15 Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: Creative Command (2024)

Last updated: 

Discover the 15 best MIDI keyboard controllers of 2024, the premier keyboards designed to enhance creativity and streamline your music production process.

In the evolving landscape of music production, having tactile control over your digital instruments and DAW is invaluable. MIDI keyboard controllers act as a bridge between the musician and the software, providing a hands-on approach that’s often missed in a purely digital workflow.

Whether you’re crafting intricate melodies, laying down chord progressions, or triggering samples, the right MIDI controller can drastically enhance your creativity and streamline your studio sessions.

But with a wide of options available, how do you find the perfect fit for your setup? Do you need a full 88-key behemoth, or will a compact 25-key unit suffice?

Are pads, knobs, and faders crucial to your workflow, or are you solely focused on the keys?

This guide will delve into the top MIDI keyboard controllers of 2024, examining their features, benefits, and what makes them stand out in the crowded market. Whether you’re a touring musician, a bedroom producer, or somewhere in between, we’ve got you covered. Dive in and discover the perfect MIDI companion for your musical journey.

Our Top Picks
  • Native Instruments Kontrol S Mk3 Series
  • Roli Seaboard Rise 2
  • Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4
  • Kawai VPC1
  • Novation Impulse
  • Arturia Keystep Pro
  • Novation SL Mk3
  • Arturia Keylab MK3
  • NI Komplete Kontrol A Series
  • Nektar Impact LX Series
  • Novation Launchkey Series
  • NI Komplete Kontrol M32
  • IK Multimedia iRig Keys I/O Series
  • M-Audio Oxygen MKV Series
  • Akai MPK Mini MK3

Professional & Advanced MIDI Controllers:

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: Native Instruments Kontrol S Mk3 Series
(Image Credit: Native Instruments)

NI Kontrol S Mk3 Series

Seamless Integration with the World of Komplete


  • Key Count - Keybed: 25, 49, 61, and 88 key versions - Fatar keybeds with aftertouch (with varied action across models)
  • Additional Controls: 16 full-color RGB pads, 8 touch-sensitive control knobs, pitch and mod wheels, transport controls
  • Connectivity: MIDI in & out, USB, 2 assignable pedal inputs


  • Deep Integration with Komplete: Get hands-on control of all your instruments and effects from the Komplete software.
  • High-Resolution Displays: Browse and preview sounds, tweak parameters, and mix directly from the controller.
  • Smart Play Features: Stay in key with over 100 scales and modes, play chord progressions, and arpeggios with single keys.
  • Ergonomic Design: Streamlined layout for a fast, intuitive workflow.


The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S MK3 series stands at the forefront of MIDI controller innovation. These keyboards are designed not just to play, but to deeply integrate with your DAW and plugins. This series isn’t just a reiteration; it offers two high-resolution screens that change how producers and musicians interact with their instruments and effects.

With the S MK3 series, browsing and tweaking sounds becomes an intuitive process. You no longer need to be reliant on your computer screen; the two onboard displays provide all the information you need. Whether you’re scanning through presets, adjusting parameters, or just playing, these keyboards put everything right at your fingertips.

But the hardware alone isn’t the only star of the show. Its deep software integration truly sets the S MK3 series apart. Paired with Native Instruments’ vast KOMPLETE library and NKS-ready plugins, you gain instant access to a world of sounds. Plus, the Smart Play features aid in performance, letting even those with minimal theory knowledge sound like seasoned pros.

Final Thoughts:

For those who want a MIDI controller that feels like a true instrument and seamlessly integrates into their digital workspace, the Komplete Kontrol S MK3 series is a game-changer. It’s more than just a set of keys; it’s a gateway to your creative potential.

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: Arturia Keystep Pro
(Image Credit: Arturia)

Arturia Keystep Pro

Elevate Your Performance: A Sequencing Powerhouse


  • Key Count - Keybed: 37 slim keys with velocity sensitivity and aftertouch
  • Additional Controls: 16 step buttons with RGB LED, 5 encoders
  • Connectivity: USB, MIDI In/Out, Clock In/Out, 4 CV/Gate outputs, Drum Gate outputs, Mod outputs


  • Advanced sequencing capabilities in a compact form factor.
  • Intuitive controls for real-time sequence and pattern creation.
  • Versatile connectivity options, especially for modular synth users.
  • Integrates well with a wide range of gear, from modern DAWs to vintage synths.
  • Slim, portable design without compromising on performance.


The Arturia Keystep Pro is a musician’s dream come true, combining a highly playable keyboard with unparalleled sequencing capabilities. This controller goes beyond just playing notes, giving electronic music creators a tool that can be the central hub of a vast array of equipment.

The keybed offers 37 slim keys, ensuring portability without sacrificing playability, with both velocity sensitivity and aftertouch for expressive performances. Its sequencing prowess is where the Keystep Pro truly shines: it boasts four independent polyphonic sequencers and a dedicated drum sequencer, providing layers of complexity to your music creation process.

For those in the modular synth world, the extensive CV/Gate outputs provide an enticing bridge between the digital and analog realms. Real-time sequence adjustments, pattern chaining, and innovative features like the “Randomness” parameter make it a dynamic tool in both studio and live performance settings.

Final Thoughts:

The Arturia Keystep Pro is more than just a MIDI controller; it’s an instrument in its own right. Whether you’re deep into the modular synth world, a digital DAW aficionado, or somewhere in between, the Keystep Pro has features that will enhance your music-making process. Its combination of playability, connectivity, and advanced sequencing makes it a top contender in its category, ideal for those looking to push their musical boundaries.

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: Novation SL Mk3
(Image Credit: Novation)

Novation SL MkIII

Integrative Control at Its Finest: Bridging Hardware and Software


  • Key Count - Keybed: Available in 49 or 61 semi-weighted keys with aftertouch
  • Additional Controls: 16 full-color RGB backlit velocity-sensitive drum pads, 8 continuous rotary knobs, 8 faders
  • Connectivity: USB, MIDI In/Out/Thru, Analog Clock Out, 2 pedal inputs, 2 CV Pitch, Gate, and Mod outputs


  • Deep integration with Ableton Live and other DAWs, bridging the gap between software and hardware.
  • Inbuilt 8-track sequencer with real-time and step editing, making music creation intuitive and fluid.
  • Versatile connectivity options including CV/Gate outputs for modular and analog gear.
  • RGB backlit pads suitable for finger drumming, clip launching, and more.
  • Semi-weighted keybed with aftertouch offers a responsive playing experience.


The Novation SL MkIII stands out as a prime example of how a MIDI controller can seamlessly integrate both the software and hardware realms of music production. With its deep Ableton Live integration, users can get hands-on control of their sessions, from launching clips to adjusting mixer settings, all without touching the computer.

Yet, it’s not just for the digital domain. With its CV/Gate outputs, the SL MkIII can easily be the centerpiece of a modular synth setup, sending sequences and control voltages to a plethora of analog gear. The internal 8-track sequencer, with both real-time and step editing capabilities, means you don’t even need a DAW to start creating intricate patterns and songs.

The combination of the high-quality keybed with aftertouch, responsive drum pads, and customizable templates makes the SL MkIII not just a controller but an instrument in itself. Whether you’re performing live or crafting tracks in the studio, this controller offers a workflow enhancement that few others can match.

Final Thoughts:

For those who find themselves split between the digital world of DAWs and the tactile realm of hardware synthesizers, the Novation SL MkIII serves as a harmonious bridge. Its myriad of features, from deep software integration to analog control capabilities, makes it a versatile tool in any musician’s arsenal. It redefines what’s possible in a MIDI controller, making it a must-have for producers and performers alike.

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: Arturia Keylab MK3
(Image Credit: Arturia)

Arturia Keylab Essential MK3

Combining Vintage Feel with Modern Functionality


  • Key Count - Keybed: 49 and 61 key versions - Velocity-sensitive with aftertouch
  • Additional Controls: 16 RGB backlit performance pads, 9 faders, 9 rotary knobs, chord mode, and transport controls
  • Connectivity: MIDI In/Out, USB, Expression, Sustain, Aux, and Breath controller


  • Professional Grade: The KeyLab MkIII's metal and wood construction feel robust and ready for stage or studio use.
  • Deep Software Integration: Paired perfectly with Arturia's Analog Lab software, offering thousands of sounds.
  • Versatile Control: From pads to knobs, to faders, to DAW controls, everything is at your fingertips.
  • Intuitive Performance Features: Chord mode, twin chord memory banks, and more for enhancing your live sessions.


Arturia’s Keylab MKIII is more than just a MIDI controller; it’s a powerful command center for your studio. With its impeccable keybed that captures every nuance of your performance, to its array of knobs, sliders, and pads that offer tactile control over your software, this keyboard screams quality. Built with an aluminium chassis and wooden sides, it feels premium, sturdy, and looks incredible in any studio setup.

A stand-out feature of the Keylab MKIII is its integration with Arturia’s flagship software, Analog Lab. This provides users with instant access to thousands of premium synth and instrument sounds. Beyond the software, the hardware also impresses, with dedicated CV/Gate outputs making it a perfect companion for those who have or are looking to delve into the world of modular synthesis.

While the Keylab MKIII shines as a standalone controller, its functionality extends with dedicated DAW controls. Producers can control their digital audio workstation directly from the Keylab, making tasks like play, pause, or record seamless and intuitive.

Final Thoughts:

Arturia’s Keylab MKIII sets the standard for what a MIDI controller can achieve. It’s a harmonious blend of hardware and software, traditional and modern. For producers and musicians looking for a comprehensive MIDI solution, the Keylab MKIII is a choice that promises performance, quality, and versatility.

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4
(Image Credit: Keith McMillen)

Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4

Multi-Dimensional Touch Sensitivity in Compact Design


  • Key Count - Keybed: 48-key touch-sensitive silicone keys
  • Additional Controls: Pressure, tilt, and velocity sensitivity; customizable sensitivity curves
  • Connectivity: USB Type-C, MIDI Expander for 5-pin MIDI


  • Advanced touch sensitivity with multi-dimensional expressiveness.
  • Compact and rugged construction perfect for on-the-go musicians.
  • Seamless integration with MPE-compatible DAWs and instruments.
  • Customizable touch response for tailored playing experiences.
  • A unique, modern approach to keyboard design and playability.


The Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4 is a statement in modern musical control. Unlike traditional keyboards, this controller employs a 48-key touch-sensitive silicone surface that senses pressure, tilt, and velocity, unlocking a plethora of expressive possibilities.

Each key is individually configurable, letting users tailor the board’s response to their play style. Whether you’re delicately crafting ambient landscapes or producing pulsing electronic beats, the K-Board Pro 4 offers a level of control that is truly next-gen.

Designed with the travelling musician in mind, its compact and rugged build ensures that it stands up to the challenges of the road. And, thanks to its compatibility with MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression), it effortlessly integrates with a range of DAWs and instruments that support the format, allowing for deep control over individual note parameters.

Final Thoughts:

The Keith McMillen K-Board Pro 4 delivers an evolutionary step forward in MIDI keyboard design. For musicians looking to elevate their expressive capabilities and discover new ways to interact with sound, this controller is a game-changer. Its combination of innovative touch sensitivity with a durable and portable design makes it a valuable asset for any forward-thinking artist or producer.

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: Kawai VPC1
(Image Credit: Kawai)

Kawai VPC1

Mastery in Authenticity: The Pianist’s MIDI Controller


  • Key Count - Keybed: 88 fully-weighted keys with wooden key sticks - Ultra-realistic "RM3 Grand II" wooden-key keyboard action
  • Connectivity: USB (to host), MIDI In/Out, F-10H Damper Pedal (with half-pedal support), F-30 Triple Pedal (damper, sostenuto, soft), AC adapter power supply jack


  • Authentic grand piano touch with 88 wooden keys and graded hammer action.
  • Seamless integration with virtual piano software.
  • High-quality build materials that resonate with classic piano design.
  • Included pedal support for comprehensive expressive playing.
  • Renowned Kawai key action for ultra-realistic feel.


The Kawai VPC1 stands out as a unique proposition in the crowded MIDI controller market. Designed specifically for the discerning pianist, it strips away pads, knobs, and faders in favor of delivering a deeply authentic piano playing experience. Every element, from its wooden keys to the graded hammer action, has been designed to replicate the touch and feel of a grand piano.

This controller isn’t about offering thousands of features but instead focuses on doing one thing exceptionally well: providing the most genuine and realistic piano playing experience. It achieves this through its RM3 Grand II action which, paired with high-end virtual piano software, provides a playing experience that’s indistinguishable from the real thing.

Kawai has also ensured that the VPC1 isn’t just about touch. It provides pedal support, crucial for classical and jazz pianists, and is built in a way that’s reminiscent of traditional instruments, making it as much a visual delight as a tactile one.

Final Thoughts:

For serious pianists wanting the most authentic MIDI control experience for their virtual instruments, the Kawai VPC1 is peerless. By eschewing many of the features found on multi-purpose MIDI controllers and focusing solely on piano authenticity, Kawai offers a MIDI controller that feels just like playing a grand piano. It’s an unmatched experience for those who prioritize authenticity above all else.

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: Roli Seaboard Rise 2
(Image Credit: Roli)

Roli Seaboard Rise 2

The Revolution in Expressive Touch Control


  • Key Count - Keybed: 25/49 keywaves (depending on version)
  • Additional Controls: Touch and pressure-sensitive keywaves, touch faders, guitar-inspired silicone “frets” on the keywaves
  • Connectivity: USB, Bluetooth MIDI


  • Highly expressive touch-sensitive keywaves allowing for unique modulation.
  • Seamless integration with ROLI's sound engine Equator2.
  • Wireless capabilities for unencumbered performance.
  • Innovative design provides a fresh and new playing experience.
  • Versatile touch faders for added control and sound shaping.


The Roli Seaboard Rise 2 is not just another MIDI controller; it’s an innovation that redefines the boundaries of musical expression. What sets the Seaboard Rise 2 apart is its unique, pressure-sensitive keywave surface, allowing musicians to bend, slide, and modulate sounds in ways previously unattainable with traditional keys.

Whether you’re a seasoned producer or just beginning your musical journey, the Seaboard Rise 2 provides an entirely new experience. Its slim design, wireless capabilities, and aluminum build make it both portable and durable, perfect for both studio sessions and live performances.

Integrated with ROLI’s dedicated sound engine, Equator2, users can explore a myriad of sounds that respond beautifully to the Seaboard’s touch. But its compatibility doesn’t end there. The ROLI Dashboard enables it to interact seamlessly with a variety of DAWs and sound engines, making it a versatile tool in any producer’s arsenal.

Final Thoughts:

For those seeking to push the boundaries of what’s possible in music production and performance, the Roli Seaboard Rise 2 stands out as a revolutionary tool. Its unique design and powerful integrations provide an unmatched level of expressiveness, making it a must-have for the modern musician.

Mid-Range MIDI Controllers:

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: NI Komplete Kontrol A Series
(Image Credit: Native Instruments)

NI Komplete Kontrol A Series

Streamlined Control for the Modern Producer


  • Key Count - Keybed: 25, 49, 61 key versions - Semi-weighted, velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch
  • Additional Controls: 8 touch-sensitive control knobs, OLED display for real-time feedback, 4-directional push encoder
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0, MIDI out, Pedal inputs for sustain and expression


  • Unified Browsing: Browse and preview all your instruments and FX directly from the A-Series keyboard.
  • Smart Play Features: Create rich harmonic progressions and melodies with the built-in scale and chord modes.
  • Direct DAW Control: Control Logic Pro X, Garageband, and Ableton Live directly. MIDI mappings for most other DAWs.
  • Affordable Excellence: High-quality build and functionality at an accessible price point.
  • Integration with Maschine and Third-party Software: Smooth interaction with major DAWs.


The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A Series keyboards bring together everything producers love about the Native Instruments ecosystem into a streamlined, accessible format. At its core, the A Series offers a reliable, semi-weighted keybed that feels great for both seasoned players and those just starting their musical journey. Each key provides just the right amount of resistance paired with velocity sensitivity and aftertouch, ensuring a responsive and expressive playing experience.

This series, though budget-friendlier compared to the S series, doesn’t skimp on features. One of its standout elements is its unified browsing. Musicians can swiftly scroll through their KOMPLETE and NKS instruments directly from the keyboard, reducing the time spent clicking and more time creating. The integration doesn’t stop there, as the A Series boasts Smart Play features that assist in scale and chord applications, making it easier than ever to produce complex harmonies and melodies.

Further enhancing its capabilities, the A Series provides deep integration not just with Native Instruments’ own software but also with major DAWs and third-party software. This ensures that, regardless of your production setup, the A Series fits right in, streamlining your workflow and enhancing your creative process.

Final Thoughts:

The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A Series proves that you don’t have to break the bank to get a keyboard controller that’s both feature-rich and highly playable. Whether you’re deep into the Native Instruments ecosystem or just looking for a reliable MIDI controller, the A Series is a worthy contender that won’t disappoint.

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: Nektar Impact LX Series
(Image Credit: Nektar)

Nektar Impact LX Series

Tailored Control with Extensive DAW Integration


  • Key Count - Keybed: 25, 49, 61, and 88 key versions - Velocity-sensitive synth-action keybed
  • Additional Controls: 8 velocity-sensitive pads, 8 potentiometers, 9 faders (30mm) on LX49+/61+, 6 dedicated transport buttons, 5 preset locations for storing control settings
  • Connectivity: USB (USB-powered), Footswitch jack


  • Seamless DAW Integration: Pre-mapped control for many popular DAWs, making setup a breeze.
  • Performance Pads: 8 pads great for drum input and clip launching.
  • Versatile Control: A variety of knobs, sliders, and buttons tailor the experience to your workflow.
  • Nektar DAW Integration: Custom integration for most popular DAWs including Logic, Bitwig, Cubase, Nuendo, Reaper, Reason, and more.


The Nektar Impact LX Series stands out as a beacon of tailored control in the vast sea of MIDI controllers. With a focus on deep integration with popular DAWs, setting up is hassle-free, allowing users to jump straight into the creative process. The pre-mapped controls eliminate the tedious task of manual mapping, showcasing the LX series’ commitment to user-friendliness.

The controller doesn’t just shine in its DAW compatibility. With its performance-ready pads, users can easily dive into drum programming or even launch clips with ease. The tactile feedback of the velocity-sensitive pads further enhances the experience, making it versatile enough for both studio production and live performances.

Beyond the basics, the LX Series also packs an array of custom controls. From knobs and sliders to dedicated transport buttons, it provides users with the tools to fine-tune their workflow. The option to save control settings across five preset locations offers a layer of customization that ensures adaptability for various projects.

Final Thoughts:

If you’re in the market for a MIDI controller that harmoniously blends ease of use with a depth of control, the Nektar Impact LX Series is worth a look. Its mix of DAW integration, performance pads, and customizable controls ensures it remains a top pick for both budding musicians and seasoned professionals.

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: Novation Launchkey Series
(Image Credit: Novation)

Novation Launchkey

Novation Launchkey


  • Key Count - Keybed: Mini 25, 37, 49, and 61 key versions - Synth-style, velocity-sensitive keys
  • Additional Controls: 16 RGB backlit velocity-sensitive pads, 8 rotary knobs, 9 faders (49 & 61-key models), pitch and mod wheels, transport controls
  • Connectivity: USB, MIDI out, Sustain pedal jack


  • RGB Pads: Perfect for drum programming, clip launching, and color-coordinated DAW feedback.
  • Direct DAW Control: Dedicated controls to navigate and control your DAW directly from the Launchkey.
  • Custom Modes: Personalize the mapping of faders, knobs, and pads for a custom workflow.
  • Ableton Live Lite Included: Start making music straight out of the box.


Novation’s Launchkey Series is renowned for bringing a unique blend of functionality and immediate playability to the fingertips of music creators. These controllers are crafted with the electronic musician in mind, particularly those using Ableton Live. With RGB pads, direct DAW controls, and seamless software integration, the Launchkey series propels music creation to new heights.

At the heart of the Launchkey experience are its 16 RGB pads. These backlit, velocity-sensitive pads are perfect for tapping out beats, launching clips, or even playing melodies. They also offer color-coordinated feedback from Ableton Live, ensuring you always know the status of your loops and samples. Beyond the pads, the rotary knobs, faders, and transport controls make navigating and controlling your DAW a breeze, no matter which software you use.

The Launchkey isn’t just about hardware; it’s the perfect bridge between your creativity and your software. With Novation’s deep integration into Ableton Live and easy mapping to other DAWs, the Launchkey series is versatile and adaptable to any workflow. And for those just starting out, the included Ableton Live Lite ensures you can begin your music production journey immediately.

Final Thoughts:

The Novation Launchkey Series offers an intuitive and powerful interface for digital musicians. Whether you’re launching clips in a live performance, composing in the studio, or just jamming out, the Launchkey has the tools and versatility to enhance your creative process. It’s not just a MIDI controller; it’s a catalyst for musical inspiration.

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: IK Multimedia iRig Keys IO Series
Image Credit: IK Multimedia)

IK Multimedia iRig Keys I/O Series

The All-in-One Portable Production Station


  • Key Count - Keybed: Available in 25 and 49 keys - Full-sized keys, velocity-sensitive
  • Additional Controls: 8 touch-sensitive multi-color pads, Touch-sensitive sliders, buttons, rotary encoders
  • Connectivity: USB, MIDI out, 1/4” Jack for pedal, 2 balanced TRS 1/4" main line-level outs, and 1/8" Headphone out.


  • Audio Interface Integration: Combines MIDI control and a full-fledged professional audio interface into one unit.
  • Comprehensive Controls: Features assignable touch-sensitive pads, buttons, and knobs for intricate control.
  • Device Stand: Designed with a built-in stand to hold your iPad or iPhone at the right angle for use.
  • Comes Bundled: Includes a plethora of IK software, ensuring users have a variety of tools and sounds right out of the box.


IK Multimedia’s iRig Keys I/O series stands out as a unique proposition in the crowded MIDI controller market. It’s not just a MIDI controller but also a full audio interface, which makes it a powerhouse for musicians on the move. Be it in the studio or on the road, the iRig Keys I/O ensures that you have all the tools you need in a compact, ergonomic design.

The touch-sensitive controls, combined with the full-sized velocity-sensitive keys, ensure that users have a premium playing experience. The integration doesn’t stop at keys and pads; the onboard audio interface boasts professional sound quality, offering clear and pristine audio recordings and playback. This means musicians and producers can plug in, play, and record all in one device.

But the convenience doesn’t stop there. With its integrated device stand, the iRig Keys I/O becomes the perfect companion for iOS musicians, allowing them to dock their device comfortably. Add in the bundled IK software, and it’s clear that this isn’t just a controller but a comprehensive production solution.

Final Thoughts:

IK Multimedia has always been at the forefront of innovation, and the iRig Keys I/O series is a testament to this legacy. For those seeking a consolidated, all-in-one solution that doesn’t compromise on quality, the iRig Keys I/O is a prime contender. It brings the best of both worlds – MIDI control and audio interface functionality – together in a sleek and portable package. Perfect for producers, songwriters, and performers alike.

Compact & Portable MIDI Controllers:

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: NI Komplete Kontrol M32
(Image Credit: Native Instruments)

NI Komplete Kontrol M32

Compact Size, Grand Features


  • Key Count - Keybed: 32 synth-action mini keys - Velocity-sensitive with aftertouch
  • Additional Controls: Touch-sensitive knobs, OLED display, 4-directional push encoder
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0


  • Touch-sensitive Encoders: Offers direct and tactile parameter feedback.
  • Smart Play Features: Helps with scales, chords, and arpeggios for an intuitive and enjoyable playing experience.
  • OLED Display: Provides at-a-glance navigation and preview of sounds and settings.
  • KOMPLETE Start Included: Gain access to a selection of premium sounds and instruments right from the get-go.


The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 may be compact, but it comes packed with features that make it a standout in its class. Designed for music makers on the go, this 32-key controller is the perfect balance between portability and functionality, with its velocity-sensitive keys and touch-sensitive encoders providing a responsive and immersive playing experience.

Integration is the name of the game with the M32. Whether you’re diving into the vast world of KOMPLETE instruments or exploring third-party VSTs, the deep NKS integration ensures that the M32 acts as the perfect bridge between your creativity and your software. With the OLED display, browsing through presets, tweaking parameters, and crafting your sound becomes a breeze.

The addition of Smart Play features, like scales, chords, and arpeggios, means that even those new to music theory can produce harmonically rich and complex soundscapes with ease. Moreover, the inclusion of KOMPLETE Start gives users instant access to a plethora of premium sounds, ensuring inspiration is always just a key press away.

Final Thoughts:

The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 is a testament to the fact that big things can come in small packages. Whether you’re a touring musician looking for a travel-friendly MIDI controller, a producer tight on space, or a beginner looking for an affordable yet feature-rich keyboard, the M32 is an excellent choice that promises to elevate your music-making process.

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: Akai MPK Mini MK3
(Image Credit: Akai)

Akai MPK Mini MK3

Compact Size, Mighty Performance


  • Key Count - Keybed: 25 velocity-sensitive keys - Mini synth-action keys
  • Additional Controls: 8 backlit velocity-sensitive MPC-style pads, 8 assignable Q-Link knobs, OLED display, pitch/mod joystick control
  • Connectivity: USB


  • Portability: Ultra-compact design makes it ideal for producers on the move.
  • MPC Pads: Industry-standard MPC-style pads offer authentic drum machine performance.
  • Multifunctional Joystick: Seamlessly controls pitch, modulation, and more.
  • Generous Software Bundle: Comes with an assortment of tools to kickstart your music production journey.


The Akai MPK Mini MK3 packs a punch well beyond its compact size. Designed with the mobile producer in mind, this MIDI controller offers a robust set of features that would impress even in a larger, more expensive unit. With its 25 velocity-sensitive synth-action keys and 8 backlit MPC-style pads, it provides the tactile feel and responsiveness essential for expressive performances.

The inclusion of 8 Q-Link knobs allows for extensive control over your software instruments and DAW, making tweaking parameters and adjusting settings a breeze. The multifunctional joystick is a game-changer, enabling precise control over pitch, modulation, and other parameters without the need for multiple wheels or knobs. Plus, the OLED display ensures you always have essential feedback right at your fingertips.

Akai has a long-standing reputation in the realm of music production, and the MPK Mini MK3 doesn’t disappoint. The bundled software suite, featuring tools like MPC Beats and Hybrid 3, ensures that new producers can dive right into creating music without the need for additional purchases.

Final Thoughts:

The Akai MPK Mini MK3 stands as a testament to the fact that size isn’t everything. It’s perfect for bedroom producers, traveling artists, or anyone with limited desk space. With its combination of powerful features, portability, and Akai’s renowned build quality, the MPK Mini MK3 is a valuable addition to any producer’s arsenal. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned professional, the MPK Mini MK3 promises performance that belies its compact stature.

Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers: Oxygen MKV Series
(Image Credit: Oxygen)

M-Audio Oxygen MKV Series

Elevate Your Production Game with Versatility


  • Key Count - Keybed: Available in 25, 49, and 61 keys versions - Full-sized, velocity-sensitive keys
  • Additional Controls: 8 pads (velocity-sensitive and assignable), 8 assignable knobs, 9 assignable faders (faders in 49 and 61 key versions only), transport controls
  • Connectivity: USB, sustain pedal


  • Versatile Control: A generous assortment of knobs, faders, and pads for comprehensive DAW control.
  • DirectLink Mode: Auto-mapping to popular DAWs ensures seamless integration and workflow.
  • Variety of Key Counts: Available in multiple key counts to fit every workspace and requirement.
  • Established Legacy: Being one of the pioneers in MIDI controllers, the Oxygen series has been trusted by producers for years.


The M-Audio Oxygen Series has been a staple in the MIDI controller market for a considerable amount of time. Known for its straightforward and effective approach to music production, the Oxygen series provides both budding and experienced producers with the essential tools required to create music seamlessly.

One of the standout features of the Oxygen series is its DirectLink mode. With this, producers can effortlessly auto-map the keyboard’s controls to several popular DAWs, eliminating the manual hassle and ensuring a quick start. Whether you’re tweaking synth parameters, adjusting volume faders, or drumming out rhythms on the pads, the Oxygen offers a tactile and responsive experience that boosts creativity.

Its streamlined design ensures that it doesn’t occupy unnecessary space, making it apt for both studio setups and on-the-go producers. The addition of dedicated transport controls further streamlines the production process, allowing users to play, stop, or record directly from the controller.

Final Thoughts:

M-Audio’s Oxygen Series proves that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to offer value. By sticking to the essentials and offering high-quality, responsive controls, the Oxygen series appeals to a wide range of producers. Whether you’re just starting your music production journey or looking for a reliable workhorse MIDI controller, the Oxygen series by M-Audio should definitely be on your consideration list.

FAQ Buying Guide: Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers

  • What is a MIDI keyboard controller?

    A MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) keyboard controller is a device that allows you to send MIDI signals to other devices, such as a computer or synthesizer. Unlike traditional keyboards, they don’t produce sound by themselves but act as an interface to control software instruments or hardware modules.

  • Why do I need a MIDI keyboard controller?

    A MIDI keyboard facilitates the process of music creation in digital audio workstations (DAWs). It enables tactile control over virtual instruments, helping musicians to play, record, and program music more naturally than using a computer mouse or trackpad.

  • How do I choose the right size and key count?

    MIDI keyboards come in various sizes, from 25 keys (2 octaves) to 88 keys (a full piano range). Your choice should depend on your needs:

    • Compact (25-32 keys): Suitable for portable setups and basic melody and bass line creation.
    • Medium (49-61 keys): Provides more range, good for studio setups.
    • Full Range (76-88 keys): Ideal for pianists and those wanting a full keyboard range.
  • What are weighted keys, and do I need them?

    Weighted keys replicate the feel of an acoustic piano. If you’re a pianist or want a more authentic piano-playing experience, opt for weighted or semi-weighted keys. If you’re a producer looking for quick input, synth-action keys might be sufficient.

  • Do I need additional controls like pads, knobs, and faders?

    This depends on your workflow. Pads are useful for drum programming, while knobs and faders can control DAW functions or software instrument parameters. If you want an all-in-one solution, choose a controller with these added features.

  • What about software bundles?

    Many MIDI keyboards come with software bundles. These can include DAWs, virtual instruments, and effects. If you’re just starting, such bundles can be invaluable. However, if you already have a preferred software setup, this might be less of a concern.

  • How important is the build quality and design?

    Build quality is crucial, especially if you plan on traveling or performing live. Look for robust constructions and reliable brands. The design can also affect your workflow, so choose a layout that feels intuitive.

  • What is Aftertouch, and do I need it?

    Aftertouch allows modulation by pressing down on keys after striking them, adding expressiveness to your playing. If you’re into detailed and dynamic performances, consider a keyboard with this feature.

  • How do I ensure compatibility with my DAW?

    Most MIDI keyboards work seamlessly with popular DAWs. However, some have direct integration with specific software, offering immediate control over functions without manual mapping.

  • What's my budget, and is it worth investing more?

    While many affordable MIDI keyboards offer great value, investing in a high-quality controller can improve durability, feel, and functionality. Decide on a budget, but remember that sometimes paying a bit more can yield a significantly better tool.

More articles like this:

Related Buyer's Guides