A solid MIDI controller keyboard is a studio must-have, and the greatest MIDI controller keyboards will elevate your songs to new heights. Don’t know where to begin? We have all the information you’ll need right here.
These ubiquitous gadgets may be plugged directly into your PC or laptop through USB – or even function wirelessly over Bluetooth in certain situations – and let you to perform and record with your DAW’s software instruments and any VST synth plugins you may have installed. Some can also control hardware synths, turning them into a central performance hub for your studio.
Depending on your requirements, you have a variety of options to pick from. You can pick a full-size 88-note model with weighted hammer-action keys or a tiny, portable MIDI keyboard that fits neatly in a laptop bag. Most of the solutions we propose have extra features like knobs, pads, buttons, and faders to help you be more creative and have more control over your software.
If you shop around, you can acquire a perfectly good cheap MIDI keyboard for less than $/£100, but spending even a little more will get you a higher-quality device with additional features and specs. It could also be a little more rugged; something to think about if you’re looking for something different.
Many of the top MIDI keyboards also include mapping templates for the most popular DAWs, including as Ableton Live, Logic Pro, FL Studio, and others, making it simple to get up and running and start making music right away.
We’ve organized our recommendations by price to make it easier for you to choose the one that’s right for you. Our price comparison widgets have also discovered the best bargains available online right now. Go to the buying advice section at the bottom of the page if you need additional help.
Best MIDI Keyboards of 2022
AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3
Novation Launchkey Mini MK3
M Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3
Vangoa Tuna Mini
For aspiring producers and musicians, the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 is a fantastic choice. The four-way joystick is a standout feature of this device, allowing you to easily manipulate modulation and pitch. Because you may alter the modes, range, and resolution of the built-in arpeggiator, you have complete control over the music-producing process.
The device features eight knobs that rotate 360 degrees, allowing you to fine-tune music characteristics to your liking. This function allows you to generate fantastic music by adding plugins or adjusting the synth parameters.
The OLED display on the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 provides fast feedback when you touch any control. When modifying the arpeggiator and note repeat functions, you may see the parameter readouts. This makes it easier to keep track of each beat and improves concentration while generating beats.
|Dimensions:||7.08 x 12.48 x 1.92 inches|
The Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 is a feature-rich MIDI keyboard that makes it simple to create new tunes and rhythms. One of its major features is the mutate function, which makes it more functional than the prior model. You’ll be able to re-arrange patterns in a variety of ways with it, which comes in handy when you’re stuck for ideas.
This MIDI keyboard has full-sized keys, which is unusual in a backpack-sized device. They are not only convenient to use, but they also eliminate the possibility of making frequent bum notes during live performances. You’ll also enjoy the arpeggiator, which progressively plays recorded notes to assist you in achieving various musical goals.
Because the buttons and knobs are stable, you don’t have to keep up with unpleasant wiggling motions, the build quality has improved noticeably. The keyboard is also small and light, weighing only one pound, making it easy to transport if you prefer mixing and recording music outside.
|Dimensions:||1.61 x 6.77 x 12.99 inches|
The Midiplus AKM320 is one of the best MIDI keyboards for beginners due to its ease of use and capabilities. It has a simple UI with useful features including 32 velocity-sensitive keys for creating loud and gentle sounds while entering bass lines or chords.
The modulation wheel lets you add expressions to your samples, making them seem more natural and less taxing on the hearing. You can also use the transpose function to increase or decrease notes without altering incoming MIDI note messages.
Because this keyboard is 18 inches long, it will take up less space in your little studio. Even better, it just weighs 1.59 pounds, making it easy to transport for editing, remixing, and recording while traveling. There’s also a USB port, which simplifies connecting while removing the need for a bulky external power adaptor.
|Dimensions:||18.11 x 4.92 x 1.18 inches|
The Nektar SE25 is one of the greatest budget-friendly MIDI keyboards you can buy today if you’re seeking for a durable MIDI keyboard. The ‘part two’ button is a one-of-a-kind feature that allows you to play in unusual ways. For example, hitting the ‘2’ on this keyboard swaps octaves briefly, making it simple to build harmony layers.
Because the velocity-sensitive micro keys have a strong feeling, they react swiftly to various inputs. They also offer three velocity curves that tailor the response to your specific playing style.
This keyboard also includes a Bitwig 8-Track DAW, which includes 50 software instruments and special effects to assist you in getting started with computer-based music production. This saves you money over purchasing a standalone software bundle. Because you don’t need to work with drivers or extra pedals, the micro-USB port makes connecting even easier for beginners.
|Dimensions:||15.75 x 5.71 x 2.76 inches|
The Alesis V25 has a lot of cool features that make it a solid choice. It contains 25 velocity-sensitive keys that let you play both gentle and loud notes depending on the power and speed with which you press the keys. The eight MPC-style drum pads aren’t overly stiff, so they respond quickly when you launch clips, making the music-creation process go smoothly.
Xpand 2 and Ableton Live Lite 9 (downloads) are two premium software bundles included, giving you access to important recording tools. You’ll have fun trying out a wide variety of acoustic instruments, which will make music creation more enjoyable.
With a weight of 3.85 pounds, this MIDI keyboard is easy to take in a bag. As a result, you won’t have any trouble transporting it to numerous venues for live performances. Plus, the supplied USB cord makes connecting this keyboard to your computer a breeze, so you can start producing or playing music in no time.
|Dimensions:||9.6 x 24.6 x 4.53 inches|
Consider the M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3 if you want an ergonomic MIDI keyboard with a lot of keys. You get 32 velocity-sensitive keys, which are hard to come by in most low-cost MIDI keyboards. When pressed forcefully, they produce a loud sound, and when pressed lightly, they produce a delicate sound, allowing you to play both old and modern music.
To compose and mix professional recordings, use the tiny modulation button to adjust various components of a synthesized sound, providing a sense of movement. You can widen the range of your keyboard with the octave up/down buttons to assist you to improve whatever track you’re working on.
Because the keyboard is USB-powered, it’s simple to connect it to most primary digital audio workstations (DAWs), saving you time during setup. You’ll love the accompanying MPC Rhythms software suite, which includes 80 effects plugins that allow you more control over your sound and beats, in addition to its plug-and-play architecture.
|Dimensions:||16.44 x 0.72 x 4.2 inches|
The Vangoa Tuna Mini’s tiny shape is one of its most appealing qualities. It is 11.71 x 9.74 x 1.87 inches and weighs 2.61 pounds, making it one of the best MIDI keyboards for recording and mixing on the go. Furthermore, because of its streamlined appearance, it is a good fit for a small workstation because it fits beside a regular keyboard and computer.
When compared to using a mouse, this MIDI keyboard contains eight anti-slip knobs and eight assignable sliders, giving you a more authentic sense. They provide you with more hands-on control, allowing you to easily tune the amp envelope, resonance, and other parameters.
The 25 small keys have a velocity mechanism that responds to touch precisely, making it simple to add varied sounds. You’ll also appreciate the white panel and wood-like sides, which make this keyboard suitable for a variety of settings and studios.
|Dimensions:||11.71 x 9.74 x 1.87 inches|
What Makes A Good MIDI Keyboard?
Not every MIDI keyboard is the same. While some may claim that “it’s just a few keys, how bad can it get?” the truth is a little different.
There are less expensive and extremely expensive versions, just as there are for real grand pianos. The sound and feel are the most noticeable differences. Sound isn’t an issue with a MIDI keyboard because you can load any sound you want into your DAW.
Playability, functionality, and portability are what distinguish a decent MIDI keyboard.
Playability is a huge benefit of investing in a good MIDI keyboard. Keyboards with a higher price tag are often more enjoyable to use. When pressing a key, the response will be more akin to that of a piano, making it feel less plastic and more high-quality to play.
Feel is an important aspect of the music-making process for any musician. If you have the option, you will choose to play an instrument that feels undeniably like a piano over a squeaky, low-cost keyboard.
However, MIDI keyboards aren’t just for playing piano keys. You frequently pay for additional functionality that aids you in the studio as a music producer. But, aside from playing keys, what other features do you require?
Touchpads, knobs, and sliders are the most prevalent features on MIDI keyboards. All three may be fully automated within your DAW, allowing you to assign new parameters to your knobs and sliders at any time.
When you physically move knobs and sliders to affect your sound rather than drawing in robotic automation in your DAW, that’s a tremendous advantage to feel.
Touchpads can be used to tap into your beat, which is a very powerful approach to acquiring ideas.
Another consideration is portability, or how light and compact your MIDI keyboard is for travel.
Some producers don’t want to stay in one spot for long periods of time. If you’re always on the road for tours and performances, you’re likely to record a lot of music in hotel rooms or other producers’ studios.
This is where portability is important.
It’s not practical to carry a 61-key MIDI keyboard in your bag. It can also be tough to put it up in a hotel room or other small location.
Many producers want MIDI keyboards that are light, portable, and easy to transport. Many top producers use two sets of headphones, one for traveling and the other for use in the studio. It’s a fantastic method to combine the finest of two worlds.
Overall, there are a few characteristics that distinguish a decent MIDI keyboard. That’s why, if you want a true feel, outstanding functionality, and the finest mobility, more expensive keywords can be a worthwhile purchase.
Things to Consider When Buying a Best MIDI Keyboard
Number of Keys:
If you’re not playing classical music, more keys entail a greater price and more bulk, which may be unneeded.
We discovered that 49 keys are sufficient for synthesizer players, whereas 61 keys are sufficient for keyboardists who want organ-style keys.
Synth-action keys are the most prevalent, although there are also semi-weighted and weighted options. Synth-action and weighted piano-style keys are undoubtedly familiar to you.
Semi-weighted keys are uncommon in digital pianos (though they were present on the 73-key Nord Stage), but they strike a good mix between variety and responsiveness.
Number of Controls:
Knobs and buttons are useful, and MIDI Learn makes it simple to attach software functions to them. Most of us, though, do not require a full digital mixing board. We’d be buying something else if we did. It’s critical to understand what you require.
A typical pressure sensor detects how hard you’re pressing down until you let go, whereas aftertouch detects how hard you’re pressing down until you let go.
Assigning this to an instrument effect like rotating speaker speed is a terrific way to add more layers of expressivity to your performances.
5-Pin MIDI Support:
Some MIDI controllers are labeled as “USB only,” implying that the vendor does not provide MIDI connectivity.
Use a USB MIDI interface as a workaround, which allows you to send USB MIDI signals through regular 5-pin MIDI. Ports, on the other hand, are a limited commodity, as any laptop user will tell you.
Pads are enjoyable, but they are not required. However, because of their bigger size, they are effectively better buttons, especially if you’re playing on a different main keyboard.
Many people like finger drumming, but I prefer keyboard drumming since it is more precise. It’s possible that your mileage will differ.
It has a pedal jack, like digital pianos. However, not all versions, notably the portable 25-key variants, have this feature.
Regardless, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and it’s always best to make sure you have pedal support, whether proprietary or not.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a MIDI keyboard?
It’s a good idea to define what a MIDI keyboard is. Consider a MIDI keyboard to be a synthesizer without the noise. It contains piano-style keys and presumably other controllers, but no sound is produced by it. It uses MIDI to connect to a computer, gadget, or other electronic instrument and allows the user to play the sounds of the destination instrument from afar. Additional controls, such as knobs or sliders, provide data to the instrument on the other end.
This is handy for modifying the loudness on a virtual mixer or changing the timbre of a sound, such as opening and closing a low-pass filter. Transport buttons for starting and stopping playback on a DAW, and sequencers for composing musical sequences outside of a DAW are examples of additional controls.
What key size do you need?
Smaller MIDI controllers with little keys should suffice for simple inputting of drum beats, bass and melody lines, and basic chords. These are less expensive and more portable than their larger counterparts, and they take up less space on your work surface. Some individuals nowadays believe that small keys are just as responsive and easy to play as full-size keys.
If you’re coming from a piano or keyboard background, though, full-sized weighted keys may be required for a more typical playing experience. There are options for everyone, thankfully.
How many keys are enough?
The greatest MIDI keyboards on this list have octave shift buttons, which means that even a 25-key instrument may access the full range of note pitches by hitting a few keys. If you’re a more accomplished player or wish to learn to play two-handed, a four-octave (49-note) or five octaves (61-note) keyboard is preferable. If space isn’t an issue, an 88-key, piano-sized controller can be used instead. However, a smaller keyboard will suffice for simple melodies and chords.
How Do I Fix a Malfunctional MIDI Keyboard?
If your MIDI keyboard is playing the wrong notes, make sure your ‘note on’ capabilities are turned on. To resolve key detection issues, clean the keys, microswitches, and sensors.
To restore connectivity, you’ll need to update or reinstall the drivers if your MIDI keyboard isn’t USB class-compliant.
When you click keys on your MIDI keyboard, they frequently stop operating or fail to produce the desired sound. If the keyboard’s complete circuit or other components are not broken, you can use the software bundle to fix the problem.
How Do I Choose the Best MIDI Keyboard?
The greatest MIDI keyboards are available in a variety of sizes, including 25, 37, 49, 61, and 88 keys. People with little desk areas or who travel frequently will benefit from keyboards with fewer keys. Large ones, on the other hand, are ideal for anyone looking to improve their piano skills. Buy a keyboard with knobs, faders, and pads if you wish to trigger samples and drums or operate virtual controls.
Another important element to consider is compatibility. For someone with a lot of MIDI-compatible devices, a MIDI keyboard with extra ports and a Bluetooth connection is excellent. App compatibility, playability, MIDI response, MIDI Out port, and the software bundled are all important factors to consider.
While we’ve concentrated on budget, performance, and alternatives in this list, any instrument or equipment in your studio should help you achieve your overall aim of making music. So, above all things, you should choose the MIDI keyboard that inspires you the most artistically. Whether it means bright colors, a minimalist style, or one with all the bells and whistles, it all depends on your situation. Your MIDI keyboard will serve as the musical link between your vision and reality. Check to see if it does that role as well.