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The 15 Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers of 2021 - Simple Electronic Music Creation

Last Updated: April 30, 2021
midi keyboard

Creating and operating with modern electronic music is impossible without MIDI keyboard usage. Musicians sometimes call such equipment a controller. This unit is a piano-style keyboard with various controls. The overwhelming majority of the best MIDI controller keyboards lack a sound module, and therefore they do not have their own sound. The purpose of MIDI keyboard usage is to convert keystrokes into a MIDI signal that is subsequently redirected to the receiving device (analog synthesizer, computer with DAW sound workstation, or sound module). Competent equipment selection and operation will make sound control more precise and convenient. Neither beginners nor professionals can work without such equipment today. 

 

1. AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

The stated hardware model is a portable MIDI keyboard. This AKAI MIDI keyboard is distinguished by its compact size, comfortable form factor, and a minimum set of the most necessary options. This is the third modification of the famous MPK mini. The offered AKAI MIDI controller will delight any user with the first-class quality of work, both in-home use and in a professional recording studio. The reviewed 25 key MIDI controller features a user-friendly interface and precise music material control. The G2 keyboard with 25 reduced keys will delight you with high sensitivity. Use 8 backlit dynamic pads to shape rhythm parts and play samples. The musician can use the joystick (3 modes of operation available), which allows making changes to the parameters of the virtual synthesizers. The presence of 8 assignable controls is a striking advantage of this keyboard model. Each of them can rotate 360 degrees. The rest of the control is represented by 8 buttons. Apply them and turn on the built-in arpeggiator, change and save settings, activate various options (MPC Full Level, MPC Note Repeat). The keyboard is capable of working with Windows and macOS. Use the USB port to connect power supplies. The device also has an ¼’’ input that allows you to connect a Sustain pedal. Pay attention to the LCD display - it will enable you to monitor the changing parameters.

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

 

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2. Arturia KeyLab Essential 88-Key MIDI Controller

We introduce you the MIDI keyboard from the Arturia KeyLab. This is seven-octave equipment with semi-weighted mechanics. Controllers available to musicians include 9 faders, 8 pads, 9 assignable knobs, Modulation, and Pitch Bend wheels. This keyboard has 88 full-size keys. LCD display is a striking advantage of the presented 88 key MIDI controller. The device allows connecting a pedal (Sustain jack). It also has a USB connector and MIDI output. The basic package of the mentioned Arturia MIDI controller includes the Analog Lab application (about 6500 different presets are available to the user), Ableton Live Lite and UVI Model D. The presented KeyLab keyboard was designed specifically for cooperative work with the Analog Lab application. It is important to configure it beforehand and switch the keyboard to MCU mode. The device offers 8 basic operating modes. Each of them differs in the controllers’ purpose. For example, Analog Lab mode assumes the Analog Lab control. DAW mode is used to control sequencer settings. The other 6 modes allow you to create various custom configurations (using the MIDI Control program).

Arturia KeyLab Essential 88-Key MIDI Controller

 

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3. Nektar 61-Key Impact GX61 Controller Keyboard

The represented 61 key MIDI controller from the Nektar brand offers you a stylish appearance, smooth stroke of full-size keys, high sensitivity. In terms of rigidity, the keyboard can be attributed to semi-weighted mechanisms. The controllers available include the Modulation and the Pitch Bend Controller. The 61 keys MIDI controller features a compact, lightweight body, so it is easy to transport the device when needed. The body of the device is made of high-quality, rich-looking plastic. Experts say this is the best 61 key MIDI controller in the middle price range. The B-type USB connector is available. This equipment is ideal for beginners. According to customer reviews, the mentioned 61 key MIDI keyboard is ready to offer qualitative enough synth mechanics. With its lightweight design, the device is ideal for frequent traveling musicians. Pay attention to the presence of 8 multifunction buttons. They help to navigate through different tracks, control transport, etc. The product comes with a dedicated Birwig 8-track software. A pedal jack (Sustain) is also available. An external adapter is not included in the package. The device is powered via a USB connection.

Nektar 61-Key Impact GX61 Controller Keyboard

 

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4. Alesis V49 - 49 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

This keyboard pleasantly surprises with its luxurious appearance. The offered 49 key MIDI controller from the Alesis brand features a strict minimalistic design. The pads, faders, knobs, Mod and Pitch wheel are all light blue, and the knobs are neat and compact. The device is stylish and original, despite the modest price tag. This is one of the best 49 key MIDI controller models with standard keys (regular, synthesizer-type). The keys are located straight, not tilted, which can cause slight discomfort at first use. The Pitch and Modulation wheels and the pads look and function at a high-quality level. To solve the problem of not tilting the case, you can use a small stand. The reviewed Alesis MIDI keyboard demonstrates high touch sensibility. The device is powered via USB. Pads are available in the amount of 8 pieces. It is possible to connect a pedal (not included in the basic package, musicians should purchase it separately). 49 keys offer 4 octaves, 4 assignable buttons, 4 faders, Octave select buttons.

Alesis V49 - 49 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

 

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5. Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3] 25-Mini-Key MIDI Keyboard

This keyboard from the Novation LaunchKey brand features 25 keys, pedal input (Sustain), Pitch tape. Use the buttons to lower or raise the octaves. The device offers 8 rotary knobs and 16 RGB backlit pads. The presented mini MIDI keyboard was explicitly created for DAW Ableton Live 10 coworking. The device allows you to launch clips (the start of the project gives the command to connect with the Sessions window). Each clip is assigned a different color, making it much easier to identify them all on the controller. The pads are highlighted in the same color. The best MIDI keyboard for FL studio is capable of the Capture MIDI option supporting (it allows you to record all played melodies on the device, even when the record button is off). The main advantage of the device is the built-in arpeggiator, capable of generating 4-octave movements up and down. It is directly related to Deviate and Mutate regulators. As a result, it is possible to create original, unique sounds and rhythm combinations. The Fixed Chord option is also worthy of the attention of users. It is responsible for fixing chords in the device's memory until they are subsequently launched (just pressing one button). These chords will be stored in the keyboard memory until the user saves a new triad. The basic keyboard package includes the Components software, which allows musicians to assign pads and encoders to parameters within the program.

Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3] 25-Mini-Key MIDI Keyboard

 

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6. M-Audio 49 MK3 MIDI Keyboard

This keyboard model from the M-Audio brand has a durable, compact, and stylish body. This solution is ideal for regular live performances as well as for producers working in recording studios. The M Audio MIDI keyboard possesses 49 full-size keys (semi-weighted). The device will appeal to musicians valuing individuality and originality, not squeezed by the shackles of fixed chords. There are the Modulation, Pitch wheels, and octave buttons to the left of the keyboard. The best MIDI controller for Logic Pro X offers a volume slider, indispensable for live stage performances. This option will give liveliness and expression to the recorded sequences. Also, note the presence of cursor and transport buttons. The M Audio keyboard can be considered a multifunctional solution for small studios' usage and for playing in live setups. The device is powered from the USB port. The keyboard is capable of supporting iOS and USB-MIDI connections via an adapter (sold separately). As a result, it becomes possible to play music through applications from the iPad and other gadgets.

 

M-Audio 49 MK3 MIDI Keyboard 

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7. AKAI Professional MPK249 - USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

The represented weighted MIDI keyboard from the AKAI brand features 49 keys. Users get access to an LCD screen with up to 20 characters. The device has a trigger pad complete with stylish KPI lighting. Musicians can send appropriate QWERTY-style commands using the software. The advantages of the solution include high keys sensitivity (response) and the presence of a reduced power consumption mode when connected to iOS devices. The mentioned fully weighted MIDI keyboard includes a basic software set (various electronic music creation and processing applications, including MPC Essentials, Ableton Live Lite, etc.). The AKAI keyboard features a virtual synthesizer is also important. The offered best weighted MIDI keyboard from the AKAI offers 8 assignable control knobs, 8 faders, octave control, wheels for Pitch and Modulation. The updated LCD layout ensures quick and comfortable access to a basic set of DAW options. Available inputs and outputs include 5-pin MIDI In/Out, pedal (Sustain), and expression inputs.

AKAI Professional MPK249 - USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

 

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8. Yamaha Mini-key Portable Keyboard PSS-A50

If you value modern technological innovation, pay attention to the presented portable synthesizer from the leader of the music industry, the Yamaha brand. The observing Yamaha MIDI keyboard combines all the most essential options, indispensable both for recording tracks and directly for music stage performances. The represented Yamaha MIDI controller has 37 HQ-mini keys. All of them are sensitive to the force of touch, making it possible to subtly control the sound, diluting it with new emotions and moods. Appreciate the best MIDI keyboard for Ableton featuring 42 timbres, including 40 Timbres and 2 Drum Kits. Use them to realize any, even the most complex and unusual musical projects. The manufacturer guarantees high sound detailing. The device will allow any musician to unleash their creative potential to the maximum. The keyboard offers an arpeggio that lets you shape individual phrases and rhythm parts by simply pressing a key. The Phrase Recorder option allows recording and looping specific musical phrases. Another option named Motion Effect allows you to modify the timbre at the touch of a button, creating an original, unique sound.

Yamaha Mini-key Portable Keyboard PSS-A50

 

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9. Akai Professional LPK25 Wireless Mini MIDI Keyboard

This miniature keyboard features tiny though convenient keys. They are made according to the synthesizer principle. The body of the presented Bluetooth MIDI keyboard is complemented by a minimal set of buttons, including octave shift keys and a built-in arpeggiator. The keyboard can function both via Bluetooth and USB. Also, the keyboard can operate on 3 AA batteries (must be purchased separately). The basic package consists of the software required for the operation of the device. Despite the small key size, the offered wireless MIDI keyboard is quite convenient and easy to operate. Even the presence of small keys does not interfere with the quality of playing various music with chords. The device has 25 simple synth keys on a spring. A striking advantage of the keyboard can be considered the ability to connect it to any gadget. The presence of an arpeggiator makes this technique much easier to use. Thanks to this option, the device will independently line up the note in the desired sequence, accurately and correctly determining the mode and time division.

Akai Professional LPK25 Wireless Mini MIDI Keyboard

 

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10. Korg MIDI Controller (NANOKEY-ST)

The digital device from the Korg brand features 25 backlit highlighted keys. Due to compact size, it is the optimal travel and relocation device. Though it is not suitable for permanent work in a professional recording studio. The represented Korg MIDI controller is ideal for mobile use. The basic package includes a controller, detailed users’ instructions, USB-wire, software coupons (must be downloaded from the official web-site). The keyboard functions both via Bluetooth and USB. Choose the preferred functioning method and create perfect digital music. This small two-octave keyboard is similar to a typical laptop keyboard. There are 6 control buttons on the left side of the keys. These are MOD, CC Mode, Octave Down and Up, Pitch Down and Up. The LEDs located above the buttons are activated and change their color depending on the degree of octave shift. CC Mode is responsible for switching the keyboard to controller mode. Pitch Down and Up is an alternative to the regular Pitch Bend. By pressing one of these buttons, the user raises the Pitch Bend to the maximum lower and upper values. The MOD button (change the mod wheel) functions in the same way. Using the Korg Control Editor program, the user can adjust various parameters, such as changing the Velocity for individual keys or assigning separate MIDI channels on which the nanoKEY will broadcast.

Korg MIDI Controller (NANOKEY-ST)

 

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11. AKAI Professional MPD218, 16-Pad USB/MIDI Controller

Meet another keyboard from the well-known AKAI brand. This small but functional and powerful MIDI controller features 16 pads that are nicely illuminated. The device also has 6 assignable potentiometers (rotatable 360 degrees). Such MIDI controller pads offer 16 customizable presets for the musician's choice. Connection to iOS is possible via the Camera Connection Kit (not included, must be purchased separately). The device is powered via USB (no need to use a power supply). The observing drum MIDI controller features Full Level and MPC Note Repeat options. Note that the MIDI controller pad has extraordinary sensitive Thick Fat MPC pads. With their help, the user is able to interact with the device subtly. Enjoy the complete variety of sound effects. This portable device is a godsend for DJs, musicians, and their producers. All electronic music lovers should consider this equipment, especially considering the presence of a rich set of software in its configuration (totaling $400).

AKAI Professional MPD218, 16-Pad USB/MIDI Controller

 

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12. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 Controller Keyboard

By purchasing this keyboard, you can enjoy its 32 small keys, high-quality synthesizer mechanics, and high sensitivity of the device. The equipment is distinguished not only by excellent functionality but also by a democratic price tag. The proposed Native instruments MIDI controller features Modulation and Pitch Bend touch strips, 8 touch and 1 four-position regulator, 21 control buttons. The device has several connectors, including USB and Sustain (specifically for connecting a pedal). The basic package of the keyboard includes a USB cable, Komplete Kontrol application, Ableton Live 10 Lite. The presented keyboard model is the smallest of all, which allows you to interact with the Komplete library and NKS compatible instruments. The modest size of the keyboard will enable it to fit in a small travel bag or even a backpack. The keyboard offers three modes of operation. You can switch them using the Track, Browser, and Plug-in buttons. Transport buttons control your DAW even in plug-in mode. The musician can use both the classic Play, Rec, and Stop options, quantization, Redo and Undo functions, and a metronome.

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 Controller Keyboard

 

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13. Arturia MiniLab MKII Inverted MIDI Controller

Small but so effective and personable Arturia controller offers the best product in terms of price and quality. This is a two-octave keyboard complete with rotary knobs and pads. The presented Arturia minilab MIDI controller provides a huge number of controllers, including sensor Modulation and Pitch strips. In this case, they are used as a replacement for conventional wheels. The connectors are located on the back of the keyboard, allowing you to install the device as close to another equipment as possible. Connect the Sustain pedal via the ¼ ’’ TRS jack. The case design looks fresh and stylish. This is one of the best mini MIDI keyboard models from the Arturia brand. It features 25 dynamic keys with 16 switchable channels (MIDI). There are also 16 customizable encoders available to musicians. There is an octave shift button (marked as Oct- and Oct +). The device is equipped with a software package (the most current versions of programs for high-quality creation and processing of electronic music). Applying the MIDI Control Center, the musician may tune 6 additional memories, customize the appearance of each encoder and pad, identify the channel on which they will be locked. Use 16 switchable MIDI channels to tune different instruments and subsequently switch between them in seconds.

Arturia MiniLab MKII Inverted MIDI Controller

 

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14. MIDIplus, 32-Key MIDI Controller (AKM320)

This keyboard is compact and easy to use. Its stylish small body does not take up much space in the workplace, and its functionality will delight you with a lot of technical capabilities. The device already has everything you need for stable operation (no need to download anything extra). This small MIDI controller from the MIDIplus features 32 velocity-sensitive keys. The device features the following basic options – slider for volume regulation, Itch and Modulation wheels, Up and Down transpose buttons, Up and Down octave buttons. There are 2 inputs (sustain and classic USB). The suggested portable MIDI keyboard is powered via USB. The basic package includes the keyboard, user's manual, USB cable. The majority of purchasers consider this product to be as simple and smart as possible. Its user-friendly interface is straightforward and easy to cope with. No additional drivers are needed to operate the offered device. Its classic and, at the same time, stylish, ergonomic design attracts from first sight. Besides, its price is low and allows everybody to try playing qualitative digital music.

MIDIplus, 32-Key MIDI Controller (AKM320)

 

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15. Alesis VMini Portable 25-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

The presented model of the compact keyboard from Alesis definitely deserves your attention. It has 25 ultra-sensitive keys, 4 knobs, 4 pads, buttons that allow you to control Pitch, Sustain, and Modulation. This smallest MIDI keyboard allows expanding the capabilities of the device up to a full melodic range. With its help, you can reproduce even bass lines cleanly and efficiently (use the Octave Up and Down buttons). The device has 4 assignable knobs. Using them, you can easily and clearly manage plug-ins of virtual instruments and musical effects. You can quickly adjust the sound volume, adjust parameters, open new filters (and close them). Ultra-responsive pads complemented by stylish backlighting help you promptly launch clips. This is the best portable MIDI keyboard permitting to connect to a PC via USB (power supply and use of all available functions at the same time). Pleasant blue backlighting complements all the pads and knobs on the panel. In addition to a beautiful and attractive look, this option helps ensure feedback and simplifies your workflow.

Alesis VMini Portable 25-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

 

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FAQ

 

What is a MIDI keyboard?

 

A MIDI keyboard is a variation of a keyboard instrument for electronic music creating and processing. Using the best MIDI keyboard models, the musicians may play the keys while using sounds saved on a computer (or tablet). MIDI can be called a kind of language in which live communication of a musical instrument with a computer takes place. The offered review may help you detect worthy MIDI keyboard controller solutions, purchase the preferred and start using them for electronic music creation. Following the MIDI keyboard reviews, there may possess from 25 to 88 keys. Small MIDI keyboard models with a modest keys number are perfect for beginner musicians and playing relatively simple melodies. Such best beginner MIDI controller solutions are compact, easily tunable, and user-friendly. More complex, full-sized, and functional solutions are suitable for a professional game. There are standard (wired) and wireless devices with their own pros and cons. Decide individually what is better for your work - wired or wireless guitar setup. However, even wireless solutions may operate both remotely or via USB cable (optionally).

 

What is a MIDI controller?

  

MIDI controller is a device with or without keys. It allows managing the programs and musical instruments. A MIDI controller usage aims to simplify the work of playing melodies, starting a sequencer, creating automation, stuffing different beats, etc. Many MIDI controller keyboard models provide complete audio-transport control (volume, up and down the mute channel, play, stop). Before choosing the best MIDI controller, learn its main types. The first significant controllers' group includes keyboards or MIDI keyboards. You can find models with two or more octaves and different types of keys (aftertouch, full weighted, etc.). The second group consists of Pad-controllers, which are devices with massive rubberized buttons or pads. Musicians use them to trigger samples and create beats. Such cheap MIDI controller solutions differ in the number and size of pads. The third group includes transport controllers. Their purpose is to load samples, play specific parts of a track, enable effects, etc. The fourth group includes universal mini MIDI controller devices or the so-called hybrids. They feature all the options that present in the previously listed groups of instruments.

 

How to use a MIDI keyboard?

 

Before exploiting the USB MIDI keyboard, connect it to your computer, laptop, or tablet. If you own wireless guitar equipment the connection will be made remotely via Bluetooth. Preliminarily, you can install software on your computer that will maximize the functionality of the USB MIDI controller. The complete set of such equipment always includes a disc with software (or a subscription to official sites). It provides easy and fast downloading of the necessary software. Even a cheap MIDI keyboard easily connects to a gadget and is ready to execute user commands. If you have already installed software and plug-ins for working with synthesizers or drums, you can start creating melodies and rhythms immediately after installing. If necessary, you can connect a Sustain pedal (almost all the best cheap MIDI keyboard offer such an option). And most importantly, to enjoy the USB-MIDI keyboard controller, you don't need to have professional musical skills like playing a real guitar or piano.

 

What is a MIDI keyboard controller used for?

 

The primary purpose of such equipment is to simplify the process of electronic music recording. Using a computer mouse will take you many hours to enter the notes you need. Modern MIDI keyboards are compact and elegant. They make music processing convenient, easy and fast! Even the cheapest MIDI keyboard is multifunctional and versatile. Some musicians purchase such devices to apply them in conjunction with synthesizers or other studio equipment.

 

Used MIDI Keyboard Controllers for sale 

 

MIDI keyboard has become a familiar piece of equipment for both novice and professional musicians. The availability of the new or even used MIDI controller makes it easier to cope with sound creation and transmission. High-quality, branded musical equipment is rarely cheap. Usually, these are expensive devices, demonstrating high indicators of good quality, ease of setup, and use. However, it doesn't always make sense to buy exactly new equipment. So, we advise you to acquire a used MIDI keyboard via our web-site. Here one may detect various models of MIDI keyboard for sale. Acquire qualitative equipment and spend your funds on more necessary and relevant things. Also, you may place an advertisement with your MIDI controller for sale here and profit from the musical equipment sale. Indeed every musician has a functioning but not used at the moment technique. It is worth giving it a second chance, allowing other musicians to make full use of its functionality.

 

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