may be in the same price range, they still offer different features and functions.

Some are arranger keyboards, while some do not have the same functions.

Here are some of the most important features to consider to help you make a decision:

User-Friendliness

Most of these choices are built for beginners to intermediate level.

If you are just beginning to learn how to use a keyboard, make sure you choose one with features that are easy to use.

Choose a model that has an intuitive interface so you can learn how to manipulate and navigate through each function easily, whether you are playing live on stage or practicing at home.

Beginner Features

Some features like having a metronome, accompaniment, headphones out, and built-in lessons are excellent features for piano students and beginners.

These types of features are helpful to build up your keyboard playing skills.

Portability

When looking for a portable keyboard, an obvious specification is portability.

Make sure your choice is compact enough to fit your allotted space at home.

It also makes these keyboards easier to carry when you are playing live gigs.

They fit easily in your compartment and light enough to carry and set up on stage.

Also, consider if you want built-in speakers or not.

For live gigs, you will need to plug it in any way, so having built-in speakers can only add to the weight.

Key Size

If you are used to playing the piano, make sure the keys are full-sized.

Choosing one with smaller keys might mess up your playing and cause you to commit more errors when playing.

Also, having full-sized keys allow you to get used to playing most keyboards and pianos rather than having to adjust to the size when you play different models.

Action

Most portable keyboards are equipped with semi-weighted keys.

They do not have the same feel as digital pianos, but they still have good action and resistance that piano players will appreciate.

Sensitivity

Some keyboards do not have the same touch response and sensitivity as digital pianos.

Choosing a keyboard with aftertouch or velocity-sensitive allows you to play more expressively.

It allows you to play softer notes on certain parts of a song, benign more dynamics for better performance.

Number of Keys

Portable keyboards have fewer keys than full-sized keyboards and digital pianos.

Most portable models have around 61 keys, which is good enough for playing pop, rock, and alternative music.

It works for playing two-hand piano styles, anything fewer than that might be difficult for piano players.

Fewer octaves gives you little workroom, but you can still make it work.

However, if you are playing classical and jazz pieces, 61 keys might not be enough.

As long as the keys are good-sized with good action, 61 keys will work for most piano players.

Adding 88 keys to a keyboard will no longer be included in the portable category.

Number of Voices, Styles, and Rhythm

Each of these keyboards on the list has tons of sounds.

They will, however, differ in quality.

These sounds may not please everyone, but they do sound decent especially for home use.

Aside from the different voices, a good keyboard would also be equipped with different effects you can tweak to improve the sound.

Watch out for keyboards with too many sounds, but lack in quality.

Make sure you choose a keyboard with audio quality that will be suitable for your needs so you can write songs, and do song covers with the highest quality you can get in this price range.

Recording and MIDI Capabilities

Most modern keyboards allow you to connect to a computer using its USB i/o.

This feature allows you to connect your keyboard to DAW and record directly to your computer using virtual instruments you can download online.

These sounds are not built-in on the keyboard, but you can use the keyboard to play these sounds and record them as MIDI files.

These keyboards may not have transport controls and mapped knobs, but you can still use the keys to play virtual instruments for recording or for live performances.

Usually, VSTs can offer better audio quality than the onboard sounds, but you have to bring your laptop if you want to perform live, which defeats the purpose of owning something portable.

Mod, Pitch, and Effect Controls

Mod and pitch controls or wheels allows you to play more expressively.

You can bend the notes as if you are playing the guitar, and you can modulate the sound in real-time.

If you are into these sorts of features, make sure you buy a keyboard that is equipped with a pitch and mod wheel so you can play lead parts and add a twist to your playing style.

Some keyboards also have effects and filter control knobs or faders.

These controls also allow you to manipulate effects in real-time, enhancing your keyboard parts.

However, these features are a bit rare in this price range of keyboards.

If you want these features, you can check for the best portable analog synthesizers.

Related Questions:

best portable keyboards and digital pianos for the money

What is the difference between an arranger and a regular keyboard?

Arranger keyboards are built for solo performers and songwriters.

It allows you to arrange notes and accompaniments when creating music or for playing solo performances as if you are playing with a full band.

You can arrange backing tracks that you can trigger and sequence based on your set and pieces.

Regular keyboards may have a recording and playback function, but it is not as elaborate as an arranger keyboard's functions.

What is the difference between a keyboard and a MIDI keyboard controller?

A keyboard is an instrument complete with everything you need such as different sounds, voices, a sound engine, and more.

It has everything on board and complete for live performances without connecting it to a sound source like a laptop or computer.

However, some keyboards also have USB and MIDI capabilities, so you can connect it to your DAW and use VSTs for live playing and recording.

MIDI keyboards, on the other hand, do not have built-in sounds, output connections, and onboard sound engines.

To produce sound using a MIDI controller, you will have to connect to a sound source such as a computer and laptop.

From there, you will need a DAW software to use different VSTs.

Some MIDI keyboards are used for live performances while some are strictly used in the studio.

Some MIDI controllers have transport controls for your DAW so recording can be more intuitive.

Without using the mouse your computer's keyboard you can control everything using your MIDI controller for easy and faster workflow.

Some modern MIDI controllers have onboard sounds, but the good thing about midi controllers is their lightweight build and portability for on the go music and beat making.

What is the difference between a keyboard and a synthesizer?

A keyboard focuses more on the piano playing style but is equipped with different sounds derived from other instruments such as violins, brass, woodwind, electric piano, and more.

The keys are usually full-sized with enough keys to play a two-hand piano style.

Synthesizers, on the other hand, often have fewer keys made for playing electronic music.

Some synths are made for lead and monophonic sounds, while some synths are built with sound engines you can use to design your own man-made electronic sounds.

Most popular 80s music feature synth sounds.

You can also hear a lot of synth bass and lead sounds in the modern electronic genres like EDM.

Some portable synths have built-in sound engines, while some modular synths might not be as portable, but they have a fuller tone which is very powerful and captivating when playing live.

Conclusion

Every option on this list is budget-friendly and portable for any use.

They can run on batteries for your convenience, and have built-in speakers for home practice and performing at small venues.

The only difference between each choice is the extra features, sounds, and sound quality.

Most of the choices here are for beginners and intermediate users.

If you are looking for good choices for experts, there are more choices in a higher price range.

If you were looking for a keyboard for your home and live performance and for practicing suited for beginners, you came to the right place.

Make sure it has the right feel, the right connectivity options, equipped with the functions, and the sounds you need, and your good to go!

Just make sure you choose the one with all the features you need and don’t settle for less or you will end up regretting your decision.

Fortunately, most of these keyboards are on the same price range, so all you have to do is chose the best portable keyboard for you.

Have fun playing!

Last update on 2020-12-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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