10 Best Midi Keyboard Controllers in 2021

Dave Mostert
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Are you sick of seeing the same keyboard controllers over and over? Do you want to buy a new one but do not know which one to get?

Well, let my guide you through the keyboard controller jungle and teach you what features you should get.

I am going to start with a table with all the necessary specifications, so you can compare key features, then I will write a short paragraph about each product, telling you what it is like.

And then you will have all the information you need to decide which one to get.

So, without further ado, let’s see what are the 10 NoteForth mini keyboard controllers for sale in 2021.

NameCategoryProduct
Akai Professional MPK249Best OverallAkai Professional MPK249
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKIIBudget PickAkai Professional MPK Mini MKII
Behringer U-Control UMX610 61-Key USB/MIDI Controller KeyboardUpgrade PickBehringer U-Control UMX610 61-Key USB/MIDI Controller Keyboard

1. Akai Professional MPK249

Our rating: 9 / 10

Akai Professional MPK249

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Pros:

  • Designed to emulate the feel of MPC workstations
  • Offers different layers for playing
  • Good value for the price

When it comes to finding the best MIDI keyboards and controllers, the MPK249 from Akai makes it in the top ten. It consists of 49 keys which means that it can be used by both beginners and professionals. It is also rated at 12 semitones which enables you to make a few adjustments when you are playing your instrument.

This ensures that you are able to play all the chords that you need with just a few presses. One of the first things that you will notice about this controller is the key bed. This is because it is semi-weighted so it is much easier to play when compared to other models in the market.

Another impressive feature of this device is the arpeggiator and it also has a pad controller that is velocity sensitive. So, when you want to create a more complex sound, you will see that this model is the perfect option. Also, the title says it all as it has the core control technology so that you can use it for recording and live performances.

2. Alesis V49

Our rating: 8 / 10

Alesis V49

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Pros:

  • 8 backlit pads for creating beats and melodies
  • It has USB connectivity
  • Professional software is included
  • It has 49 full-size keys
  • It is DJ/VJ ready
  • It has MIDI in and out jacks
  • It is PC and Mac compatible

Cons:

  • Might have some plastic construction
  • Less number of velocity-sensitive keys

Keyboards are the most popular and important piece of hardware you need for making beats and melodies. The Alesis V49 | 49 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with 8 Backlit Pads, 4 Assignable Knobs and Buttons, Plus a Professional Software Suite with ProTools | First Included in the V Collection is a midi controller keyboard that has a lot of features and functions to make it a professional set of midi equipment that is suitable for beginners and professionals.

From its name alone, the Alesis V49 | 49 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with 8 Backlit Pads, 4 Assignable Knobs and Buttons, Plus a Professional Software Suite with ProTools | First Included in the V Collection is a keyboard that is equipped with a lot of keys. The keys are 49 full size keys that are great to play and produce more professional tones and sounds. It also has eight backlit pads for creating beats and melodies.

3. Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII

Our rating: 8 / 10

Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII

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Pros:

  • Touch-sensitive Fatar keybed
  • The keys are responsive and nicely spaced out for playability
  • Buttons and knobs are easy to press
  • Software is easy to install
  • The KaossPad is fun to play with

Cons:

  • Keys are a little too noisy
  • The pitch / modulation wheels are small

Akai Professional launched this 25-key MIDI keyboard controller in 2012 for beginners, and we’re positive that anyone who gets to play with it will agree with this press review. What sets this MIDI keyboard controller apart from the rest is the value for both the music workhorse and the money you’re essentially saving.

The brushed aluminum top gives it an elegant touch, and the Q-link knobs and pads are a huge pro. The 123-note semi-weighted touch-sensitive keyboard is Fatar, meaning that it feels just as good as a good grand piano.

The Akai Performance Software included in the box allows you to customize the controller so that you don’t have to spend extra cash on learning software.

4. Novation Impulse 25 USB Midi Controller Keyboard

Our rating: 8 / 10

Novation Impulse 25 USB Midi Controller Keyboard

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Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Built-in sounds and step sequencing
  • Supplied with a USB cable
  • Controls are intuitive and simple to learn
  • Backlit controls and pads are easy to read even in low light
  • Easy to program
  • Organize and mix lots of instruments and samples
  • Reliable

Cons:

  • Software is not as user-friendly as some others
  • You need a computer to use it

Black.

The Novation Impulse 25 midi controller keyboard is just perfect for anyone looking to play live music, compose, perform or track mixing without a computer.

The Impulse 25 is a great addition to live performances with its 25 touch-sensitive, velocity-sensitive multi-colored pads that light up as your play. It gives you a more intuitive feel for your performance with an MPC inspired user interface. Everything happens at a more fluid pace. Drum loops, melodies, blends, beats, pads, and sounds can be easily looped and layered. All this is done through the use of this great keyboard controller which makes you feel like you’re playing an instrument.

5. M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3

Our rating: 8 / 10

M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3

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Pros:

  • 50-note keyboard is perfect for home use or just practicing
  • It can connect to your computer via USB or by using a MIDI cable
  • Color options include black, ivory, and white
  • 7 dynamic velocity-sensitive trigger keys
  • Modulation and pitch wheels
  • Expansion slot for optional breakout box
  • It’s easy to connect with the included software tutorials
  • You can edit sounds using the AudioDesk software included with the product

With the M-Audio Keystation, you’ll be able to compose your own music and use it on stage.

Even better, you can also use it at home for practice and eventually refine your sound.

The Keystation has a full-size keyboard with a semi-weighted action.

6. Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII

Our rating: 8 / 10

Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII

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Pros:

  • The Best Quality: this is a professional grade midi keyboard controller and it sounds like it. The sturdy build and premium feel speak for themselves.
  • The Best Price: While this midi keyboard controller is not the cheapest, it is within most budgets and is still extremely affordable. It is well worth the money as it is light years above most midi keyboard controllers.
  • The Best Design: Incredibly sleek yet very functional. The size was also a selling point for most people.
  • The Best USB Connection: A midi keyboard controller is only as good as its ability to connect to your DAW. The Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII MIDI Keyboard Controller is fast and reliable.
  • The Best Software: While this midi keyboard controller comes with some awesome VST software, it is the MPK Does software that really screams high-quality.

Cons:

  • The Best Looks: Some people do not like the white colour.
  • The Best Vocal Performances: Affordable, easy to use, and reliable.
  • The Best Big So Little: It's not the biggest but it won't fill your desk.
  • The Best for the Price: This is a professional grade midi keyboard controller that is affordable.
  • The Best the Options: This midi keyboard controller gives you an option of either white or black.

7. M Audio Oxygen 49 IV

Our rating: 8 / 10

M Audio Oxygen 49 IV

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Pros:

  • Small but sturdy
  • Great keyboard controller for beginners
  • Quality sound and feel
  • The keys depress satisfyingly, and the 8 pads add a new creative dimension to your music making
  • Includes software for all major music applications
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • No sustain or wah pedal
  • Keys don’t have aftertouch
  • No USB hub

The M Audio OXYGEN 49 IV is a sleek, lightweight 49-key MIDI controller + USB audio interface suitable for musicians of any skill level.

It offers hands-on control over your DAW, VSTs, virtual instruments, and even has controls for editing MIDI messages to add a whole new dimension to your workflow.

With its velocity-sensitive semi-weighted keys, you can get a response that is as close as that of an acoustic piano.

8. Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note USB Keyboard Controller

Our rating: 6 / 10

Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note USB Keyboard Controller

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Pros:

  • Best midi controller for beginners
  • Easy to use
  • Portable
  • Reasonable pricing

The MK2 version of this product comes with improved features over it’s predecessor, including the Novation Launchkey Mini MK1 that debuted in 2013.

This midi controller features 25 semi-weighted keys, a wide range of Midi connectors, and the capability to control a wide range of software for music-making. It is also compatible with a wide range of DAWs. The keys are velocity sensitive, pressure sensitive, and are perfectly suited for live performance – 2-finger polyphonic, which means you can play two notes at the same time.

Some key features of this product include:

9. Behringer U-Control UMX610 61-Key USB/MIDI Controller Keyboard

Our rating: 6 / 10

Behringer U-Control UMX610 61-Key USB/MIDI Controller Keyboard

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Pros:

  • Versatile keyboard
  • Lots of features
  • Easy to play
  • Affordable
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac
  • Perfect for beginners
  • Looks and sounds great
  • Easy to assemble

Cons:

  • Some complaints about the sustain pedal
  • Lack of functions on the wheels
  • Bass sound may cause feedback with some setups

When it comes to choosing the best midi keyboard controllers, there are a lot of features to consider. It’s important to note that there are a lot of pros and cons for all the different midi keyboards out there, but if you’re a beginner we feel like the Behringer U-Control UMX610 can be a great place to start.

This keyboard has a 61-key piano-style keyboard and comes with 29 velocity-sensitive keys. This keyboard also features an on-board USB interface that allows you to easily connect it to your computer. You can record your music or use the onboard sounds to play your favorite songs.

You will also be able to adjust any sound you want in a very easy manner and record those sounds on your computer. You will be able to use this keyboard to record and play back your music as many times as you want.

10. Arturia KeyLab 88 MIDI/USB Hammer-Action Hybrid Keyboard Controller

Our rating: 5 / 10

Arturia KeyLab 88 MIDI/USB Hammer-Action Hybrid Keyboard Controller

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Pros:

  • 88 full-size semi-weighted keys with aftertouch, hammer action, full-sized pitch, modulation and sustain (velocity sensitive) wheels
  • USB powered, dedicated knob for volume and gain, direct outputs per voice with separate level controls, dedicated headphone output
  • Compatible with many software: including Arturia, Ableton Live, Apple Logic, GarageBand, Bitwig, Cubase, Pro Tools, Reaper, Reason, Samplitude, Sonar, Studio One and more…

Cons:

  • Solid weight to the keyboard, but still a little light
  • Some midi controller keyboards don’t have any knobs or faders
  • Some of the features can be a little tricky to program

The Arturia’s Keylab 88 is worth considering if you’re a serious musician who wants a high-quality controller that excels in terms of playability. This keyboard takes care of the most vital aspect of a controller ‾ the keys – with its Ivory Feel” keys which possess a semi-weighted hammer-action. These keys are a joy to play on due to the weighted nature they possess.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best MIDI keyboard controller?

The best MIDI keyboard controller is the one that fits your needs.

Generally speaking, most MIDI keyboard controllers are the same; they’re standard, mid-sized digital piano keyboards with extra knobs and buttons to send out commands. However, the market is starting to see some cool alternatives to the standard controller. For example, there are now multiple products out there that let you connect your MIDI keyboard controller to almost any type of computer and also act as wireless controllers for your computer.

Below, we tell you the basics of what you need to know before buying any MIDI keyboard controller and then show you some of the top contenders on the market.

What is the best MIDI controller for beginners?

If you are a beginner looking for your first keyboard controller, consider the ease of entry offered by an inexpensive and cheerful pop-up keyboard, such as the Akai LPK25.

For something a little more high end, take a look at the Akai MPK Mini MKII 25-Key USB MIDI controller, the Numark Mixtrack, the Akai MPC Studio, or the Novation Impulse 25 Keyboard Controller.

Here are some problems you might encounter when using budget MIDI keyboards:

Selecting pre-set MIDI drum patterns and songs.

If you want to improvise or make your own beats and melodies, it can be hard to do this on a keyboard that only has pre-set patterns.

Lack of dedicated keys.

If a keyboard controller has 25 buttons, or 10 faders, or control knobs, users will have a hard time controlling everything at the same time.

Is a 25 key MIDI controller enough?

25 keys is enough for a lot of people who are looking for an entry-level MIDI controller for their home studio. If you’re in the market for a midi controller this is a good place to start!

But don’t discount the importance of the size of your keyboard. Since this is your keyboard you will most likely be playing it for hours upon hours every day. Having a keyboard with a larger surface area is especially beneficial for those of you who will be playing it for extended periods of time.

Having a full sized keyboard makes it easier to move around when playing too. If your hands need to get to the far reaches of the keyboard it will become very difficult and uncomfortable after a while. If you want a midi keyboard for playing by yourself or with two other friends a smaller size is definitely better.

What is a MIDI keyboard controller used for?

MIDI has dominated the music industry in recent years. While computers and even smart phones are beginning to displace the need for MIDI keyboards, there are still some areas where it is the most logical choice.

MIDI keyboards are not intended to be a primary instrument replacement, but are instead used to control soft music software and other applications. MIDI keyboards are an optimal instrument for musicians looking to add extra sounds, drums, and other instruments to their musical mix.

Most keyboards also come with a slew of useful features and options not found on most standalone keyboards. Most of these limited options can usually be expanded with additional MIDI controller devices.

Additionally, many MIDI keyboards come with touch-sensitive features, expression pads, and other useful additions that can enhance your studio experience.

Conclusion

A midi controller is a very useful tool for musicians. Usually, this is used for playing or mixing music using their computers. It is an electronic device that communicates the musician’s commands into the computer. Nowadays, MIDI controllers are available all over the market. There are many different types, brands and models that may confuse you when you are making your decision. To make things simple, we have researched on the best MIDI controllers available today and ranked them accordingly.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Akai Professional MPK249Best OverallAkai Professional MPK249
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKIIBudget PickAkai Professional MPK Mini MKII
Behringer U-Control UMX610 61-Key USB/MIDI Controller KeyboardUpgrade PickBehringer U-Control UMX610 61-Key USB/MIDI Controller Keyboard