A MIDI keyboard controller is the ideal piece of equipment for music production. It allows you to fully utilize your Digital Audio Workstation software with its integrated features. MIDI controllers in the form of a traditional keyboard are one of the most common and effective types of controllers for music production, allowing you to loop samples, control instruments, sequence beats, and much more.
If you are having trouble deciding, take a look at our five favorite MIDI keyboard controllers for both beginning and seasoned producers.
Purchasing a MIDI Keyboard
When searching for your perfect keyboard, consider these key factors:
- Functionality: MIDI keyboards come with many configurable control options and features. MIDI keyboards offer piano-type keys, but some others come with additional functions like pads, faders, and other knobs and buttons. Consider those features if you are looking to maximize what you can accomplish hands-on with your software.
- Compatibility: Be sure that your MIDI keyboard can connect to your computer and its software. Many keyboards will also include software downloads as well, which definitely helps to make things easier.
- Size: If you are stationed at home, a larger and heavier MIDI keyboard will work well. However, if you find yourself frequently traveling with a MIDI keyboard, a compact, portable one may suit you better.
Best for Pros: Akai Professional MPK249
If you plan to take music production seriously, the Akai Professional MPK249 should be your go-to controller. The keyboard is equipped with 49 semi-weighted piano keys along with 16 beat pads for samples, loops, and more. Its velocity-sensitive pads come with four banks, allowing up to 64 different pad settings. The keyboard gives you full control over your DAW, with 24 configurable Q-Link controllers as well. With Akai Professional’s MPK249, you will enjoy a feature-packed MIDI keyboard controller with everything you need and more.
In addition, you will also get access to a comprehensive set of music software downloads, including Ableton Live Lite and synthesizers like Hybrid 3 and SONiVOX Twist 2.0. These will work for both Mac and PC users.
Akai Professional MPK249
This controller is equipped with all the essentials you need for high-quality music production.
Best On-the-Go: Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII
Akai Professional’s MPK Mini MKII is a compact keyboard controller that you can travel with, weighing less than 2 pounds. The keyboard is equipped with 25 synth-action piano keys, eight beat pads with two banks, and eight configurable control knobs to your DAW. Additionally, the keyboard comes with buttons with specific controls, like note repetition, octave control, and more. You will also gain access to synthesizers like SONiVOX Wobble and Hybrid 3, Akai Pro MPC Essentials software, and 1,400 sounds.
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII
This is a slim, portable MIDI keyboard controller that doesn't sacrifice quality performance.
Most Compatible: Alesis V49
The Alesis V49 includes premium software along with the MIDI keyboard controller itself. You will get access to Pro Tools First Alesis Edition, Ableton Live Lite 9 and Eleven Lite, Xpand!2, DB-33, and Mini Grand — all DAW tools to play around with. The keyboard itself is equipped with 49 velocity-sensitive piano keys, eight backlit beat pads, and eight total configurable knobs and buttons to your music interface. Its controls are all illuminated and will give you visual feedback for perfect timing.
You will get access to premium software tools along with this keyboard to level up your music.
Also Great: Novation Launchkey 49 MIDI Keyboard Controller
If you are an Ableton Live user, you will surely want to use this keyboard in conjunction with your software. The Novation Launchkey is specifically designed for Ableton Live users, giving you instant access to all Ableton Live’s controls. However, this keyboard also works completely well with other DAW’s, like Logic, Reason, Studio One, Cubase, and Pro Tools. The keyboard comes with 49 velocity-sensitive piano keys, 16 beat pads, three chord modes, and more knobs and buttons.
Novation Launchkey 49 MIDI Keyboard Controller
The Launchkey offers full functionality for Ableton Live DAW users.
Best Budget: Midiplus 32-Key MIDI Keyboard Controller
Whether you are a beginner looking for an economical MIDI keyboard controller, or you are simply someone looking for a low-cost option, this keyboard from Midiplus is your best bet. It comes with 32 velocity-sensitive piano keys, three rotary knobs, 11 function buttons, and one encoder. You can easily play common chords with its chord feature and choose from scales with its scale mode.
Midiplus 32-Key MIDI Keyboard Controller
This keyboard gives you access to common chords and matches them to the correct scale.