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50 Best MIDI Keyboards and Controllers In The World Today

50 Best MIDI Keyboards and Controllers In The World Today

A MIDI keyboard controller is an essential piece of music gear in today’s home studio.

A piano melody here, a beat there… Having both the physical touch of a keyboard and the editing freedom of MIDI is a blessing in music production.

Getting the best MIDI controller for your creative needs will take your DAW software to new heights. Playing a soft synth with a MIDI keyboard is pretty much like playing the real thing – for a fraction of the price.

 

What is a MIDI keyboard controller?

A MIDI keyboard controller is a physical interface that allows you to control sounds or functions from devices that work with MIDI. Those include your DAW, VST plugins, and other synths.

MIDI is the language that allows electronic music instruments and computers to communicate and connect. It sends information about what notes you play and how you play them.

How to choose a MIDI controller

But there’s so many controllers out there. Which one should you choose?

To help you find the best fit I prepared an eight-step checklist to help you find the controller that’s best for you. Download it now:

downloadchecklist

 

The 50 Best MIDI controllers

Time for the fun part: choosing the best MIDI controller for you. I’ve organized them in categories to help you find what you need quickly.

Prices may vary. You can buy them on Amazon or Sweetwater. You can also find used MIDI controllers for a great price.

Budget all-in-one MIDI controllers

These controllers have a mix of keys, knobs, faders and pads. Plus they won’t hurt your wallet. Are you choosing your first MIDI keyboard controller? Or you don’t wanna spend too much and still get a complete controller? This section is for you.

Here are the best MIDI keyboards under $200 USD:

Alesis V25

https://blog.landr.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/2018-alesis_V25.jpg

Price: $90 USD

This functional and effective controller has a sleek design and a lot of great features. It’s compact and inexpensive too!

Why we love it: Straightforward and easy to use yet still powerful.

Key features:

  • 25 Keys (Synth-Action)
  • 8 Backlit Pads
  • 4 Assignable Knobs
  • 4 Assignable Buttons
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend, Modulation)
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • Software or DAW included: Xpand!2 and Ableton Live Lite
  • DAW Integration: all the major ones

 

https://blog.landr.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/1.2-minilab-image.jpg

Arturia MiniLab

Price: $100 USD

The MiniLab looks awesome. The wood panel is inspired by analog synths. It comes with great sounds: 5000 Analog Lab soft synth presets from Arturia’s Modular V, Arp 2600V, Jupiter 8V and others. The build quality overall is great.

Why we love it: The beauty of the look and feel. Quality presets. Lots of control for its compact size.

Key features:

  • 25 Keys (Mini Synth-Action)
  • 8 Pads
  • 16 Knobs
  • Dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down, Shift and more
  • 2 Touchstrips (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • Software or DAW included: Arturia’s Analog Lab
  • DAW Integration: all, connects to iOS (separate kit required)
1.3-V49_Ortho_RGB

Alesis V49

Price: $130 USD

The design is sleek and uncluttered. The placement of the pads it very clever: they’re conveniently located on the left beside the keyboard. This allows you to tap pads with your left hand while playing keys with your right. You won’t have to reach over the keyboard awkwardly when performing.


Why we love it: it’s a cleverly designed all-in-one MIDI keyboard. It’s well priced for a full-sized 49 keys. Your bread and butter controller.

Key features:

  • 49 keys (Synth-Action)
  • 8 Backlit Pads
  • 4 Assignable Knobs
  • 4 Assignable Buttons
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • 1 pedal input
  • Software or DAW included: Xpand!2 and Ableton Live Lite
  • Other versions: 25 keys, 61 keys
  • DAW integration: all major ones

M-Audio Oxygen 25 MK IV

https://blog.landr.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/2018-m-audio-oxygen25_.jpg

Price: $120 USD

This is a simple but powerful MIDI controller that’s good for beginners and travellers. All the key features for modern DAW production are included.

Why we love it: Great price for a full-featured unit from a respected manufacturer.

Key features:

  • 25 Keys (Synth-Action)
  • 1 Fader
  • 8 Knobs
  • Assignable Buttons
  • Dedicated DAW Transport Control
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch bend + Modulation)
  • 2 Pedal Inputs
  • DAW Integration: all major ones
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Akai APC Key 25

Price: $130 USD

The power of this small keyboard controller is the amount of pads it has: 40. It was specifically designed for Ableton Live. The pads trigger various clips in Ableton’s Session View. It’s very portable and comes with a bunch of software bundles.

Why we love it: It’s a fantastic pair for Ableton users or for those of you who love pads (all of you beatmakers!)

Key features:

  • 25 Keys (Mini Synth-Action)
  • 40 backlit Pads
  • 8 Knobs
  • Dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down, Play, Pause and more
  • 2 Touchstrips (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • Software or DAW included: Ableton Live Lite, Hybrid 3 by AIR Music Tech, SONiVOX Twist, and Toolroom artist launch packs
  • Other versions: 25 keys, 61 keys, 88 keys
  • DAW Integration: all major DAWs, optimized for Ableton Live

 

1.6-Korg-nanoKEY-Studio

Korg NanoKEY Studio

Price: $150 USD

The NanoKEY Studio is a powerful one. It’s got bluetooth connectivity. There’s a Kaoss-inspired X-Y Pad – awesome for tweaking effects. Unique feature: the Scale Guide function. Notes in a given scale light up to guide you when you play. You can either put two AAA batteries or connect it via USB for power.

If you like this concept but need faders instead of keys, look at the NanoKONTROL Studio from the same line.

Why we love it: This one has got all of the latest MIDI controller features for 150 USD: bluetooth connectivity, scale guide, X-Y pad and more. It’s definitely a favourite.

Key features:

  • 25 Keys (Velocity-sensitive Keypads)
  • 8 Pads
  • 8 Knobs
  • 1 X-Y Pad
  • Dedicated buttons: Octave Up/Down, Arpeggiator, Scale Guide and more
  • Connects with Bluetooth or USB
  • Software or DAW included included: code for KORG Software Bundle
  • DAW Integration: all
1.7-nektar_impact_lx49_03

Nektar Impact LX49

Price: $160 USD

This controller has as a useful mixer section with lots of faders. It also has knobs and pads. You can save 5 presets. It’s designed to have plug-and-play integration with most major DAWs, except Ableton Live. Ableton users will need to download a Live Remote Script file.

Why we love it: great price that includes a mixer section and banks of settings.

Key features:

  • 49 Keys (Synth-Action)
  • 8 Pads
  • 9 Faders
  • 8 Knobs
  • 9 Assignable Buttons
  • Dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down, Transpose, Play, Stop, Record and more
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • Software or DAW included: Studio One Artist
  • Other versions: 25 keys, 61 keys, 88 keys
  • DAW Integration: Pre-mapped DAW Configurations for Bitwig Studio, Cubase, Digital Performer, Garageband, Logic Pro, Nuendo, Reason, SONAR, Studio One, FL Studio, and Reaper.

 

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M-Audio Oxygen 49 MK IVPrice: $170 USD

The mixer section makes it great for both production and performance. It automatically maps with all major DAWs, including Ableton Live. It can also be connected to iOS devices (separate connection kit required).

Why we love it: it’s one of the most complete MIDI keyboard controllers under 200 USD. It’s got faders, knobs and pads and works with all DAWs.

Key features:

  • 49 Keys (Synth-Action)
  • 8 Backlit Pads
  • 8 Knobs
  • 9 Faders
  • Dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • Software or DAW included: Ableton Live Lite, SONiVOX Twist, AIR Music Tech Xpand!2
  • Other versions: 25 keys, 61 keys
  • DAW Integration: Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Propellerhead Reason, Steinberg Cubase, Logic Pro X, and GarageBand. Connects to iOS (separate kit required).

 

Piano Keys Only

This selection is for digital pianos with MIDI. Or for those who like to play with two hands. These MIDI keyboard have more keys – 61 or 88 – and a better feel. If you don’t need any extra features (pads and faders) these are for you.

Price range: $100-1850 USD.

2.1-Acorn-Masterkey-61

Acorn Instruments MasterKey 61

Price: $100 USD

You get a full 61 keys for 100 USD. It’s USB powered and gets you playing keys on a budget. This as a great way to play VST synths while using your mouse to tweak knobs.

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Why we love it: Lots of keys for your money. A simple and effective budget keyboard controller.

Key features:

  • 61 Keys (Synth-Action)
  • 1 Volume fader
  • Dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • Software or DAW included: Presonus Studio One Artist
  • Other versions: 25 keys, 49 keys
  • DAW Integration: all major ones

 

2.2-Maudio-KS61_top_media_8x10

M-Audio Keystation 61 

Price: $200 USD

For a great price you get 61 keys that feel good to play (they’re semi-weighted). It can be powered either through USB or a power supply (sold separately). It’s a good studio or performance tool for playing keys with two-hands.

Why we love it: simple and no fuss. Comes with a good software bundle.

Key features:

  • 61 Keys (Semi-Weighted)
  • 1 Volume fader
  • Dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down, Play, Stop, and more
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • Software or DAW included: Ableton Live Lite, SONiVOX Twist, AIR Music Tech Xpand!2
  • Other versions: 32 keys, 61 keys, 88 keys
  • DAW Integration: all major ones

 

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Alesis Q88

Price: $200 USD

I thought I’d please the piano players out there. This controller has as many keys as a real piano. No compromises there. The keys are semi-weighted and feel good. You can power it with only USB, no power supply needed.

Why we love it: it’s a full-size 88 key MIDI keyboard for 200 USD.

Key features:

  • 88 Keys (Semi-Weighted)
  • 1 Volume Fader
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • Software or DAW included: Ableton Live Lite, AIR Music Tech Xpand!2
  • Other versions: 32 keys, 61 keys, 88 keys
  • DAW Integration: all major ones

 

2.4-Kawai-VPC1-Virtual-Piano-Controller

Kawai VPC1 Virtual Piano Controller

Price: $1850 USD

Ok this isn’t cheap. But a fully weighted MIDI keyboard usually isn’t. There are 88 wooden keys that feel much like a grand piano. This controller can be powered with a USB cable only! Kawai are acoustic piano makers – it’s very high quality. It has MIDI in and out so you can play synth modules with it. It also comes with well-built piano pedals to plug into your keyboard.

Why we love it: it’s simply the best fully weighted MIDI keyboard.

Key features:

  • 88 Keys (Fully-Weighted)
  • MIDI in/out
  • 2 Pedal Inputs
  • Comes with Grand Piano Pedals (Damper, Sostenuto and Soft)
  • Software or DAW included: VPC Editor
  • DAW Integration: does not map automatically, must be manually mapped.

 

Ultra Compact and Portable

This is the section for small MIDI keyboard controllers. Perfect for making music while traveling or if you have limited studio space. Keep in mind that keys on mini MIDI controllers are quite small. Looking for the best 25 key MIDI controller? Or even 32 and 37 keys? Here they are:

Price range: $70- 180 USD

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Akai LPK25

Price: $70 USD

This ultra-compact MIDI keyboard has four programmable memory banks. Other key features it has: arpeggiator, sustain, octave up, octave down, and tap tempo.

Why we love it: the arpeggiator and sustain buttons make it very fun to create endless note patterns.

Key features:

  • 25 Keys (Mini Synth-Action)
  • Dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down, Arpeggiator, Sustain and Tap Tempo
  • Other versions: 49 keys, 61 keys, 88 keys
  • Software or DAW included: Ignite
  • DAW Integration: all

 

3.3Alesis-Vmini_Ortho_RGB

Alesis V Mini

Price: $80 USD

If you like the Alesis V series: this is the compact version. It’s got the same sleek look and illuminated buttons. It’s also well-priced for a mini MIDI keyboard that has knobs and buttons too.

Why we love it: great design and great price for keys, knobs and pads.

Key features:

  • 25 keys (Mini Synth-Action)
  • 4 Knobs
  • 4 Pads
  • Dedicated buttons: Octave Up/Down, Pitch Bend, Sustain, Modulation
  • Software or DAW included: Xpand!2 by AIR Music Tech
  • DAW integration: all

M-Audio Keystation Mini 32

3.2-B_MAUDIO_keystationmini32

Price: $80 USD

Unlike most ultra-compact MIDI keyboard controllers, it has 32 keys and not 25. You get a little bit more. It’s the perfect companion to producing with you DAW on the road (on that 12 hour flight!)

Why we love it: it went just a little further than others giving you 32 instead of 25 keys. That one programmable knob can come in handy.

Key features:

  • 32 Keys (Mini Synth-Action)
  • 1 Knob
  • Dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down, Sustain, Pitch Bend, Modulation, and more.
  • Other versions: 49 keys, 61 keys, 88 keys
  • Software or DAW included: Ableton Live Lite, AIR Music Tech Xpand!2. Connects to iOS (separate kit required)
  • DAW Integration: all

 

Akai MPK Mini Mk II

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Price: $100 USD

Don’t underestimate this little one. It’s currently #1 Best Seller in Computer Recording Equipment on Amazon. It has a knobs and pads. It’s super compact. What’s unique about it the 4-way thumbstick for pitch-bend and modulation.

Why we love it: It’s a super compact and packs lots of features (knobs, pads, joystick) for a very cheap price.

Key features:

  • 25 Keys (Mini Synth-Action)
  • 8 Knobs
  • 8 Pads
  • Dedicated Buttons: Octave up/down, Tap Tempo, and more
  • 1 Thumbstick (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • Software or DAW included: Tracktion
  • DAW Integration: all

 

MicroKEY-2 Air

3.5-korg-micro-key

Price: $100 USD

Bluetooth connectivity is the unique feature of this MIDI keyboard. It comes with a bundle of iOS and computer software (Mac/PC). Are we getting closer to the dream of having a wireless studio? Maybe not, but the MicroKEY-2 Air is a little step in that direction.

Why we love it: it lets you connect your keyboard with bluetooth. It comes with loads of MIDI keyboard software. Great for iPad.

Key features:

  • 25 Keys (Korg’s Natural Touch Mini Keys)
  • Dedicated: Octave Up/Down
  • 1 Joystick for Pitch-Bend + Modulation
  • Other versions: 37 keys, 49 keys, 61 keys
  • Software or DAW included: KORG Gadget,KORG Module, KORG Legacy Collection M1, UVI Digital Synsations, AAS Ultra Analog Session, AAS Strum Session, AAS
  • Lounge Lizard Session, Propellerhead Reason Limited, Discount on Ableton Live.
  • DAW Integration: all major ones. Connects via Bluetooth to computers or mobile devices (batteries required) or through USB

CME Xkey

3.6-CME-xkey

Price: $100 USD

Yes the keys feel like an Apple keyboard. But they’re also velocity sensitive and have polyphonic aftertouch. Pretty cool for a paper-thin keyboard. If you like all your portable devices to match the aluminum look, this is for you. If you like the look and feel of this and want bluetooth connectivity: look into the Xkey Air.

Why we love it: it’s ultra slim and light. It’s got a lot of power for something so thin. Very good as an iPad MIDI keyboard.

Key features:

  • 25 Keys (full-sized keys, computer keyboard style)
  • Dedicated Butons: Octave Up/Down and more
  • Pitchbend, Modulation, Sustain
  • Other versions: 37 keys
  • Software or DAW included included: download the free Xkey Plus app to customize your keyboard
  • DAW integration: all

 

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Novation Launchpad Mini

Price: $100 USD

This mini grid MIDI controller is a great travel buddy or for small studio spaces. It’s designed for Ableton Live – if you don’t already have it you get a light version. Use it either to trigger clips or even as a mixer.

Why we love it: it’s a compact grid controller that doubles as a mixer.

Key features:

  • 64 Pads
  • 16 buttons
  • Software or DAW included: Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station VST, 1GB of samples
  • DAW integration: all, total integration with Ableton Live, FL Studio and Novation’s Launchpad iOS app. Connects with iOS (separate connection kit required)

 

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Novation Launchkey Mini 25

Price: $100 USD

This is your portable all-in-one Ableton music production controller. It has a bit of everything and is conceived for seamless integration with Ableton Live. It’s got a wide range of possible functions for you to decide.

Why we love it: Packs a lot of functionality and comes with software and soft synth bundles. Good as an iOS MIDI keyboard controller.

Key features:

  • 25 keys (mini Synth Action)
  • 16 pads
  • 8 knobs
  • Dedicated buttons: Octave Up/Down, Track and more
  • Software or DAW included: Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station VST, V Station VST, 1GB of samples
  • DAW integration: all, total integration with Ableton Live, FL Studio and Novation’s Launchpad iOS app. Works with iPad (requires a separate connection kit)

 

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M-Audio Axiom AIR Mini 32

Price: $100 USD

This is an easy plug-and-play mini MIDI keyboard. It allows you to customize your setup from the keyboard – no editing software required. It’s got 32 keys in the same style at the M-Audio Keystation with added knobs and pads.

Why we love it: easy integration with all major DAWs and added controls.

Key features:

  • 32 Keys (Mini Synth-Action)
  • 8 Knobs
  • 8 Pads
  • Dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down, Pitch Bend, Modulation, Sustain and more
  • Software or DAW included included: Ignite
  • DAW integration: all, ‘Hypercontrol’ automatic-mapping technology
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Arturia KeyStep

Price: $120 USD

Unique feature: this controller is also a 64-step polyphonic MIDI sequencer. Another major benefit is the variety of connections: MIDI in/out, CV/Gate, DIN Sync, and Sync. This means that you can use it to play or sequence vintage analog synths.

Why we love it: an excellent choice for playing live. Lots of connection options: it’s ideal for those who want to connect old and new gear. And it’s also a sequencer! A definite favourite.

Key features:

  • 32 keys (Synth Action Slimkeys with Aftertouch)
  • Dedicated knobs:  Seq/Arp Mode, Time Div, Rate
  • Dedicated buttons: Rec, Play, Stop, Tap, Octave Up/Down, Sustain
  • 1 mode Switch: Arpeggiator or Sequencer
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • 2 Touchstrips (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • DAW integration: all

 

IK Multimedia – iRig Keys

3.11-ik-multimedia-irig-keys

Price: $130 USD

Unlimited mastering &amp; distribution, 1200 royalty-free samples, 30+ plugins and more! <a href="https://join.landr.com/landr-studio/?utm_campaign=acquisition_platform_en_us_studio-generic-new-blog-ad&amp;utm_medium=organic_post&amp;utm_source=blog&amp;utm_content=left-hand-generic-ad&amp;utm_term=general">Get everything LANDR has to offer with LANDR Studio.</a>

Unlimited mastering & distribution, 1200 royalty-free samples, 30+ plugins and more! Get everything LANDR has to offer with LANDR Studio.

iOS music makers: this is for you! This ultra-compact MIDI keyboard comes with connectors for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. You can save and recall customized setups from an app or DAW. It also has an interesting number of keys (37), more than most mini controllers.

Why we love it: it connects directly into iOS devices or computers (Mac/PC). It’s the best MIDI keyboard for iPad.

Key features:

  • 37 Keys (Mini Synth-action)
  • 1 Volume Knob
  • Dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down, Set, Program Up/Down
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • Software or DAW included included: IK’s SampleTank iOS app, SampleTank 2 L for Mac/PC
  • DAW integration: all

 

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Keith McMillen QuNexus

Price: $180 USD

The top advantage of this slim MIDI controller is the quality of the keys. The are equipped with Smart Sensor technology which detects pressure, velocity and location of the finger. It has polyphonic aftertouch. A major plus is the capacity to connect pretty much everything with it: MIDI (via optional MIDI Expander), CV, OSC, and USB. Keith McMillen is also known for extremely durable designs. They say you can spill water or run it over with a car and it’ll still work.

What we love: the durability, great design and connectivity. It’s got Smart Sensing keys that detects various kinds of human gestures.

Key features:

  • 25 keys (with Smart Sensor and aftertouch)
  • Dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down, Record, Play, Bend and more
  • Pitch Bend pad
  • Software or DAW included: QuNexus Editor, QuNexus OSC Bridge, QuNexus Ableton Live Sets (all downloadable online)
  • DAW integration: all major ones

 

Midrange

Controllers of this range are complete and have semi-weighted keys for a better feel when playing. They’re well built and most have everything you need: pads, knobs, faders and buttons. These also feature Aftertouch: data about how much pressure you apply on the key you press. It can allow for creative uses of vibrato and volumes variations. If you’re willing to spend a little more for better quality: one of these MIDI keyboard controllers is your next buy.

Price range: $200-500 USD

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Korg Triton Taktile 25

Price: $200 USD

There are two unique composition functions in this MIDI keyboard. ‘Chord Scale’ automatically triggers chords according to the key and scale you choose. This makes songwriting infinitely more intuitive and quick. ‘Touch Scale’ helps you generate melodies using the touch pad. The Triton is also a standalone synth with 512 preset sounds. Plug and play!

Why we love it: it makes songwriting much easier with the Touch Scale and Chord Scale functions.

Key features:

  • 25 keys (Semi-Weighted)
  • 8 Pads
  • 8 Faders
  • 1 X-Y Pad
  • 1 Ribbon
  • Dedicated Buttons for Play, Stop, Octave Up/Down & more
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend, Modulation)
  • 2 Pedal Inputs
  • MIDI in/out
  • Software or DAW included:  KORG KONTROL Editor, Korg Legacy Collection
  • DAW integration: all major ones

 

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Novation Launchkey MK2

Price: $200 USD

The workflow of the Launchkey is designed specifically for Ableton Live (but it will map with any major DAW). It’s got a lot of faders for mixing and playing live. It’s a great controller at a decent price.

Why we love it: a great all-in-one Ableton Live MIDI keyboard for a good price.

Key features:

  • 25 Keys (Synth-Action)
  • 16 Pads
  • 8 Knobs
  • 9 faders
  • Dedicated Buttons: Octave Up/Down, Record, Play and more
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • Software or DAW included included: Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station and V-Station virtual instruments and 1 GB of Loopmasters samples.
  • Other versions: 25 keys, 61 keys
  • DAW Integration: all, designed for Ableton Live

 

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Alesis VI 49

Price: $230 USD

Like the Alesis V series, the pads are conveniently located on the left beside the keyboard. You can use pads with your left hand while your play keys with your right. The unique feature of this controller is the quantity of assignable buttons: 36.

Why we love it: sleek clever design and lots of buttons.

Key features:

  • 49 keys (Semi-weighted with Aftertouch)
  • 16 Pads
  • 12 Knobs
  • 36 Buttons
  • Dedicated Buttons for Play, Stop, Octave Up/Down & more
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend, Modulation)
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • MIDI out
  • Software or DAW included: Ableton Live Lite and Xpand!2 by AIR Music Tech
  • DAW integration: all major ones
  • Other versions: 25 keys, 61 keys

 

4.4-NOV-Impulse-49-overhead

Novation Impulse

Price: $270 USD

The keys on this one are full size and semi-weighted – they feel great. Unique feature: the ‘roll’ button for creative drum pattern programming. Attack Magazine says it’s “one of the best MIDI controllers on the market.” The pads are backlit and have aftertouch.

Why we love it: we’ll agree with Attack Mag and say it’s one of the best out there. Especially good for drum programming.

Key features:

  • 49 keys (Semi-Weighted with Aftertouch)
  • 8 Pads
  • 8 Knobs
  • 9 Assignable Buttons
  • Dedicated Button:Octave Up/Down, Play, Stop, Arpeggiator, and more
  • 9 Faders
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • MIDI in/out
  • 2 Pedal Inputs
  • Software or DAW included: Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station, Loopmasters sample library, and Mike The Drummer
  • DAW integration: all major ones
  • Other versions: 25 keys, 61 keys

 

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Akai MPK249

Price: $270 USD

This controller has both semi-weighted keys and functions from iconic Akai MPCs (including Note Repeat and MPC Swing). It has a lot of controls. It allows you to save presets.

Why we love it: a great MIDI keyboard controller with the added Akai MPC workflow.

Key features:

  • 49 keys (Semi-Weighted with Aftertouch)
  • 16 Pads
  • 8 Knobs
  • 8 faders
  • 8 Assignable Buttons
  • Dedicated Buttons:Octave Up/Down, Play, Stop, Arpeggiator, Latch, and more
  • Display screen
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • MIDI in/out
  • 2 Pedal Inputs
  • Software or DAW included: Ableton Live Lite and Pro MPC Essentials
  • DAW Integration: all major ones, compatible with iOS (separate connection kit required)
    Other versions: 25 keys, 61 keys
4.6-Code49_FrontOrtho_1200x750

M-Audio Code 49

Price: $275 USD

The pads are backlit and velocity-sensitive. It’s great for playing live gigs in low light. The Code 49 has an X-Y pad for precise control over effects. Unique feature: the keyboard can split into 4 zones (even overlap them) for controlling two sounds at once.

Why we love it: the pads are great for performing or launching Ableton clips, and much more. I also love when a MIDI keyboard comes with an X-Y pad.

Key features:

  • 49 keys (Semi-Weighted with Aftertouch)
  • 16 Pads
  • 8 Knobs
  • 9 Faders
  • 1 X-Y Pad
  • Dedicated Buttons:Octave Up/Down, for Play, Stop and more
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend, Modulation)
  • 2 Pedal Inputs
  • MIDI in/out
  • Software or DAW included: Ableton Live Lite, AIR Music Technology Loom, AIR Music Technology Hybrid 3
  • DAW integration: all major ones
  • Other versions: 25 keys, 61 keys
4.12-NI-MaschineMikro

Native Instruments MASCHINE Mikro

Price: $350

This is a perfect introduction to Native Instruments’ MASCHINE beatmaking universe. It comes with 22GB of quality sounds. It can be used as a standalone production station or with a DAW. It has a sequencer, sampler and high-quality effects. You can also create complex effects with sidechaining.

Why we love: it’s a portable version of NI’s iconic MASCHINE series. Your all-in-one groovebox for beatmaking, remixing and more.

Key features:

  • 16 Backlit Pads (Velocity-sensitive with Aftertouch)
  • 1 Selector Knob
  • 1 High Resolution Display
  • Dedicated Buttons: Play, Stop, Record, Erase, Solo, Duplicate and much more.
  • Software included: MASCHINE 2
  • DAW Integration: run MASCHINE as a plug-in in any DAW
4.7-SL-Mk-II-49-Overhead

Novation SL MkII

Price: $350 USD

This is what Novation’s flagship controller and it’s aimed at pros. It really has everything. The X-Y pad is great for playing with effects. The LED indicators are a nice touch.

Why we love it: it’s very complete. It’s the best MIDI keyboard for mixing and playing with effects in realtime.

Key features:

  • 49 keys (Semi-Weighted with Aftertouch)
  • 16 Pads
  • 16 Knobs (8 of them have LED position indicators)
  • 32 Buttons
  • 8 Faders
  • 1 X-Y Pad
  • 1 Joystick
  • Dedicated Buttons for Play, Stop, Octave Up/Down & more
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend, Modulation)
  • 2 Pedal Inputs
  • MIDI in/out/thru
  • Software or DAW included: Ableton Live Lite 9,  Xcite+
  • DAW integration: all major ones
  • Other versions: 25 keys, 61 keys

 

Behringer MÖTOR 49

4.8behringer_MOTOR49

Price: $400 USD

Motorized faders are usually reserved for high end studio equipment. With this MIDI keyboard Behringer brings you motorized faders at an accessible price. The backlit pads are also pressure and velocity sensitive. This is definitely a step up for Behringer.

Why we love it: motorized faders for 400$! Need I say more?

Key features:

  • 49-key (Semi-Weighted)
  • 8 Pads
  • 8 Knobs with LED Position Indicators
  • 9 Motorized Faders
  • Dedicated Buttons: Play, Stop, Arpeggiator, Latch, Octave Up/Down and more
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend, Modulation)
  • 2 Pedal Inputs
  • MIDI in/out/thru
  • DAW integration: all major ones
  • Other versions: 61 keys

 

4.9-keylab49-image

Arturia KeyLab 49

Price: $400 USD

Comes with the MIDI Control Center software which lets you create custom layouts. It even has an input for a thing called Breath Controller. It comes with Arturia Lab and its 5000 quality presets. Choose from two colors: white or black.

Why we love it: the Arturia preset quality. You get a lot of on-board control. A quirky unique feature: Breath Controller input.

Key features:

  • 49 keys (Semi-Weighted with Aftertouch)
  • 16 Pads
  • 9 Faders
  • Dedicated Button: Play, Stop, Octave Up/Down and more
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • MIDI in/out, Breath Control Input, Aux input
  • 2 Pedal Inputs
  • Software or DAW included: Analog Lab, MIDI Control Center
  • DAW integration: all major ones
  • Other versions: 25 keys, 61 keys, 88 keys

 

Akai Max 49

4.10-Akai-MAX-49

Price: $500 USD

This is a very powerful MIDI keyboard controller. It has everything. That includes CV/Gate connections – it’s a great MIDI controller for connecting computer synthesizers, MIDI modules, and vintage synths. It also has a built-in 32-step sequencer, MIDI in/out and MPC-style pads. The faders are also unique: they’re illuminated touchstrips.

Why we love it: it connects all of your gear  – from laptops to analog synths. It also has a built in sequencer.

Key features:

  • 49 keys (Semi-Weighted with Aftertouch)
  • 12 Pads
  • 8 Touchstrip Faders
  • 32 Step Sequencer
  • Dedicated Buttons for Play, Stop, Arpeggiator, Latch, Octave Up/Down & more
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • MIDI in/out, CV out, Gate out
  • 2 Pedal Inputs
  • Software or DAW included: Ableton Live Lite Akai Pro Edition and AkaiConnect
  • DAW integration: all major ones, iOS compatibility (separate connection kit required)
4.11-Advance49_ortho_web_700x438

Akai Pro Advance 49

Price: $500 USD

The backlit pads are pressure and velocity sensitive. What makes this MIDI keyboard unique is the software it comes with: Virtual Instrument Player. It allows you to switch between software instruments right from your controller – even if you’re performing without a DAW. You can also split your keyboard into zones and play various sounds.

Why we love it: it’s very playable, well-made and great for live gigs.

Key features:

  • 49 keys (Semi-Weighted with Aftertouch)
  • 8 Pads
  • 8 Knobs
  • Dedicated Buttons: Play, Stop, Arpeggiator, Latch, Octave Up/Down and more
  • 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend + Modulation)
  • 2 Pedal Inputs
  • MIDI in/out
  • Software or DAW included: Akai Virtual Instrument Player, AIR Music Technology, SONiVOX, and Toolroom Records
  • DAW integration: all major ones
  • Other versions: 25 keys, 61 keys

Grids: Pads and Buttons

These MIDI controllers focus on pads and buttons. They’re made for intuitive beatmaking and sequencing. Many are designed for Ableton Live’s Session View.

Price range: $150-400 USD

5.1-Nov-2-LP-Overhead_0

Novation Launchpad

Price: $150 USD

This is a grid MIDI controller for Ableton Live at a great price. It lets you trigger clips, tap beats, change levels, and perform. No need to touch your mouse because the side buttons give you lots of functionality.

Why we love it: it’s a cheap and versatile Ableton Live or FL Studio controller. Great the beatmakers!

Key features:

  • 64 backlit pads
  • 16 Buttons
  • Software included: Ableton Live Lite, Novation V Station and Bass Station plug-ins, 1GB of Loopmasters samples
  • DAW Integration: all major ones. Best for Ableton Live and FL Studio. Also integrates with the Novation Launchpad App for iOS

 

5.2-BASE_front_02_highres

Livid Base II

Price: $260 USD

Livid Basse II is made and assembled in Texas. It has a rugged aluminum body and it looks awesome. It comes with a software that lets you edit button functions for any DAW. A plus: it can even be mapped for VJing.

Why we love it: Livid makes amazingly well built controllers. The touchstrips with LED indicators are a great touch.

Key features:

  • 32 Pads (Velocity Sensitive)
  • 8 Assignable Buttons
  • 8 Touch Buttons
  • 9 Touchstrip Faders
  • Software or DAW included:  Base II Setup Guide, Base Editor
  • DAW Integration: all major ones

 

5.3-APC40mkIII_ortho_web_lg_700x438

Akai APC Mk2

Price: $300 USD

This controller is basically the Ableton Session View in physical form. If you’re not into the Push (or don’t want to spend that much), this is for you. It’s got all the controls you need for triggering clips, recording and mixing.

Why we love it: it’s great for Ableton Live lovers. Great for recording, mixing or performing live.

Key features:

  • 40 Pads
  • 18 Knobs
  • 9 Faders
  • Software included: Ableton Live Lite, Hybrid 3 by AIR, SONiVOX Twist, and more
  • DAW Integration: all major ones. Designed for Ableton Live.

 

5.4-MPCStudio_ortho_web_lg

Akai MPC Studio

Price: $400 USD

It comes with a sound library with more than 9GB of sounds – including all of the classic MPC3000 ones. It’s got a 64-step sequencer. It’s both an MPC style sampler and a DAW controller. You can load VSTs and use them with your samples. It’s also compatible with older AKAI MPCs. There is also an Akai MPC Studio in black.

Why we love it: it’s a software and hardware hybrid. You can use it as a standalone MPC and as DAW controller.

Key features:

  • 16 backlit pads
  • 5 Knobs
  • Dedicated buttons for Play, Stop, Mode select, Tap Tempo and more.
  • LCD Display
  • MIDI In/Out (with an included TRS to MIDI breakout cable)
  • Software Included: MPC Renaissance

Mixers: Faders and Knobs

These MIDI Mixers are great for producing, mixing music and tweaking effects both in the studio and on stage.

Price range: $100-600 USD

Akai MIDIMix

6.1-MIDImix_ortho_web_700x438

Price: $100 USD

This is a very simple, easy and functional MIDI controller. Perfect for mixing, producing and performing. Best feature: the SEND ALL button. It instantly syncs your DAW’s settings with the controls on the MIDImix.

Why we love it: It’s an affordable and ultra-portable MIDI mixer for Ableton Live (or any DAW).

Key features:

  • 24 Knobs
  • 9 Faders
  • 29 Soft Buttons
  • Software included: Ableton Live Lite
  • DAW Integration: all major ones. Designed for Ableton Live.
6.2-LCXL-Overhead_2

Novation Launch Control XL

Price: $150 USD

It makes a killer combo with the Novation Launchpad for full control of Ableton Live or any DAW. Cool feature: two buttons that let you switch quickly between ‘User Templates’ and ‘Factory Templates’.

Why we love it: affordable control for Ableton Live. Larger than the AKAI MIDImix.

Key features:

  • 24 Knobs
  • 8 Faders
  • 16 Soft Buttons
  • Software Included: Ableton Live Lite and 1GB of Loopmasters samples
  • DAW Integration: designed for Ableton Live. Mackie HUI integration for use with Cubase, Logic and Pro Tools. iOS compatible.

 

Roland MX-1

6.4-Roland-MX1

Price: $600 USD

This isn’t primarily a MIDI controller but I had to include it. It’s a hardware mixer that is also a MIDI controller for DAWs. Cool feature: effects are step-sequenced. There are DJ-style cue buttons on each channel – so you can listen to it before you bring it up. Use this to connect your synths with digital gear and your DAW. A very powerful studio and performance mixer.

Why we love it: it’s a great mixer with lots of creative control over your DAW and other hardware.

Key features:

  • 18 Channels
  • Beat FX and Master FX
  • Dedicated Buttons: Play, Stop, and many more
  • MIDI in/out, Aux send/return, Jack inputs, and more
  • Software it comes with: Ableton Live Lite
  • DAW Integration: all major ones

 

High End

This section is for the pros and those of you who want something extraordinary. We’re talking cutting edge technology and top quality. It’s also for those of you saving up for that very special MIDI controller.

Price range: $600- 1500 USD

7.1-NATIVE+1KKS49

Native Instruments KOMPLETE Kontrol S49

Price: $600 USD

The keyboard was built by Fatar and it feels amazing. The KOMPLETE Kontrol gives you, well, complete control over VSTs and more. It’s very easy to browse through the tag-based preset system. Unique feature: Smart Play. It gives you an LED guide for playing the right keys in a selected scale.  Makes a flawless duo with the MASCHINE.

Why we love it: this MIDI keyboard controller is truly an elegant powerhouse. It has advanced music creation features like Smart Play. It also allows you to play VSTs like no other. A favourite here at LANDR.

Key features:

  • 49 Keys (Semi-Weighted with Light Guide)
  • 9 Knobs
  • 2 Touchstrips
  • Dedicated buttons: Play, Stop, Record, Arpeggiator, Scale and many more
  • MIDI in/out
  • 2 Pedal Inputs
  • Software it comes with: Komplete Select bundle
  • DAW Integration: most major ones. Designed for perfect integration with Native Instrument’s Komplete VST packs.
7.4-NI-Maschine

Native Instruments MASCHINE

Price: $600 USD

Ships with 8GBs of NI’s killer sounds. The MASCHINE workflow combines the fun of samplers with the power of software and VSTs. It’s an all-in-once production station for creating beats, tracks and remixes. It comes with high quality effects that you can even sidechain.

Why we love it: Native Instrument’s MASCHINE groovebox is a lot of fun. It brings together a high end sampler and a full production station.

Key features:

  • 16 Backlit Pads (Velocity-Sensitive with Aftertouch)
  • 9 Knobs
  • 2 High Resolution Displays
  • Dedicated Buttons: Play, Stop, Record, Erase, Solo, Duplicate, Swing and much more.
  • Software included: MASCHINE 2
  • DAW Integration: run MASCHINE as a plug-in in any DAW

 

6.3-livid-CNTRLr

Livid Instruments CNTRL:R

Price: $700 USD

This an incredibly well-built MIDI controller. If you’re into quality and versatility make it your next tool. It’s good for creating rhythms, sequencing and performing drums, launching clips and mixing tracks. Also great for DJs with its seamless integration to Native Instrument’s Traktor DJ software. Fun fact: it was co-designed with legendary music producer and DJ Richie Hawtin.

Why we love it: a wonderful amount of controls. Great built quality. It’s great for DJs and producers and even better for those who do both.

Key features:

  • 8 Faders
  • 24 Knobs
  • 12 Pushbutton Knobs with light indicator
  • 48 Assignable Buttons (7 Assignable Color Modes)
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • MIDI in/out
  • DAW Integration: all major DAWs. Best for Ableton Live, Traktor (including remix deck control), and Bitwig Studio.

 

7.6-Ableton-Push2

Push

Price: $800 USD

To many this is the best MIDI controller for Ableton Live. It was designed by Ableton themselves. It seamlessly integrates with the DAW’s workflow. It allows you to chop samples with the improved Simpler device from Ableton. You can do that right from the LCD display. You can also mess with the pitch on the touchstrip. The 64 pads are velocity and pressure sensitive for total expressive control.

Why we love it: it’s the ultimate controller for Ableton Live. The updated version of the DAW and this new version of Push are taking sampling to the next level.

Key features:

  • 64 Pads (Velocity- and Pressure-sensitive)
  • High resolution Color LCD display
  • 8 Touch-Sensitive Knobs
  • Touchstrip
  • Pitch Bend
  • Scrolling buttons
  • 2 Pedal Inputs
  • Software included: Ableton Live Intro
  • DAW Integration: Ableton Live

 

7.5-NI-Maschine-Studio

Native Instruments MASCHINE Studio

Price: $1000

This is NI’s flagship MASCHINE powerhouse production studio. It’s an upgraded version of the MASCHINE with better visual feedback. It’s got complete hands-on control of VSTs and DAWs. The sound samples are high quality and the creative control you get with this controller is endless.

Why we love it: it’s a production powerhouse. Gives you very precise and full control for producing, remixing and performing. It’s a DAW in a box.

Key features:

  • 16 Backlit Pads (Velocity-sensitive with Aftertouch)
  • 8 Multicolor Buttons
  • 8 Mode Buttons
  • 2 High Resolution Displays
  • Dedicated Buttons: Play, Stop, Record, Erase, Solo, Copy, Paste, Quantize and much more.
  • Software included: MASCHINE 2
  • DAW Integration: run MASCHINE as a plug-in in any DAW

 

7.2-LinnStrument-large

LinnStruments

Price: $1500 USD

Each row of buttons covers two octaves. You can “tune” each row like you would with strings on a guitar. The unique feature is also the ‘3D Touch Sensing’ technology. It detects the subtle ways in which you press a button. Modulate a note’s pitch, timbre, velocity and loudness with the same finger. It responds so well to subtle touch variations that it’s almost like an acoustic instrument.

Why we love it: it’s the most unique MIDI controller out there that can be played almost like an acoustic instrument.

Key features:

  • 200 RGB Notepads with ‘3D Touch Sensing’
  • 3D Swing Arpeggiator
  • Split Keyboard / Strum mode
  • MIDI in/out
  • Software it comes with: Bitwig 8-Track DAW, open-source editor (ARM-based Arduino Due Platform), free sounds file for Apple’s MainStage and Logic
  • DAW Integration: all major DAWs

 

ROLI Seaboard RISE 49

7.3-RISE_49_Top_Down_web

Price: $1200 USD

ROLI’s futuristic looking keyboard brings innovation to the table. Key feature: the keyboard detects ‘Five Dimensions of Touch’: strike, press, glide, slide, and lift. This allows for very expressive playing and sound modulation based on how you touch the keys. It can connect wirelessly with Bluetooth. It comes with ROLI’s custom MIDI keyboard software Equator.

Why we love it: it looks stunning and has cutting-edge touch sensing technology.

Key features:

  • 49 Keys (‘Keywaves’ with Polyphonic Pitch Bend and Aftertouch)
  • 1 Pedal Input
  • Software it comes with: Bitwig 8-Track DAW, Equator (ROLI’s custom-built software synthesizer)
  • DAW Integration: all major DAWs

 

Take control

Many producers say it: going from clicking on a screen in your DAW to tweaking real knobs changes your creative process.

MIDI controllers multiply the possibilities of your DAW and VSTs. All of a sudden you can make a groovier beat, mix more easily and tweak with precision.

Getting the best MIDI keyboard for your needs is a vital tool for success. Choosing the right one is the first step towards becoming a better producer.

Leticia Trandafir

Leticia is a lover of acid basslines and hypnotic techno. She DJs and produces under the name softcoresoft. Writer at LANDR.

@Leticia Trandafir

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