For people who are inclined to music, especially if they make a living out of it, having the complete equipment would make a great difference.
However, with the modern era we live in today, music producers can create sounds from any music instrument through the use of a MIDI keyboard controller.
Sounds interesting, right? But before you go around searching for the best MIDI keyboard controller, start with the basics first.
To make sure you place the best one in your recording studio, below are a series of considerations.
Here are the best MIDI keyboard controllers for beginners
- MK2 version of Novation's 49-note USB keyboard controller for Ableton Live
- 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, 8 knobs, and dedicated navigation and control buttons
Creating and producing all sorts of music can now be done easily, with the help of Novation’s Launchkey 49-Note MK2 Version. Novation introduces its own series of Launchkey keyboard controllers to give music producers, DJs, or just anyone who enjoys creating music.
Featuring 49 keys, 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, 8 knobs, and dedicated navigation and control buttons, the Launchkey MK2 is considered the best MIDI keyboard controller.
Connectivity is not an issue with this keyboard controller as you can easily plug it via USB. Boasting a synth-style keyboard action, the MK2 is very responsive, easy to play, and velocity-sensitive. It also comes with outstanding software that would really come in handy (plus a 2-year limited warranty)—Ableton Live Lite and XLN Audio Addictive Keys.
Work won’t also be a bore as the 16 RGB colors that match the velocity-sensitive pads will keep you entertained.
Boasting its very own InControl feature, you can easily get a hold of other music software. Complete with 3-character LED display, sustain pedal with ¼ inch jack socket, pitch bend, and modulation wheels, you’ll have an easy and comfortable time working with your tracks.
With the Launchkey MK2, you wouldn’t need additional drivers. All you have to do is install the software, plug-in, and start creating your own work of art.
- Highly playable synth key action
- Pressure sensitive pads with a playable slightly rubbery feel
- Compact minimal design
- Sturdy and worth the price
- Pads are not responsive and need to be hit with force
- Portable and Compact - MIDI Controller
- The most responsive keyboard experience in its category
What we love about the Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 is its portable and compact design. Though be fool with its size though. Aside from its quality build design, it also considered as the most responsive keyboard and pad in its category.
Belting 21 keyboard instruments and synthesizers, 16 assignable encoders for DAW and other powerful features, the Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 is surely best on its own. Coming at its price point, this is already a steal and it surely deserves to be on this 2nd spot.
- Lightweight, compact, yet durable
- Most responsive in its category
- Great value for money, a cheaper alternative
- Powerful feature, lots of sounds
- Drum pads are not very good
- Setting up the apps might be difficult for some
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- Total Control Wherever You Go; USB MIDI keyboard controller with 25 velocity sensitive keys and octave up / down buttons to access the full melodic range; perfect virtual synthesizer control
It doesn’t matter if you’re a performer or a music producer, Akai Professional MPK Mini MkII will take you to a whole new level of music-making. If portability is your number one priority, then the MPK Mini MkII is your top choice for the best MIDI keyboard controller, as it’s USB bus-powered and consists of only 25 velocity-sensitive synth-action mini keys.
Equipped with all the necessities to finish your masterpiece, the MPK Mini MkII features dedicated Octave Up/Down buttons, velocity-sensitive MPC-style pads (in two banks) with MPC Note Repeat and Full Level, plus eight assignable Q-Link knobs.
Comes with Reason Lite, Akai VIP3.0 virtual instrument workstation software/plug-in, and exclusive Melodics lessons, you can probably finish your tracks in one sitting since Akai seems like a great provider.
Boasting its 4-way thumbstick which allows great control of pitch and modulation, the MPK Mini MkII is really a must-have.
- Simple, yet effective design
- Lightweight and portable
- A great beat making keyboard
- Setting up the controller with the software is a bit confusing
- Compact, ultra portable performance keyboard controller with 49 full size, synth action velocity sensitive keys and on board pitch bend and modulation wheels for expressive performances
- 8 velocity sensitive trigger pads for beat production and clip launching; 8 assignable knobs and 9 assignable faders for manipulating virtual instruments, DAW parameters and plugins on board LCD screen provides instant parameter feedback
Featuring 49 full sized keys with synth-action, which are both velocity- and pressure-sensitive, the M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV will give you a realistic touch to your music and performance. Its smart and excellent design will give you a comfortable time.
Owning 8 velocity-sensitive trigger pads and 8 assignable knobs, incorporating your own beat to your tracks while easily manipulating plug-ins and instruments is easily achievable.
You don’t have to worry about installing various music software as Oxygen 49 provides external integration with a lot of prominent DAWs. With the use of DirectLink, Oxygen 49’s controls automatically maps key parameters into the DAW you’re currently using.
This gives you an easy time by directly modifying the mixers, editors, and transport windows. This beginner MIDI keyboard controller also features mapping presets which quickly aligns it to your fave effect plugins and virtual instruments.
- Pads perform nicely
- Keys provide decent tactile response
- Some don’t prefer the synth action
- 49 semi weighted, velocity sensitive full size keys and a premium piano style key bed for unprecedented response and natural feel
- 16 RGB illuminated MPC style pads each with 4 banks for 64 pads the perfect solution for triggering samples, loops, one shots, melodies and more
Another stunner coming from Akai Professional is its very own MPK249.
Featuring 49 semi-weighted, full sized keys with pressure sensitivity, the MPK249 is your go-to MIDI keyboard controller with trigger pads for all your music production and performance needs.
With its 5-pin MIDI input and output, 8 control knobs, 8 faders, and 8 switches (24 assignable each via 3 banks), the MPK249 shines with great functionality and versatility.
Featuring the very popular VIP, both musicians and composers would have total control for their virtual instrument and effect selection. Complete with only the very functional music software that serve their purpose incredibly, the MPK249 comes with Ableton Live Lite and MPC Essentials.
- Easy to use layout
- Offers a lot of controls
- With its price, it could have been better with more keys
Factors To Consider When Buying a MIDI Keyboard Controller for Beginners
But first, here’s a video overviewing what a MIDI keyboard controller is.
Just like buying any other instrument, you need to sort out your budget. Ranging from $100-$500, there are a lot of models that would surely fit your budget. So, you can start finding the best beginner MIDI keyboard controller for you on that price range.
On this particular list, the best MIDI keyboard controllers would only cost you a price that won’t be higher than $400.
Also not that normally, models with higher key count would cost more. Additional features would also increase the tag worth.
Number of Keys
This is probably the first thing you’ll notice when viewing a lot of MIDI keyboard controllers. Thinking of how many keys you need in your MIDI keyboards should coincide with its purpose. Normally, you’ll see MIDI keyboards to have 25, 49, 61, or 88 keys.
Evidently, the lesser number of keys, the lesser size it has. With 25 keys being the lightest and smallest, and 88 keys being the full size.
A keyboard’s action is the keys’ response to your touch. It is important that you feel comfortable whenever you play it wherever you are.
Of course, the kind of action that would suit you depends on your playing style. The most common types of action are weighted hammer, semi-weighted, and synth action. Get to know each of the types so you’ll know which one will suit you best.
Inputs & Outputs
Because we are in a modern era, a lot of MIDI keyboard controller manufacturers use USB outputs to transport MIDI data. Although, there are other ways for transmission of data to be done.
One common output is a 5-pin MIDI DIN, which lets external synthesizers and other hardware to connect to your computer. Having this feature might sound inviting to you if you like to tinker things.
When it comes to pedals, most models have jacks for sustain or expression pedals. Expression pedals are great in controlling and modifying some settings of your choice. On the other hand, keyboard sustain pedals work perfectly when it comes to achieving a genuine piano-style playing.
Knobs, Faders, and Buttons
MIDI keyboard controllers have their own distinct knobs, faders, and buttons. These are as important as the keys, as they also contribute in giving you a more realistic experience and give your music more variety as you play the software instrument.
You can modify the volume, adjust the filters, or just change any parameter you like with these added features.
Buttons are there so you can edit the menus, MIDI information, change octaves, or transport and transpose functions. They are considered a convenient feature as it allows you to do such tasks without switching to using your mouse.
On the other hand, knobs and faders can be assigned to any function you want. Do you have a stack of VST synthesizers? Well, knobs and faders would greatly come in handy, as it will give your tracks a more realistic touch.
If you’re an on-the-go worker and portability is important to you, find the best MIDI keyboard controller that can be battery-powered or bus-powered.
MIDI keyboards that are bus-powered can have its power source from your computer without needing any external power source.
While battery-powered ones are, well, powered by batteries. Models of these kinds do not only give you portability, but they also eliminate the clutter that cables bring.
But, if you’re okay with a MIDI keyboard controller that’s not that portable and handy, a lot of models are still powered by an external source. Bigger units need an AC adaptor.
What is the best MIDI keyboard controller for beginners?
Novation Launchkey 49-Note MK2 is our top pick for the best MIDI controller for beginners. Featuring 49 keys, 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, 8 knobs, and dedicated navigation and control buttons, the Launchkey MK2 is considered the best MIDI keyboard controller with an affordable price. It carries a synth-style keyboard action which makes it very responsive and tactile.
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