KEYBOARDS! How I love midi keyboards!
Hi everybody, Avi here. On this post, I give you a list of the best midi keyboards for beginners. Every beginner has its own style of music creation so I tried to touch every genre of music and which midi keyboard is best for it. I’m sure you will find a midi keyboard you like on my list.
First, I’ll tell you that the midi keyboard is the king of all instruments for music production. Most music producers are starting with a keyboard and that is a great thing. You can not play drums and strings on your guitar. If you’re a real producer, you need to be very comfortable around the black and white keys next to your computer keyboard and that is a hard fact.
What Is Midi
MIDI – “Musical Instrument Digital Interface” is a language. It is not notes or sounds, it is just data, transmitted by digital instruments and audio systems over to digital instruments and audio systems. The data that is transferred is telling the receiving device what to play and which parameters to change. A midi keyboard sends this data to the computer which sends it to the receiving instrument, whether it’s a virtual synth, any outboard device, plugins or DAW’s. A midi controller or a keyboard usually doesn’t have sounds of its own.
The History Of Midi
Midi was first developed in the 80s, which was a very interesting decade to grow up in for us music producers and electronic musicians. The midi standard was offered to all the major companies and in an act of unification and for the greater good of all of us, they started implementing it in all of their instruments. Midi has changed the music world for ever. With the introduction of Midi technology, a lot of musicians could create new styles of music and complex sequences without the need of actually playing the instrument.
Different Midi Keyboards
Basically, you can use any midi keyboard to make almost any kind of music you want. But there are some keyboards that are more suitable for certain styles of music. For example, if you want to play a piano part, it will be best if you pick a midi keyboard that most resembles the size and feel of a real piano. That’s how you can get the closest result to the original instrument. If you’re an electronic music producer on the road for example, you would want to travel light and maybe go for much smaller instruments.
On this list you would find the best midi keyboard for your needs.
The MPK Mini mk2 is a great little portable controller that you can easily fit into any backpack, along with your laptop and take it with you around the world. It requires only a usb cable to work. It is also a brilliant controller to have on a busy studio desk. Sometimes you just want to record small and simple parts. Or just go over presets and sounds and you just need a little keyboard to trigger them and still have enough space for your coffee cup or other small controllers and instruments. The MPK Mini mk2 also has a beautiful design. I love this mix of red and black colors, hey just look at my logo. A visually good designed instrument helps you feel more creative and have more fun while making music. As for the price, the MKP is a very low-cost solution for music production on the go.
• 25 Mini Keys
• 8 Backlit Drum Pads
• 8 Assignable Knobs
• 4-way Joystick
• USB Powered Only
• Software Package Included
This sweet little keyboard is special, It is made to be the perfect companion for “Analog Lab”, Arturia’s synth software, but it works with any music software.
The Minilab is a full-featured MIDI controller designed to work with any music software that supports Midi or DAW. It has a brand new pitch and modulation touch strip controls. It takes a little time to get used to it but eventually you get it and it allows you to do things you can’t do with a regular pitch and modulation control. This keyboard has the best feeling mini keys I’ve ever tried on a mini keyboard. You can actually play complex music parts on this keyboard and get a very good feel out of it. The design is pretty special and it reminds me a little bit of Access virus snow which I LOVE. The Minilab mk1 had bigger wooden cheeks that give it a more organic look. On the mk2 version, they made the wooden ends a little smaller but they’re still there along with a few added features and upgrades.
• 25 Mini Keys
• 16 Endless Rotary Assignable Knobs
• 8 Backlit Drum Pads
• Touch Pitch & Modulation Control
• Analog Lab Included
• USB Powered Only
Simple, built to last and super affordable. These are the Alesis v25’s main strong points.
This is a straight forward device, the design is very simple and cool. All black with blue lights. I also like the Alesis big logo on the back. First, the v25 is in the standard size keys category. It has two octaves of velocity sensitive 25 keys. It is a little bigger than the mini keys keyboards so it is a little harder to fit into a backpack but it’s definitely possible. The Alesis v25 needs its software in order to fully assign all of its controllers. The 8 backlit drum pads have very good sensitivity and the keyboard is pretty good also. Overall the Alesis v25 it’s just a keyboard you wouldn’t expect for this money.
If you like this keyboard but want more keys, you can check out the 49 and 61 versions of the Alesis V series.
• Compact USB controller for controlling plug-ins and virtual instruments
• Full-sized, synth-action keys with a square front
• 8 velocity and pressure sensitive backlit pads
• 4 illuminated, assignable knobs and 4 buttons
• PitchBend and Modulation wheels
• USB bus powered
• Includes Ableton Live Lite Alesis Edition
Now, this is a small keyboard for big boys, it is a complete midi workstation for the working producer, a professional product, it’s literally the model’s name. Although its price tag is aiming for professionals, I think this is a perfect 25 key midi controller to start with if your budget allows you. Ok let’s start with the design, the Akai Professional MPK225 is a beautiful midi controller. Again, Akai’s colors are amazing, and this mix of black and red is so cool in the studio. The keyboard is pretty big and sturdy and the built quality is superb. If I remember correctly, this is the first product in the professional series that has an LCD screen. The MPK225 has a backlit RGB drum pads, which means that they change colors according to the application they’re connected to, and work hand in hand with Ableton Live. The keys are semi-weighted which means that their mechanism is built a little stronger and they feel a little heavier. Akai’s professional series products also come with a NICE software bundle. Overall, the MPK225 is a cutting-edge production tool that will last for years to come and will have very few limitations in the studio. If you like it and you’re interested in more keys and controls, check out it’s bigger brothers, the MPK249 and the MPK261.
•25 Full Size Semi-Weighted Keys
•8 Backlit RGB Drum Pads
•4 Assignable Knobs
•5 Pin MIDI In&Out
•Pitch & Modulation Wheels
•Foot Switch & Expression Input Jacks.
Novation is a classic name in the music production industry. They are responsible for few of the most classic and famous products out there. The Lunchkey 61 MK2 has a great set of features and controls. It comes in a very cool black body and blue base and 16 backlit RGB pads. The pads support color feedback from Ableton live and they are also velocity sensitive. The Lounchkey is a great companion for your DAW. The Lounchkey has what’s called Synth-weighted Keys which is similar to semi-weighted keys and they’re also slightly narrower than the standard size keys so it may take some time to get used to. The keyboard has very high-quality keys, knobs, and faders. This is a great Midi controller and not only for the relatively low price. If you like it, you should know it also comes in 25 keys and 49 keys versions.
•16 Touch sensitive multi-color launch pads with RGB-LEDs
•2 Launchpad control buttons
•8 Rotary knobs
•Pitch and Modulation wheel
•Backlit mode keys
•8 Mute/ solo keys
•Dimensions: 990 x 120 x 320 mm
•Weight: 3.5 kg
•Including: Novation V-Station and Bass station software, Loopmasters Sample-Pack and Ableton Live Lite
I am an avid M-Audio user for a long time in the studio. I always liked their instruments and the Code 61 is no different. It is a great controller for the studio producer and also for the live keyboard player. It is lighter than other big M-Audio midi controllers from the past but still built just as strong. There is something different, special in the design of the Code 61. First, it is a beautiful keyboard. The first visual thing that pops up is the square overall shape of the keyboard. M-Audio used to make rounder designs but I guess they went for a new look, and you know what? It’s very cool and I like it. The drum pads on the Code are backlit RGB pads and they are big and sturdy. The pitch and modulation wheels are located in the upper left corner of the keyboard which is a little weird for me personally because I come from the old world of synths and midi controllers but I guess M-Audio are trying to promote a new approach. In the bottom line, this is a great midi controller for the price.
•61-note velocity-sensitive synth-style keyboard
•16 full-color RGB backlit velocity sensitive drum pads
•Six dedicated transport controls
•Pitch bend and modulation wheels
•Two Octave/Transpose buttons
•7-segment 3-character LED display
•Two Track/MIDI Channel buttons
This 88 keys M-Audio is a semi-weighted piano size keyboard. It is on my list because it is great for beginners, It is simple and very budget friendly. It’s relatively light and easy to take with you to live shows without breaking your back. I like it’s USB single cable operation, which means it gets the power thru the USB and you don’t have to worry about another power cable to carry on with you. The M-audio Keystation MK2 has enough features for every basic need and a little more. Features like pitch and modulation wheels and transport control for controlling your DAW without the need to reach the mouse and keyboard every time you need to play, stop or record yourself.
Back panel includes ON\OFF switch, volume pedal input, sustain pedal input, 5-pin midi output, USB plug and of course DC power input.
•88 semi-weighted keys
•Pitch, modulation and other control sources
•USB power for convenience
•Use with your computer or iPad
This thing is built like a tank! The Hammer 88 is a full size, fully weighted piano style midi keyboard. With this keyboard, you’ll have a professional product with a friendly price. It is one of the smaller fully weighted midi keyboards out there so it can be great for live shows and in the studio, it won’t take a lot of important space. The interface is pretty simple, only pitch and modulation wheels, 2 buttons for changing the octaves and a volume slider. Some will say you don’t need more than that if you’re a real piano player. Another important thing with piano style keyboards is they need to be quiet and this one definitely is. Very quiet. So if you don’t care about the weight and you need a real piano feel with an affordable price, this is definitely for you.
•88 fully-weighted, hammer-action keys
•USB-MIDI connection for playing virtual instruments, controlling music software, and more
•5-Pin MIDI DIN port for triggering external MIDI hardware
•Pitch bend and modulation wheels, volume fader, and +/- controls for expressive performances
•Multiple keyboard zones for layering, splits, and playing 4-note chords with a single key press
•Sustain, Expression, and Soft pedal jacks
•USB-powered; power adapter available separately for stand-alone use
•Class-compliant, no drivers required, plug-and-play connectivity with Mac/PC
•iOS compatibility via Apple Camera Connection Kit (available separately)
•Included Hammer 88 Controller Editor and premium software suite
•Music rest included