The Korg NanoKey 2 is a great keyboard for the traveling musician. It features 2 octaves of keys and acts as a midi controller through usb. It will even work with an iPad / iPad mini (Note: it does not work with an iPhone due to the power consumption).
My favorite thing about the Nanokey is the fact that it is powerless. There’s no need for an adapter because it works off usb power. However, due to the fact that it does use usb power, it can degrade battery performance when using it with an iPad or laptop. It’s a trade-off. There aren’t any other keyboards that I know of that can work with an iPad without a power source though. For this reason, it’s great for travel. I’ve thought about taking it on camping trips and utilizing a blue tooth speaker as a mini amp. Luckily my mini speaker has a direct line in. It’s worth noting that wireless blue tooth wasn’t quite fast enough to have the responsiveness I like when performing.
The best features:
The NanoKey also has a sustain button, octave buttons for easily changing keyboard octaves, modulation, and pitch bend. The modulation and sustain are a definite plus for extra expressiveness. Since the keyboard is small, the left hand can be used to control these buttons.
The NanoKey also has velocity sensitivity. This means that the keyboard can play different volume levels depending on how hard you hit the key. It’s an awesome feature to have, otherwise playing it would lack dynamics. It seems to have 3-4 different volume levels, which is enough to add a bit of dynamics.
The worst features:
I wasn’t entirely happy with the feel of the keys. They’re a bit “flat” in terms of size. I know this feature allows it to be more portable though, so I understand why Korg designed it this way. I would love to have a version where the “grey” upper keys (black keys on a piano) would be slightly raised compared to the lower keys. This would help when playing odd chord shapes such as an Ab Major. I found it a bit difficult to hold this chord shape since all the keys are level.
Another missing feature is an on/off switch. The keyboard has to have the usb unplugged in order for it to turn off. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s annoying sometimes when using an iPad to have to unplug the board when not using it. An on/off switch would allow the usb power consumption to stop even when plugged in.
Overall, I think the Nanokey 2 is a great product. It’s perfect for small offices and cubicles where a larger keyboard would be cumbersome. It has decent dynamics and it works great with an iPad/iPad mini.
Watch Jordan Rudess demo the NanoKey 2