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The Top 20 Best MIDI Keyboards in 2024

The Top 20 Best MIDI Keyboards in 2024


"Chord progression is a progression of emotions; storytelling - taking one person from one mood to the next."

 Richie Hawtin


There are so many MIDI keyboards available on the market, it can be hard to choose the right one for you, so we’ve compiled this list of the best MIDI Keyboards available right now. When choosing a MIDI keyboard, it’s important to take into account what features are most important to you. 

Some of these features include keyboard size, number of keys, DAW compatibility, and keyboard effects. Before we hop into the different options, it's important to ask yourself if a MIDI keyboard or controller will actually help your workflow or if it will be just another piece of gear. That said, I consider having at least one MIDI keyboard an essential component to any basic or even advanced studio setup.

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Should you buy a MIDI keyboard?

“Work with what you have until what you have pays for what you want.”

I'm a firm believer that everyone should get a MIDI keyboard, but this question is significant to consider because I don’t want you falling down the rabbit hole of buying gear you don’t need and won’t use. Here are some of the most pertinent questions to ask yourself before buying a MIDI Keyboard:

Are you familiar with chords & notes? As a music producer, you’ll often wear many hats. One of them is knowing how to play an instrument to some degree or another. While an understanding of music theory isn't totally necessary, to take full advantage of a MIDI keyboard, you'll want at least a basic understanding of composition.

Even a simplistic understanding of chord progressions, rhythm, note relationships, etc., will go a LONG way in using your MIDI keyboard. That said, you can always transpose to the key of C (that means all the white notes are in key with your song, and you can jam away to your heart's content).

Are you comfortable with your DAW? - Before you start buying new gear, ask yourself if you understand the ins and outs of your software. There is nothing worse than getting a new piece of gear and realizing you don't even know how to make it work with your DAW. Understand how to make great music without a MIDI keyboard, then buy one that will speed up your workflow.

Important features to look for in MIDI keyboards

Number of Keys - Some MIDI controllers have as few as two notes and no octaves; other keyboards have full-size keys with aftertouch, modulation, and automation features. Something to note: MIDI keyboards are great for small studio setups, but are limited in octaves and thus less playable.

Effects - Common effects found on MIDI controllers include aftertouch, pitch bend, pitch modulation, and additional percussive pads. If these are effects that you deem helpful when producing a track, it may be helpful to keep these effects in mind. 

DAW compatibility - Most MIDI Keyboards will be compatible with any major music production software; however, certain keyboards include features that work with specific DAWs. For example, The Novation Launchkey MIDI controllers are specifically designed for Ableton Live.

Size -  Some controllers are similar to the size of a laptop; others can be four to five feet long. You’ll want to make sure your studio desk can fit whatever keyboard you end up going with.

Interface Type - Some MIDI controllers have a USB interface, while others have a standard audio interface or even a built-in sound card. Most people will be fine with a USB interface.

Power - The type of power that the MIDI controller needs is important to think about. Some MIDI controllers use batteries, while others are powered by USB or need a standard AC Outlet. If you plan on traveling around, a USB or battery-powered keyboard will be the best option

Connection – MIDI controllers come in many different connection types, but most will connect to your computer via USB. Many controllers today still have the option to connect a five-pin MIDI cable to your keyboard, but for the most part, keyboards tend to lean towards USB.

Weighted Keys – Many digital pianos and keyboards feature weighted keys to mimic the feel of playing an acoustic piano. This can be really helpful when you are trying to get a humanized sound out of your MIDI controller since the velocities will naturally differ as you play.

Velocity Sensitivity – All of the keyboards on this list have velocity-sensitive keys, meaning that your computer will read the dynamics when you press the keys. Avoid keyboards without this simplistic feature.

List


Best Affordable MIDI Keyboards

1. Akai MPK Mini MK2

Price: $98.88

Number of Keys: 25 Keys

Weighted Keys: Unweighted

Power: USB

Features: 8 drum pads, 8 programmable knobs

Software: Akai Pro MPC plugin package

Why this made our list: Akai is a classic MIDI controller brand that has been around for over 40 years. When we say classic, we mean it. It's literally one of the first MIDI devices ever created. The MPK-series is the flagship of Akai’s keyboard lineup, and it comes in both full-size and mini-keyboard versions.

This keyboard offers hands-on operation with a range of 8 drum pads and 8 assignable knobs. The MPK Mini MKII also comes with pro-grade software to help you create music, including MPC Pro and MPC Reflow.


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2. Arturia KeyStep 37

Price: $199.00

Number of Keys: 37 Keys

Weighted Keys: Unweighted

Power: USB

Features: Instant Chord Generation, Scale Quantize

Software: Ableton Live Lite

Why this made our list: The KeyStep 37 is a compact USB MIDI keyboard that can connect to a Mac or PC. The compact and portable design makes it a great choice for mobile production scenarios and is perfect for producers who need a MIDI controller with limited space and control requirements. 

You can map the KeyStep 37 to trigger software, control virtual instruments, and control parameters in your DAW. With a three-mode filter, a three-mode arpeggiator/sequencer, and 15 programmable templates, the KeyStep 37 offers an impressive set of features for a compact controller.

Each key on the KeyStep 37 has aftertouch and is velocity-sensitive and it is also one of the most popular MIDI controllers out there, thanks to it being one of the most affordable with all its features.


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3. Arturia MiniLab MKII 25 Slim Key Controller

Price: $78.99

Number of Keys: 25 Keys

Weighted Keys: Unweighted

Power: USB

Features: Portable & Compact, 8 Drum Pads, 16 Programmable Knobs

Software: Ableton Live Lite, Analog Lab VST

Why this made our list: Arturia has long been a trusted name in the world of synthesizers and MIDI controllers. Recently, the company launched the MiniLab 25-Key USB/MIDI Keyboard Controller with Software. The MiniLab is completely portable and offers a myriad of connectivity options, including USB, Bluetooth, and MIDI.

The MiniLab is fully programmable and includes a built-in sequencer with intuitive editing modes and a Groove function to help you get groovy with your beats. If you’re looking for an entry-level keyboard to get started with MIDI, the MiniLab is a great option.


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4. Novation Launchkey 25 MK3

Price: $169.99

Number of Keys: 25 Keys

Weighted Keys: Unweighted

Power: USB

Features: 16 Drum Pads, 8 Programmable Knobs

Software: Ableton Live Lite, Virtual Instrument Plugins

Why this made our list: Ableton users will enjoy the Launchkey 25 MK2 USB Keyboard Controller. This MIDI controller keyboard features an intuitive design that allows users to launch and edit their Ableton sessions with a single push of the key. 

The Launchkey 25 MK2 delivers a full-range sound thanks to its 25-key design, velocity sensitive keys, 8 velocity-sensitive pads, and built-in Expression pedal. The controller can also be powered via USB or via a 9V power supply. 

It can be used as a Launchpad or Remote and can also store your presets and create songs. With one-touch programmability with 30 preset programs, eight multitimbral voices, and eight-step polyphonic aftertouch this is one of the most popular keyboards on the market.


5. Keith McMillen Instruments K-Board

Price: $96

Number of Keys: 25 Keys

Weighted Keys: Unweighted

Power: USB

Features: Extremely Durable

Software: None

Why this made our list: The K-Board is the ultimate travel keyboard! For a MIDI controller on the go, this is one of the best options out there. This was specifically designed to be extra tough allowing you to throw it in your backpack to travel around wherever you need. 

The 25 keys are touch sensitive and can recreate different velocities easily while still being durable buttons that never break. It’s powered by USB, so you don’t need a separate power cable to use it with your Computer.


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6. Keith McMillen Instruments QuNexus

Price: $164.99

Number of Keys: 25 Keys

Weighted Keys: Unweighted

Power: USB

Features: Pitch & Modulation, Durable

Software: None

Why this made our list: Just like its little brother, the Keith McMillen QuNexus is extremely durable and was built to be thrown into your bag and go.The difference with the QuNexus is that it has more advanced features than the K-Board.

With QuNexus, you can manipulate each key with independent tilt and pressure control. You can also control multiple synthesizers simultaneously with this keyboard.


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7. M-Audio Oxygen 25

Price: $89.88

Number of Keys: 25 Keys

Weighted Keys: Unweighted

Power: USB

Features: 8 Drum Pads, 8 Auto-Assign Knobs

Software: Ableton Live Lite, Virtual Instrument Plugins

Why this made our list: If you’re looking for a portable MIDI controller that doubles as a USB keyboard and pad controller, the Oxygen 25 is worth a look. This lightweight keyboard features velocity-sensitive keys that provide a rich, expressive feel. 

Even though it has only 25 keys, you can use the octave buttons to reach the full range of an 88-key keyboard. It’s Powered by USB making it a convenient option for travel and it will automatically map the controls to any DAW you pair it with.


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8. M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3

Price: $119.00

Number of Keys: 49 Keys

Weighted Keys: Unweighted

Power: USB

Features: Sustain Input, Pitch & Modulation

Software: Ableton Live Lite, Virtual Instrument Plugins

Why this made our list: The M-Audio Keystation series still has some of the best travel keyboards. While many of the travel keyboards on this list focus on small size and portability, the Keystation 49 prioritizes portability without sacrificing features like pitch and modulation controls. 

This simple design also comes with great software and plugins: Ableton Live Lite, MPC Beats, Velvet, XPand 2, Mini Grand, and Touch Loops.


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9. M-Audio Keystation 61 MK3

Price: $199.00

Number of Keys: 61 Keys

Weighted Keys: Semi-Weighted

Power: USB

Features: Sustain Input, Pitch & Modulation

Software: Ableton Live Lite, Virtual Instrument Plugins

Why this made our list: If you’re looking for a semi-weighted USB MIDI controller keyboard that provides 61 keys, the KeyStation series are worth a look. This controller features semi-weighted keys that provide a rich, expressive feel, along with an assignable modulation wheel, pitch wheel, and aftertouch. 

Usually, weighted keyboards are bigger because they require a counterweight for each key, however, the M-Audio Keystation is one of the most compact designs that we’ve seen that still has semi-weighted keys. Fun fact: this was my first MIDI keyboard I ever purchased :)

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10. NI Komplete Kontrol M32

Price: $139.00

Number of Keys: 32 Keys

Weighted Keys: Unweighted

Power: USB

Features: Compact Design, 8 Programmable Knobs

Software: Ableton Live Lite, Virtual Instrument Plugins

Why this made our list: The Komplete Kontrol M32 is a fully functional MIDI controller keyboard that offers a ton of functionality at an affordable price. It features 32 compact keys to control all your instruments and effects, a sleek and solid design, and it comes with a powerful VST package.

If you’re looking to add some extra functionality to your studio setup without breaking the bank, the Komplete Kontrol M32 is a great option.


ULTIMATE GUIDE

TO HOME

STUDIO SETUPS

"I'd buy a book full of tips like these."
- Some dude on Reddit

home studio mockup
home studio mockup

ULTIMATE GUIDE

TO HOME

STUDIO SETUPS

"I'd buy a book full of tips like these."
- Some dude on Reddit

Best Medium Value MIDI Keyboards

Best Studio Headphones - k612 pro

11. Arturia KeyLab Essential 61

Price: $259.00

Number of Keys: 61 Keys

Weighted Keys: Unweighted

Power: USB

Features: 9 Programmable Faders, 9 Programmable Knobs, 8 Drum Pads, Pitch & Modulation, Sustain Input

Software: Ableton Live Lite, Analog Lab Synth, Grand Piano VST

Why this made our list: The KeyLab 61 is a 61-note, full-size MIDI keyboard controller, with 61 full-size keys, velocity, aftertouch, and 8 Drum Pads. The KeyLab 61 can be used for music production and as a MIDI controller.

It can be mapped with music software such as Logic, Cubase, Ableton, or Pro Tools or also be used as a stand-alone MIDI controller. If you’re looking for a keyboard that can serve as a full-blown production controller for your studio software, the KeyLab 61 is a great option.


12. Novation Launchkey 49 MK3

Price: $229.99

Number of Keys: 49 Keys

Weighted Keys: Unweighted

Power: USB

Features: Scale & Chord Modes, 16 Drum Pads, 9 Faders, 8 Knobs, Sustain Input

Software: Ableton Live Lite, Immediate Ableton Live Connectivity, Includes Plugins and VST

Why this made our list: The Launchkey 49 is a full-size USB/MIDI controller, with 49 full-size, velocity-sensitive keys, assignable pads, and a built-in LCD screen. It can also be used with Novation’s Launchpad, which can be connected via USB.

The Launchkey 49 has built-in controls, like a 3-band, parametric EQ and an adjustable, dual-mode filter. It also has onboard controls, like a sustain pedal input and an assignable knob. It has a USB port for connecting to your computer, and an Aux In/Out for syncing to other devices. It also has a great aesthetic, truly making it one of the best MIDI keyboards on this list.


13. Novation Launchkey 61 MK3

Price: $279.99

Number of Keys: 61 Keys

Weighted Keys: Unweighted

Power: USB

Features: Scale & Chord Modes, 16 Drum Pads, 9 Faders, 8 Knobs, Sustain Input

Software: Ableton Live Lite, Immediate Ableton Live Connectivity, Includes Plugins and VST

Why this made our list: Like the Launchkey 49, the Launchkey 61 works with Ableton Live, and other music software, like Logic, Cubase, or Studio One. It’s a 61-note USB MIDI keyboard that stands out from the crowd due to its ability to function as a Launchpad controller.

The Launchkey 61 features 16 assignable pads, 9 faders, and 8 knobs, all for maximum control over your DAW. If you’re looking for a 61-note USB MIDI keyboard, this is one of our top picks on this list of best MIDI keyboards.


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14. NI Komplete Kontrol A49

Price: $219

Number of Keys: 49 Keys

Weighted Keys: Semi-Weighted

Power: USB

Features: 8 Pre-Mapped Knobs, Pitch & Modulation, Sustain Input

Software: Virtual Instrument Plugins, Logic & Ableton Integration

Why this made our list: The Komplete Kontrol A49 is a full-featured, 49-key, USB/MIDI keyboard controller, designed for DJs and producers. The A49 is designed to be used with Native Instruments’ KOMPLETE software. The A32 can also be mapped to your DAW:  Logic, Ableton, or Studio One. 

Like all other Native Instrument keyboards, it was specifically designed to use their Virtual Instruments, so included in your purchase is some of the Native Instrument VST Plugins.


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15. NI Komplete Kontrol A61

Price: $279.00

Number of Keys: 61 Keys

Weighted Keys: Semi-Weighted

Power: USB

Features: 8 Pre-Mapped Knobs, Pitch & Modulation, Sustain Input

Software: Virtual Instrument Plugins, Logic & Ableton Integration

Why this made our list: This keyboard comes with all the same features, plugins, and software integrations as the A49. Both keyboards also have semi-weighted keys giving you a similar feel to a real piano. The biggest difference between this keyboard and the A49 is just that this one has 12 more keys.


Best Advanced MIDI Keyboards

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16. Nektar Impact LX88+

Price: $319.99

Number of Keys: 88 Keys

Weighted Keys: Semi-Weighted

Power: USB

Features: 8 Drum Pads, 9 Programmable Faders, 8 Programmable Knobs, Pitch & Modulation, Sustain Input

Software: Nektar Daw Integration

Why this made our list: Nektar Impact LX88+ is one of the most advanced keyboards you can purchase for the price. While most other keyboards on this advanced list can reach $500+ dollars, the LX88+ brings many of the features of the other keyboards into a more affordable price point. 

Some of these features include 88 semi-weighted keys, programmable knobs and faders, and hyper-sensitive drum pads. When it comes to the best MIDI keyboards, you can't do much better in this range.


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17. NI Komplete Kontrol S49

Price: $699.00

Number of Keys: 49 Keys

Weighted Keys: Semi-Weighted

Power: USB / Outlet

Features: Aftertouch, Pitch & Modulation, Touch Screen Control, 8 Pre-Mapped Knobs

Software: Native Kontrol Standard VST, Komplete Instruments: Pre-Mapped

Why this made our list: The S49 is a 49-key USB keyboard that comes with Ableton Link, an offering that allows you to sync a live performance running on a laptop with your production on a DAW. It is also pre-mapped to Komplete instruments in the Native Instruments plugin, and lets you link to other DAWs. 

The S49 also sports a large, full-size keyboard with semi-weighted keys, so you can get that “piano feel” to your keys. The S49 also gives you a dedicated control section with 8 real-world media controls, so you can mix and match your media with ease. Unique to these keyboards is the touch screen panel that connects to your DAW and instrument plugins.


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18. NI Komplete Kontrol S61

Price: $799.00

Number of Keys: 61 Keys

Weighted Keys: Semi-Weighted

Power: USB / Outlet

Features: Aftertouch, Pitch & Modulation, Touch Screen Control, 8 Pre-Mapped Knobs

Software: Native Kontrol Standard VST, Komplete Instruments: Pre-Mapped

Why this made our list: The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61 Mk2 is a number-keyed MIDI controller for music production. If you’re looking for a MIDI keyboard that’s a bit more advanced, the S61 is definitely the one for you. With a 61-key controller, the S61 is designed for those who want a bit more control over the sounds they’re creating. 

With its full-size, velocity-sensitive keys, you can assign notes velocity to bring out the full potential of any sample. The S61 can also be used with a Mac or PC via USB, allowing you to take full advantage of its software bundle. With the included Komplete Kontrol S61, you can control the software you have installed, and even create your own custom controls.


Best Studio Headphones - ath-r70x

19. Akai MPK261

Price: $499.00

Number of Keys: 61 Keys

Weighted Keys: Semi-Weighted

Power: Outlet

Features: Pitch & Modulation, 16 Drum Pads, 8 Programmable Knobs, 8 Programmable Faders, Sustain & Expression Input

Software: Native Kontrol Standard VST, Komplete Instruments: Pre-Mapped

Why this made our list: The AKAI Professional MPK261 is another great choice for a more advanced controller experience. The MPK261 is a USB MIDI controller with 61 semi-weighted keys, so you can control virtual instruments or software with ease. 

The MPK261 also comes with 16 assignable pads, and a variety of other controls, including 8 knobs and faders, a transport section, and a built-in sequencer. The MPK261 also has a plug-and-play design, so you don’t have to install any drivers.

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20. Arturia KeyLab 88

Price: $999.00

Number of Keys: 88 Keys

Weighted Keys: Fully Weighted

Power: USB / Outlet

Features: Pitch & Modulation, 16 Drum Pads, 9 Programmable Knobs, 9 Programmable Faders, Sustain & Expression Input, Durable, Wood Side Panels

Software: Magnetic Overlays for Ableton, Logic, Pro Tools, and more, Analog Lab Software

Why this made our list: The Arturia KeyLab 88 is a MIDI keyboard with hammer action that’s great for studio tracking, playing virtual instruments, and more. It has 88-note keys, 12 aftertouch channels, and a USB bus powered sound module. One of the most unique features of this keyboard is that it has hammer-action weighted keys, meaning that it replicates the feel of a piano accurately. 

With 16 RGB-backlit performance pads, 9 faders and 9 encoders, magnetic overlays for your DAW, and a unique design, this keyboard was designed for complete control over your studio. As the largest on the list with the most features, it is designed to stay in a designated space in the studio, and not for traveling

Final Thoughts: The Best MIDI Keyboards

MIDI Keyboards are one of the most essential components to producing music on the highest levels. Whether you are looking for a keyboard for your studio, for travel, or wherever, come back to this list when trying to find the best keyboard to suit your needs. 

And remember, if you don't know music theory, you can still take full advantage of a MIDI keyboard by transposing to the key of C and jamming away on the white notes. Madeon himself still does this — so there's no reason why you can't as well. Get yourself a MIDI keyboard within your budget and slam those keys, twist those knobs, and have a blast <3


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Hyperbits

FOUNDER, HEAD-HONCHO, THE BIG CHEESE

A bit about me in case you're new here: my music has been streamed over 52+ million times.

I've done official remixes for artists like Beyonce, Tove Lo, and Nick Jonas, signed record deals with Universal, Island, and Sony, and worked with brands like Target, Samsung, and Equinox. I've even DJed some of the world's biggest stages, like Electric Daisy Carnival, Terminal 5, Fonda Theater, and Echostage.

If you have questions about music production or the Hyperbits Masterclass get in touch. I'm here to help.

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"I'd buy a book full of tips like these."
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