Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers for 2019 [GUIDE]

Best MIDI Keyboard ControllerI know your searching for the best midi keyboard controllers, aren’t you?

That’s cool but…

…You’ll have to consider which features you need in your setup.

Lucky for you,

This definitive list will narrow down your best options.

In fact,

You’ll find the latest and most popular midi keyboards on this page.

The choice is yours…

Midi Keyboard Controller Infographic Picture

9 Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers

01. Akai Advance

Akai Advance Midi Keyboard Controller

General

To make a mark in a field as fickle as the music gear industry, you have to move in the right direction and at the right place.

The new Akai Advance Series promises to change how you create your music, forever!

Akai Advance Series

Presented in three main flavors – 25, 49, and 61-key sizes – these controllers look bold and are incredibly easy to use.

Considering other giant keyboard companies, does Advance live up to the challenge?

Read on to find out.

Features

VIP 3.1 AKAI

Perhaps the most notable feature that will make you freeze in your tracks is the Virtual Instrument Player (VIP).

It links your controller to ‘apparently’ every virtual instrument.

But, before using the software, it first needs to scan your installed plugins.

However, the process is fast after which you can access your plugins from a unified library and load sounds from your VST folder.

Akai Advance Full Color Screen

The VIP software can only be downloaded after you register the product and can work in or out of your DAW.

As expected, the keybed is velocity-sensitive and semi-weighted.

But the kicker is the which is not only conveniently placed but also capable of graphically showing all your parameters.

Looking at how big and striking the endless rotaries are in the Advance, you’d just want to engage them.

Akai Advance Pads

The 8 pads are multi-colored, multi-functional not forgetting pressure and velocity-sensitive.

Other features worth mentioning are the Main Mode which displays instruments presets and Browser Mode which allows you to select the instruments and presets.

The rest include Setup Mode, Global Mode, and Control Mode.

Akai DAW Control

Moreover, to the far left, you’ll find rubberized Pitch and Mod wheels plus the DAW transport controls, arpeggiator and octave controls just below the wheels.

Interestingly, you’ll find yourself using the hardware keyboard more than the computer because it makes navigation very intuitive.

If you thought your current controller had it all, you might want to re-think that.

Pros & Cons
  • Top-notch build quality
  • Vivid full color 4:3 screen
  • VIP software enables automatic mapping of your parameters
  • Browse patches without a mouse
  • Value for money
  • Bundled software is first-class
  • More browsing filters mean quick access to the presets
  • Lacks software editor
  • Including a Next/Previous button could’ve made navigation via the screen much easier
Conclusion

Overall, Akai takes your focus from the computer to your hardware with the Advance Series. Shouldn’t that be the point of all controllers?

And, you can’t dispute the value of the VIP software available in all three versions.

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02. Arturia KeyLab

Arturia Keylab Midi Keyboard Controller

General

It’s not every day you come across controllers that satisfy both your budget and performance levels.

Arturia KeyLab Live Performance

Arturia KeyLab series gives musicians and producers alike full features to create and record music intuitively.

Remarkably, the Arturia collection never fails when it comes to software and hardware integration.

Arturia KeyLab 49 keys

In fact, Arturia started bundling hardware and software together long before other companies.

Beyond the striking looks and the rigid case, what’s the big deal about Arturia KeyLab series?

Features

They say first impressions last.

And the Arturia KeyLab Series does a perfect job with the smart and refreshing layout.

Arturia Keylab 49 features

With 9 faders and rotary encoders to the right, the display screen in the center and the pads to the left of the keyboard, operating the controllers couldn’t be easier.

The LED display is more informative providing data of the last MIDI, the name of the control and its CC value.

Arturia Keylab 49 & 61

Above all, both the KeyLab 49 and 61 don a keybed that provides just the right resistance to their weighted action.

Arturia made sure the KeyLab series are MCU/HUI compliant to allow multiple DAW integration without much fuss as you will notice from the key layout.

Arturia Keylab MKII Series

The Mackie Control and HUI modes can now be switched with ease using the Arturia MIDI Control Center software.

It also allows you to manage MIDI maps, load and save your presets, and customize however you want.

Arturia Keylab MKII Controls

We found it very useful if you want to create user preferences and update your firmware.

To top it off, you also get access to presets from Modular V, Stage V, Piano V, and Farfisa V among thousands of other presets via the browser.

What else do you get?

Pros & Cons
  • Lightweight but sturdy build
  • Easy integration with the starter software bundle including Arturia’s own Analog Lab 3, Ableton Live Lite, and UVI Grand Piano Model D
  • A clickable 360-degree selector and LCD screen provide more information than most controllers
  • You get over 5,000 easily searchable sounds with KeyLab 49 and 61
  • 8 RGB backlit performance pads
  • More hands-on control with faders, knobs and pads
  • MIDI Control Center software gives you a wide variety of customization options
  • No aftertouch
  • MIDI expression pedal jack is missing
Conclusion

Working with an Arturia Keylab MKII

Looking for a controller with thousands of vintage sounds than you could ever imagine?

Well, the Arturia KeyLab Series Analog 3 and MIDI Control Center is a step up from the competition.

They keybed could’ve been smoother but, overall, there’s not much to complain about really.

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03. Alesis VX49

Alesis VX49 Midi Keyboard Controller

General

Imagine an instrument that gives you full control of your computer directly from the MIDI keyboard.

With the new Alesis VX49, this is now a reality.

Alesis VX 49 Midi Keyboard

Featuring a high-resolution full-color display, you can access the instrument plugins and directly interface with your DAW in a more intuitive way.

Looking for premium plugins?

Check.

Advanced keyboard features, more creative options, and powerful software?

Check, check and check!

Allow me to explain.

Features

Alesis integrated Virtual Instrument Player (VIP) software into the VX49 to open you up to a world of more creativity with instruments.

VIP Software

Not only does VIP transform the computer-based plugins into a truly hands-on experience, but it also makes it possible to access any virtual instrument with or without a DAW.

Want to filter, layer multiple patches together, and preview patches?

VIP has got you covered.

VX49 VIP 3.0

The software allows you to control a variety of VSTi virtual instruments without touching your computer.

Now, get this.

Regardless of your skill level in playing the piano, one touch of the VX49 keybed and you’ll immediately fall in love with its feel and breathability.

Alesis VX49

The aftertouch effect gives you a more natural experience that’s fine-tuned to great music production.

In addition to that, this compact MIDI keyboard comes with highly responsive 8 dual-function pads with the option to adjust sensitivity.

8 dual-function pads

The Mod and Pitch wheel are rubberized and feel steady.

The buttons don’t wobble when you press them.

Mod and Pitch wheel

Another point worth mentioning is the 4:3 full-color screen that quickly adapts to the selected plugin controls to deliver a 1:1 access to the instruments and a variety of other functions.

You’d be right to say this is a major upgrade from the previous versions.

Pros & Cons
  • Can act as a standalone MIDI controller with MIDI I/O or simultaneously with a DAW and control plugins
  • Real-time feedback full-color screen
  • 49-key semi-weighted keyboard with aftertouch
  • Comes with an impressive collection of software including Vacuum Pro, Ableton Live Lite, Loom and Hybrid among others.
  • Performance buttons and a dedicated pad bank
  • 8 performance-ready 360-degree knobs
  • VIP software for more control
  • Set up is difficult and the manual doesn’t offer much information
Conclusion

Alesis VX

If you’re wondering whether or not you can afford this quality MIDI controller, the answer is YES.

It’s a few dollars cheaper than its rivals and offers premium features.

Definitely, this board will win the hearts of many musicians, artists, and producers.

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04. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol MKII

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S-Series Midi Keyboard Controller

General

Native Instruments continues to develop on its keyboard controllers.

The Kontrol S mk2 has a lot of new features to offer, making it even more versatile.

Integration for all your instruments and effects

An piece of innovative equipment that gives you full command of all your virtual instruments.

Native Instruments present a diverse system guaranteed to seduce composers, musicians, and producers of all musical genres.

If you’re familiar with the previous version of Komplete Kontrol, you’ll instantly notice the addition of two color screens at the center that reflects whether you’re using the keyboard with your DAW, Maschine or the KOMPLETE KONTROL software.

NI Komplete Kontrol MKII Screens

Now hang on to your seat because the main features will blow your mind.

Features
Features

Komplete Kontrole S61

We have tested the KOMPLETE KONTROL S61 and it is ridiculously easy to use.

With a redesigned and intuitive layout, more buttons now give you hands-on experience with the new powerful features.

Pitch and Modulation wheels

The ergonomic Pitch and Modulation wheels enable you to add dynamic expressions to your notes.

Just below the wheels, there’s a flexible Touch Strip that gives you options to explore interesting modulation sounds.

Kontrol Komplete MK2 Buttons

Furthermore, there are buttons to quantize in case there’s a time issue with your recording and also add automation.

Komplete Kontrol Software

With the KOMPLETE KONTROL software as the main hub, you can browse thousands of sounds and presets faster.

And, get this: the screen gives you instant feedback plus a short preview of the sounds you’re browsing.

Using the new 4-dimensional push encoder, you can switch between tracks or scrub through your project’s timeline.

Apart from the normal controls for playback and recording, the unit comes with redo or undo buttons to correct any mistakes.

Manipulate pre-mapped effect and instruments

On top of that, you can tweak each tone via the Native Map software.

This means you can view what you’re editing at a glance through the high-resolution color display.

This smart keyboard controller comes with Fatar keybeds, a favorite of many keyboardists.

The 61 semi-weighted keys have a nice feel and aftertouch effects.

Here are the pros and cons of the S61.

Pros & Cons
Pros & Cons
  • The transport control section lets you access playback and recording of your DAW
  • LED light guide to show you the current position of Touch Strip, NKS instrument key switches and more
  • Comes with two new high-resolution color displays for easy browsing and sound preview
  • The unit fully supports VSTi
  • Access to Komplete 12 Select
  • Smooth integration with the MASCHINE
  • Lacks the traditional sliders
Conclusion
Conclusion

Komplete Kontrol Inside Home Recording Studio

Don’t just take my word for it, give KOMPLETE KONTROL MKII a try to experience the power of integrated premium features.

This is a keyboard controller you want in your studio.

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05. Novation SL MkIII

Novation SL MKIII Series Midi Keyboard Controller

General

If I can be totally honest, Novation’s SL MKIII is set to take the lead if they keep producing keyboards of this caliber.

SL 49 MKIII

The idea behind this new innovation was to create a keyboard controller that integrates all the prime features to give you the go-to unit for your entire studio needs.

Novation SL MKIII 49 keys

Are all those compliments about SL MKIII really worth your penny?

Let’s find out.

Features
Features

Novation SL 49 & 61

Regardless of your choice between the 49 or 61-key controllers, SL MKIII bridges the gap between hardware and software control.

And believe it or not, when they say it’s an all-in-one studio hub, it’s serious business– MIDI, sequencer, CV and software control – all designed into one beautiful instrument.

SLK MKIII Polyphonic sequencer

Connect to your hardware MIDI and build tracks via the 8-track polyphonic sequencer with or without the computer.

Novation’s collaboration with Ableton now gives Live users a smooth experience.

SLMkIII DAW Integration

Users are also offered “Deep Integration” with Logic and Reason as well as HUI compatibility with Pro Tools, Cubase, and Studio One.

This means the keyboard can open up any DAW.

To monitor all the parameters, you have 5 color LCD screens for full visibility.

Backlit Buttons

Furthermore, SL MKIII supports 16 full-color velocity-sensitive RGB pads, eight sliders, 59 backlit buttons, and 4 GB of Loopmasters sounds and samples.

The semi-weighted keybed comes with the highest scan rate of 10 kHz, eight faders, and eight knobs.

In other words, you get hands-on experience with your music.

SL MKIII Connections

The controllers’ rear panel gives you an array of connections including USB, MIDI in/out, two CV/gate and Mod outputs, plus Out 2/Thru on 5-pin DIN sockets, quarter-inch TRS and TS jack inputs.

Now, check out the good and the bad

Pros & Cons
Pros & Cons
  • More mapping options with the inControl software and Mackie HUI support
  • Ableton Live integration
  • 8 faders and 8 knobs offer a smooth mixing
  • 5 full-color LCD screens
  • Velocity-sensitive RGB pads with aftertouch
  • Cloud backup for all your content or save them locally
  • RGB LEDs change color depending on the track you’re working on
  • Extensive connectivity
  • None so far. We’ll keep you updated
Conclusion
Conclusion

Well, Novation SL MkIII has joined the ranks of high-end keyboard controllers.

The sequencer is a winner and is sure to give other keyboard manufacturers a run for their money.

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06. M-Audio Code

M-Audio Code Series Midi Keyboard Controller

General

In the music world, when a favorite brand like M-Audio releases a new equipment, our antennas become fully tuned to catch wind of what’s new.

The M-Audio Code Series is a game-changer.

Any serious artist or musician looking for a solid MIDI Keyboard with improved mechanics and added features will want to own one.

So, what new features can you expect from M-Audio’s Code range?

Features
Features

Consisting of three models with 25, 49, or 61-key versions, these keyboards are bus-powered and use USB connectivity.

M-Audio Code Series

Integrating the aftertouch function in these models brings a new perspective.

And the fact that they are fully functional with a large screen for better visual, makes them even more interesting.

Code49-Editor

The main controllers are conveniently placed just below the display.

And you know what else?

A built-in X/Y pad is a new cool feature in these MIDI Keyboards.

If you haven’t heard about X/Y touch controller, it’s a black 4-piece grid on the top right corner of the board that allows you to control your parameters.

M-Audio Code X Y Pad

Think about it like a laptop touchpad. Its main function is to manipulate the sound by assigning different filters and EQ to your liking.

To lay bare the functionality of the pads, the location is rather unconventional.

But who wants the usual?

Located on the left side, and at the edge instead of above the keys, you don’t have to change hands while paying the keyboard and the pads.

M-Audio Code 49

As for the synth-type keyboard, apart from the aftertouch, there are four velocity curves and 3 modes that offer fixed values of 64, 100, and 127.

So, why should you buy M-Audio Code Series?

Pros & Cons
Pros & Cons
  • A well-organized panel with buttons, knobs, faders, and controllers
  • The convenience of the pads’ location makes it super easy to play and has cool backlit colors
  • The X/Y pad gives out a more natural feel
  • A stable and compact build
  • The two VST’s, Hybrid 3.0 and AIR Loom, offer a wide variety of synth sounds
  • Has three models to choose from
  • USB connectivity for ease of use
  • Multiple presets for flexible configurations
  • Integrates seamlessly with Akai’s VIP3 software
  • Needs time to get used to operating it
  • The white keyboard requires regular cleaning
Conclusion
Conclusion

For what it’s worth, M-Audio Code Series is a reliable MIDI keyboard with features fit for both studio and live performance.

The additional features including the X/Y pad make this equipment unique.

All in all, the CODE has impressive capabilities and a controller designed for optimal performance.

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07. Panorama Nektar T4-T6

Nektar Panorama T-Series Midi Keyboard Controller

General

News flash: Nektar has expanded its MIDI controller keyboard line with the release of Panorama Nektar T4 and T6.

Keeping the end-user in mind, this keyboard controller has extensive MIDI functionality and advanced performance features.

You’ll definitely forget the mouse as you take charge of all the parameters while browsing and loading patches directly from your T4 and T6.

That’s just for starters.

Stick around for a more in-depth look at Panorama Nektar T4-T6’s

Features
Features

Boasting Panorama keybed with five-velocity curves and aftertouch, the synth action keys are springy, yet fell firm.

Some additional cool features include Key Repeat and Pad Repeat buttons just above the Pitch and Mod wheels.

Panorama T4 Front

When engaged, the key or pad you press next will repeat until you release the buttons.

This enhances performance levels giving you more fun at the controls.

Here’s the real score.

Panorama T4 and T6’s deep DAW integration.

Panorama T Serie Highlights

You get the next level control over your instrument plugins, mixer and in any VST/AU compatible DAW.

This means controlling everything without looking at your laptop.

If you’re a finger drummer, get to work with the eight conspicuous velocity and pressure sensitive pads.

Apart from being expressive, they can be triggered at an extremely low threshold.

Panorama T-4

To assign sounds, simply activate Pad Learn, choose a pad, and play a note.

On top of that, the Chord function allows you to trigger up to 6 notes with one press of the pad or key.

Nektarine control manager software allows you to take control of VST, or AU plugins directly from the system.

Nektarine works discreetly to give you a hands-on experience in creating amazing sounds while turning the knobs.

In a rush?

Take a quick scan into the pros and cons of Panorama Nektar T4-T6.

Pros & Cons
Pros & Cons
  • Comes with Multi-mode which allows you to add slots in real time
  • Has 9 faders, 8 assignable LED buttons, 8 assignable encoders and 4 navigation buttons
  • 8 velocity and pressure sensitive pads with LED
  • USB bus powered
  • 49 or 61 note 2nd Generation synth-action keyboard with aftertouch
  • Adjustable LCD display
  • Nektarine plugin control
  • The fader motion does not appeal to every user
Conclusion
Conclusion

In all, considering Nektar’s previous releases, Panorama Nektar T4-T6 is no doubt a big step up that’s guaranteed to win over key players, including the naysayers!

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08. Behringer MÖTOR

Behringer MÖTOR Midi Controller

General

One exciting thing about today’s technological advancements is unpredictability.

The first one of its kind, Behringer MÖTOR Series surprised us with the motorized faders functionality borrowed from their Digital Mixing Consoles.

Coming in either 49 or 61-keys versions, Behringer MIDI keyboard controllers delicately blends advanced features and functionality to give you professional level recording.

And the good news?

You can use this keyboard series for seamless integration with all the popular DAWs.

Features

Given that the touch-sensitive motorized faders are at the center of the keyboard, it’s easy to control DAW parameters, synths, and drawbar organs.

MÖTOR 61 from Behringer

Get your fingers busy with the eight backlit and velocity-sensitive drum pads.

Additionally, you have LED rings on top of each of the eight rotary encoders to give useful feedback with the controls.

Depending on your preference, both the 49 and 61-key keybeds offer a great resistance.

Motor61-front

Plus, they are semi-weighted and very playable.

Best of all is the free software bundle accompanying the Behringer MÖTOR Series.

It’s free of charge and you can expect to find virtually all the popular software instruments and DAWs.

The knobs and faders positioning comes in handy when you want to quickly select specific sounds to use in your mixing.

Rotary-Knobs

The keyboard has aftertouch effects to enhance your performances.

Last but not least, you’ll notice an LCD screen to the far left that clearly shows your parameters and controls.

Just below it, you’ll find the Pitch and Mod wheels.

If you’re more into aesthetics, you won’t find lots of options with these keyboards.

They come in the usual black.

Pros & Cons
  • Motorized faders are touch sensitive for fast and easy mixing
  • The 8 drum pads are backlit making them easy to use in dim light
  • They offer seamless integration with popular DAWs
  • The knobs have LED rings to show the current position
  • Comes with 49 or 61 semi-weighted keys
  • Large backlit LCD screen
  • Doesn’t come with presets
  • Only comes in black
Conclusion

The Behringer MÖTOR Series have much to offer for aspiring artists, keyboardists and music producers.

A few tweaks and you’ll be hitting the notes like a pro.

Check out the Motor Series today and let us know what you think.

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09. Roland A-800 Pro

Roland A-800 Pro Keyboard Controller

General

A quick look at the Roland A-800 Pro and you’ll know it’s purposed for both on-stage and studio.

Coming with two power options, USB or DC power, this MIDI controller keyboard is a beast with 61 velocity-sensitive keys.

A-800

On the face of it, it’s easy to dismiss this system just as any other keyboard. Until you get a feel of the keys!

If you’re thinking, “What’s the catch?” Well, there isn’t one.

Roland is a reputable manufacturer of keyboards and this is another fantastic piece worthy of your studio.

Features
Features

First off, looking at the front panel it seems like accessibility was at the top of the list.

With 45 fully assignable controls – 9 sliders, 9 knobs, and 4 buttons, plus transport controls, everything is right at your fingertips,

Roland A-800 Back

Add the 8 velocity-sensitive Dynamic Pads, conveniently placed for easy reach, and you have full control of your tunes.

The A-800 Pro is equipped with FPT Low-latency MIDI Transmission.

In other words, you’re assured of super low latencies that give you the real-instrument feel.

Now consider the pitch/modulation stick. Comparing this to the typical plug and play option that comes with other keyboards, it still elicits mixed reactions from some people.

But you know what?

Its integration means more control with less interaction with your mouse.

Roland A-800 front

And, if you feel like working in dim light, the buttons are backlit with LEDs.

One advantage about the Roland A-800 Pro is that you don’t actually need an AC adapter.

You can power it up using USB. This means you can use it anywhere, so long as you have a computer.

So, what do you get with this MIDI controller keyboard?

Pros & Cons
Pros & Cons
  • Velocity-sensitive 61 keys with aftertouch
  • Easily accessible knobs and sliders
  • A powerful Pro Editor software
  • Sure-grip Pitch Bend/Modulation
  • Compatible with both Mac and PC
  • Powered via USB bus – doesn’t require an AC adapter
  • Extremely lightweight for easy portability
  • Difficult to disable the Bender Level hardware control
Conclusion
Conclusion

If you research online and among other forums, you won’t find a USB keyboard that creatively offers prime features at such a competitive price.

Now the ball is in your court.

Get your Roland A-800 Pro today and upgrade your studio!

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Final Thoughts:

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…Another keyboard which is your favorite and isn’t mentioned here?

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