10 Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers Of 2017

Are you looking for the best MIDI keyboard for your home or pro studio?

Thanks to advancements in music technology, a music producer only needs 4 things to make great music.

A computer, a DAW, a decent pair of headphones, and…

You guessed it, a MIDI keyboard!

Think about the songs you have written by playing notes with your computer keyboard or by drawing every single note, one by one, with your mouse.

Try to imagine how much easier your life would’ve been with a real keyboard in front of you!

With a MIDI keyboard — even a smaller model —  you could experiment with notes in different octaves because you have a wider range of keys than you would on your computer keyboard!

This is great because it’ll help you spark new harmonic or melodic ideas, even if you don’t know how to play the piano!

Most DAWs have some sort of “musical scale” plugin. Ableton for example, has the Scale MIDI effect.

This MIDI effect lets you dial in any musical scale, allowing you to hit any key in your MIDI keyboard and have the confidence that it’ll sound good.

For this reason, you don’t really need prior musical experience to buy a MIDI keyboard and use it in your own productions.

Just by messing around, you’ll get started on learning how to integrate keyboard techniques into your songwriting.

So how do you pick the one that’s best for your production needs?

Features To Consider While Looking For The Best MIDI Keyboard

Price is a big factor when considering a MIDI keyboard, so figuring out how much money you can spend on a MIDI keyboard is the first step you need to take.

Some budget keyboards have a lot to offer nowadays, so don’t get discouraged if your budget isn’t big!

Key count is the first thing you want to consider while looking for the best MIDI keyboard.

If you’re primarily producing some sort of bass music, you might not necessarily need an 88 key MIDI keyboard, as most of the time songs stay within a range of 2 octaves.

On the other hand, if you’re making really melodic music, and maybe even performing live, a 61 or 88 key model might be the best MIDI keyboard for you!

This also influences portability. If your studio space is too small or you’re simply moving around a lot and working outside of your studio, a compact keyboard might be the best choice.

There are some MIDI keyboards designed to fit inside most backpacks, so these are definitely a go-to for traveling musicians!

Key weight is the second feature to take into consideration — and it goes hand in hand with key count — while looking for the best MIDI keyboard.

If you’re a piano player, having weighted keys could be extremely important to you.

Fully-weighted keys on a MIDI keyboard emulate the feel of a real piano.

Semi-weighted keys combine the spring-loaded mechanism of synth actions with the addition of light weights attached to each key.

Realistically, a semi-weighted keyboard is the best option for the majority of bedroom producers on a budget, since weighted keyboards tend to be on the expensive side of the spectrum.

MIDI keyboards in different price ranges will also give you extra features like knobs, faders, pads, wheels, plugin support, and high resolution screens.

Some of these additional features can help you with your workflow, or help you create new effects that you might have not known were possible.

These extra features are really important to take into consideration while looking for the best MIDI keyboard, as they have a substantial impact on price.

So remember to consider what kind of producer you are and what features you want to get out of a MIDI keyboard!

So here it is!

Our Top 10 MIDI Keyboards for 2017:

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Akai MPK249 [399.99 USD]

Main Features:

  • Semi-Weighted Keys
  • DAW Compatibility: ALL
  • Velocity Sensitive
  • 24 MIDI Assignable Controls
  • USB Powered
  • Weight: 12.6 lbs

Complete specifications are available at the Akai Professional website.

We’re almost certain that you’ve seen this keyboard at least once somewhere before.

That’s because many producers that perform live tend to use this keyboard, and you’ve probably seen producers in home studios with this keyboard numerous times as well.

With just a weight of 12.6 lbs, the MPK249 is really easy to move around.

For that reason, the Akai MPK249 is one of the best MIDI keyboard controllers for producers that have a small home studio, and for people that like to bring their gear on the road.

It has 16 pressure and velocity sensitive RGB-illuminated MPC pads which are almost identical to what you’d find on the MPC Series.

This keyboard also comes with some great software!

It includes Ableton Live Lite, 2 soft synths (Sonivox 3 and Hybrid 3), and Akai software.

Akai also offers 25 and 61 key versions of the MPK2.

Akai MPK Mini MKII [99.99 USD]

cymatics-mpk mini-best midi keyboard

Main Features:

  • Velocity Sensitive
  • DAW Compatibility: ALL
  • 25 MIDI Assignable Controls
  • USB Powered
  • Weight: 1.65 lbs

Complete specifications are available at the Akai Professional website.

With 5 years of user feedback, the new MPK Mini is bound to be the best portable MIDI keyboard on the market.

The MPK Mini MKII is designed for the travelling musician, and for producers that don’t need a bigger keyboard.

It has the minimum required size to still be able to create melodies and chords while being durable enough to move it around constantly.

With a weight of 1.65 lb and only 2 octaves you can fit this controller inside most backpacks!

Similar to the MPK249, this MIDI keyboard has 8 pressure and velocity sensitive light-up MPC pads where you can load many kinds of samples.

One really incredible feature that stands out in this MIDI keyboard is the 4-way thumbstick for pitch and modulation control.

The MPK Mini also includes the following software: Akai Pro MPC Essentials, Sonivox Wobble, and Hybrid 3 by AIR Music Tech.

NI Komplete Kontrol S49 [599 USD]

cymatics-s49-best midi keyboard

Main Features:

  • Semi-Weighted Keys with Aftertouch
  • Light Guide plus High-Res Color Displays
  • DAW Compatibility: Ableton, Logic X, and GarageBand
  • Velocity Sensitive
  • USB Powered
  • Weight: 12.1 lbs

Complete specifications are available at the Native Instruments website.

Native Instruments is known for making some of the most popular VST’s on the market such as: Massive, Kontakt, Razor, and many more.

They also make some of the best MIDI controllers like Traktor and Maschine, which are generally used for music production, DJ’ing, and live performances.

The Komplete Kontrol S49 is the first MIDI keyboard developed by Native Instruments, and if you’re a user of the Komplete Audio bundle, this keyboard is a must-have!

It’s designed to work in conjunction with a lot of Native Instruments software, and it will really change the way you surf through sounds, tweak parameters, and sketch ideas.

We highly recommend you to watch this review by Molten Music Technology, where you’ll see an in depth demonstration of the capability of this keyboard.

The Komplete Kontrol S49 is one of the best looking MIDI keyboards out there, and it also comes in 25, 61, and 88 key versions!

Alesis VX49 [399 USD]

Main Features:

  • Semi-Weighted Keys with Aftertouch
  • High-resolution full-color screen
  • DAW Compatibility: ALL
  • Velocity Sensitive
  • USB Powered
  • Weight: 9.5 lbs

Complete specifications are available at the Alesis website.

The Alesis VX49 is another really good looking MIDI keyboard that has some incredible features similar to the Komplete Kontrol S series.

This keyboard incorporates “Virtual Instrument Player” software (VIP), which allows you to easily control and navigate plugins within your DAW.

With 8 RGB velocity and pressure sensitive pads, and 8 360º degree knobs, this is one of the best MIDI keyboard controllers for producers that want absolute control within their DAW or during live performances!

The Alesis VX49 also includes:

  • Ableton Live Lite
  • Vacuum Pro
  • Loom Hybrid 3
  • Xpand!2
  • Velvet Transfuser
  • Eighty Eight Ensemble
  • A 16 GB download of over 10,000 sounds made by AIR Music Technology Sonivox, and Toolroom Records!

ROLI Seaboard Block [299.95 USD]

cymatics-seaboard-best midi keyboard

Main Features:

  • 5D Touch Technology
  • DAW Compatibility: Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Garageband, and Bitwig
  • USB/Battery Powered
  • Weight: 1.43 lbs

Complete specifications are available at ROLI’s website.

The ROLI Seaboard Block is a one of a kind keyboard. When it came out, we were so intrigued and amazed by it, that we just had to include it in this list.

With 5D Touch Technology, 24 molded keywaves and amazing sensitivity, this controller is one of the most technologically advanced keyboards on the market.

This new technology allows you to modulate the pitch, vibrato, and volume just by wiggling or moving your finger around the keyboard.

The Seaboard Block is the most portable version of the Seaboard MIDI keyboards. With only 2 octaves, you can set it up and play it basically anywhere!

Along with the controller itself, it includes the “Equator Playing” software synthesizer (Mac), the NOISE app, and the BLOCKS dashboard software.

With the new Seaboard Block, you can also connect any other ROLI Products to the Block to enhance your studio or live performances!

If you need any more convincing, watch this incredible demonstration video by ROLI!

 

Nektar Panorama P4 [499.99 USD]

cymatics-p4-best midi keyboard

Main Features:

  • Semi-Weighted Keys
  • DAW Compatibility: Bitwig, Cubase, Logic Pro, Reason, Main Stage, and Reaper
  • USB Powered
  • Weight: 14 lbs

Complete specifications are available at the Nektar website.

The Nektar Panorama P4 is one the best looking MIDI keyboards in this list.

It was originally designed for Propellerhead’s Reason (DAW), but it now also offers integration with any of the DAW’s listed above.

The Panorama P4 contains 93 parameters to MIDI map on your DAW, allowing for endless modulation possibilities!

One thing you don’t really see in any other MIDI keyboards is a motorized touch-sensitive ALPS fader, which gives you a pro console-like mixer channel to control within your DAW.

Nektar’s motto is to make things simple and fast, and the Panorama P4 really accomplishes that!

The P4 has 49 keys, but there’s also a 61 key version for producers that enjoy more room to play with.

M-Audio Code 49 [299 USD]

cymatics-m audio-best midi keyboard

Main Features:

  • X/Y Pad
  • Velocity Sensitive Keys with Aftertouch
  • DAW Compatibility: ALL
  • USB Powered
  • Weight: 9.9 lbs

Complete specifications are available at the M-Audio website.

The M-Audio Code 49 is a powerful keyboard built for producers at any level!

What stands out the most in this MIDI keyboard is the fully customizable X/Y pad, as not many MIDI keyboards on the market have this feature.

This could be a great effect to use during live performances or when you just want more craziness in your sound design sessions!

To see the X/Y pad in action, check out this demo by Sweetwater.

On top of that, it also features 16 fully assignable velocity sensitive trigger pads that are compatible with any DAW!

The Code 49 includes VIP 3.0, which allows you to have hands on control over your DAW and most virtual instruments.

The M-Audio Code MIDI keyboard comes in 25, 49, and 61 key versions that are ready to plug and play wherever you are!

Novation Launchkey 61 MK2 [249.99 USD]

cymatics-launchkey-best midi keyboard

Main Features:

  • Velocity Sensitive Keys
  • DAW Compatibility: ALL
  • USB Powered
  • Weight: 9.26 lbs

Complete specifications are available at the Novation website.

Novation designed the Launchkey 61 MK2 to work specifically with Ableton’s layout, but regardless of that, it’ll work with any DAW.

Once you plug in this controller to your computer, you get hands on control of the grid, instruments, effects, and mixer within Ableton Live!

The 16 full-colour RGB backlit velocity sensitive drum pads also make it really easy to record and trigger different kind of samples.

Because of its lightweight and easy setup, this the best MIDI keyboard for any producer that does live performances with Ableton.

The Launchkey MK2 also includes Ableton Live 9 Lite, Novation Bass Station, V-Station, and an XLN Addictive Keys instrument of your choice!

This MIDI keyboard comes in 25, 49, or 61 key versions.

M-Audio Keystation 49 II [99 USD]

cymatics-keystation-best midi keyboard

Main Features:

  • Semi-Weighted Keys
  • DAW Compatibility: ALL
  • USB Powered
  • Weight: 4.6 lbs

Complete specifications are available at the M-Audio website.

The M-Audio Keystation 49 II is a simple and extremely powerful MIDI controller designed to work with any DAW.

This keyboard is one of the cheapest ones on the list, but don’t underestimate it’s power!

Haywyre, a very notable producer, has been seen using this keyboard during some of his live performances!

Because of its versatility, piano like qualities, and 49 velocity sensitive keys, this MIDI keyboard is a favorite amongst many producers and performers.

It features transport and directional buttons which make it easy to navigate through your DAW without even touching your mouse.

If you’re tired of carrying your computer with you, you can also use this keyboard with an iOS device using the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit (sold separately).

The Keystation 49 II also includes Ableton Live Lite, Sonivox Eighty-Eight Ensemble, and AIR Music Tech Xpand!2.

Roland A-500 Pro [299.99 USD]

cymatics-a500-best midi keyboard

Main Features:

  • Semi-Weighted Keys
  • DAW Compatibility: ALL
  • USB Powered
  • Weight: 8.44 lbs

Complete specifications are available at the Roland website.

Roland has over 30 years of keyboard development experience at their side, so you can expect some of the best quality in their products!

The new Roland A-500 Pro is the perfect blend between a classic Roland keyboard and what you’d get from any modern MIDI keyboard.

It features 45 assignable controls that can be used inside your DAW, such as knobs, buttons, and sliders.

The A-500 Pro features 8 velocity sensitive dynamic pads, which can be used to trigger grooves, one shots, and samples with ease.

With its ultra-bright backlit LED display and USB plug and play technology, you’ll be ready to perform live, or just use it to compose songs inside your studio!

Conclusion

Picking the best MIDI keyboard comes down to what your budget is and what you’ll be using it for!

In this list we picked some of the best MIDI keyboard controllers that we think will really impress you while using them in your studio or during a live performance.

Here are the most important features to look out for while choosing the best MIDI keyboard for your studio:

  • Key count
  • Key weight
  • MIDI Assignable Controls
  • Virtual Instrument Player (VIP)
  • Aftertouch
  • Free DAW or Plugins
  • Drum Pads, Knobs, and Sliders

We now want to hear from you!

Have you used any of these MIDI keyboards before?

Do you know about any other incredible MIDI keyboards that aren’t mentioned in this list?

Let us know in the comment section below!

5 thoughts on “10 Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers Of 2017”

  1. How in the world did the Keylab 49 or any of the arturia series not land on this list. I mean you have the M-Audio key station which i own as well and its clearly not better than my arturia keylab. Not to mention all the added software that comes with the arturia brand. One of which comes with your keyboard when you buy it. I don’t know about this list.

  2. Wonderful work! That is the type of info that are supposed to be shared across the web. Shame on the seek engines for now not positioning this put up upper! Come on over and seek advice from my website . Thanks =) musical artist

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