Musical InstrumentsStudio Recording Equipment

The 9 Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers for Music Producers

If you’re a live performer, songwriter, sound designer, studio musician, or interested in music, then you’ll likely have or want to have a MIDI Keyboard Controller. This product allows you to control a myriad of different sound functions from a keyboard connected to your computer.

You can use knobs, sliders, and buttons to transmit MIDI data to your music software and have full control over the output. Such a product has been around since the mid-1980s, but technological advancements have made it into the standout controller it is today.

Whether you’re new to music creation, or it’s time for an upgrade, you’re in the right place. Below, we list nine of some of the best MIDI keyboard controllers for sale, as well as considerations for how to pick the best one. You’ll be on your way to seamless music production in no time.

1. Midiplus MIDI Controller, 32 Keys

Midiplus MIDI Controller

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By Miniplus

If you want to play around with tunes and sounds on the road, then there are few better MIDI keyboard controllers than this one from Midiplus. You can buy it with or without the USB hub, then revel in a range of features that undoubtedly show that it’s worth more than its competitive price tag.

This MIDI keyboard controller has 32 keys, a pitch wheel and modulation wheel, and even dedicated octave and transpose buttons. Given its low price tag, these features are an incredible bonus. This keyboard controller also comes with a sustain switch interface and a seamless connection to many programs such as GarageBand on Mac.

It’s ideal for synthesizers and beginners, and it’s both lightweight and compact for travel on the road. It’s undoubtedly going to prove itself time and time again.

However, it’s by no means perfect, and Midiplus has some work to do with this MIDI keyboard controller. The keys are stiff, the velocity curve is extreme, and for many, it’s a challenge to plug in and play. It’s worth reading through this controller’s reviews before you hit the buy now button.

Features

  • With or without a USB hub
  • 32 keys
  • Pitch wheel
  • Modulation wheel
  • Up and down octave buttons
  • Up and down transpose buttons
  • Sustain switch interface

Pros

  • Affordable to buy
  • You can buy it with or without the USB connection
  • Ideal for learners
  • Seamless connection to Mac’s GarageBand
  • Portable and lightweight
  • It has dedicated octave and transpose buttons
  • Ideal for synthesizers

Cons

  • The velocity curve is extreme
  • The keys are stiff
  • Quite challenging to plug in and play

2. Akai Professional USB MIDI Keyboard, 25 Keys

2. Akai Professional MIDI Keyboard

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By Akai Professional

If you’re all about technological advancement and fresh features, then this MIDI keyboard controller from Akai Professional might be an excellent product for you. Not only is it rated highly among musicians, but it comes packed full of convenient features that are bound to take your music recording to the next level.

It’s not a full keyboard, but it does come with 25 keys and eight backlit pads. These pads work well, but they also don’t offer all that much different from the keys.

Those who buy this MIDI keyboard controller can enjoy being able to pick a color from standard, black, or white, the octave button for up and down octave changes, and the eight Q-link knobs. There’s a lot to love about this MIDI keyboard controller.

It has a built-in arpeggiator, but many people say it doesn’t sync with your DAW. You can also use the four-way thumbstick for adjustments of the resolution, mode, ranges, and more.

Whether you’re programming drums, controlling virtual instruments, or triggering samples, you’ll find that this MIDI keyboard controller more than meets the mark for your needs. The keys offer a bit of resistance, and the USB cable is quite short, but otherwise, you’ll potentially like what you see.

Features

  • 25 keys
  • USB connection
  • Eight backlit pads
  • Eight Q-link knobs
  • Four-way thumbstick
  • Black, white, and standard color schemes
  • Octave button
  • Built-in arpeggiator
  • Adjustable resolution, modes, and ranges
  • 1,400 sounds included

Pros

  • You can choose a color scheme
  • It has a dedicated octave button
  • You can adjust the pitch, resolution, mode, and range, with one thumbstick
  • It comes with velocity-sensitive MPC-style pads
  • An efficient process for triggering samples, controlling virtual instruments, and programming drums

Cons

  • The arpeggiator doesn’t sync with your DAW
  • The keys feel resistant
  • The pads don’t offer anything new the keys can’t do
  • The USB power cable is short

3. Akai Professional MIDI Keyboard Controller, 61 Keys

3. Akai Professional MIDI Keyboard Controller

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By Akai Professional

If you don’t mind spending a touch more on a MIDI keyboard controller, as long as it meets the mark for quality, then this one from Akai Professional could be worth a closer look. It’s essential to note that this MIDI keyboard controller is not perfect. Sometimes, the keys can get stiff, the software costs to upgrade, and there is no screen to show your current assignment. It’s also priced above other controllers like it. However, most other features are going to prove that it’s worth the purchase price anyway.

It comes with 61 keys, but you can also buy 49 and 25-key models too. It has a core control, velocity sensitivity, and 16 RGB illuminated pads with four banks. Users will also revel in the 24 assignable Q-link controllers and the eight control knobs for switching and fading.

The MPC mainstay controls are excellent, and the five-pin MDI input and output are effortless to use as well. But the positive points don’t end there. The full-size keys are great to use, and the pads are ideal for one-shots, melodics, loops, triggering samples, and more. You even get to enjoy the tap tempo, time division, and arpeggiator, alongside the free production software.

This MIDI keyboard controller is by no means perfect, but those who are in the market for a quality one will likely see the value in this model.

Features

  • 61 keys
  • Core control
  • Velocity sensitivity
  • 16 RGB illuminated pads
  • Four banks
  • 24 assignable Q-link controllers
  • Eight control knobs
  • Five-pin MIDI input and output
  • MPC mainstay controls

Pros

  • You can choose from 61, 49, and 25 keys if you desire
  • It has full-sized keys
  • The pads work well for triggering samples, one-shots, melodics, loops, and more
  • There are eight knobs for switching and fading
  • It has an arpeggiator, time division, and tap tempo
  • Production software included

Cons

  • Expensive
  • The software doesn’t allow you to add tracks unless you upgrade it
  • There is no screen to show you your current assignment
  • The keys can become stiff

4. M-Audio Keystation 49-MK3 MIDI Keyboard Controller, 49 Keys

4. M-Audio MIDI Keyboard Controller

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By M Audio

Everyone likes to get a bargain, and when you buy this MIDI keyboard controller, you’ll likely feel that it’s what you’re getting. This MIDI keyboard controller has assignable controls, a competitive price tag, and a clean and stylish appeal. For the money, you also get more keys than what you would with other makes. Choose from 32, 49, and 61 with unbeatable value.

This MIDI keyboard controller also runs on USB power, has a plug and play seamless connection with Mac and PC, and even has a dedicated octave up and down button for convenience.

The semi-weighted keys are a nice touch, but some people say they are not evenly weighted, which could pose some problems.

When you buy this MIDI keyboard controller, you will be pleased to know it comes with its own software production suite. Setting up and using a keyboard controller has never been easier. It’s also compact, lightweight, and portable, making it a popular product among musicians.

It’s worth noting that even though it has a USB port, it is not the best quality, but if you take care of it, it’s likely to serve you well. Check out this MIDI keyboard controller for yourself and see if it works for your needs.  

Features

  • Assignable controls
  • Software production suite included
  • USB power
  • 32, 49, and 61-key options
  • Plug and play PC and Mac connection
  • Volume fader, directional buttons, and transport included
  • Octave up and down buttons
  • Semi-weighted

Pros

  • Competitive price tag
  • Clean and stylish looking
  • It’s portable and compact
  • It has excellent software
  • It has more keys for the money than other keyboards like it

Cons

  • The USB port isn’t the best quality
  • The keys don’t seem to be evenly weighted

5. Nektar Impact Keyboard Controller, 49 Keys

5. Nektar Impact Keyboard Controller

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By Nektar

If you’re not too worried about occasional disconnection and sensitive keys, then this MIDI keyboard controller from Nektar Impact could be the right one for you.

From the 49 notes and velocity-sensitive keys to the broad compatibility with Mac, PC, and iOS, this MIDI keyboard controller has it all. It works well for amateurs and professionals, has an eight-track DAW included, and it even comes with eight back-lit pads that offer unbeatable value for money. The features of this MIDI keyboard controller will surprise you.

It’s well priced on the market, boasts semi-weighted keys that are surprisingly well-balanced, and the entire keyboard is also lightweight and compact. You’ll have no qualms about taking this keyboard with you everywhere you go. The standard velocity curve is excellent, as well.

Set it up with ease, use it with ease, and enjoy everything this MIDI keyboard controller has to offer. Even though it doesn’t cost a lot to own, this keyboard offers unbeatable value.

Features

  • 49 notes
  • Velocity-sensitive keys
  • Eight hypersensitive back-lit pads
  • iOS, PC, and Mac compatibility
  • Bitwig eight-track DAW included

Pros

  • Competitive price tag
  • Broad compatibility
  • The keys are semi-weighted
  • Easy to set up
  • It’s lightweight
  • Straightforward to use
  • The standard velocity curve is excellent

Cons

  • It can lose its connection sometimes
  • The keys can be too sensitive

6. M-Audio Oxygen MIDI Keyboard, 49 Keys

6. M-Audio MIDI Keyboard

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By M Audio

Whether you’re a professional in need of a spare MIDI keyboard controller, or an amateur who is just beginning, this MIDI keyboard controller from M-Audio is an ideal option for you. From the 25, 49, and 61 key options, to the eight trigger pads, premium velocity sensitivity, and plug and play functionality, this MIDI keyboard controller has it all.

Those who buy this keyboard will be blown away by how much is packed into one small and affordable keyboard. It has an LCD screen so that you can see your current assignment, and even comes with dedicated software. The eight assignable knobs and nine assignable faders are sure to be well-appreciated as well.

It comes with onboard pitch bend and modulation wheels, a dedicated octave button, DirectLink, and a competitive price to seal the deal.

In many ways, this MIDI keyboard controller will tick all the boxes. You can choose the version with the number of keys you need, then enjoy how ideal the pads are for clip launching and beat production. The knobs and faders will also prove great for virtual instrument manipulation.

It’s easy to set up and use as well, which is a highlight for beginners who aren’t ready to move onto an expensive and complicated setup. While you can’t remap the drums, and initial programming can be hard, this MIDI keyboard controller is worth a closer look for experts and beginners alike.

Features

  • Eight trigger pads
  • 25, 49, or 61 keys
  • Velocity sensitivity
  • Onboard pitch bend and modulation wheels
  • Eight assignable knobs
  • Nine assignable faders
  • LCD screen
  • DirectLink
  • Plug and play functionality
  • Production software included
  • Dedicated octave buttons

Pros

  • You can choose how many keys it has
  • Competitive price tag
  • The pads are ideal for beat production and clip launching
  • The assignable knobs and faders are suitable for virtual instrument manipulation
  • Full melodic range in the octave button
  • It comes with software
  • Easy to set up and use
  • The screen lets you see your current assignment

Cons

  • You can’t remap the drums
  • Programming the settings is complex
  • It can disconnect from the software

7. Novation Keyboard Controller, 49 Keys

7. Novation Keyboard Controller

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By Novation

This MIDI keyboard controller is by no means perfect, but those who like to dabble in music creation from time to time will likely see its value. From the 25, 49, and 61 key options that offer the freedom to choose, to the convenient power supply, velocity sensitivity, and myriad of different musical features – what’s not to love?

Those who purchase this MIDI keyboard controller will likely enjoy the versatility of the eight knobs, PC and Mac software that comes with it, and the sustain pedal ¼-inch jack socket that many other keyboards like it don’t have. Furthermore, the 16 drum pads, generous two-year warranty, and LED display so you can see your current assignment will likely make your eyes light up.

This MIDI keyboard controller is taking you places. It’s affordable to buy, has velocity-sensitive drum pads, and has a USB power supply. It’s also a far better model than previous ones from Novation, for which many of their customers can vouch.

It doesn’t have a power switch, and the drum pads are not sensitive enough, but it’s worth checking out all the same.

Features

  • 25, 49, and 61 key options
  • USB power supply
  • 16 RGB pads
  • Velocity sensitivity
  • Eight knobs
  • PC and Mac software included
  • Sustain pedal ¼-inch jack socket
  • LED display
  • Pitch bend and modulation wheels
  • 16 drum pads
  • Two-year warranty

Pros

  • Generous warranty period
  • Great price tag
  • You can choose from a myriad of different key options
  • It has dedicated control and navigation buttons
  • It comes with software
  • You can see your current assignment on the screen
  • The drum pads are velocity-sensitive
  • It runs entirely on USB for convenience
  • It’s a major improvement on previous Novation models

Cons

  • The drum pads are stiff and sometimes inconsistent
  • No power switch
  • The keys and sliders feel cheap

8. Alesis V25 Keyboard Controller, 25 Keys

8. Alesis Keyboard Controller

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By Alesis

Trying to find a MIDI keyboard controller that’s both affordable and well made might seem impossible, but Alesis is proving that it’s not. Of course, a MIDI keyboard controller as affordable as this one is not going to be perfect. The dynamics are not excellent, and the pad sensitivity is not as decent as others. However, it has all the makings of a great keyboard controller.

It comes with backlit pads, four assignable buttons and four assignable knobs, and even a dedicated octave button for up and down. This MIDI keyboard controller also has 25 keys and is available in four different models.

It’s perfect for virtual instruments, works well for beat production, and clip launching, and you even get software for your purchase price. You would be surprised at how much value is packed into one compact keyboard.

It’s not going to be at the top of the food chain, but if you’re an amateur who’s looking to start at the bottom, give this MIDI keyboard controller a try.

Features

  • Backlit pads
  • Four assignable knobs
  • Four models
  • 25 keys
  • Four assignable buttons
  • Octave up and down button
  • Software included

Pros

  • It’s suitable for virtual instruments
  • It has eight pressure-sensitive back-lit pads
  • Ideal for clip launching and beat production
  • Plenty of assignable buttons and knobs for customization
  • You get the software with it
  • Competitive price tag

Cons

  • The dynamics aren’t the best
  • The pad sensitivity isn’t great

9. Arturia Slim-Key Controller, 25 Keys

9. Arturia Slim-Key Controller

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By Arturia

If you want your next MIDI keyboard controller to look a bit different from everyone else’s, then why not purchase this MiniLab MkII model from Arturia? The endless rotary knobs for VST control are a bit annoying, and the software is finicky, but that’s where the negative points end.

This MIDI keyboard controller comes with 25 keys, eight convenient presets, and mapping right out of the box. You’ll spend less time playing around with settings and more time enjoying playing music. It also comes with 16 assignable encoders.

This MIDI keyboard controller is sleek, stylish, portable, and compact, and is exceptionally responsive. It’s also competitively priced and ideal for beginners to music production. It’s not the best MIDI keyboard controller for sale, but it’s going to turn heads everywhere you go with it.

Features

  • 25 keys
  • Eight presets
  • Out-of-the-box mapping
  • 16 assignable encoders
  • MiniLab MkII model

Pros

  • Affordable to buy
  • It’s portable and compact
  • It’s very responsive
  • It’s mapped right out of the box
  • Ideal for beginners in music production
  • Sleek design
  • It comes with software

Cons

  • Endless rotary knobs for VST control
  • The software is finicky

Considerations for Purchasing a MIDI Keyboard Controller

If you’ve decided to get into music production with a MIDI keyboard controller, then it’s important not to jump into any purchases. Being hasty will only increase your chances of buying a MIDI keyboard controller that’s not fit for purpose. Read on to learn a few of the things to consider.

  1. Key Count

    The key count refers to how many keys your controller has and how they are positioned. Most come with 25, 49, or 61 keys, and can be between 20 to 50 inches long. Some of the rarer models have 88 keys. The number of keys can be reflective of your industry. A DJ, for example, would be better off with a 25-key controller, but a trained pianist would need more.

  2. Controls

    The knobs, faders, and buttons all play a part in how much you will love your new MIDI keyboard controller. These are useful for transmitting MIDI data to your computer. The more of these you have, the more control you have over your recording process. Be on the lookout for automapping technology that syncs settings to your software.

  3. Keyboard Action

    You would be surprised at how much the keyboard action matters in your hunt for the best MIDI keyboard controller. Weighted hammer action keys offer an authentic piano feel, while semi-weighted provides less resistance and more springiness. Synth-action keys feel more like an electronic keyboard and are ideal for fast arpeggios.

  4. Price

    The price tag of any MIDI Keyboard Controller often reflects who the keyboard is going to be suitable for. Professionals who need all the bells and whistles can expect to pay far more than a lower-end keyboard with only a few buttons and dials. If the price tag seems too low, then it’s worth questioning the quality and referring to user reviews for guidance.

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