Find out all about the best portable pianos, keyboards, and synthesizers in our guide to travel keys and the ultimate portable keyboard options in 2023
Travelling to rehearsals or recording sessions can be difficult with a large piano keyboard, and so we’ve picked out our favourite options for keys players of all levels who need something compact and transportable.
Keep reading to find out which keyboards we’ve chosen and take a closer look at the specs of each to find the right one for you!
The Best Portable Pianos, Keyboards, and Synths
Our top picks for the best portable keyboard pianos and synths are:
- Yamaha Reface Series
- Carry-On Folding Pianos
- Korg Minilogue
- Alesis Harmony 32
- Roland Jupiter-Xm
Let’s take a closer look at why we think they’re a great option for travelling, recording, and even playing live..
Yamaha Reface Series
Our first pick is the series of Yamaha Reface keyboards.
These keyboards have become modern classics, with each model catering to the needs of different types of artists and players. The models include:
The CP is dedicated to emulating vintage electric piano tones - so you’ve got options for Rhodes-style pianos, Wurlitzer and clavinet tones, and a recreation of the classic Yamaha CP80 - plus there’s vintage-style effects such as tremolo, wah, phaser and chorus, plus an onboard reverb and delay.
You can also find a hidden grand piano sound on the Reface CP that’s accessible by powering on the unit whilst the instrument selector control is placed in-between two of the options.
The CS synth is an analogue-modelling keyboard, the YC caters to organ sounds, whilst the DX is an FM synthesizer which features sounds from some of the most famous Yamaha instruments from years gone by.
Common features across all the models include a comfortable 37-note keyboard with mini keys, octave shift controls to expand the range of that smaller keyboard, and a high-quality set of stereo speakers to give the sound a wider spread. They each feature a comprehensive I/O including USB and MIDI connectivity - so they’ll easily integrate into any studio or live setup - and for mobile use, you’ll get about 5 hours of playing time from a 6 double-A batteries.
So for classic electric piano, synth or organ sounds, all housed in attractive, compact, and easy-to-use little keyboards, you can’t really beat the Yamaha Reface range - pick your favourite flavour and give one a go!
Carry-On Folding Pianos
Next up, we’ve got the awesome Carry-On folding pianos.
As their name implies, these are full-size keyboards which conveniently fold up to easily fit into a small bag or backpack. This means that if you are learning to play on a conventional piano, these are the only options that we’re looking at today that will allow you to practice on full-size keys, with a full octave range, whilst still remaining very portable.
Despite the low price of these keyboards, the folding mechanism and construction is very well-engineered - and once you get used to their action, the textured, faux-ivory feel keys are highly-playable and easily good enough for learning the basics on.
They’re also packed full of features including 128 onboard sounds, built-in drum rhythms, a transpose function, and a metronome with adjustable tempo and time signatures.
Both models also come supplied with a mini sustain pedal and a little tote bag to carry everything around in. The stereo speakers are probably just about loud enough to accompany a singer, and the built-in lithium ion battery offers up to about 8 hours of playing time, charged via the USB socket which also fires out MIDI note information - so they can also be used as a MIDI controller keyboard.
These are a great, affordable option for anyone needing a full-sized-but-portable piano for practicing or mobile music production!
Although this synthesizer doesn’t have built-in speakers or battery operation, the Korg Minilogue makes our list due to its compact build, affordability, and accessibility for a 100% analog polysynth.
With 37 keys and a fully-programmable workflow, this flexible keyboard is a great option to take out on the road or to recording sessions on location due to its rugged construction and powerful sound.
The oscilloscope function allows you to see the sounds you’re creating, giving you a visual cue that can help those taking their first steps into synthesis get to grips with how the sounds are made.
Boasting an automatable 16-step polyphonic note and motion sequencer, the comprehensive I/O gives you MIDI, USB MIDI, and Audio Sync for all types of in-studio and live connectivity – in addition to direct sync with other Korg products such as SQ1, Volca, Electribe, and more.
Alesis Harmony 32
Our penultimate pick for our list of best travel keyboards is by far our most affordable option - and that’s the Alesis Harmony 32.
Despite the price point of this keyboard it offers a range of features that make it a great cheap keyboard for learning the basics on, and compared to other similarly priced instruments it feels like it’s made to a brilliantly high-quality.
The Harmony 32 has got 300 onboard sounds which can be great fun to play around with, and there’s also a selection of backing rhythms and songs to jam along to, practice tools including a basic song recorder and a metronome, and 5 drum pads for playing finger drums.
The onboard speakers are surprisingly loud - although there is also a headphone socket for practicing in quieter environments - and it can be powered by 4 AA batteries or USB.
If you do hook it up to your computer, it also comes supplied with some great tuition software and lessons to get you started.
All this means that the Alesis Harmony 32 is a great cheap option for anyone with kids wanting to start playing the piano or other beginners to get to grips with the basics on.
At the other end of the price scale, our final keyboard is the most expensive option we’ve got for you today, but it is also the most feature-packed and professional - and that’s the Roland Jupiter-Xm.
This keyboard ticks all the boxes for our travel keyboard criteria, and the Jupiter has been designed to be a high-quality, professional keyboard for live and studio work.
It utilizes Roland’s most advanced sound processors, including the Zen Core engine as found on their flagship Fantom keyboards, but it just all happens to be packed into this really portable design.
This is a fully-loaded digital synthesizer packed with thousands of tones from Roland’s iconic synths and drum machines, with the ability to layer up to 5 sounds with hands on control over synthesis elements such as oscillators, LFO’s, Filters and Envelopes. On top of this, there’s a pretty comprehensive effects section, so in terms of tonal possibilities, it’s pretty powerful.
Other highlights include an intelligent arpeggiator for creating backing accompaniments on the fly, and professional-grade connectivity for gigging including balanced XLR outputs and a microphone input for use with the onboard vocoder.
One of the reasons this is such a good travel synth is because it’s got a really sturdy metal chassis - so it’s obviously been designed with live use and touring in mind – plus it has 37 velocity sensitive keys that feel really expressive to play.
It can be powered by 8 AA batteries, and the onboard stereo speakers provide a fantastic sound that is easily loud enough for backstage warm ups and jams - or if you do need more volume, it’s audio can also be streamed to an external speaker via Bluetooth.
There aren’t many other options if you need this kind of professional quality in such a portable and versatile package, and that’s why the Roland Jupiter Xm is one of the best travel synths currently available.
If you’re on the hunt for a keyboard, piano, or synthesizer to take out on the road, then each of the above bits of gear comes recommended by the team of Experts at PMT.
We’ve prioritised portability and durability above all else, and whether you’re searching for a classic piano sound or something a little more adventurous, these picks will allow you to find the perfect sound for your needs.
To shop all of our favourite portable keyboard picks, click below: