The 10 Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers Reviews
A MIDI keyboard is essentially an electronic music keyboard which is quite similar to a piano but often equipped with other buttons, sliders, and wheels that are used for sending MIDI signals or commands via a USB or a five-pin MIDI cable to any other compatible musical device or computer that is connected and can operate on the same MIDI protocol. And it is a software and hardware equipped instrument that not only generates but also transmits Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) information data to devices that are MIDI – enabled to typically trigger sounds and have control parameters of a performance that is associated with electronic music.
The best part of MIDI keyboard controllers is that they are small, handy, easy and convenient to use. Additionally, they are not as expensive as the larger keyboards. In fact, they are not even half as expensive which makes them a satisfying and guilt-free purchase that is fun to use. They also make a perfect gift, especially when the holidays are near!
These can be used at home, even for recording purposes and it is thus critical to be able to buy the best one in the market and our list of the 10 best MIDI keyboard controllers will help you do just that.
1. Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII - 25 Key Portable USB MIDI Keyboard
Akai’s MIDI mini Keyboard Controller is designed in such a way that makes it efficient as well as handy and portable at the same time. It is also usable by music producers which accounts for its versatility. With this MIDI keyboard, you can record, compose as well as perform with the additions of virtual instruments, plugins for additional effects and Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) anywhere and anytime the inspiration hits.
The AKAI professional MIDI keyboard additionally comes with an ‘Ultimate Production starter pack’ which provides you with immediate access to sample libraries that are deemed to be world-class and comes with the ultimate controller which is a Digital Audio workstation that effectively captures your productions.
It also has ties with Splice and Serato studios that is available for a limited time to introduce the owner to the wonderful world of music production using MIDI keyboards. It also comes with features that will drastically enhance your music production such as Octave up and down keys, pedal input, an arpeggiator, and a Hybrid-3 which is a high definition synthesizer.
- Powerful Music Production Package
- 8 pad banks to account for 128 possible tracks
- 1 GB sound library
- USB powered system makes it portable
- Super lightweight
- Initial set up is a little difficult
- Limited version of included software
- The tiresome registration process to get access to any software or library materials
2. Novation Launchkey 49 USB Keyboard Controller
Launchkey’s MIDI keyboard controller is an easy to use product which offers 3 different versions of 25, 49 and 61 keys. This MIDI keyboard controller is completely USB powered and is also class compliant which makes it usable without the requirement of drivers or power supplies.
With the Launchkey MIDI keyboard, the user would spend lesser time on the computer since it is associated and linked with Ableton Live with which it integrates your productions immediately and automatically. This comes with a melodics feature that provides the user with free padding and drumming sessions with which you can make the most out of your MIDI keyboard controller.
When you launch clips with the Launchkey keyboard, you can experience and produce an expressive drum beat using color matched feedback that works using 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads. You will also be given ultimate control of your music production software thanks to its ties with InControl. This product is compatible with any PC, including MACs.
- Highly Compatible
- Attractive and enhancing features
- Buttons and keys to control many aspects such as pitch, sound etc
- Flexibility and ease of use
- Easy to use, even for beginners
- Buttons are very stiff
- Sometimes encounters surge problems with the PCs
3. Alesis V61 - 61 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller
The Alesis MIDI keyboard controller is a 61 keyed instrument that has square front keys that are sensitive to velocity. This makes the Alesis keyboard perfectly suited to play virtual instruments. To facilitate beat production as well as clip launching, it also contains 8 pads which are pressure sensitive and velocity-sensitive.
The Alesis MIDI keyboard controller also provides its user with the most seamless feedback that is predominantly visual by way of buttons and knobs that are illuminated. Full access to the sound range and pitch can be acquired using the octave up and octave down buttons. This lets you produce expressive and creative soundtracks using your MIDI keyboard controller.
The Alesis keyboard further includes premium software which comes with pro tools to enhance your experience of music production.
- Compatible and portable
- Includes pro tools and software such as Ableton Live 9, DB-33 and Xpand!2
- The pads included have multiple mode settings to suit the needs of the user.
- Overall quality is good and the product itself has a slim build
- Dynamics of the buttons and pads of the keyboard could be slightly off and cannot be resolved easily
- Pads may not have enough sensitivity which hampers seamless playing
4. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49
The Native Instruments MIDI keyboard controller is a smart and streamlined one that is compatible with multiple virtual instruments and their associated effects. It also comes with a semi-weighted NI keyboard as well as an OLED display for easy navigation. This MIDI keyboard is powered by the USB 2.0 bus and contains 8 touch-sensitive control knobs. This product also provides its user with a good amount of control over Digital Audio Workstation which lets you set tempos, adjusts levels and loop braces etc.
- Has a setting of smart play which allows for ease of production
- Sturdy build
- Modulation and pitch wheels are equipped with good resistance
- Key travel may be too much
- Registering to access the software is a hassle
5. ROLI Seaboard Block Studio Edition Super Powered Keyboard
The ROLI MIDI keyboard controller has a unique feature of 5D sensor touch technology, which also provides an option to deepen the sound by pressing into the surface of the touchpad. Further, the pitch can be bent by simply sliding your fingers over the pad as if you were playing a string instrument.
This product also comes with a wide range of production tools which enhance the experience of music production. It is quite handy and portable and thus makes for the perfect instrument for those who would not only like to produce but also perform using their MIDI keyboard controls, given this product’s compactness and versatility in use. It has a large software suite that can be explored by the user to gain access to a wide range of sounds as well as production tools.
- Versatile and compact
- Keys are squishy
- Associated with the Seaboard block of software
- The Seaboard block is a one-click setup and offers an array of features
- Comes with multiple production tools.
6. Arturia Keylab 49
With the Arturia Keylab MIDI keyboard controller, it is easy to notice that the best part about using this product is the fact that it is an all in one, universal MIDI controller. It has the following connections- MIDI out, USB as well as Sustain Pedal connectivity, whereas most MIDI keyboard controllers use primarily USB connections. This Aturia keyboard is compatible with major workstations that are digital audio-based.
Further, it also has compatibility with MCU or HUI controls. It contains a wide variety of software connections such as Ableton live lite, Perfect Analog lab integration, etc. which offer a range of sounds and pro tools to enhance the experience of music production using a MIDI keyboard controller. It also seems to have a considerably high level of durability. With a streamlined and slim make, it is designed to withstand the dynamics of every producer and is handy and portable for production on the go.
- The Analog lab software coupled with its partners gives the user access to over 6500 sounds and pro tools.
- It contains a Key Lab Essentials option which aids in performing, editing and tweaking as well as creating music with ease which makes it an all in one keyboard controller.
- Pads are sensitive to the needs of the user
- Build quality is average
7. Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3]
Launchkey is a portable keyboard that is absolutely compact that fits in our bag. This keyboard has 25 mini midi keys. We have the fixed chord control feature, Intuitive Live Control feature, arpeggiator and exclusive sounds in the box. The best feature is midi out feature. The added advantage to this keyboard would be straight forward, simple downloadable drivers. The keyboard has a very clean, no bloatware, and installation problems on any platform. This keyboard is super lightweight.
- It has rich components like full RGB Pads
- Musecore is included
- This version has improved sensitivity on keys and drum pads
- Works very well with Ableton
- The layout is great for live looping
- This keyboard has a sturdy and responsive pitch and mod wheels
- Duet partners can listen with jack headphones
- The piano is extremely lightweight and portable
- Size of the pad may be too small to play comfortably
- The velocity of the keystrokes is sometimes very inconsistent
- Build quality could have ben much better
8. Nektar Midi Controller (IMPACT LX25+)
Nektar Impact MIDI keyboard controller is compact, powerful and jam-packed with features. Creativity is at its peak when there are features like 8 led pads, 5 user presets. We can connect via USB to Windows, Linux, Apple devices. Music of all styles is calibrated. We can assign parameters to control instantly with Grab.
- This midi keyboard has a solid build
- This keyboard can control the digital audio workstation (DAW)
- We can work remotely without having to sit in front of the computer
- This keyboard comes with a full-size user manual.
- Stiff keys can be a pullback
- The metal part of the USB socket seems to be rather malleable
- The keyboard has no dedicated patch selectors
- The keyboard does not come with the midi in or out ports which are made available generally.
- The Nektar keyboard does not come with a disk drive
- The keyboard seems to have an extremely short lifespan.
9. M Audio Keystation 49 MK3
The M-Audio Keystation MK3 is a class apart unit. The key station works on a plug and play basis and the Keyboard MK3 is Windows 10 and IOS compatible. The MK3 Keyboard is highly advantageous for travellers as it is portable. The weight of the whole unit is just 4.85 pounds.
Beginner Level students can benefit very much out of this as the controls and buttons are easily accessible. The good news is, with the correct adapter, the keyboard will be compatible with the Simply Piano App. Another advantage of this Keystation MK3 is that it comes with a set of Pro tools.
- Best keyboard in the price range
- The keyboard is semi-weighted
- Recommended keyboard for travel music enthusiasts
- With the compatible USB adaptor, the i-pad can power the keyboard effortlessly
- The keyboard is highly user-friendly and for starters.
- The keyboard looks very stylish
- Software is included within the keyboard kit
- The keys are sharp-edged which is troublesome while using the product
- The build quality could have been improved
10. Midiplus 32-Key Midi Controller (AKM320)
The Midiplus Keyboard controller is a 32 note midsized keyboard that has 32 keys. It comes with a pitch wheel, a modulation wheel as well as up and down an octave and transpose buttons to facilitate effective music production. It is compatible with a B type USB which can connect to a computer. It also comes with a Sustain Pedal output and a Volume slider which makes it easy to take control of, even for beginners.
This product is handy and portable and thus is beneficial for those who prefer to perform at various places or frequent travelers. It seems to have been made of good quality materials and has a sturdy build and its easy to use interface makes it a good choice for beginners.
- Compatible and Portable
- Many features for music production that are easy to use
- Keys are nice and large
- Easy to use
- The provided USB cables are not of superior quality
- The ‘driver not loading’ could be a frequent issue
Things to consider before buying a MIDI KEYBOARD
To give you a sense of direction and assist you in the process of selecting and buying the best possible MIDI mini Keyboard Controller, here are a few important aspects that one must definitely consider before buying a mini keyboard controller. These are -
- The number of keys : MIDI keyboards come in different sizes and with different numbers of keys. This sometimes determines the dimensions of the keyboards, the space it would occupy and even fragility in some cases. The most common types of MIDI keyboard controllers are the 25 key, 49 key, 61 key and 88 key.
- The number of knobs and controls : Keyboards with better knobs and controls inevitably give your music a more enthralling feel to it. Most controlling devices are associated with the function of enhancing and emanating sounds that are more pleasing to the ear and also have access to the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).
- Compatibility : It is crucial to purchase keyboards based on its compatibility which is further determined by the number of keys and other available features such as air pads, screen, foot pedals, faders and touch strips.
- Consider a MIDI Keyboard that exceeds 25 keys in number : The disadvantage of a 25 keyed MIDI keyboard control is that it limits the player’s creativity and hinders quality music production due to the shortage of diversity in musical sounds.
- Multitimbral MIDI keyboard controllers are beneficial : A MIDI keyboard that is multitimbral is equipped with the necessary functionalities to send multiple channels of MIDI data. This means that the user can simultaneously play different sounds or patches which are collectively otherwise known as timbers.
- Polyphony : Polyphony is a feature that allows the player to produce sounds both from the keys as well as the production of tone simultaneously. While Polyphony is the production of sounds from different notes, Multitimbral is the feature that allows for the playing of different sounds at the same time.
- Storage : one of the most crucial aspects to consider would be the storage capacity. The more the storage capacity the better, especially for beginners who would need a lot more practice.
- Sampler and Sequencer : this deals with the quality of the tone and synth. Since any natural sound can be recorded and saved, it is necessary to convert it to a waveform which is also called as a sample. This will then be associated with a particular key on the keyboard. A sequencer helps in recording a particular piece in real-time and is capable of sending different tracks via different MIDI channels to keyboards, computers and modules.
- Synthesizer : A synthesizer is an internal complementary part of the MIDI keyboard controller, which helps in the emanation of the sound from the instrument. They predominantly help in the production and use of real-world sounds while recording or playing a piece. Real-world sounds include water droplets, boiling oil and many other fascinating sounds.
- Cost : Depending on what you want from your MIDI keyboard controller, you will have to decide on a budget range. Though the MIDI keyboard controllers are relatively, pretty affordable, the higher end ones can be a little pricey and thus it is important to decide beforehand what features you want your keyboard to have which will determine its price.