Best MIDI Controllers Reviews Let us show you the most important features of a MIDI controller and how we can help you to choose the best option, based on our research and analysis.

10 Best MIDI Controllers

A majority of keyboard controllers come with velocity-sensitive, semi-weighted synth action keys, for the simple reason that they provide a good balance of playability, dynamics and portability, which many prefer.

Controllers should be easy to configure, so that you can customize the layout of the pads to trigger your chosen sound-set, and the convenience of a single USB connector; this needs to handle both MIDI data and power and should not be overlooked.

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  • Expert Popularity Score : 9.9 of 10
  • Expert Ratings : 9.7 of 10
  • Consumer Popularity Score : 9.5 of 10
  • Consumer Ratings : 9.8 of 10
  • Consumer Complaints : 9.8 of 10
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  • Expert Popularity Score : 9.4 of 10
  • Expert Ratings : 9.3 of 10
  • Consumer Popularity Score : 9.6 of 10
  • Consumer Ratings : 9.2 of 10
  • Consumer Complaints : 9.5 of 10
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  • Expert Popularity Score : 8.8 of 10
  • Expert Ratings : 8.7 of 10
  • Consumer Popularity Score : 9 of 10
  • Consumer Ratings : 8.9 of 10
  • Consumer Complaints : 8.9 of 10
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  • Expert Popularity Score : 8.5 of 10
  • Expert Ratings : 8.4 of 10
  • Consumer Popularity Score : 8.3 of 10
  • Consumer Ratings : 8.2 of 10
  • Consumer Complaints : 8.4 of 10
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  • Expert Popularity Score : 7.9 of 10
  • Expert Ratings : 7.7 of 10
  • Consumer Popularity Score : 7.6 of 10
  • Consumer Ratings : 7.5 of 10
  • Consumer Complaints : 7.7 of 10
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  • Expert Popularity Score : 7.1 of 10
  • Expert Ratings : 6.9 of 10
  • Consumer Popularity Score : 6.8 of 10
  • Consumer Ratings : 7 of 10
  • Consumer Complaints : 7 of 10
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  • Expert Popularity Score : 6.8 of 10
  • Expert Ratings : 6.7 of 10
  • Consumer Popularity Score : 6.6 of 10
  • Consumer Ratings : 6.4 of 10
  • Consumer Complaints : 6.7 of 10
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  • Expert Popularity Score : 6 of 10
  • Expert Ratings : 61 of 10
  • Consumer Popularity Score : 5.9 of 10
  • Consumer Ratings : 6.2 of 10
  • Consumer Complaints : 6.1 of 10
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  • Expert Popularity Score : 5.5 of 10
  • Expert Ratings : 5.4 of 10
  • Consumer Popularity Score : 5.3 of 10
  • Consumer Ratings : 5.6 of 10
  • Consumer Complaints : 5.5 of 10
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  • Expert Popularity Score : 5.2 of 10
  • Expert Ratings : 5.4 of 10
  • Consumer Popularity Score : 5.3 of 10
  • Consumer Ratings : 5.3 of 10
  • Consumer Complaints : 5.1 of 10

How to choose a MIDI Controller

q Key-make Type

One of the most important factors when choosing a MIDI controller is the key-make type. There are several different kinds of this as well: synth-action, semi-weighted, full-weighted and equipped with aftertouch.

A majority of keyboard controllers come with velocity-sensitive, semi-weighted synth action keys, for the simple reason that they provide a good balance of playability, dynamics and portability, which many prefer.

There are some 61-key controllers that come with weighted and full-size keys that cater to pianists, just keep in mind that these are often bulkier and longer.

In order to choose the best MIDI keyboard, it is important to select the correct size for you, in terms of number of keys. The smallest keyboard you can buy has only 25 keys.  After that it’s 49, 61, and 88 (full size pianos have 88 keys, so that’s the max).

Another size you might see out in the “wild” is 37 keys. The average, 49 key system seems to be the size, that the majority of producers use. That’s big enough to be able to play melodies across four octaves, yet it won’t take up too much space on your desk. You might choose a 61 to have that extra octave, but that choice comes down to your budget and personal preference.

We would recommend the 49 keys unit, if this is your first one.  People that go for 88 key keyboards, probably have background in playing the piano, and can’t stand having anything that feels different.  If you’re looking for maximum portability, you’ll have to go below 49 keys.

q Portability

If your studio space is especially small, you travel and produce music on-the-go, or you just prefer to play and record simpler melodies with one hand, you’ll probably want a portable controller with 25 or 37 keys. Be aware that just because a controller has 25 keys doesn’t necessarily make it portable. An Akai MPK225 25-Key controller has a pretty big footprint, and might not fit into your backpack. Then again, the slim M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 travels very easily.

q MIDI Pads

You need to program a drum part and all you have on hand is a MIDI keyboard – not the most suitable tool in the world for creating beats, especially if you’re more of a percussionist than a pianist.  A much more appealing proposition is to turn to the now-traditional format of trigger pads, arranged in a 4×4 matrix, as originally popularized by the classic Akai MPC60. This layout allows you to place a standard kit of drum sounds in a more natural position under the fingers, than a keyboard could ever manage, giving you a much more intuitive array of targets to aim at.

So while it won’t replace your conventional keyboard controller, adding a pad-based controller to your setup can reap significant rewards if you regularly need to program drums.  Not only that, but some controllers of this type take things further by including their own proprietary sound library and software instruments, while others are more like percussion instruments in their own right.

When selecting a pad-based controller, there are certain things to look out for.  A large enough array of pads and controls is first and foremost, and the pads need to be playable and responsive enough to cope with the powerful, expressive, multilayered sampled instruments that are available today.

Controllers should be easy to configure, so that you can customize the layout of the pads to trigger your chosen sound-set, and the convenience of a single USB connector; this needs to handle both MIDI data and power and should not be overlooked.

For the purposes of this round-up, onboard sounds aren’t really a factor, as our assumption is that you’ll be triggering sounds from software instruments in your DAW. With all this in mind, then, we will give your our best recommendations.

q Keyboard Feel

Acoustic pianos have set the standard for what a keyboard should feel like. Keys that feel as heavy to the touch as real piano keys are known as fully-weighted. The next grades down from that are semi-weighted, and unweighted (also called synth-action). For a MIDI keyboard for your studio, having fully-weighted piano-like keys is not crucial. Unless of course, you’ll be playing a lot of piano. Semi-weighted keys feel very nice, and will provide great response as you play your notes. Most MIDI keyboard controllers available today have semi-weighted or synth-action keys. You’ll also read about keys being velocity-sensitive, which just means they respond to how soft or hard you play a note. If you barely touch a key, it will register that you played a note very softly, whereas if you smash a key, it’ll register the note with max strength. Velocity sensitivity is pretty crucial, since it will capture your playing dynamics and this could make for more interesting recordings.

q Extra Controls

These are things you get in addition to keys.  Some of these extras are think pads, knobs, sliders, buttons, wheels, and more. Just looking at a MIDI keyboard should give you an idea of how many extra controls you’re getting.

A controller like the M-Audio Keystation 49 looks pretty sleek and spartan, with just a handful of buttons at best.

Some controllers look like the command center of a spaceship, like the Akai MPK249.  Whether or not you need a bunch of extra controls depends on whether or not you really plan to use them and only you will know the answer to that.

Lots of these MIDI keyboards map their sliders, knobs, and buttons to your DAW software like Ableton, FL Studio, Logic, etc. It just depends on your workflow.

For instance, some of the people on the Equipboard staff prefer to use their computer mouse and keyboard to manipulate their DAW and VSTs, and only use a MIDI keyboard to play in melodies, basslines, and drum loops.

Others like to map the sliders to the mixer, the drum pads to samples, and even the transport controls (play, stop, rewind, etc.) on their MIDI keyboard to their DAW.

For example, some musicians might prefer to bang out percussion parts on a grid of pads, rather than a keyboard, so they might like the pads on the Akai MPK249.

q DAW Compatibility

You can for the most part make any keyboard controller work for any DAW, although some are made specifically for a DAW in mind, meaning the mapping of all the knobs and sliders to that DAW happens automatically – no headaches. Our recommendation is to focus more on the quality and features of the MIDI keyboard, before you worry about DAW compatibility.

q Software Integration

Also, what makes this MIDI keyboard perfect for those of us just starting out, is their nice little software bundle. If you haven’t chosen a software to start learning to make your music yet, it comes with Ableton Live Lite (one of the most popular digital audio workstations there). It is great for not only beginners but for all levels of music creation and live performing — which makes it perfect for beginners because once you learn it, you’re set for a very long time as you progress your music making adventures.

Aside from Ableton Live, you’re also getting a nice little virtual instrument which provides sounds for the keyboard to play. You can download some free sounds from the internet, but for starting, their inclusion of SONiVOX Twist gives you some nice synth sounds to play with out of the box. We recommend the software bundle of the Oyxgen — just enough without sacrificing too much of the price of the controller.

Instead of wasting time manually configuring your keyboard controller, you ought to look for ones that automatically configures itself. This allows for “plug and play” functionality, so you can get straight to work instead of wasting time on tedious configuration work. Obviously, having auto-mapping for every software is impossible, but you will want one that works with your preferred software. Note that some manufacturers provide instructions, or better yet, download link quick installation and auto-mapping with many of the popular DAWs.

q Power Supply

Most MIDI keyboard controllers, are designed for controlling virtual instruments and DAW software on computers. For this reason, the USB port has become a standard feature. If you’re looking for a controller that can also work with standalone synths and other external hardware, you’ll want to look for ones with 5-pin MIDI connection.

If you need one for portable use with a laptop or tablet then you need one that uses batteries or takes its power from a USB, however, USB power comes at the cost of draining your device’s battery more quickly. You also may have problems getting enough power from the iPad which only provides 100mA instead of the USB 2.0 standard of 500mA. If you have a problem getting enough power from an iPad, you’ll need to get a powered USB hub or use a power adapter to supply the keyboard directly.

It’s impressive how these bigger 61-Key MIDI keyboards can still be bus powered, but it would be better if the keyboard offers multiple power options like the ability to be plugged to a power outlet or run on batteries. The more options you have, the easier it is to adapt to various stage and studio scenarios.

 

 

Total ReviewsBee Rating

The total Reviews Bee rating sums up the overall picture of every product. Reviews Bee works tirelessly to ensure that we are providing the best product recommendations to you and your family. In rating the various MIDI controllers available, we strive to give you the best information possible.Our algorithm includes information from both expert and consumer resources. There is no need to spend hours on researches, because Reviews Bee instantly gives all researches and analysis for you and creates a Top list to save your time and money.

1. We Collect Data from All Around the Web

Reviews Bee collects consumer review information from popular retail websites including Amazon, eBay, BBB, Yelp, Consumer reports, etc. In addition, Reviews Bee utilizes reputable market niche websites, to include in the product ranking decision. Using the feedback of actual customers in coordination with expert evaluations enables us to provide each product with a score that takes into account all trustworthy information available on that item.

2. We Analyze the Data Expert Popularity Score, Expert Ratings, Consumer Popularity Score, Consumer Ratings and Consumer Complaints are inserted into our algorithm in order to calculate our Reviews Bee Score. This score, in turn, is used to rank each MIDI controller in our Top 10 recommendation. The Reviews Bee score is a summary of each of the most important factors indicating the value of a MIDI controller.

3. We Deliver The Best Results By taking each of these essential factors into account, we are able to give each MIDI controller an overall Reviews Bee Score that ranks each product against the others in our Top 10 list. By using a vast array of expert and consumer ratings, reviews, and feedback, Reviews Bee provides you with the most comprehensive analysis of product information available to you. You can make your purchase knowing that the best research was utilized to make your decision.

Overall Algo

Customer Rating Sources

Expert Rating Sources

Our Algorithm Factors

1. Expert Popularity Score

We came up with the popularity score for every MIDI controller provider while analyzing 19 expert sites that are trustworthy. Based on our detailed evaluation, each MIDI controller is assigned an expert popularity score based upon how many times each product is positively mentioned by experts in the industry.

2. Expert Ranking Score

By analyzing all the expert review sites our algorithm summed up the average ranking for every MIDI controller in their rankings and that is how we came up with the final score for each MIDI controller brand.

3. Consumer Popularity Score

We managed to gather more than 8745 reviews from 78 reliable sources and our algorithm calculated the average score for each brand.

4. Consumer Rating Score

In order to understand how satisfied those consumers were, we analyzed the total number of reviews. We collected all the reviews and the number of stars people gave for each product. Based on these findings we came up with the average customer rating. This is how we managed to bring out the MIDI controller reviews through which you know how the consumer can rate the MIDI controller.

5. Consumer Complaint Score

In order to make our results authentic, we don’t limit ourselves to just the positive rankings factors but we also take complaints from all over the web into consideration and figure out how many customers were complaining about the product.
Through this, we show both sides of the product whether it’s positive or negative in nature. This then makes it a negative factor in our algorithm. This as a result makes the best MIDI controllers reviews. That is why MIDI controllers reviews not only have positive comments mentioned but also the negatives as well.