Best Midi Keyboard Controller Review – Top Rated Models in 2021 with Buying Guide
Are you set on acquiring the best midi keyboard controller money can get you? If so, this paragraph is packed with all the info that you need to know on the topic. After doing the research on your behalf, we have concluded that the Arturia MiniLab MkII is the unit that you should have in mind. The model is very portable and extremely compact, and it is said to offer a responsive keyboard experience that is suitable for both beginners and the professionals. If this product is unavailable, take a look at the Novation Impulse 49 as you might also like it.
Our Top Choice
Despite its small and compact design, this midi keyboard comes with 16 encoders, 21 keys to play on, and 8 pads. It is suitable for beginners who want to compose music but don’t have the budget or the means to go pro just yet. What we liked about the Mk II is the USB bus power that allows you to use it with the included software or with alternative programs.
Considering the features of this model, it might be a bit difficult to use the item with newer versions of DAW software.
The perfect starter’s pack for making music, this controller contains everything you need to create your own tunes and start your musical career in the comfort of your own home.
Unlike other models, the Novation Impulse 49 features a very responsive keyboard with lots of features. It is worth mentioning that the item allows you to precisely control your DAW. The LCD screen is large enough and allows you to be in complete control of the songs you might be composing. The two-year warranty will vouch for the quality of this item.
Check out the product’s dimensions and weight before buying, especially if you travel with it a lot, as it might be a bit heavy.
Compatible with most Microsoft and Apple OS, this product is similar to the ones used by the greatest music producers, allowing you to finally start using your creativity.
Also To Consider
The new S49 Mk2 from Native Instruments features 49 keys and a wide variety of functions to help you express your musical creativity. It comes with an ergonomic pitch and mod wheels, as well as full VSTi support. The keys feel great on the fingertips, reducing hand and finger fatigue when practicing for long hours.
The unit does not have a power switch; therefore, you have to unplug the USB cable to turn it off, which might feel uncomfortable.
The sturdy construction and easy-to-play keyboard are the main features that recommend this product for beginners and professionals alike.
8 Best Midi Keyboard Controllers (Reviews) in 2021
If you are in the market for a good midi keyboard controller but you don’t know what model to choose, read this list of products that we have put together for you, as it might help you make an informed decision. All the selected items have received excellent reviews and are highly appreciated by the specialists.
- 1. Arturia 230501 MiniLab MkII 25 Note Controller Keyboard
- 2. Novation Impulse 49 Keys USB Midi Controller Keyboard
- 3. Komplete Kontrol S49 MK2
- 4. Korg Microkey2 37 USB MIDI Controller
- 5. Novation Launchkey 49 MKII USB Keyboard Controller
- 6. Novation Launchpad Pro
- 7. Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII | 25-Key Portable USB
- 8. Behringer UMX610 U-Control 61 Key USB/MIDI Controller
- Yearly Guide & Report
1. Arturia 230501 MiniLab MkII 25 Note Controller Keyboard
If you what to purchase a model that has received plenty of great reviews, check out the MiniLab MkII. Although small in size, this unit stands out because it features no less than 21 keys that you can play on, as well as eight pads and 16 encoders.
As a plus, the device comes supplied with mod and pitch touch strips that have been designed in an ergonomic manner, and 500 presets. Given the features, the unit is suitable for all the novices that are looking for a space-efficient product that can help them start composing music.
On top of that, it is worth pointing out that this device runs on a USB bus power and that can be used with both the included software and other similar ones. Just like any other modern electronic device, whether it is a bass amp for your guitar (here you can find a useful guide) or a looper pedal we recommend, this keyboard can help you produce complex sounds. Currently, the model has received excellent reviews from its prior buyers thanks to its quality build and features.
Despite its reduced dimensions, this controller keyboard from Arturia features 21 keys you can play on, as well as 16 encoders and 8 different pads.
The device includes mod and pitch touch strips designed in a very ergonomic manner, as well as 500 presets that will become extremely useful in your creational process, especially if you’re a newbie musician.
The product is well-built and designed to resist wear and tear, allowing you to come up with outstanding sounds and tunes for many years.
It runs on a USB bus power that you can use with the included software or other similar ones of your choice.
Although not a product flaw, customers who want to get in contact with the manufacturer may have to wait for a while as the company seems to have some communication problems.
Trying to get the plugins to work in Ableton requires time and patience.Buy from Amazon.com for ($109)
2. Novation Impulse 49 Keys USB Midi Controller Keyboard
Another item that you should not ignore is the one developed and sold by Novation. This product is worth your attention because it can enable you to control your DAW with precision and maximum expression.
In fact, similarly to a synth keyboard, this product has, at its core, a very responsive keyboard that has assignable aftertouch and a DAW/plug-in control through 8 knobs, nine faders, and eight backlit performance pads.
On top of that, the device includes an LCD screen that keeps you aware of the status of the songs that you are composing, and, thus, in total control. What is more, apart from the beautiful design of the high-end keyboard, this model includes drum pads that allow you to roll beats and launch your music in Ableton Live.
Lastly, the unit comes with a two-year warranty that covers all defects resulted during the manufacturing process.
Similarly to a synthetic keyboard, this product has a very responsive keyboard with DAW/plug-in control through 9 faders, 8 knobs, and 8 other backlit performance pads.
It features a wide LCD screen that keeps track of the status of your songs and makes the creation process easier.
The controller keyboard is available in three sizes, depending on the number of desired keys – 25, 49, and 61.
The product is fully class-compliant and USB bus-powered, meaning you can easily plug it in and play on your Windows or Mac PC without requiring additional drivers or a power supply.
Although the product performs well overall, it is made of plastic, which can become flimsy, chip easily, and break after a while. It won’t last wearing and tearing, meaning you have to be extremely careful whenever packing it and taking it with you to a different location.Buy from Amazon.com for ($299.99)
3. Komplete Kontrol S49 MK2
If you want a reliable product and you are not afraid to pay some extra dollars to purchase such a device, take a look at the Native Instruments S49 Mk2. This product was designed to function as a smart controller for all your virtual instruments.
Even more so, according to previous buyers, the keys of the unit are effortless to play on, and they feel fantastic on one’s fingertips, but if you are more of a weighted key type you can begin searching from here. Additionally, the set of LED lights that have been placed above each key makes this model easy on the eyes.
When shipped, this product comes equipped with 11 software programs, such as Monark, Replika, Reaktor Prism (a polyphonic synthesizer), Scarbee Mark 1 (an electric piano that you might appreciate), as well as many other bundles.
To access these software programs, one has to register its new acquisition and then follow the instructions provided by the seller.
The product works perfectly with newer operating systems, including Windows 7 and later versions, Mac OS X 10.11 or Mac OS 10.12.
It is delivered with a USB cable to easily plug it into your machine and start composing music.
It is designed to function as a smart controller for all your virtual instruments so that you won’t need any additional products.
If you don’t mind paying extra for a quality product, you will be pleased to know that this keyboard controller is shipped with 11 different software programs, including Replika, Scarbee Mark 1, Reaktor Prism, and others. All you have to do to access these programs is to register your new acquisition on the manufacturer’s website and follow the instructions provided.
For so many functions, LED lights, and buttons, you will be surprised to find out that there isn’t any power switch, meaning you’ll have to unplug the USB cable every time you want to turn off the keyboard.Buy from Amazon.com for ($669)
4. Korg Microkey2 37 USB MIDI Controller
If you are tired of utilizing your old delay pedal, and you are now set on experimenting with new ways to compose music, this next device might be just what you need. This product is very compact and highly playable thanks to the Natural Touch Mini Keyboard that it comes supplied with.
Besides, this unit can be connected to a Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Windows-operated device, by just using a USB cable. Nonetheless, the product is compatible with a pedal that can help you enjoy total control over the model.
By purchasing this product, you are also given direct access to many software programs that can help you edit your music. Furthermore, the dedicated editor software, called “KORG KONTROL Editor,” is also included in the price.
The unit is ready to be used, right out of the box, and it is powered by USB connection. This way, you no longer have to worry about the device running out of batteries.
One of the product’s main advantages is its compact size, making it easy to transport and store whenever you’re not using it.
It is available in four different sizes, ranging from 25 keys to 61 keys, depending on how experienced you are with making music. You can also opt for a version that can be connected via USB only or the one that uses both Bluetooth and USB connectivities.
The product can be easily connected to your smartphone, tablet or computer, as long as it is operated by Windows or Apple’s iOS. However, the keyboard is also compatible with a pedal to give you full control.
Purchasing this controller gives you access to various software programs that can help you edit and create your music.
The product seems to have some problems with the connectivity of the iOS devices but nothing that the customer’s service platform cannot fix.Buy from Amazon.com for ($119.99)
5. Novation Launchkey 49 MKII USB Keyboard Controller
If you no longer want to invest in a guitar tuner or other similar accessories, it might be a good idea to check out the Novation Launchkey 49 MK2. This unit has received positive reviews because it comes outfitted with included virtual instruments that are effortless to play.
What is more, this unit features 16 sensitive RGB pads, dedicated control buttons for easy navigation and eight knobs. The product is compatible with many software bundles such as the Ableton Live Lite, the Novation Bass Station or the XLN Audio Addictive Keys.
Over 4 GB of Loopmasters samples are also provided to the interested buyers. Furthermore, this device is covered by a two-year warranty that only includes the defects caused by a fault in the manufacturing process.
The product has received excellent reviews from current users, and it is regarded as a travel-friendly unit that is worth the investment.
The item is available in four different sizes, including a mini version for those who travel a lot and want the freedom to make new music anywhere they are. However, for professional results, we recommend opting for the 49 or the 61-key versions of the product.
Specifically designed for Ableton Live, you will find that all controls work immediately and can be reassigned, according to your needs.
The unit features 16 sensitive RGB pads and dedicated control buttons for easy navigation.
If you’re a beginner, you will appreciate the 4 GB of Loopmaster samples to help you get started and allow you to create your own variations of tracks and sounds.
Those who opt for the full size of the controller might find it quite heavy and bulky, as well as not very comfortable on your hands and palms. And, even though the software has been revised, you might still have problems connecting your iPhone 6S.Buy from Amazon.com for ($349.99)
6. Novation Launchpad Pro
If you would like to purchase a modern-looking electronic drum set that can help you create original music, you should not overlook the Novation Launchpad Pro. The device can help you enhance your live performance, as it enables you to control all aspects of the music that you are creating.
Moreover, the unit features a grip of 16 RGB pads that light up whenever you are using it. In fact, you can select the color of each pad by accessing the Ableton app. The software that the product uses is compatible with both PCs and Macs.
Before one actually uses this device, the manufacturer recommends that he/she reads the user manual provided to each buyer. Also, the model is covered by a warranty on manufacturing defects.
To connect this unit to your PC, the device that you are using should run on Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1.
The product comes with a modern design and represents a great tool to help you create original music, according to your tastes.
It features 16 RGB pads that light up whenever you are using it, and you can even select the color of each pad simply by accessing the Ableton app.
The software used by the keyboard controller is compatible with most Mac iOS devices and Windows-operated PCs, starting from Windows 8.
Another feature that we liked is that you can control the instruments and effects you are using by adding filters, which customizes your music and samples even more.
As we previously mentioned, the controller is designed to work with the Ableton app but you can download Fruity Loops into the program and use the samples it provides.
The instructions are quite complicated to follow, so the overall setup process will take you a while.Buy from Amazon.com for ($257.99)
7. Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII | 25-Key Portable USB
If you are done investing money in reliable drum sticks and other similar accessories that you might need in order to play quality music, we suggest that you consider the Akai Professional MPK Mini.
This item is currently a best seller in this line of products, and it is highly appreciated because of the compact size that makes it effortless to move from one place to another. What is more, because the device is small, you can carry it in your backpack, or you could store it on your studio protection desk.
To power the unit, you have to connect it to a computer via a USB cable. Moreover, if you invest in this model, you will also receive virtual-instrument download packages that are free of charge.
Lastly, this product includes no less than 25 mini-keys and eight velocity-sensitive pads that have two banks and eight assignable control pads.
If you’re tired of only one standard color version of these devices, you can now choose from three different shades with the new Akai Professional MPK Mini.
It is designed for a user-friendly experience. You can easily use it by plugging it in and starting to play. The product is USB-powered and you won’t need any drivers to start making your music.
Another feature that we liked about this Akai keyboard controller is its lightweight design which makes it extremely portable and easy to carry around wherever you travel.
There are over 1400 pre-sounds included and everything else you might need to make music from scratch. Also, the production software package is compatible with Macs and PCs.
In reality, using the device is a bit more complicated than the simple plug-in and start playing method. You need to install drivers and plug-ins for the MKII to appear in your DAW.Buy from Amazon.com for ($114.44)
8. Behringer UMX610 U-Control 61 Key USB/MIDI Controller
Before you make a decision, it might be best that you take a look at the model designed by BEHRINGER. This product features no less than 61 full-size keys that give you real-time control over the music and extraordinary playability.
The model allows for a USB/audio interface that lets you record and playback any music file that you are interested in. The product is compatible with Windows and with Mac, and, because of this, it can be utilized straight out of the box. No setups and/or additional drivers are needed.
The device features a software that lets the user record, podcast and edit his/her musical pieces. Eight rotary controls and ten assignable switches are also featured in the design of the product.
All in all, this unit has received great reviews, and it is currently regarded as a good purchase. Most of its buyers have acknowledged that the product is worth the investment.
The product is available in a vibrant shade of glossy red, which will stimulate your mind and help you create better music. Or, at least, it will look prettier than most of the other regular black or white devices on the market.
It allows you to record and playback any music file you want thanks to the user-friendly USB/audio interface.
The 61 full-size keys offer real-time control over the music you are playing and allow for endless possibilities. In other words, you have everything you need to start making quality music, according to your talent.
What we also liked is that this controller provides free software for recording, editing, and podcasting, as well as 150 plug-ins for more versatility.
The keys on this controller are not weighted, although the manufacturer used a tougher spring to simulate the heaviness of real piano keys. If you’re looking for a more authentic feel, you should consider other similar devices.Buy from Amazon.com for ($949)
Yearly Guide & Report
Because we know that finding the best midi keyboard controller for live performance is no easy task, as is the case with portable pocket trumpets or other instruments, we took it upon ourselves to read what the specialists had to say on the topic. We have also composed a list of features that you should simply not ignore when shopping for a product of this kind.
What does a midi keyboard controller do?
According to midi keyboard controllers reviews, a unit of this type is more than a simple keyboard, as it includes buttons that allow you to customize the device in accordance with your needs. This way, you will be capable of mapping every button of the device to an effect, a sound or another feature.
In order to use a product of this kind, one has to connect it to his/her PC and, then, to use the software that the device utilizes to create new music. Most of these products permit the buyers to register their new acquisition to a site and, then, to download/get access to numerous sounds and music pieces that one can integrate into his/her musical creations.
The most significant advantage that these units have is their portability. In fact, some of these devices are small enough to fit in a backpack or a laptop bag. Thus, you can take them with you wherever you go.
Usually, these devices are used by sound designers, musicians as well as by sound writers and live performers.
Key count and type of keyboard
When it comes to finding the best midi controller keyboard, you should first pay attention to the number of keys that a given model has. To end up with an appropriate model, it is crucial that you order a product that fits the space that you have available in your studio.
Therefore, from this point of view, you can select a mini model that has up to 25 or 26 keys, a 49-key controller, a 61-key unit or an 88-key device. Additionally, this decision should also be linked to the portability of the product. Hence, if you want a model that can be effortlessly transported from one gig to another, you should opt for a mini unit.
Equally important, you should also spend some time considering the manner in which the keyboard responds to your commands. For example, some models that are currently up for sale have a weighted hammer action. Usually, these units have 88-keys, and they behave in a similar way as a piano. In fact, these products have the actual feel of a piano.
Furthermore, semi-weighted action units are similar to the previously discussed models. Yet, they have less key-restriction, and they are some of the most popular devices sold today.
Finally, playing on a synth-action keyboard resembles the feeling of playing on an electric organ. These units are normally recommended for those players that have no experience when it comes to playing the piano.
Extra features worth considering
Just like when trying to choose a top-notch electric ukulele, the task of purchasing a product like this implies that one pays attention to a few extra features. First things first, one should consider whether or not one needs a controller that has MIDI pads. Although these models are also quite popular, most purchasers are interested in units that feature keyboards, as they are, in a way, easier to use.
Besides, before you make a decision, you should take the time to think about whether or not you want the product to include particular features. For example, some users are interested in models that have faders and buttons, while others are keen on acquiring a device that has mod and pitch bend wheels. Still, this depends on the type of music that you like to play and/or compose while using such a product.
Aftertouch is another feature that you might be interested in. This feature is usually included in the design of newer, and more expensive models. Its most significant advantage is the fact that it allows the user to add more expressivity to his/her playing.
However, to take full advantage of this function, one should have a certain degree of skill and ease of playing on a device of this kind. Therefore, it is best that you only purchase a product like this if you have the needed experience required by it.
Sound effects are also worth your attention, as the product that you invest in should allow you to create your own effects. Even more so, some units will enable you to download specific effects, to map them to the control, and to use them while making music.
Before we conclude this article, we believe that it is fit to remind you that each product comes with its own unique features. The best way to select a device is to read about specific brands and products and to guide your decision by thinking about your musical preferences and your needs.