Thanks to the technological advancement in the music industry, musicians just need a computer, DAW and a MIDI keyboard to make great music.
With the best MIDI keyboard, you can get virtually endless choices to make serious music sounds even when you don’t have some instruments in your studio.
The problem comes when you are looking for a MIDI keyboard that fits your needs.
There are thousands of models out there with different features and specifications and just spotting the right one can be hectic.
To help you on this, we came up with a guide for choosing the best MIDI keyboard as well as give some of the best MIDI controllers reviews to make your choosing even easier.
Before we get to that, however, let us first understand what the MIDI keyboards are.
- What is a MIDI keyboard?
- Common features
- What to look for in the Best MIDI Keyboard?
- Best MIDI keyboard reviews
- Akai MPK Mini MKII 25-key
- Acorn Masterkey 49
- Alesis V49
- Midiplus AKM320
- M-Audio Keystation 49 II
- M-Audio Oxygen 49 MK IV
- Roland A-49
- Samson Carbon 61
- Behringer U-Control UMX610
- CME Xkey 25-key
- M-Audio Keystation 88 II
- Roland A-800PRO
- Korg Triton Taktile 25
- Novation Launchkey 61 MK2
- AKAI Professional MPK249
- Yamaha MX49
- Roland JUNO-DS61
- Yamaha MX-61
- Final thought
What is a MIDI keyboard?
Back in 1980s MIDI specification was made to allow the performer to control multiple sounds of multiple synthesizers from a single keyboard.
This concept became a success and today it has revolutionized the music industry.
The device has extra buttons that allow you to fully customize the device and keys to a sound or any other feature on the keyboard.
Most of the keyboard controllers have no capability of sound generation by their own, but almost any keyboard can act to control the parameters and sounds of other devices.
Versatility and portability are among some of the key advantages of the keyboard controllers.
They enable you to have control over the entire range of modern music software and hardware while being compact enough to move easily.
You can connect the controller to your computer and use preset to combine or split devices using button pushes.
If you are a DJ, for example, you can use the knobs to modulate the filter of loop sequence.
Buttons, Faders, and Knobs
On top of the piano key style on the MIDI keyboard controller, you can also find sliders, knobs, and buttons on the top panel.
These are used to transmit MIDI data and can adjust the hand on control over the software in your computer.
The controller’s knobs, buttons, and faders give you a real-time control over the resonance, amp envelope, etc. this gives you a more authentic feeling compared to using a mouse.
You can also find controllers that have auto mapping technology to set up the faders and knobs.
One of the vital quality of the MIDI keyboard is the keyboard action.
You need to be comfortable when using the controller that is why you need to have an ideal keyboard for your productivity and creativity.
Most people prefer the key actions they are accustomed to and that which fits the type of music they are playing.
With MIDI keyboard, you can choose from three basic key actions:
Synth key action
Synth key action feels more like an electronic organ. It has lighter spring-loaded keys and can be moved quickly.
They tend to move back to their resting position faster making them ideal for fast parts like fast arpeggios or lead lines.
It is a perfect fit even for those who are not pianists by nature those who want to add the MIDI control functionality to their music setup.
Semi-weighted key actions
This is similar to weighted hammer actions but has less resistance.
The keyboard is popular in the market and it is preferred by many players especially those who don’t need the realistic piano response and don’t mind the spring loaded spring action.
Weighted hammer key action
Pianists prefer the MIDI keyboard controllers with the 88-note keyboard that mimics that of an acoustic piano.
With the keyboards there is no string and harmer, instead, manufacturers use different methods to attain the weighted action, for instance, they can use springs or add a hammer to mimic the piano action.
This keyboard is ideal for anyone who is in need of composing piano oriented music.
When pro keyboardists lay down a synth lead line that creates a bit of tasty vibrato at the end, their fingers lean deeper into the keys providing the extra key pleasure hence you trigger an aftertouch event.
This gives you an ergonomic and convenient way to add expressiveness to the performance.
You can also achieve it by moving gently your pitch wheel or joystick but the feature is commonly found in high-end controllers.
What to look for in the Best MIDI Keyboard?
There are various factors that can affect your decision for a buying a MIDI keyboard controller. This includes:
Most of the times our budget dictates what we buy and what brand.
For instance, if you are on a tight budget you will go for the best MIDI keyboard that will fit your budget.
The price of a keyboard is dictated by brand, number of keys and other additional features.
When you buy a MIDI keyboard of about $100, you will probably get a keyboard with fewer keys, features and you might be forced to buy from a brand that is not of your choice.
If you have a small space studio, you travel a lot and produces the music on the go, or you just love playing the music with one hand, you will probably go for a small MIDI keyboard that is easily portable.
Mostly, portable keyboard controllers come with 25-30 keys, but this does not limit those with even higher keys.
The number of keys
Most producers go for controllers with 49 keys because it does not take too much space and it is big enough to play melodies across 4 octaves.
You can choose higher or lower but the choice will always go hand in hand with the price.
To many pianists, a measure of the authenticity of a keyboard is compared with that of an acoustic.
Most pianists prefer a keyboard that is heavy-weighted to get the experience of a real piano.
This, however, is not crucial for your studio unless you are making songs that require a lot of pianos.
The most common MIDI keyboard on the market are semi-weighted and they can be a good fit for your studio because they provide a great response as you play.
Most of the MIDI keyboards can work for any DAW although you can find some that are specifically made for DAW.
If you want a controller that can map all the knobs and sliders to the DAW automatically, you should go for the specific ones.
Now, before you worry about the DAW, our MIDI controller reviews will mention any specific consideration of the compatibility.
Now just by looking at a MIDI keyboard, you will get an idea of how many extra controls you can get from it.
Some MIDI controllers look like a spaceship command center while others have just a handful of them.
You should consider going with the controllers with certain features depending on whether you are planning to use them.
If you are one of those people who prefer to use a computer mouse to manipulate the VSTs and DAW, you can go for those with a few extra controls.
Best MIDI keyboard reviews
Now that we have an idea of what to look for in a keyboard, we are still left with the biggest question, what is the best midi keyboard?
To help you get the best MIDI controller keyboard, we filtered our list according to their specifications popularity and users experience.
We understand that different people have different requirements, therefore, we try to present a balanced selection of MIDI keyboard reviews regardless of things like price.
With that being said, let’s jump right in and see what we have on the table.
Always gauge your need when selecting the best MIDI keyboard; whether your creative methods require the extra features and how much you need these features.
If you get the correct one, you will get control over major elements of your software and hardware.
Normally, people usually use the keys to measure the quality of the MIDI keyboard but it is better to consider other elements too.
In the above MIDI controller reviews, for example, we have different keyboards for users; hopefully, yours is there too.
With that in mind, you will find yourself going for that MIDI that fits your needs perfectly.
Remember that the key reason for having the right MIDI keyboard is to control the notes on the computer, therefore, make sure you use this to measure what is your best choice.
Additionally, more features than you require are always a bonus especially if you are interested in learning more extensive ways to use the MIDI keyboard it’s better to go with the extra featured one.
One final note is that if you are going to purchase a controller, make sure that your computer can handle the minimum requirement of the controller because the MIDI takes up some processing power.
If your computer is too slow and hangs often, you might find out that you are having trouble to play your music more accurately.