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The 17 Best MIDI Keyboards for 2024

09/06/2023

MIDI keyboard is an essential tool for musicians and producers, connecting the digital world of music production to the physical act of playing an instrument. At its core, a MIDI keyboard is an electronic device that allows you to control software synthesizers, samplers, and other virtual instruments within your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) or standalone software.

By translating your performance into digital data, it enables seamless communication between you and your computer, allowing you to create, edit, and arrange musical elements with ease.

MIDI keyboards come in various shapes and sizes, with different numbers of keys, additional controls, and features tailored to specific needs and preferences. From compact 25-key models designed for portability to full-sized 88-key controllers with weighted keys for a more realistic piano feel, there’s a MIDI keyboard to suit every musician and producer.

Investing in a MIDI keyboard can greatly enhance your music-making experience by providing tactile and intuitive control over your virtual instruments and effects. Whether you’re composing intricate melodies, crafting complex chord progressions, or simply trying to find inspiration through hands-on experimentation, a MIDI keyboard can open up a world of creative possibilities.

By choosing the right MIDI keyboard for your needs, you can unlock your full potential as a musician and producer, creating music that truly resonates with your unique artistic vision. Take a look at our selection of the best MIDI keyboards available.

LaunchKey Mini MK3

OUR TOP PICKS

In a rush? Here are our favourite MIDI keyboards:

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2The MIDI keyboard with the most comprehensive control.Check the current price
SubZero CommandKey49The keyboard with the most highly adjustable performance modes.Check the current price
Novation Launchkey 88The best MIDI keyboard with semi-weighted keys for expressive, nuanced play.Check the current price
Kawai VPC1 Virtual Piano ControllerThe keyboard that offers the most authentic grand piano experience.Check the current price
Akai Professional MPK Mini Plus 37-Key MIDI KeyboardThe most versatile and compact keyboard.Check the current price

BEST MIDI KEYBOARDS

1. NOVATION LAUNCHKEY MINI MK3

Made to move

Novation LaunchKey MiniNumber of keys: 25

Weighted: No

Pros

  • Seamless integration with Ableton Live
  • Comprehensive features in a compact design

Cons

  • Mini keys
  • Limited compatibility with other DAWs

 

The Novation LaunchKey Mini is a compact and portable 25-mini-key MIDI keyboard controller designed for seamless integration with Ableton Live. This lightweight controller fits easily in a bag, making it perfect for on-the-go music production.

Although the keys on the Launchkey Mini are not weighted, they feature a new mini-key mechanism that delivers an enjoyable playing experience. The controller is equipped with various additional controls, including eight rotary knobs, 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, and two touch strips for pitch bend and modulation.

These features provide hands-on control over your DAW, instruments, and effects, allowing you to focus more on your music and less on your computer screen.

Notable features of the Launchkey Mini include a powerful arpeggiator with customisable rhythm, beat, pattern, octave, gate, and more. The Fixed Chord mode allows you to play chords with just one finger, as it assigns a fixed chord shape to the keys that transpose as you move up and down the keyboard.

Furthermore, the 16 RGB pads offer precise, dynamic, and nuanced drumming capabilities.

Looking to connectivity, the Launchkey Mini comes with a MIDI Out, enabling you to connect the controller to external hardware synths or groove boxes directly over MIDI. There’s also a sustain input for adding expression to your playing.

The Launchkey Mini includes Ableton Live Lite and a host of sounds, instruments, and effects from renowned companies such as AAS, Softube, Spitfire Audio, XLN Audio, and Klevgrand.

With its deep integration with Ableton Live, Logic, Reason, and any HUI-compatible DAW, it offers a versatile and intuitive MIDI keyboard solution.

Shop now | LaunchKey Mini MK3


2. NATIVE INSTRUMENTS KOMPLETE KONTROL S88 MK2

Smart keyboard controller

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2Number of keys: 88

Weighted: Yes

Pros

  • High-quality keybed
  • Deep integration with NI VSTs

Cons

  • Large and weighty
  • Premium price

 

The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2 is an advanced MIDI keyboard controller that offers a perfect blend of professional features and intuitive control for music production and performance. This high-quality keyboard features 88 fully-weighted, hammer-action Fatar keys with aftertouch, providing a true piano feel for enhanced expressiveness.

One of the key highlights of the S88 MK2 is its deep integration with virtual instruments and effects, allowing for seamless control over your entire workflow. The controller comes equipped with eight touch-sensitive knobs, pitch and mod wheels, as well as a touch strip for expanded creative possibilities.

Ergonomically designed pitch and mod wheels ensure precise control, while the touch strip offers a responsive alternative to traditional expression pedals.

The S88 MK2 stands out for its two high-resolution colour screens and Light Guide, which provide at-a-glance visual feedback on sounds, projects, key zones, switches, scales, and more. This intuitive layout makes it easy to browse and preview sounds, tweak controls, and mix and edit your projects directly from the hardware.

Connectivity options on the Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2 include USB for easy integration with your computer, MIDI in/out for connecting external MIDI gear, and two assignable pedal inputs for additional expression control.

Shop now | Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2


3. KAWAI VPC1 VIRTUAL PIANO CONTROLLER, METALLIC BLACK

Unparalleled keyboard realism

Kawai VPC1 Virtual Piano Controller, Metallic BlackNumber of keys: 88

Weighted: Yes

Pros

  • Authentic piano-playing experience
  • Integration with virtual piano packages

Cons

  • Limited controls and features
  • Heavy and difficult to move around

 

The Kawai VPC1 is a professional MIDI keyboard controller specifically designed with authenticity in mind, offering an unparalleled playing experience.

Developed by Kawai, a company with 85 years of expertise in crafting world-class acoustic and digital pianos, the VPC1 boasts an impressive set of features that cater to discerning musicians seeking the ultimate virtual piano experience.

The VPC1 features 88 full-size keys, providing a complete range of notes for versatile playing. The keys are crafted from long wooden pieces and feature finely textured ivory-like surfaces, ensuring a comfortable and authentic playing experience.

The keyboard utilises Kawai’s latest ‘RM3 Grand II’ wooden-key action, which is fully weighted and replicates the touch and feel of a concert grand piano.

While the VPC1 is focused on delivering a pure piano-playing experience and so it doesn’t include additional controls such as knobs, faders, pitch bend, or mod wheels. It does, however, come with a triple-pedal accessory (F-30) that replicates the damper, sostenuto, and soft pedals found on a grand piano.

Notable features of the VPC1 include its ‘Approved Touch Curve’ program, wherein Kawai have partnered with leading virtual piano developers to create custom touch curves optimised for the ‘RM3 Grand II’ keyboard action. This ensures seamless integration with popular virtual piano packages like Ivory, Pianoteq, Galaxy, and Alicia’s Keys.

Connectivity options on the VPC1 include USB for easy integration with your computer and standard MIDI IN/OUT connectors for controlling external MIDI devices.

The VPC1 draws power directly from your computer via the USB connection, eliminating the need for additional power cables. With its focus on delivering an authentic piano-playing experience, the Kawai VPC1 is a top choice for virtual pianists and software musicians alike.

Shop now | Kawai VPC1


4. NEKTAR IMPACT LX61+

Intelligent and expressive

Nektar Impact LX61+Number of keys: 61

Weighted: No

Pros

  • Seamless DAW integration
  • Versatile control options

Cons 

  • Non-weighted keys
  • Quite big

 

Nektar’s Impact LX61+ USB MIDI controller keyboard is an intelligent and versatile instrument designed to enhance your music production experience.

With 61 velocity-sensitive, synth-action keys, it provides a medium-tension playing experience suitable for various styles. The keys are not weighted but offer four velocity curves that gradually increase in dynamics, catering to different playing preferences. If you don’t require velocity sensitivity, there are three fixed velocity levels available for consistent output.

In terms of additional controls, the Impact LX61+ boasts nine 30mm faders, nine MIDI buttons, and eight encoders, all of which are fully programmable to send any MIDI CC message. This provides hands-on control over hardware or software MIDI products.

The controller also features pitch bend and modulation wheels, allowing for expressive articulation during performances.

Notable features of the Impact LX61+ include its intelligent and expressive performance control, seamless DAW integration with custom Nektar integration for popular DAWs, and eight velocity-sensitive pads with a “Pad Learn” feature for easy assignment.

The controller also features six dedicated transport buttons for controlling Cycle, Rewind, Forward, Stop, Play, and Record, as well as mixer control for managing up to eight channels of your DAW’s mixer.

Connectivity options on the Impact LX61+ include a USB port for power and data connection to your computer or iPad (via an optional USB camera connection kit), a footswitch jack for adding expression control (pedal not included), and an On/Off switch.

The Impact LX61+ works with all USB devices that feature a Class-compliant MIDI driver, ensuring compatibility with Windows, macOS, Linux, and Apple iPad

Shop now | Nektar Impact LX61+


5. NOVATION LAUNCHKEY 88

Comprehensive Ableton integration

Novation Launchkey 88Number of keys: 88

Weighted: Semi

Pros 

  • Expressive playing experience
  • Seamless DAW integration

Cons

  • Semi-weighted keys aren’t for everyone

 

The Launchkey 88 is a premium MIDI keyboard controller designed for expressive music creation and seamless integration with various digital audio workstations (DAWs).

With 88 semi-weighted keys, this versatile instrument enables you to play with precision and nuance, making it an excellent choice for musicians and producers who value expressiveness and tactile feedback. The keybed of the Launchkey 88 is semi-weighted, providing a responsive and dynamic playing experience that captures every detail of your performance.

In addition to the full range of keys, the Launchkey 88 also offers a host of additional controls, including eight rotary encoders, nine 45mm faders, and 16 velocity-sensitive pads, allowing you to shape your sound and control instruments and effects with ease.

The Launchkey 88 features pitch bend and modulation wheels, providing additional expressive capabilities to your performances.

Notable features of this MIDI keyboard include three Chord Modes (Fixed, Scale, and User) for triggering complex chords with one finger, Scale mode for always hitting the right notes, and a powerful arpeggiator with Strum mode for playing through arpeggios using the mod wheel.

Connectivity options on the Launchkey 88 are versatile. There’s a USB port for easy integration with your computer, a five-pin MIDI output for connecting to MIDI-compatible devices, and a sustain pedal input for adding expression to your performance.

The Launchkey 88 also offers deep DAW integration with dedicated controls for Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Cubase, and more, as well as mixer, transport, and navigation controls for all other major DAWs via HUI.

Shop now | Novation Launchkey 88


6. NATIVE INSTRUMENTS KOMPLETE KONTROL A25

Smart, streamlined controller

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25Number of keys: 25

Weighted: Semi

Pros

  • DAW integration and pre-mapped control
  • Smart Play functionality

Cons

  • No faders
  • No drum pads

 

The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A-Series keyboard controller is a smart and streamlined instrument designed to enhance your music-making experience.

Available in three sizes, including a 25-key version, the A-Series features semi-weighted keys for a responsive and dynamic playing feel.

Though not fully weighted, the custom NI keybed provides a balance between playability and expressiveness, making it suitable for various playing styles. The keyboard includes additional controls such as eight touch-sensitive knobs and an OLED display for real-time parameter adjustments and monitoring. It also features pitch bend and modulation wheels for added expression during performances.

One of the notable features of the A-Series is its intuitive pre-mapped control for hundreds of KOMPLETE and NKS plug-ins, offering full VST support. The Smart Play functionality allows for creative performance with chord mode, scale mode, and an arpeggiator.

Easy Mode maps the white keys to your chosen scale, ensuring you never hit a wrong note. Connectivity options on the A-Series include USB for easy integration with your computer and MIDI for connecting to other MIDI-compatible devices.

The keyboard offers full integration with popular DAWs like MASCHINE, Logic Pro X, GarageBand, Ableton Live, Cubase, and Nuendo.

Shop now | Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25


7. SUBZERO COMMANDKEY49 MIDI KEYBOARD CONTROLLER

Highly adjustable performance modes

SubZero CommandKey49 MIDI Keyboard ControllerNumber of keys: 49

Weighted: Semi

Pros

  • Comprehensive control options
  • Customisable velocity curves

Cons

  • No software bundle
  • No built-in display

 

The SubZero CommandKey49 MIDI Controller is a versatile and powerful instrument designed for songwriters, producers, and touring musicians.

With 49 semi-weighted keys, it provides a dynamic playing experience that captures every nuance of your performance, making it an excellent choice for both live and studio settings. Although the keys are not fully weighted, they offer six innovative velocity curves, allowing you to tailor the keyboard’s response to your specific playing style.

In addition to the 49 keys, the CommandKey49 features eight high-quality, velocity-sensitive, RGB backlit trigger pads, eight rotary encoders, two touch strips, and five MMC buttons (MIDI Machine Control).

This comprehensive set of additional controls enables you to manipulate various aspects of your music production and performance with ease.

The CommandKey49 boasts several notable features, including Dual mode for layering sounds and creating rich textures and Split mode for dividing the keyboard at a chosen point and manipulating two sources independently.

The keyboard also offers assignable pitch bend and modulation touch strips, allowing you to add expressive articulation to your performances.

Connectivity options on the CommandKey49 include a USB 2.0 interface for easy integration with your computer, a MIDI output for connecting to external MIDI-enabled hardware, and the ability to use up to two pedals for further expression.

The keyboard is compatible with Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP and Mac OSX, and its plug-and-play technology means no drivers are required.

Shop now | CommandKey49


8. SUBZERO COMMANDKEY25 UNIVERSAL MIDI CONTROLLER

Versatile and simple MIDI controller

SubZero CommandKey25 Universal MIDI ControllerNumber of keys: 25

Weighted: No

Pros

  • Portability and compact design
  • Comprehensive control options

Cons

  • Limited key range
  • Non-weighted slim keys

 

The SubZero CommandKey25 is a compact and versatile MIDI controller designed for musicians seeking a portable solution for both stage and studio applications.

With 25 slim keys, this controller offers a balance between playability and portability, making it a convenient choice for on-the-go music production and performances.

While the CommandKey25 does not feature fully-weighted keys, its velocity-sensitive slim keys provide a responsive playing experience that caters to various musical styles. The keyboard offers three velocity curves and a constant-velocity setting, ensuring precise control over your expression.

Dedicated octave up and down buttons enable you to access the range of a larger keyboard within this compact size.

The CommandKey25 boasts an array of additional controls, including pitch and modulation touch strips for expressive articulation, eight light-up performance pads (switchable between two banks), and 16 assignable encoder knobs. These controls allow for in-depth manipulation of your DAW, virtual instruments, and external hardware, providing comprehensive MIDI control in a small package.

Notable features of the CommandKey25 include its lightweight design, measuring only 37cm in length, making it an ideal option for desktop or workstation use without occupying much space.

This compact MIDI keyboard offers extensive DAW control in a portable form factor.

In terms of connectivity, the SubZero CommandKey25 is compatible with both Mac and PC, ensuring seamless integration with your preferred operating system. The controller is USB-powered, eliminating the need for an external power source and further enhancing its portability. Simply connect the CommandKey25 to your laptop via USB and enjoy complete control of your music production and performance setup.

Shop now | CommandKey25


9. NATIVE INSTRUMENTS KOMPLETE KONTROL M32

Streamlined mini-keyboard

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32Number of keys: 32

Weighted: Semi

Pros

  • Portable and compact design
  • Smart Play feature

Cons

  • A limited number of keys
  • Limited integration with non-NI software

 

The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 MIDI keyboard controller is a compact and versatile instrument designed for musicians and producers who need a portable yet powerful solution for music creation.

With 32 semi-weighted keys, it provides a responsive and dynamic playing experience suitable for various styles. Though not fully weighted, the custom NI keybed offers a balance between playability and expressiveness, making it ideal for both live and studio settings.

The keyboard includes additional controls such as eight touch-sensitive knobs, two touch strips, and eight velocity-sensitive, and RGB backlit trigger pads, providing hands-on control over essential parameters and enhancing your music production and performance capabilities.

The Komplete Kontrol M32 features pitch bend and modulation touch strips, allowing you to add expressive articulation to your performances.

More notable features of this keyboard controller include Smart Play, which lets you play chord progressions and arpeggios and stay in key with over 100 scales and modes effortlessly. The four-directional push encoder enables one-handed control over your session, making navigation a breeze.

Connectivity options on the M32 include a USB port for easy integration with your computer, ensuring compatibility with both Windows and Mac operating systems. The keyboard is also USB-powered, so there’s no need for an external power source when connected to a laptop or computer.

Shop now | Komplete Kontrol M32


10. NOVATION FLKEY MINI FOR FL STUDIO

Ultimate MIDI keyboard for making music in FL Studio

Novation FLkey Mini for FL StudioNumber of keys: 25

Weighted: No

Pros

  • Seamless integration with FL Studio
  • Compact, portable design

Cons

  • A limited number of keys
  • Specific to FL Studio

 

FLkey Mini is the ultimate MIDI keyboard designed specifically for seamless integration with FL Studio, offering an enhanced music-making experience.

This powerful instrument comes with 25 keys, and while they’re not weighted, they provide a responsive and dynamic playing experience that’s suitable for various styles.

In addition to the compact keybed, FLkey boasts a range of additional controls, including eight rotary encoders for volume and pan adjustments, essential transport buttons for DAW functions, and 16 velocity-sensitive pads for triggering drums, samples, and slices.

The keyboard also features pitch bend and modulation touch strips, allowing for expressive articulation during performances.

Notable features of FLkey include Sequencer Mode for fast beat sketching and seamless control over FL Studio’s Step Sequencer, Channel Rack, and Mixer, as well as Image Line plug-ins, providing a streamlined workflow for music production.

There’s a USB port for easy integration with your computer, ensuring compatibility with both Windows and Mac operating systems. The keyboard is also USB-powered, which eliminates the need for an external power source when connected to a laptop or computer.

Shop now | FLkey Mini


11. NATIVE INSTRUMENTS KOMPLETE KONTROL S61 MK2

Ideal for precise control

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61 MK2Number of keys: 61

Weighted: Semi

Pros

  • Deep integration with DAWs and VSTs
  • Advanced visual feedback system

Cons

  • Semi-weighted keys
  • Quite large and heavy

 

The Komplete Kontrol smart keyboard controller by Native Instruments is a highly-integrated, professional-grade instrument designed to provide an intuitive and hands-on experience for music production and performance.

Available with 49 or 61 semi-weighted keys, this controller offers a pro-grade Fatar keybed that delivers a responsive playing experience suitable for various musical styles.

Additional controls on the Komplete Kontrol include ergonomic rubberised pitch and mod wheels, eight touch-sensitive knobs, a four-directional push encoder, and dedicated DAW transport controls. These allow for precise control over your virtual instruments, effects, and DAW parameters, resulting in a streamlined workflow.

Better still, some of the best features of the Komplete Kontrol are the two high-resolution colour screens and the Light Guide system, which provides at-a-glance visual feedback. This enables you to browse and preview sounds, tweak settings, and navigate projects with ease.

The controller also offers deep integration with MASCHINE and popular DAWs like Logic Pro X, Ableton Live, Cubase, Nuendo, and GarageBand.

The Komplete Kontrol also boasts an immersive visual feedback system, with backlit function buttons that change colour and intensity to indicate their state. Additionally, the precision Light Guide pinpoints the location of sounds, key zones, switches, scales, and more, enhancing the overall user experience.

In terms of connectivity, the controller supports MIDI in/out, allowing for easy integration with outboard gear and other MIDI devices. It’s also compatible with both Mac and PC systems, ensuring seamless operation with your preferred platform.

With its extensive control options and advanced features, the Komplete Kontrol is a powerful and adaptable tool for musicians and producers alike.

Shop now | Komplete Kontrol S61 MK2


12. AKAI PROFESSIONAL MPK MINI PLUS 37-KEY MIDI KEYBOARD

Comprehensive control, compact package

Akai Professional MPK Mini Plus 37-Key MIDI KeyboardNumber of keys: 37

Weighted: Semi

Pros 

  • Expanded creative control
  • Onboard sequencer and arpeggiator

Cons

  • Semi-weighted keys
  • Limited number of drum pads

 

The MPK Mini Plus is a powerful and versatile MIDI keyboard designed for musicians and live performers seeking full creative control and expression in a compact and portable package. With its 37-key Gen 2 Dynamic Keybed, the MPK Mini Plus offers three full octaves of semi-weighted keys, providing a responsive and dynamic playing experience that captures every nuance of your performance.

Although the keys are not fully weighted, they deliver an expanded melodic and harmonic range, making the MPK Mini Plus suitable for various playing styles.

In addition to the keybed, this MIDI keyboard features eight RGB-backlit MPC drum pads, eight assignable rotary knobs, dedicated pitch bend and modulation wheels, a joystick controller for added expression, and DAW transport controls for seamless integration with your favourite software.

One of the notable features of the MPK Mini Plus is its onboard polyphonic 2-track step/live sequencer and arpeggiator, which offer endless creative possibilities for composing and performing. The keyboard also includes Chords and Scales modes, which simplify and enhance your performances by automatically generating chords and ensuring you stay in key.

Connectivity options on the MPK Mini Plus include USB for easy integration with your computer, 5-pin MIDI In/MIDI Out for connecting to external MIDI-enabled devices, and CV/Gate I/O for triggering and controlling Eurorack and other modular synths.

The MPK Mini Plus is compatible with popular DAWs such as FL Studio, Logic, and Ableton, allowing you to take full control of your music production environment.

Shop now | MPK Mini Plus 37-key


13. AKAI PROFESSIONAL APC KEY 25 MKII ABLETON MIDI CONTROLLER

Hands-on control with Ableton’s session view

Akai Professional APC Key 25 MKII Ableton MIDI ControllerNumber of keys: 25

Weighted: No

Pros

  • Seamless integration with Ableton Live
  • Compact, portable design

Cons

  • A limited number of keys
  • Specific to Ableton Live

 

The APC Key 25 MKII is a compact and versatile MIDI keyboard controller designed specifically for seamless integration with Ableton Live.

This powerful instrument features a 25-key Gen 2 Dynamic Keybed, providing a responsive and dynamic playing experience that captures every nuance of your performance. While the keys are not fully weighted, they offer a balance between playability and expressiveness, making it ideal for both live and studio settings.

In addition to the 25 keys, the APC Key 25 mk2 boasts an array of additional controls, including 40 RGB-backlit pads, 8 assignable endless 360 rotary knobs, 4 directional arrows for navigating the clip matrix, and dedicated scene launch buttons.

The APC Key 25 mk2 features dedicated pitch bend and modulation wheels, allowing you to add expressive articulation to your performances.

Notable features of this keyboard controller include the 5×8 pad grid matrix, which provides a brilliant and precise representation of your Ableton Live session clips, and the customizable RGB-enabled pad matrix for an immersive music-creation experience.

Connectivity options on the APC Key 25 mk2 include USB for easy integration with your computer, ensuring compatibility with both Windows and Mac operating systems. The keyboard is also USB-powered, so there’s no need for an external power source when connected to a laptop or computer.

Shop now | Akai Professional APC Key 25 MKII


14. M-AUDIO HAMMER 88 USB CONTROLLER

Realistic hammer-action keys

M-Audio Hammer 88 USB ControllerNumber of keys: 88

Weighted: Yes

Pros

  • Realistic grand piano feel
  • Extensive connectivity options

Cons

  • Quite large and heavy
  • Limited onboard controls

 

The Hammer 88 is a premium keyboard controller designed for professionals, semi-pro players, and students who desire the realistic grand piano feel when using virtual instruments or sound modules.

This controller boasts 88 velocity-sensitive, fully-weighted hammer-action keys that accurately capture the subtle nuances of your performance, providing the unparalleled response of a traditional grand piano. This fusion of classic feel and advanced virtual instrument capabilities makes it an ideal choice for performers and producers alike.

In terms of additional controls, the Hammer 88 features thoughtfully positioned controls to enhance your performance.

A unity-locking pitch wheel and separate modulation wheel allow you to add portamento and glissando effects, or map the modulation wheel to any assignable parameter in your virtual instrument collection for real-time sound manipulation.

The dedicated Master Volume Fader enables instant control over your performance intensity and MIDI mapping to compatible parameters in your DAW or virtual instrument collection. Assignable Up and Down buttons then let you select different programs, effects, and MMC messages, and jump between octaves. Three dedicated pedal inputs for Sustain, Expression, and Soft provide pedal-based performance articulation.

Notable features of the Hammer 88 include seamless integration with computer-based virtual instruments via USB-MIDI connectivity and compatibility with iOS devices using the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit (sold separately).

Moreover, its 5-pin MIDI Output allows you to control external hardware synthesizers, sound modules, and drum machines.

The Hammer 88 is USB-powered, class-compliant, and supports USB-MIDI connectivity for hassle-free setup.

In summary, this controller offers 88 fully-weighted keys; a range of additional controls including knobs, faders, and pitch bend/modulation wheels; notable features for seamless integration; and multiple connectivity options.

The Hammer 88 is an exceptional choice for musicians seeking a powerful and adaptable keyboard controller to elevate their music production and performance experience.

Shop now | M-Audio Hammer 88


15. M-AUDIO OXYGEN PRO 49 MIDI CONTROLLER

Seamless DAW and performance control

M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 MIDI ControllerNumber of keys: 49

Weighted: Semi

Pros

  • Advanced keybed technology
  • Channel aftertouch

Cons

  • Complex software mapping
  • Lack of built-in display

 

The Oxygen Pro 49 is a next-generation USB-powered MIDI controller, designed to provide an enhanced level of creative freedom and expression for musicians, producers, and performers. This versatile instrument features 49 semi-weighted keys with advanced high-speed key bed scanning technology and Channel Aftertouch, delivering an ultra-expressive playing experience.

Although the keys are not fully weighted, they offer a professional feel and response, striking a perfect balance between playability and expressiveness.

In addition to the keybed, the Oxygen Pro 49 boasts an impressive array of additional controls, including eight assignable endless 360-degree rotary knobs, nine faders, dedicated transport controls, and 16 RGB-backlit performance pads.

The controller also features a pitch wheel and a separate modulation wheel for added control and expression during performances.

Notable features of the Oxygen Pro 49 include Smart Chord and Smart Scale technology, which simplify the process of creating complex chords and staying within a chosen scale. The built-in Arpeggiator and Note Repeat functions further enhance the creative possibilities for modern-day pop, electronic, hip-hop, and dance music production.

Connectivity options on the Oxygen Pro 49 include USB-MIDI for seamless integration with your computer and DAW, as well as a 5-pin MIDI output for controlling external hardware synthesizers and sound modules. The controller also supports connection to iOS devices using the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit (sold separately), allowing you to perform and compose using audio apps on your iPad and other iOS devices.

Shop now | M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49


16. M-AUDIO HAMMER 88 PRO MIDI KEYBOARD

Next-gen piano feel combined with seamless DAW control

M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro MIDI KeyboardNumber of keys: 88

Weighted: Yes

Pros

  • Realistic piano feel and playability
  • Comprehensive control options

Cons

  • Not very portable

 

The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro is a cutting-edge MIDI keyboard controller with 88 graded hammer-action keys, providing musicians with a realistic piano feel and exceptional playability.

Like the Hammer 88, this full-sized, USB-powered MIDI controller is designed for professionals, semi-pro players, and students seeking to elevate their music creation experience. With fully-weighted keys, the 88 Pro offers a natural and expressive response, capturing the subtleties of your performance.

In addition to the keybed, the Pro boasts an array of additional controls, including custom-made M-Audio performance pads, assignable endless rotary knobs, faders, and dedicated transport controls. The controller also features separate pitch bend and modulation wheels for enhanced expression and control during performances.

Notable features of the Hammer 88 Pro include Smart Chord and Smart Scale technology, which simplify the process of creating complex chords and staying within a chosen scale.

Furthermore, built-in Note Repeat and Arpeggiator functions provide precise music production and live sound techniques essential for modern pop, electronic, hip-hop, and dance music.

The Hammer 88 Pro offers seamless integration with any DAW, including Ableton, Pro Tools, and Logic, thanks to its auto-mapping controls and compatibility with virtual instruments in the software bundle. Connectivity options include USB-MIDI for easy integration with your computer and support for USB-MIDI connectivity with iOS devices using the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit (sold separately).

Shop now | M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro


17. ROLAND A-49 MIDI CONTROLLER KEYBOARD

Portable control with pro action

Roland A-49 MIDI Controller Keyboard, BlackNumber of keys: 49

Weighted: No

Pros

  • Portable and lightweight design
  • Professional playing feel and responsive keys

Cons

  • Limited control options
  • Semi-weighted keys aren’t for everyone

 

The Roland A-49 is a portable and lightweight MIDI keyboard controller designed for musicians seeking a simple, easy-to-use solution with a pro-quality playing feel. It features 49 full-size, velocity-sensitive keys that offer a comfortable and responsive playing experience.

While the keys are not fully weighted, they have a rounded shape for a better reaction to the player’s touch and a more comfortable glissandi. This results in a keyboard action that even discerning professionals will appreciate.

The A-49 does not compromise on additional controls, providing two knobs, two switches, and a D-BEAM controller for versatile control options. The A-49 also features dedicated octave buttons for immediate control of the key scale, as well as a transpose button for adjusting the scale in semitone steps. Dedicated pitch bend and modulation wheels are included, allowing for expressive articulation during performances.

Notable features of the A-49 include its lightweight design (less than 6lbs/2.5kg), making it easy to lift and carry, and its USB bus-powered functionality, which eliminates the need for an AC adapter.

The A-49 is compatible with both Mac and PC, as well as iPads when connected via Apple’s iPad Camera Connection Kit.

In terms of connectivity, the A-49 offers clean connections through its recessed rear panel, allowing for easy integration with a computer monitor or laptop. The keyboard controller can be connected to your device via USB, ensuring seamless compatibility.

Shop now | Roland A-49

THINGS TO CONSIDER

NUMBER OF KEYS

The number of keys on a MIDI keyboard is crucial because it directly impacts the range of notes and playing styles available to a musician.

Producers focused on creating beats, triggering samples, or playing simple melodies may prefer compact 25 or 32-key keyboards for portability and ease of use. However, piano players, keyboardists, and composers often require more extensive options, such as 49, 61, or even 88-key models, which provide a broader range of notes and a more realistic piano feel.

Ultimately, the ideal number of keys depends on your specific needs, playing style, and space limitations.


NON-WEIGHTED VS. WEIGHTED

Non-weighted keys are lightweight and offer minimal resistance, providing a quick response but lacking the tactile feedback of an acoustic piano. They’re suitable for beginners and users who prioritise portability and affordability.

Weighted keys, on the other hand, closely resemble the feel of an acoustic piano, offering graded resistance that mimics the hammers inside a real piano. This provides a more realistic playing experience, particularly for pianists, but may be heavier and less portable.

Semi-weighted keys strike a balance between the two, offering moderate resistance for a more expressive playing experience than non-weighted keys while maintaining a lighter touch and increased portability compared to fully weighted options.

Arturia MiniLab 3


ADDITIONAL CONTROLS

In addition to the keybed, MIDI keyboards often come equipped with a range of additional controls that provide enhanced functionality and customisation options for users.

These extra features offer greater control over virtual instruments, effects, and DAW parameters, allowing for more nuanced and expressive performances.

Knobs and faders are common additions to MIDI keyboards and serve as adjustable controls for various parameters such as volume, pan, and filter cutoffs. They enable musicians to fine-tune their sound and automate changes in real-time, adding depth and movement to their creations.

Pads are another popular feature found on many MIDI keyboards. These pressure-sensitive, usually square-shaped surfaces can be used for triggering samples, playing drum sounds, or even finger drumming. Pads often have customisable velocity sensitivity and can be assigned to different MIDI notes or functions within the software, providing a tactile and dynamic way to interact with virtual instruments and samples.

Pitch bend and modulation wheels are essential tools for introducing expressiveness and emotion into performances. The pitch bend wheel allows musicians to smoothly alter the pitch of a note, emulating the subtle pitch variations found in stringed and wind instruments. The modulation wheel typically controls vibrato or other modulation effects, adding depth and richness to the sound.

In summary, the additional controls available on MIDI keyboards significantly expand the creative possibilities for musicians and producers.

By providing hands-on access to various parameters, these features allow for real-time manipulation and a more immersive music-making experience, ultimately bridging the gap between the digital and physical realms of music production.


CONNECTIVITY

Connectivity is a critical aspect to consider when choosing a MIDI keyboard as it determines how the controller interacts with your computer, DAW, and other hardware devices.

Ensuring seamless integration and compatibility with your existing setup is vital for a smooth workflow and hassle-free music production experience.

Most MIDI keyboards connect to computers via USB, offering a plug-and-play solution that requires minimal setup. However, some models also include traditional 5-pin MIDI ports or even Bluetooth capabilities for wireless operation, expanding their connectivity options and allowing for integration with external hardware synths or other MIDI-equipped devices.

Compatibility with various DAWs is another crucial factor. Many MIDI keyboards offer pre-mapped controls for popular DAWs like Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and FL Studio, enabling instant access to essential functions such as transport controls, mixer adjustments, and virtual instrument parameters. This can significantly streamline your workflow and improve your overall efficiency.

Lastly, custom mapping capabilities are important for users who require more personalised control over their software or hardware. Some MIDI keyboards allow for extensive customisation and user-specific mapping of their controls, ensuring the most efficient and intuitive interaction with your unique music production environment.

In conclusion, considering connectivity and compatibility when selecting a MIDI keyboard is essential for a smooth, frustration-free experience, allowing you to focus on what truly matters – creating and performing music.

M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49

FAQS

WHICH MIDI KEYBOARD HAS THE BEST KEYS?

The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2 is widely regarded as having some of the best keys in a MIDI keyboard controller. This high-end model features 88 fully-weighted, hammer-action Fatar keys, which provide a realistic and expressive playing experience similar to an acoustic piano. The S88 MK2’s keybed is highly praised by pianists and professional musicians for its responsiveness and dynamic range, making it an ideal choice for those seeking the highest possible level of quality and performance in a MIDI keyboard controller.


WHICH IS THE BEST MIDI KEYBOARD FOR MUSIC PRODUCTION?

The Akai Professional MPK2 61 is often considered one of the best MIDI keyboards for music production. This versatile controller offers a balanced combination of features, including 61 semi-weighted keys, 16 velocity-sensitive pads, and a variety of knobs, faders, and buttons, making it suitable for a wide range of production tasks. Its compatibility with popular DAWs and comprehensive customisation options further enhance its appeal as a top choice for producers looking to maximise their creative potential and streamline their workflow.


SHOULD A BEGINNER BUY A MIDI KEYBOARD?

Yes, a beginner can benefit from purchasing a MIDI keyboard as it’s a valuable tool for learning and exploring music production. MIDI keyboards provide hands-on experience with playing and recording virtual instruments, enabling beginners to develop their skills in melody, harmony, and rhythm. Selecting an entry-level model with user-friendly features and integration with popular DAWs can help new musicians build a strong foundation in music production and composition, fostering growth and creativity in their musical journey.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Our picks for the best MIDI keyboards showcase a diverse range of options that cater to various skill levels, budgets, and preferences. From feature-packed models with advanced control options to compact and portable designs perfect for on-the-go musicians, there is something for everyone in this selection.

The best MIDI keyboards not only offer seamless integration with your favourite DAWs but also provide an engaging and intuitive playing experience, allowing you to unleash your full creative potential. By considering factors such as keybed quality, additional controls, and connectivity, you can find the perfect MIDI keyboard to elevate your music production journey and bring your musical ideas to life.

On a budget? Check out our top 5 mini MIDI controllers for under £100! Or click the link below to see our full range.

 

Max has ridden the rails, gotten off track, and lost his train of thought.

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