Our replenished reviews will give you plenty of choices to select the best MIDI keyboard controller for your home studio. So, let's find out more about them.
What is a MIDI keyboard?
A MIDI keyboard or keyboard controller is an electronic device used to send MIDI messages to external hardware. This could be a computer or virtual instruments in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
An important point to note here is that not all keyboards are MIDI controllers and not all MIDI controllers are keyboards.
But if you want creativity in your music sequences, a MIDI keyboard will give you a more tactile and hands-on experience.
Features of the best MIDI keyboard controllers
A MIDI controller lets you produce your favorite sequences by adding more creativity, uniqueness, complexity, and personality to your tracks.
Choosing a keyboard controller depends on your requirements. Some people need to feel a heavy-weight keyboard beneath their fingers to play their favorite chord progressions effortlessly. While others require portable devices to fit into their bags.
Many would also need a MIDI controller that comes with additional features such as arpeggiation and sequencing to produce creative tracks.
Therefore, you would need to consider some factors before buying a keyboard controller. For instance:
- How many keys?
- What is the size of the keyboard controller? Is it sturdy or compact?
- Is the keyboard controller platform-friendly? (PC and iOS devices).
- Does it come with a controller with ports, faders, buttons, and knobs?
- How many performance pads does it have?
- How many keyboard action types can it display?
- Are its keys velocity-sensitive and have after touch?
- Does it have USB options?
Hence, in our list, we've compiled the best MIDI keyboard controllers with various features and unique selling points to suit the space you're working in.
Here are our top picks for MIDI keyboard controllers in 2022.
The best MIDI keyboards and controllers in 2022
2. Alesis V25
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1. Akai Mpk Mini
Portable and efficient.
The Akai Mpk Mini is a portable, affordable, and easy-to-use MIDI controller that is perfect for on-the-go music production. It has a 25-key velocity-sensitive keyboard, eight pads, four assignable knobs, and a pitch bend/modulation joystick.
One of the great features that can't be overlooked is the drum pads that are on this unit. With great sensitivity and stiffness, it makes for a great finger drumming experience.
Another great feature that comes in handy more than anything are the physical knobs on the unit. These endless encoder knobs are more than convenient when it comes to controlling the virtual knobs in the DAW, making it a more efficient controller to compliment your workflow.
We can't forget how compact the midi keyboard is, making it perfect for moving around and always being ready for any opportunity you could be presented with.
- 25 synth-action mini keys
- 4-way thumbstick for dynamic pitch and modulation control
- 8 backlit velocity-sensitive MPC-style pads with Note Repeat & Full Level
- 8 assignable Q-Link knobs for mixing, tweaking plug-ins, and more
- Built-in arpeggiator with adjustable resolution, range, and modes
- Dedicated Octave Up and Octave Down buttons
- Ultra-compact design lets you create anywhere
- USB-powered; no power adapter required
- Full-size sustain pedal input jack
- Comprehensive production software package included: MPC Beats, Xpand!2 and Hybrid 3 by AIR Music Tech (downloads)
Price: Coming in at just $119, you can't go wrong with the features the keyboard offers and this price.
Our take: For what the keyboard offers, it is a great option. It is great for an on the go production setup. With features of larger scale midi controllers and the flexibility to bring it in your backpack. You can't lose!
The only thing that could make this keyboard better would be to add some onboard transport buttons like play, stop and record and this would be an 11/10 unit.
Nonetheless, the Akai Mpk Mini is a top midi keyboard to keep a lookout for.
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2. Alesis V25
Best bang for buck.
The Alesis V25 is a MIDI keyboard controller that gives you hands-on control of your music software. It features 25 velocity-sensitive synth-action keys, 8 trigger pads, 4 assignable knobs, and 4 assignable buttons.
Alesis has been a popular brand when it comes to keyboard controllers and other musical equipment. It is packed with features that are perfect for both beginners and professionals.
Being lightweight and portable makes it perfect for on the go creativity. The Alesis is also USB-powered, so you won't need an external power adapter.
Furthermore, Alesis offers a limited-time offer with Melodics which is a desktop app that teaches midi keyboard and drum pad techniques. Thus making this keyboard a must-have for beginners trying to get the most for their money.
- 25 full-sized, square-front keys
- 4 assignable knobs and 4 assignable buttons interface with your music software
- Octave Up and Down buttons let you access the full keyboard range
- Pitch and modulation wheels deliver expressive, creative control
- Seamless, visual feedback via illuminated buttons and knobs
- USB power and USB-MIDI connectivity for Mac and PC
- Production software included: Ableton Live Lite 9 and Xpand!2 by AIR Music Tech (downloads)
Price: The Alesis v25 is available for $109.00 making it the best bang for your buck midi keyboard controller.
Our take: This keyboard is perfect for anyone wanting to get into music production and needing a midi keyboard without breaking the bank.
Though it is affordable, it is no pushover and should be a consideration for beginners to advanced producers looking for portability and many features.
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3. Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3
Best portable MIDI controller.
As the name suggests Novation Launchkey is a mini MIDI controller, portable enough to fit right into your bag.
The features of this tiny keyboard controller pack a powerful punch above its weight.
They come alive when paired with Ableton Live Lite, a flexible music software that makes writing, recording, and performing music easy.
This MIDI controller boasts 25 numbers of keys, a powerful arpeggiator, a Fixed Chord mode, and 16 super-sensitive pads for creating melodies and rhythms.
Novation Launchkey also features eight rotary controls, pitch bend, mod touch strips, and sustain input.
Transport, device, and mixer controls allow more hands-on control over your music.
It comes with a bundle of instruments, sounds, and effects. In addition, this MIDI controller has excellent integration with MIDI-equipped instruments.
- Features 25 mini keys.
- 16 velocity-sensitive pads for drumming and clip launch. They let you make expressive and dynamic music with precise drumming.
- A Fixed Chord Mode for one-fingered sessions and taking your creative ideas further.
- A powerful yet easy-to-control arpeggiator to change octave, pattern, and gate. It also allows you to connect with any MIDI hardware synths, or software instruments.
- It includes two touch strips for pitch and mod that makes you feel connected with the sounds.
- Its integration with Ableton Live lets you create music that is in your head. You can easily control features such as track select, record, capture MIDI, stop/mute/solo, volume, pans, and sends.
- Provides easy MIDI output with Logic and Reason and DAW integration.
- Comes with a bundle of instruments, sound, and effects from AAS, Softube, Spitfire Audio, XLN Audio, and Klevgrand.
- Also includes membership in Novation Sound Collective.
- It is compatible with PC, Mac, and iPad.
Price: Novation Launchkey is available at Sweetwater for $109.99 with free delivery and a two-year guarantee.
You can pay as low as $4 for this keyboard controller with 36-month financing.
Our take: Novation Launchkey is also a great portable and convenient MIDI controller for you to check out.
Its intuitive integration with Ableton Live makes it very powerful to create dynamic, and expressive melodies.
However, you'll only find MIDI faders in the larger versions of this keyboard controller.
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4. Arturia KeyStep Pro
Best MIDI keyboard for live performances.
Arturia KeyStep Pro is a polyphonic sequencing controller MIDI keyboard.
It is an extraordinary keyboard with more functions than its compact size should be able to handle.
This MIDI keyboard features a 3-octave keyboard with 37-note slim keys that are sensitive to velocity and after-touch.
It also includes 4 independent polyphonic sequencer tracks for controlling your synth, module, or drum.
Arturia KeyStep Pro allows you to be creative and create with no limits.
It provides unparalleled MIDI, CV, and USB connectivity with your hardware, modular gear, and software instruments all at the same time.
Also, a 24-part integrated drum sequencer, Crisp OLED display, and LED-illuminated controls let you craft music in real-time.
This bundle also comes with a selection of premium music software so you can begin exploring endless ideas.
- 37 keys that are after touch and velocity-sensitive with LED, for visual feedback.
- OLED displays are crisp so you can even view them under stage lights.
- 4 sets of CV, Gate to analog, and modular outputs to control monophonic instruments or one instrument having 4 voices of polyphony
- 8 drum gate outputs to bring an action to your drum modules or machines.
- A clock output to synchronize pre-MIDI, DIN sync drum machines.
- You can control everything from 4 Independent Polyphonic Sequencers. It has 16-step buttons and up to 64 steps per sequence for creating custom music.
- If you switch to the drum option, Track 1 will become a 16-drum sequencer or a melodic sequencer for real-time recording. The other three tracks will run as arpeggiators to produce creative music.
- Plays monophonically with analog or modular gear and 16 notes polyphonically with MIDI or USB.
- Additional performance tools in the MIDI controller include rolls, loops, randomization, and transposition.
- Metronome with click output to send a click to your drummer or other hardware synths.
- Compatible with Windows 7 and later and macOS.
Price: Arturia KeyStep Pro is available at Sweetwater for $449.99 with free delivery and a two-year guarantee. You can pay as low as $13 for this keyboard controller with 36-month financing.
Our take: Arturia KeyStep Pro MIDI keyboard is best for beginners, house music producers, and live performances.
It gives you absolute control over hardware synths, modules, filters and so much more. However, it is compact but not as portable as some of the other options.
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5. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25
Best intuitive and responsive MIDI keyboard.
Native Instruments is another great MIDI keyboard controller.
It is a responsive, intuitive, and semi-weighted MIDI keyboard that comes with a complete set of virtual instruments and effects that are pre-mapped.
This keyboard has an informative OLED display for intuitive and easy navigation. It features a custom 25 semi-weighted keys and eight touch-sensitive control knobs.
Complete with ergonomic pitch and mod wheels, four premium instruments plus MASCHINE Essentials that give you that live-in concert performance feel.
It also includes Native Kontrol Standard (NKS) plug-ins, and a Quad-directional push encoder to navigate one-handedly.
- 25 custom and semi-weighted keys that won't let you down.
- 8 touch-sensitive control knobs let you dial in and tweak tones.
- An informative OLED display for at-a-glance navigation. It allows you to select individual presets in your NI instruments and do adjustments in real-time.
- Integration with MASCHINE, Logic Pro X, GarageBand, Ableton Live, Cubase, and Nuendo gives you complete control over your DAW.
- Pre-mapped control over instruments, effects, and hundreds of Native Kontrol Standard (NKS) plug-ins.
- Ergonomic pitch and mod wheels.
- TRS expression pedal input that is assignable to sustain or expression.
- Smart Control allows you to play over 100 scales, modes, chord progressions, and arpeggios with single keys. You can also map any scale to white keys only.
- USB 2.0 bus-powered.
- Provides full support for VST
- Compatible with Windows 10 and macOS.
Price: Native Instruments is available at Sweetwater for $169 with free delivery and a two-year guarantee.
You can pay as low as $5 for this keyboard controller with 36-month financing.
Our take: Native Instruments gives you a way to access the NI world.
It has a sturdy build, comes pre-mapped, with generous software bundles, and gives you absolute control over your DAW.
We believe it has great affordability for price-conscious musicians who want to experience the creativity of a full midi keyboard but remain within a limited budget.
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6. Nektar Impact LX88
Best full-featured DAW keyboard controller.
Nektar Impact LX88 is one of the best USB MIDI controllers that can hook up to any DAW. Due to its intelligent range of performance, sturdy structure, and extensive controls, the LX88 is popular among musicians and home studio setups for a reason.
In terms of control and features, nothing is left out in this MIDI keyboard. It features three fixed velocity pitch bends and modulation wheels for precise control.
Furthermore, LX88 boasts 9 control faders, 8 control knobs, performance pads, and an encoder to give you ample control abilities for your DAW session.
Moreover, it comes pre-mapped for major DAW integration.
LX88 has a wide range of 25, 49, 61, and 88 keybed. But currently, the prime impact of music-making can be felt by the full-featured LX88.
- 88 semi-weighted keys are velocity-sensitive and suitable for any kind of playing style.
- 8 assignable performance pads for MIDI notes.
- 9 control faders and 8 control knobs for hands-on control.
- Integration, mapping, and full DAW control over the preset mixer, plug-in modes, transport and navigation controls, MIDI programming, and five user presets.
- Three fixed velocities, pitch bends, and modulation wheels give a consistent output for certain synth modules.
- An encoder with default parameter assignments for easy navigation.
- Intelligent pre-mapping and configuration so you won't have to spend hours tweaking with MIDI controls.
- Compatible with Mac, Windows, and iOS devices. Can also connect with the iPad through a camera connection.
Price: Nektar Impact LX88 is available at Sweetwater for $319.99 with free delivery and a two-year guarantee.
You can pay $106.66 for 3 months with Easy Pay.
Our take: Nektar Impact LX88 is a prime keyboard controller that controls your DAW fully.
It is easy to program, and its intelligent and versatile features make it our prime pick for home studios.
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7. M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49
Best MIDI keyboard for Studio and stage performance.
The M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 is an elegant and creative MIDI controller that will never steer you wrong.
A 49 semi-weighted keybed, 9 faders, 8 assignable knobs, and 16 backlit pads with Note Repeat, it offers high-speed performance and creative workflow.
Intelligent functions like Smart Chord and Smart Scale let you develop ideas instantly.
The M-Audio Oxygen Pro is a USB bus-powered midi keyboard, and has an easy-to-navigate OLED screen.
It also comes with a ready to use software bundle.
- Intuitive OLED screen for quick edit control.
- Equipped with virtual instrument plug-ins, Ableton Live, MPC beats, and expansion packs.
- Loaded with full-featured Arpeggiator, octave, gate, and swing controls.
- 49 velocity-sensitive and aftertouch keybed with advanced high-speed keybed scanning technology.
- 9 faders to control levels and perfect your final mixes.
- 8 assignable knobs for continuous control of virtual instrument plug-ins. Allowing a hands on approach to your creative process.
- USB-MIDI connection and 5-pin MIDI port to control external hardware synths.
- Includes Smart Control features such as Smart Chord and Smart Scale that prevent you from hitting a wrong note.
- Ergonomic pitch-bend and mod wheels and 1/4-inch sustain pedal input for expressive performance.
- The arpeggiator smartly selects melodies while 16 backlit RGB pads with the Note Repeat function can generate repeat notes of specific drum beats.
- Auto-mapped for convenient control of DAW and plug-in parameters.
- It is compatible with iOS, PC, and Mac.
Price: M-Audio Oxygen Pro is available at Sweetwater for $259 with free delivery and a two-year guarantee.
You can pay as low as $6 for this keyboard controller with 48-month financing.
Our take: M-Audio Oxygen Pro rocks as an all around MIDI keyboard controller.
It is easy to set up, has a flexible configuration, and contains multiple drums for a dynamic stage performance.
Also, on the pricing side, it leans towards the fine medium but we believe it is worth every dollar.
Are MIDI keyboards necessary if I am a beginner musician?
If you want to play virtual instruments or MIDI synths then getting a MIDI keyboard controller can be better than using a mouse to play music. It has a way of giving you a more natural feel in the music.
With a MIDI controller, you will have complete tactile and hands-on control over your DAW. Also, you can control various knobs and sliders and use intuitive software to write, record, and play music.
How can I connect my MIDI keyboard controller with my PC?
You can connect the MIDI keyboard in three ways.
If it has a USB port you can connect it through the cord to an appropriate port on your PC.
You can also connect it through Bluetooth if it has Bluetooth connectivity.
Another way to connect is from the MIDI port.
What is the difference between a MIDI keyboard and a MIDI controller?
A MIDI keyboard is also a MIDI controller because it has knobs, sliders, and a key bed and can transmit MIDI data.
However, not all MIDI controllers need to have a keyboard.
Many controllers only have knobs and sliders to control parameters. Which are made to take control over functions in the daw.
So, the real difference is the presence of a keyboard in a MIDI keyboard controller.
We hope our review of the best MIDI controllers will help you in picking the one that best suits you.
When it comes to choosing a MIDI keyboard controller the market has plenty to offer. It isn't easy to select one, especially if you don't know what you need from a MIDI controller. Not all MIDI controllers come equal. Each one differs in aspects of control options, price, features, usability, durability, and performance.
So, we recommend you first identify your needs. Whether you need a keyboard that is budget or user-friendly or one that is compact enough for you to carry. Then fine-tune your requirements from there.
Whether you are a beginner, an advanced professional, a music producer, or a hobbyist, our review includes everything you will need to know to make your next MIDI keyboard controller purchase.
Author Bio: Quinton is an online music content creator, music entrepreneur, and founder of Wavmonopoly.com, a professional online music production website that provides professional mixing vocal presets, samples, and more for other music professionals.