Related link: http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/wlg/6397
After reading my blog “Maximizing
Mini MIDI Keyboards,” a reader wrote in with an intriguing (and slightly
I used to have a small keyboard that I affixed to a board (with velcro)
that was attached to a 360-degree camera tripod attachment. The whole thing
was attached to the dashboard in my car so that I could learn songs off the
radio or CDs as I drove to work. I think it was a [RadioShack/Casio] Concertmate.
It was only about 18" long, but [had] good sounds (for what it was).
Of course, it died on me and that model isn’t made anymore. I have
searched the web for hours looking for something equivalent. Everything is too
big. Perhaps the closest is the roll up keyboard [here
but I need something sturdy and not so long. I can only reach so far from
the driver’s seat.
I know, I’m crazy to play while I drive (I play my harmonicas anyway)
but don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. Who might make such
a thing? If the answer is “no one,” then what’s the lightest
MIDI controller and smallest sound module? (I won’t even get into whether
I could play that kind of rig through the car stereo while at the same time
listening to a CD.) My kids think I’m crazy (and dangerous) but a man’s
My first thought was that maybe he should velcro his hands to the
steering wheel instead of goofing around with a keyboard while driving, but
the bigger question persists: What’s the best-sounding ultraportable keyboard
with built-in speakers?
CBXK1XG (below) comes to mind. When I worked at Keyboard magazine,
I borrowed one from another editor to goof around with one day when the power
went out temporarily. But the CBXK1XG lists for a whopping $499. I think that’s
because its internal synthesizer is quite good-sounding, although you wouldn’t hear that
through the tiny onboard speakers. It also uses minikeys; it wasn’t clear from
the reader’s letter whether that would be a problem.
A better approach would be to buy a used keyboard. Searching
eBay for Casiotone or Concertmate keyboards under $20 brings up numerous models. Using a MIDI controller and sound module seems awkward, especially
because, as the reader notes, you’d need to add powered speakers or a mixer
as well. And I definitely wouldn’t want the guy in the next car to be grappling with that while driving.
So, what’s the best-sounding ultraportable keyboard with built-in speakers?