The Best MIDI Keyboard (Buying Guide)

Are you a music producer or aspiring musician looking for the best MIDI keyboard to enhance your music production experience? Look no further! Let's discover the top 10 MIDI keyboards available on the market today. These midi keyboards offer various features and functionality to suit different needs and budgets. We are also going to discuss the importance of selecting the right one, and provide valuable insights into choosing the best MIDI keyboard for your needs.

Selecting the right MIDI keyboard

Before we delve into the details, let's understand why selecting the right MIDI keyboard is vital for music production. A MIDI keyboard, or a MIDI controller keyboard, is a versatile device that controls various software instruments, synths, and samplers within your digital audio workstation (DAW). It provides a tactile and expressive way to interact with your music, allowing you to play melodies, chords, and basslines with ease.

MIDI keyboards for specific software

If you're using specific software for your music production, it's essential to choose a MIDI keyboard that is compatible and optimized for that software. For FL Studio users, the Akai Fire is a dedicated MIDI controller designed specifically for FL Studio's workflow. It features a 4x16 pad matrix, step sequencer, and transport controls, allowing for efficient and hands-on control of your music. Ableton Live users can benefit from the Ableton Push 2. This powerful MIDI controller offers a 64-pad grid, touch-sensitive encoders, and a high-resolution display, providing an immersive and intuitive music-making experience.

1. Arturia MiniLab 3

1. Arturia MiniLab 3

The Arturia MiniLab 3 is a compact and powerful MIDI keyboard that offers a comprehensive set of features in a portable design. With 25 velocity-sensitive slim keys, this keyboard is perfect for beginners and professionals. The MiniLab 3 includes eight multi-function encoders and four multi-function faders, giving you hands-on control over your DAW, instruments, and effects.

It also features pitch bend and modulation touch strips, octave buttons, and a built-in arpeggiator for added creativity. The MiniLab 3's multi-colour velocity and pressure-sensitive pads allow for expressive drum patterns and sample triggering. With its USB-C port and MIDI Out, the MiniLab 3 offers versatile connectivity options for studio work and live performances.

2. Novation Launchkey Mini MK3

Novation Launchkey Mini MK3

The Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 is a compact and portable MIDI keyboard controller seamlessly integrated with Ableton Live. With 25 mini keys, this keyboard is perfect for musicians on the go. The Launchkey Mini MK3 features a new mini-key mechanism that offers an enjoyable playing experience. It includes eight rotary knobs, 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, and two touch strips for pitch bend and modulation.

The Launchkey Mini MK3's arpeggiator and fixed chord mode provide creative options for creating unique sounds and sequences. With its MIDI Out and sustain input, this keyboard offers flexible connectivity options. Additionally, the Launchkey Mini MK3 comes with Ableton Live Lite and a range of sounds and effects from renowned companies.

3. Alesis V49 MKII – USB MIDI Keyboard

Alesis V49 MKII – USB MIDI Keyboard

The Alesis V49 MKII is a versatile MIDI controller keyboard that can turn your PC, Mac, or iOS device into a feature-packed production studio. It features 49 full-size, velocity-sensitive, synth-action keys and 8 backlit beat pads with full level and note repeat controls.

With 4 MIDI-assignable knobs, octave and transpose buttons, pitch bend and modulation wheels, and an arpeggiator with 6 modes, you have plenty of options for creating unique melodies and adding expression to your music. The keyboard also comes with MPC Beats Software Suite, 60 piano lessons from Melodics, and easy point-and-click MIDI editor software for full control customization. It is compatible with Mac, PC, and iOS devices.

4. Akai LPK25 Midi Keyboard

Akai LPK25 Midi Keyboard

The AKAI Professional LPK25 is a compact, portable MIDI controller designed for piano and keyboard-playing musicians. It features 25 velocity-sensitive synth-action keys, a built-in arpeggiator, and a USB connection for easy connectivity to both Mac and PC devices. The LPK25 comes with music production software, allowing users to create, edit, and manage their presets.

With its versatile performance capabilities and universal compatibility with popular applications, this MIDI controller is perfect for songwriting, beat-making, and DJ remixes. Its sleek design and effortless setup make it a convenient addition to any studio setup.

5. Nektar Impact LX61+

Nektar Impact LX61+

The Nektar Impact LX61+ is an intelligent and expressive MIDI controller keyboard that enhances your music production experience. With 61 velocity-sensitive, synth-action keys, this keyboard provides a medium-tension playing experience suitable for various styles. The Impact LX61+ includes nine faders, nine MIDI buttons, and eight encoders that are fully programmable.

It also features pitch bend and modulation wheels for expressive articulation. Notable features of the Impact LX61+ include its intelligent and expressive performance control, seamless DAW integration, and eight velocity-sensitive pads. With its USB port and MIDI in/out, the Impact LX61+ offers flexible connectivity options for your computer and external MIDI devices.

6. Novation Launchkey 88

Novation Launchkey 88 keyboard

The Novation Launchkey 88 is a comprehensive MIDI keyboard controller designed for expressive music creation and seamless integration with various DAWs. With 88 semi-weighted keys, this keyboard offers a dynamic playing experience that captures every detail of your performance.

The Launchkey 88 includes eight rotary encoders, nine faders, and 16 velocity-sensitive pads, allowing you to shape your sound and control instruments and effects with ease. It also features three chord modes, a powerful arpeggiator, pitch bend and modulation wheels for added expressiveness. With its USB port, MIDI output, and sustain effect pedal input, the Launchkey 88 offers versatile connectivity options for your studio setup.

7. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25 Controller Keyboard

The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25 is an innovative and streamlined MIDI keyboard controller to enhance your music-making experience. With 25 semi-weighted keys, this keyboard offers a responsive playing feel suitable for various styles.

The A25 features eight touch-sensitive knobs, an OLED display, and pitch bend and modulation wheels for real-time parameter adjustments. It also includes Smart Play functionality for creative performance with chord mode, scale mode, and an arpeggiator. With its USB port and MIDI connectivity, the A25 offers seamless integration with popular DAWs and full VST support.

8. M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 Midi Keyboard

M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 Midi Keyboard

The M-Audio pro midid keyboard controller was designed for songwriters, producers, and touring musicians. With 49 semi-weighted keys, this keyboard provides a dynamic playing experience that captures every nuance of your performance. With its USB, MIDI in/out and pedal inputs, the Oxygen pro provides control options and connectivity for your music production and performance needs.

9. SubZero Command Key 25 MIDI Controller

Sub Zero Command key25 midi controller

The SubZero CommandKey25 is a versatile and straightforward MIDI controller designed for musicians seeking a portable solution for stage and studio applications. With 25 slim keys, this keyboard balances playability and portability. The CommandKey25 features pitch and modulation touch strips, eight light-up performance pads, and 16 assignable encoder knobs. It also includes six transport buttons and a USB port for easy integration with your computer. With its compact design and compatibility with both Mac and PC, the CommandKey25 offers extensive DAW control in a portable form factor.

10. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32

The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 is a streamlined mini-keyboard that offers versatile functionality in a compact design. With 32 semi-weighted keys, this keyboard provides a responsive and dynamic playing experience suitable for various styles.

The M32 features eight touch-sensitive knobs, two touch strips, and eight velocity-sensitive pads. It also includes Smart Play functionality, a four-directional push encoder, and seamless integration with popular DAWs. With its USB port, the M32 offers easy integration with your computer and supports both Windows and Mac operating systems.

These top 10 MIDI keyboards offer a range of features and functionality to suit different music production needs. From compact and portable options to full-sized keyboards with weighted keys, there's a MIDI keyboard on this list that will meet your requirements. 

Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of MIDI keyboards and their importance in music production, it's time to take action. Explore the options available, read customer reviews, and consider your specific needs and preferences. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced producer, finding the perfect MIDI keyboard is a crucial step towards enhancing your music production journey.

Tips for maximizing your MIDI keyboard 

To make the most out of your MIDI keyboard, here are some tips to consider:

  1. Familiarize yourself with your DAW's MIDI mapping capabilities. This allows you to assign specific functions to your MIDI keyboard's knobs, faders, and buttons, giving you more control over your software instruments and effects.
  2. Experiment with different playing techniques. MIDI keyboards offer various options for expression, such as velocity sensitivity and aftertouch. Take advantage of these features to add dynamics and nuances to your performances.
  3. Explore the world of MIDI plugins and virtual instruments. There are countless plugins available that can transform your MIDI keyboard into a versatile and powerful music production tool. Experiment with different plugins to find the sounds and effects that inspire you.
  4. Practice regularly. Like any musical instrument, mastering the MIDI keyboard requires practice and dedication. Set aside dedicated time to improve your playing skills and explore new techniques.

Midi Keyboard: Frequently Asked Questions  

What are the different types of MIDI keyboard?

Regarding MIDI keyboards, there are two main types to consider: controller and standalone. Controller keyboards are the most common type and are designed to be used with a computer or a DAW. They rely on MIDI connectivity to communicate with your computer and software. Standalone keyboards, on the other hand, come with built-in sounds and can be used independently without the need for a computer or software. They are ideal for live performances or situations where portability is essential.

How many keys for a midi keyboard?

MIDI keyboards come in various sizes, ranging from mini keyboards with 25 keys to full-sized keyboards with 88 notes. The number of keys you choose depends on your playing style and the type of music you produce. If you primarily play chords and melodies, a 49-key keyboard might suffice. However, if you're a pianist and require a full range of keys, an 88-key keyboard would be more suitable.

Key action explained

Keyboards with weighted keys mimic the feel of a traditional piano, providing a more realistic playing experience. These are ideal for pianists and those who prefer a more expressive touch. On the other hand, keyboards with non-weighted or semi-weighted keys offer a lighter and more responsive feel, making them suitable for electronic music producers.

You have two main options: weighted and non-weighted keys. Weighted keys provide a more realistic feel, similar to an acoustic piano. They have a heavier touch and are more suitable for pianists or those who prefer a more expressive playing experience. Non-weighted keys, also known as synth-action keys, have a lighter touch and are more responsive, making them ideal for electronic music production.

What are the most popular MIDI keyboard brands?

There are several reputable brands in the market known for producing high-quality MIDI keyboards. Akai, Arturia, and M-Audio are some of the most popular ones. Akai is well-known for its innovative features and intuitive design, offering a wide range of MIDI keyboards to suit different needs. Arturia, on the other hand, is renowned for its vintage-inspired synthesizers and MIDI controllers, providing a unique and retro feel. M-Audio offers an outstanding balance between affordability and functionality, making it a popular choice among beginners and intermediate producers.

What are the best MIDI keyboards for beginners?

If you're new to music production and looking for a MIDI keyboard to kickstart your journey, several options are available. The Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 is an excellent choice for beginners. It features 25 mini keys, eight rotary knobs, and 16 RGB backlit pads, providing a compact and versatile controller for your DAW. Another beginner-friendly option is the Nektar Impact LX25+. With its 25 velocity-sensitive keys, eight pads, and extensive DAW integration, it offers a seamless and intuitive music production experience.

Where to buy MIDI keyboards?

When it comes to purchasing MIDI keyboards, there are several online options available. One of the most popular online retailers is Sweetwater, known for its wide selection of MIDI keyboards and excellent customer service. Another reputable option is Guitar Center, which offers a variety of MIDI keyboards from different brands and price ranges.  

You can buy directly from manufacturing sites like Akai, Arturia, and M-Audio, which offer a convenient and reliable shopping experience. It's worth checking out marketplaces like Amazon, where you can check out different MIDI keyboards and their customer reviews.

Up Next: The BEST Music Production Softwares

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