Best High-End MIDI Keyboard Controllers in 2022

Dave Mostert
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If you are a serious musician or producer, you should consider getting a MIDI keyboard controller. There are a lot of good options out there and I hope to be able to help you narrow it down to just a few, based on your personal preferences.

I’ll focus mainly on the higher-end of the MIDI keyboard controller market.

MIDI controllers can be incredibly useful for writing music software. They are essentially a “fader” for your keyboard or piano that can be mapped to a DAW.

Here are the best high-end MIDI keyboards to consider buying.

NameCategoryProduct
Arturia KeyLab 49 MKII Keyboard ControllerBest OverallArturia KeyLab 49 MKII Keyboard Controller
Akai Professional MPK261Budget PickAkai Professional MPK261
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49 Mk2 KeyboardUpgrade PickNative Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49 Mk2 Keyboard

1. Arturia KeyLab 49 MKII Keyboard Controller

Our rating: 9 / 10

Arturia KeyLab 49 MKII Keyboard Controller

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Pros:

  • “True Control” features are elegant and easy to use
  • Multiple connectivity options
  • Ultra-portable form factor
  • Smooth keybed
  • Can be used as a standalone MIDI controller or as a plugin for your DAW

Cons:

  • Aluminum chassis could be better at dealing with stresses
  • There’s no way to adjust the volume of the synth engines

The Arturia KeyLab 49 is a great opportunity for you to enter the world of musical creation. This keyboard is packed with features that will make it a very nice addition to your studio, not only to play sounds but also to shape them as you please.

It’s an upgrade of the KeyLab, improving in the quality of the synth engines, improved power options (while maintaining the same weight), and the KeyLab’s very cool feature called KeyTracking.

KeyLab 49 is ultra-portable, coming in a sleek comuter-like metallic case with a weight of 6.7lb. As it weighs so little, you can take it along with other instruments, mixers, and controllers to your recording session.Just connect it to a 5.5mm/2.1mm power source and you’re good to go.

2. Akai Professional MPK261

Our rating: 9 / 10

Akai Professional MPK261

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Pros:

  • Inexpensive for a midi controller of its type
  • Great for drummers and keyboard players
  • Very compact and incredibly portable
  • Comes with a 10 year warranty

Cons:

  • Some have reported that some of the pads are not as responsive in small spaces
  • Does not feel very sturdy, but it could be that they expect some people will be putting it through hard use by pushing the keys
  • Not a full MPC pad, which means that it is not capable of launching samples, if that is something that is an important factor for you

The MPK261 is a great midi controller that has the ability to launch samples, which is a plus for some people. I would not say it makes it great, but it is one of the features that make it better than some other midi controllers. It has pads that allow you to loop your beats and allows you to also use it to trigger other samples, if you prefer to sample instead of pull samples from a library.

It also comes with a software version of the Akai software, which is designed to give you complete control over the device. The keys contained are semi-weighted, which is something that you generally do not find on a device at this price point.

3. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49 Mk2 Keyboard

Our rating: 7 / 10

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49 Mk2 Keyboard

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Pros:

  • Full-size keyboard, lightweight and portable
  • Incredibly versatile
  • Plug and play straight out of the box
  • Dedicated knobs and buttons for various functions
  • Perfect for various styles of music
  • Easy to use, PC/Mac compatible

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Narrower than most keyboards

One of the top items on your list might be Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49Mk2 Keyboard.

The S49Mk2 is a versatile MIDI keyboard for all your live and studio needs. Its sleek, black design will make you want to play it. The keys are full-size so you can expect excellent response and feel. They also have an LED backlight so you don’t have to look down at your fingers.

It’s got a ton of other great features. For example, it’s got onboard drum pads, but the quantity depends on the model you get. For instance, the Mk2 comes with 16 pads. On the other hand, the Mk1 has 8 pads.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best MIDI keyboard controller?

The best MIDI keyboards aren't just for hobbyists; they are used in recording studios every day. Why?

If you are an aspiring musician, it's more than likely that you want to record some of your own music.

And, when it comes to recording music, you need a keyboard to input your musical ideas into your computer.

The best MIDI keyboards eliminate the need for MIDI cables. Instead, they connect wirelessly to the computer or tablet. This means that you can use the keyboard to play your music and adjust certain aspects of the sound from the screen of your device.

MIDI keyboards are still around because they allow musicians of all levels to start using loops and creating music right away. If you are a hobbyist musician, you will love the convenience of using a MIDI keyboard.

Even professional musicians who are used to using MIDI keyboards love to receive one as a gift from time to time.

What is the best MIDI controller for beginners?

If you're just stepping into the world of MIDI controllers, it can seem like there are a lot of options to consider, particularly if you're just starting out in the music world. In reality, there are only a few things you need to look out for when selecting one of the best MIDI controllers for beginners:

Size – If you're looking to bring your MIDI controller on the go, be sure to check out the dimensions. Otherwise, the sky is the limit for what you're willing to carry.

Portability – Remember, carrying the controller around is the primary function of a MIDI controller; if you don't plan on bringing it with you often, you might be better off with a digital piano or keyboard.

Durability – If you're going to carry it with you, you'll want to make sure it's sturdy and well-made. A durable MIDI controller will save you a lot of money and hassle in the future.

What is the best 61 key MIDI keyboard?

A 61-key MIDI keyboard controller is not only the most popular size, but it is also the most common size you’re likely to encounter.

If you want to play electronic piano or another instrument, you’ll need to invest in a MIDI keyboard controller. In the list of notable features, the best keyboards come with 61 keys and a bunch of other goodies, such as:

  • A built-in arpeggiator for auto-playing that specific keyboard
  • Volume, pitch, and other knobs for controlling sound and music
  • MIDI connections and a power supply to operate
  • A stand to hold the keyboard at the correct angle

If you’re a novice or an experienced musician, the 61-key MIDI keyboard will serve you for years to come.

What is the best MIDI keyboard for Garageband?

The Novation Impulse is a very popular keyboard among Garageband users as it provides an affordable yet professional quality instrument that can really elevate the song. It features 25-key semi-weighted keys which are complemented by its large, colorful LED �ash.

Also, there are 6 control knobs which give the user options for creating more in-depth beat making and mixing as opposed to the simpler GarageBand interface.

One of the best features of the Novation Impulse is its semi-weighted keys which give the user a professional feel that is hard to ignore. The keys are velocity-sensitive which means that the harder you push the key, the louder and clearer the sound is. The push of the key really has an effect on the sound, so it is essential to get it right for some of the more intricate genres that a GarageBand user might be interested in creating.

Conclusion

You can never go wrong with a keyboard that has a great feel to it. Even when being fingered casually, it feels like an instrument you should be playing, and that sort of quality makes a huge difference. Sometimes price is the main deciding factor and when this is the case, you can find cheaper guitars that sound exactly the same. However, the quality is what makes the price difference here, and you may even find that this is the case with the more expensive guitars.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Arturia KeyLab 49 MKII Keyboard ControllerBest OverallArturia KeyLab 49 MKII Keyboard Controller
Akai Professional MPK261Budget PickAkai Professional MPK261
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49 Mk2 KeyboardUpgrade PickNative Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49 Mk2 Keyboard