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Donner DMK 25 Pro Review 2024: OMG – What A Dope Surprise!!

Is the DMK 25 Pro worth it over the DMK 25? What's the difference? We reveal all...

Read this Donner DMK 25 Pro review before you put ANY of your £$€ into this midi keyboard.

Because that ‘Pro’ badge can be quite deceiving.

As much as the DMK 25 Pro is a more capable version of the DMK 25 (on which it’s based), it’s actually its replacement. & while Donner have done a LOT to make the DMK 25 Pro feel a lot more ‘Pro’, there are still some questionable quirks. As well as various differences between the DMK & its rivals from Akai, Novation & Arturia.

All things you NEED to be aware of before you set your heart on the Donner DMK 25 Pro. With that in mind, is the DMK 25 Pro worth it when compared to its rivals? Or are these ‘Pro’ additions just a failed attempt to muscle a budget midi controller into the premium segment? Keep reading to find out.

After something specific about the Donner DMK 25 Pro? Or just curious how this midi keyboard compares to other 25 key midi controllers on the market? Use the menu below to get all the answers you need fast…

ALL CONTENT IS WRITTEN BY OUR IN-HOUSE AUTHORS & BASED ON REAL WORLD EXPERIENCE. WE MAY RECEIVE A SMALL COMMISSION IF YOU BUY THROUGH THIS SITE.

NOTE: Not go your heart set on the DMK 25 Pro? Be sure to also check out our Review Of The Akai MPK Mini MK3 + our thoughts on the Arturia Minilab MK2.

Understanding the Donner DMK 25 Pro’s specs is the first thing you should do before contrasting it to it’s rivals. That way you’ll be able to understand what these ‘Pro’ upgrades are, as well as get a better idea of how it’d function as a midi controller in your studio.

All info you need if you’re going to make the right decision about whether the DMK 25 Pro is right for you.

So with that in mind, here’s an outline of the DMK 25 Pro’s core specs…

Key details

  • Weight: 680g
  • Dimensions: 337 x 183 x 26mm
  • Sustain port for pedals: Yes
  • Drivers needed: No

Additional features

  • The DMK 25 Pro comes with 25 semi-weighted keys, which are velocity sensitive & have a real nice feel to them. The keypress is intentional & there’s good travel with each key. Plus, they also have aftertouch!!
  • Donner have given the DMK 25 Pro a high-def OLED screen, which you can use to monitor certain aspects of your DAW, as well as your options regarding pitch & mod. Useful if you’re fed up of glancing up & down at your computer screen!
  • Unlike a lot of the midi controllers that came before, the DMK 25 Pro is USB-C compatible & can also be used in tandem with iOS devices too, including iPads & iPhones.
  • The DMK 25 Pro has extensive transport controls which (in tandem with the drum pads) make for seamless DAW integration & do a LOT to bump up your workflow.
  • You also get 4 assignable faders that have a real good resistance to them, & can be assigned to control pretty much any parameter/ function that you wish. By the way, there’s also 3 sound banks for each fader!
the keys on the donner dmk 25 pro
  • Get hands-on with the DMK 25 Pro & you cannot miss those 8 RGB backlit drum pads, that work super well for finger drumming. Plus, there’s also 3 built-in pad banks, so a whopping 24 sound slots on the pads alone!
  • Beginners will be pleased to hear that the DMK 25 Pro also comes with a built-in arpeggiator, as well as scale mode with 16 different settings! There’s also a note repeat setting too. Great news if you’re hands aren’t the most composed when gliding over mini keys.
  • Donner have fitted the DMK 25 Pro with a Midi Out port – a great piece of flexibility to have as it allows you to use the controller in tandem with other hardware, should you wish.
  • A world first for any midi controller are the 4 assignable rollers that you find on the top left of the controller. Aside from being very hands-on, these rollers also come with 3 sound banks each. So that’s another 12 sound slots right there!
  • The DMK 25 Pro uses 2 touch strips for pitch and modulation with a useful light guide along each edge, to help you visually understand how you’re adjusting each setting. What’s more, you can get even more accurate stats about your use of pitch & mod via the screen.
YouTube video

What’s the Donner DMK 25 Pro’s software bundle look like?

With the DMK 25 Pro you do get software included (already an improvement on the original DMK 25)!!

Buy a DMK 25 Pro and you get a bundle of Steinberg’s best DAWs thrown in for FREE. This includes: Cubase LE, WaveLab LE & Cubasis LE. And on top of that your also receive 40 free lessons and one beginner course with Melodics.

NOTE: One thing you need to know – in the box there is no code that enables you to redeem this software. To do so you have to visit this page & claim your free access code. From what we can assume, this will be by giving Donner your serial number.

  • The 25 key DMK 25 Pro midi controller
  • A black braided USB-C cable
  • A physical instruction manual!! #OldSchool

There are a fair few differences between the DMK 25 Pro & it’s predecessor. However not all these changes are noticeable upon first glance.

So here’s a quick overview of the original DKM 25 VS DMK 25 Pro…

donner dmk 25 midi keyboard
Original DMK 25
DMK 25 Pro
  • The most obvious difference between these two DMK controllers is the OLED screen, which you’ll only find on the DMK 25 Pro.
  • The Pro controller also does away with the 4 assignable knobs, in place of 4 assignable rollers. Something we weren’t too sure about at first, but after a week using the controller, they did manage to feel like an upgrade.
  • While both the original DMK 25 & the DMK 25 Pro have 4 faders, with the Pro you also get 3 sound banks per fader. Meaning that (although visually there’s no difference) your options with the faders actually triple with the DMK 25 Pro!!
  • It’s the same story with the pads. While both controllers have 8 pads, the DMK 25 Pro gives you 3 soundbanks per pad, meaning you assign 24 sounds just to the pads alone!!
  • Regarding pitch and mod, both include touch-strips. Yet those on the DMK 25 Pro are more responsive & come with a useful light gauge, which is more accurate than that you’d find on the original DMK.
  • Arguably the best difference between the two midi controllers is that the DMK 25 Pro comes with a built-in arpeggiator, as well as a chord & scale mode too! Features that make the DMK 25 Pro FAR more beginner-friendly.
  • Visually, the DMK 25 Pro looks the part. That stealthy black paint job really brings the DMK (from a design perspective) more in-line with its rivals & makes it feel less toy-like & more like a serious piece of production gear.

Now you have a understanding of the DMK 25 Pro, you’re probably curious as to how it performs on an individual level – i.e. it’s good & bad points.

It’s knowing this that helps you decide whether the DMK 25 Pro really is a ‘Pro’ level controller in your eyes & whether it’d be a worth addition to your production setup. After all, a glut of features is one thing, but if they’re not something that’ll benefit you or your workflow, then another controller may be better bet.

So here’s the Donner DMK 25 Pro picked apart – the good, the bad & the ugly…

Pros of the DMK 25 Pro (AKA the good)

  • Unlike a good chunk of midi controllers out there, the DMK 25 is USB-C compatible, which allows it to communicate faster with your computer & transfer more data. Hence the OLED screen.
  • The mini keys on the DMK 25 Pro are impressive! While they’re small, they have a real pro-grade feel to them… good travel depth, decent resistance & even boast aftertouch.
  • The Midi Out jack (while not 5-pin) does allow you to hook the DMK 25 Pro up to other third party hardware, such as synths or other modular gear. A great perk to have, especially if you’re planning on expanding your studio setup.
  • Not all screens on midi controllers provide useful info, but that on the DMK 25 Pro does! A perk that makes fine adjustments super simple, all without you having to constantly glance up at your computer screen.
  • The sensitivity of the drum pads on the DMK 25 Pro is up there with the best. You can use them to achieve some really soft & delicate sounds! Plus, the 4×2 arrangement makes them far more playable than those on other keyboard controllers.
  • Carrying around the Donner DMK 25 Pro is easy. At just over half a kilo, it weighs in at a good 50% less than its competition!! Great news if you’re after a keyboard to produce ‘on the go’.
  • The resistance of the faders gives them fantastic feel & makes minor adjustments SUPER simple!
  • The built-in arp & various scale modes make the DMK 25 Pro a capable midi controller for pros or complete beginners. The 25 Pro is usable by virtually anyone.

Cons of the DMK 25 Pro (AKA the bad)

  • Those new assignable rollers do have a tendency to slip. While they certainly are a step-up, a bit more resistance would have been nice.
  • 90% of the keybed is great! It’s just those black keys (matte black on the Pro) that let the side down. For a light press they can be a tad springy. We know they’re not the most used part of a midi controller, but still… c’mon Donner.
  • While the Pro is a noticeable step-up, we wouldn’t have said no to a few extra ports. A pedal input would have been nice. Or perhaps a 5-pin Midi Out.
  • While the DMK does work with most DAWs out of the box, automapping isn’t the best. For the best experience with your DAW, you’ll have to map in all the controls/ functions manually.

The ugly?

  • As much as the stealthy black colour looks sexy during daylight, in dimly lit situations it can make it VERY hard to see the keys. Worth noting if you’re a DJ or a producer who likes a dimly lit studio. Backlit keys would rectified this.

Now you have a clear understanding of what distinguishes the DMK 25 Pro from its predecessor, it’s time to expand the comparison to its main rivals.

Otherwise you may end up buying the DMK 25 Pro, only to realise that another controller may have been better suited to your setup. So with that in mind, here’s the DMK 25 Pro pitted against other 25 key midi controllers…

Donner DMK 25 Pro VS Novation Launchkey Mini MK3

Similarities

  • Both have 25 velocity sensitive keys which are semi weighted. However those on the DMK 25 Pro do allow you to be more expressive & give your sound that bit more depth. Then again, the Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 is 2 years older, so that’s hardly surprising.
  • Buy either of these controller keyboards and you’ll get access to a built-in arp, various scale modes and a whole host of other features that’re beneficial if you’re a beginner.
  • In terms of pitch & mod, both rely on touch strips. However with the DMK 25 Pro you do get the added bonus of the light scale + the fact you can monitor your adjustments via the screen.

Differences

  • When it comes to finger drumming, the Launchkey Mini MK3 steals the show. In comparison to the 8 RGB pads you get on the DMK 25 Pro, the Launchkey gives you a whopping 16. Pads that just like with the DMK can be used to control various functions without your DAW.
  • And on the subject of DAWs, the Launchkey is also the better of the two when it comes to integration. While the DMK 25 Pro does work with a whole host of mainstream DAWs, with the Launchkey there’s ready-made integration with Ableton Live, as well as Logic Pro. Something that makes the Novation that bit more ‘plug-in-&-play’.
  • The DMK 25 Pro gives you access to those 4 assignable wheels, which is a level of control you don’t get with the Launchkey Mini.
  • Another GIANT perk you miss out on with the Launchkey is that OLED screen. A major plus in the eyes of DMK 25 Pro, as it makes general usage & your overall workflow that bit smoother.
  • If that’s not enough, with the DMK 25 Pro, you also get 4 assignable faders too. Yet another form of control you miss out on by choosing the Launchkey Mini.
  • Then again, with the Launchkey Mini MK3, you do get 8 assignable knobs, which you do not get with he DMK 25 Pro. However, despite virtually every other midi controller using endless encoders, those on the Novation are restricted by given start & end points. So whether they’re of value or not, is another question.
  • In terms of software, the DMK 25 Pro does have a bundle, although it’s more tiered towards complete beginners, despite the ‘Pro’ badging. We’re pretty sure capable producers aren’t going to be fussed about free music lessons. The extra VSTs & Ableton Live Lite (which you get with the Launchkey) are going to be far more attractive.

Donner DMK 25 Pro VS Arturia Minilab 3

Similarities

  • Straight off the bat, both the Minilab 3 & the DMK 25 Pro rely on touch strips for pitch & modulation. And while you actions on which can both can be monitored via their screen, it’s the DMK 25 Pro that for us is that bit more usable. The light gauge running up the side is really useful.
  • Both these midi controllers boast 8 RGB backlit pads, which work super well for finger drumming. Saying that though, in our experience the pads on the DMK 25 Pro are that bit more sensitive & allow you to achieve slightly softer sounds.
  • Whether you go for the Arturia Minilab 3 or the DMK 25 Pro, you’ll get a high definition screen to monitor details relating to your inputs, as well as certain aspects of your DAW. If you were to ask us, we’d say that on the Arturia is that bit more in-depth… but not by much.
  • Both these midi controllers connect to your computer via USB-C.
  • Each midi controller comes with 4 assignable faders. But for us, those on the Arturia are more impressive, especially if you’re using Ableton Live. The faders on the Minilab 3 automatically map to the parameters of each clip, allowing you to adjust the volume, sends & pan all in a matter of seconds.
  • Choose the DMK 25 Pro or the Minlab 3 & you’ll bag yourself an excellent set of transport controls that include everything from play, stop & fast forward to even functions like loop.
  • Another similarity between the Minilab 3 & the DMK 25 Pro is the fact that both controllers include a built-in arpeggiator & are also equipped with a useful scale mode.
  • Both the Minilab 3 & the DMK 25 Pro have Midi Out ports. However that on the Arturia is that bit more advanced. While the DMK Pro gets a single-pin Midi Out jack, the Arturia gets a full-fat 5-pin jack. Something that can give you that bit more control when working with hardware synths.

Differences

  • Choose the DMK 25 Pro & a note repeat is a function you’ll have. Yet for some reason this is not included with the Minilab 3. Not entirely sure why – perhaps Arturia just forgot?
  • When it comes to DAWs & software instrument, the Minilab 3 steals the show. Aside from the fact it comes with Abelton Live Lite, as well as Analog Lab Intro, you also get a 2-month free subscription to LoopCloud. A great place to find samples! While the DMK 25 Pro gives you the basics of Cubase & a few FREE music lessons.
  • Ask us & for finger drumming the DMK 25 Pro has the edge. Apart from the higher sensitivity of the pads, the arrangement is just that bit more usable. For us, the 4×2 arrangement is SO much more ‘drummable’ than the 8×1 arrangement on the Minilab 3.
  • Moving on to curb weight & the Donner makes the Arturia look obese. The Arturia clocks in at a whopping 1.4kg, while the Donner is less than half of that at just over 600g. It’s a similar story when it comes to dimensions & overall size too. For portability theDMK 25 Pro is the way to go.
  • In terms of DAW integration, the Minilab 3 is FAR ahead. Yes, the Donner DMK 25 Pro works with a whole host of mainstream DAWs, but sadly it has nowhere near the level of integration that the Minilab 3 offers, especially with Ableton Live. With the DMK 25 Pro everything has to be assigned manually.
  • The assignable rollers you find on the DMK aren’t something you’ll find on the Arturia. Although you will get 8 assignable encoders, which are endless. So depending on how you produce, these could cancel each other out.

Donner DMK 25 Pro VS Donner Starrykey

Similarities

  • One of the few similarities between the Donner Starrykey & the DMK Pro are the pads. From what we can make out, they’re exactly the same. There’s 8 of them on each controller & both controllers come with 3 pad banks.
  • Whether you opt for the Starrykey or the DMK 25 Pro, you’ll be getting a set of semi-weighted keys, which allow you to be expressive during play & inject some real flavour into your recordings.

Differences

  • When it comes to keys, those on the Starrykey are full-size while those you find on the DMK 25 Pro are mini-keys. What’s more, the keybed on the Starrykey is significantly deeper too, which easily makes it the pick for pianists & anyone with large hands (oy oy oy)
  • Sticking with the keys, those on the Starrykey are backlit, which makes it that bit easier to use in dim light. One quibble that we did have with the DMK 25 Pro, especially due to its all-black keys.
  • On the topic of pianists, the Starrykey also boasts a sustain pedal input & Midi USB. Ports that you don’t get with the DMK 25 Pro, despite it being more expensive. However both controllers do give you a Midi Out.
  • In terms of assignable controls, with the Starrykey you get 4 knobs & 4 buttons, while the DMK 25 Pro gets 4 rollers/ wheels & 4 faders. Which suits you best comes back to how you like to produce.
  • If you’re a total beginner who wants to make music fast, the DMK has you back. Unlike the Starrykey it does come with both a built-in arp and chord mode. Not to mention a note-repeat function too!
  • As for portability, the Starrykey is by FAR the fattest & heaviest of the two; the price you pay for full;-size keys. And while this makes the DMK 25 Pro easily the most portable of the two, it’s not to say the Starrykey isn’t portable. Compared to other similar-sized midi controllers with full-size keys, it’s actually pretty impressive.
  • Saying that though, there is a LOT of excess plastic with the Starrykey. Everything is a lot more compacted & (we feel) better positioned on the DMK 25 Pro.
  • As for pitch & modulation the Starrykey relies on physical wheels, which we feel give you that extra connection with your sound. While with the DMK 25 Pro, pitch & mod are assigned to a set of touch strips that work in tandem with the built-in screen.
  • Speaking of the screen that’s yet another key difference. The Starrykey does not give you a screen of any sorts, while with the DMK 25 Pro you do get a HQ OLED display, that works great for displaying all sorts of info regarding your input/ certain plugins.

Whether the Donner DMK 25 Pro is the best midi keyboard for you, really all depends on who you are.

If you’re a capable producer who’s already using a specific DAW + has a good bank of virtual instruments, then the DMK 25 Pro would be a solid choice, be that for a compact keyboard for use in the studio, or a portable controller for producing ‘on the go’. And that’s because not only does the DMK 25 Pro give you a real variation of control, but it’s also super portable and lightweight.

We’d struggle to name a slimmer midi keyboard with as many features!

& while for beginners, the Minilab 3 may offer that bit more in terms of integration & VSTs, there’s still a strong argument for newbies to choose the DMK. The more attractive £$€, the included music lessons & its overall simplicity to name but a few. Team that with the slimmer build + the fact the DMK makes other midi controllers (the Akai MPK Mini MK3 & the Novation Launchkey) look a bit ‘old hat’ in comparison, & you can soon see why the DMK is chosen by so many producers.

It’s a capable all-rounder which ticks pretty much every box. Hats off to you Donner – you surpassed yourself with this one!!

Grab your Donner DMK 25 Pro today…

Enjoy this Donner DMK 25 Pro review, and eager for more? Don’t miss out on all our latest Midi Controller Reviews, as well as our Music Production Gossip. Recently we’ve also done a full in-depth guide to Midi Controllers For Logic Pro X + the Best 25 Key Midi Keyboard Reviews, which may also be a good read.

Or if your heart’s set on the Donner DMK 25 Pro, keep reading to discover yet more about this impressive keyboard controller…

Yes, as you’ve probably gathered through this Donner DMK 25 Review, this midi keyboard is a superb choice for any beginner. Here’s 3 reasons why…

  • It includes courses for learning music – Buy the Donner DMK 25 Pro and instead of VST sounds, you get 40 FREE lessons which you can use to learn music through Melodics. An digital school for learning instruments and music theory.
  • It makes other midi controllers look ‘old hat’ – When it comes to features, the Donner DMK 25 Pro shows up a good 90% of 25 key midi keyboards. It has better pitch & mod controls than the awkward joystick you get on the Akai MPK Mini. It’s got So much more varied controls than the Novation Launchkey Mini. And it’s even got the Note Repeat function that you won’t find on the Minilab 3. So for experimenting with sound, the DMK 25 is pretty much perfect.
  • It’s compact & lightweight – As far as midi controllers go, the Donner DMK 25 Pro is a size-0. It’s both lightweight and incredibly thin, which makes it the ideal travel keyboard. Great news, as unlike a lot of chunkier keyboards, the DMK 25 Pro doesn’t hem you to your studio desk. You can take this keyboard wherever you like and experiment in the moment, on the fly.

Yes, while Donner has only been making midi keyboards for the past few years, they’ve soon caught the market leaders.

Today Donner is arguably one of best when it comes to making midi controllers that’s both good quality & brimming in functionality. What’s more, the form factor of any keyboard that Donner has produced has been impressive to say the least, even the Starrykey, which makes other 25 key controllers with full-size keys look obese.

If we had to criticise Donner in any way, it would be when it comes to software. While brands like Arturia & Novation designing entire controllers around specific DAWs, Donner doesn’t. And while this isn’t that big of a deal, it does mean that the one one area you usually have to sacrifice with a Donner midi keyboard, is integration.

So while Donner do make some really good midi controllers at present, we’re excited to see how they evolve int he future. Releasing their own sound suite or DAW, perhaps?