Best MIDI Keyboards: The Essential Budget & Premium Options

Best MIDI Keyboards

Best For Value For Money
Best High-End Option
  • Pros:
    • 61 velocity-sensitive keys
    • Comprehensive controls
    • Full AnalogLab software
    • Unparalleled sound control
    • Producer-focused
Best For Ableton
  • Pros:
    • Multi-DAW compatibility
    • Versatile functionality
    • Instant mapping
    • 5-pin MIDI DIN
    • Designed for Ableton
Best For Travel / Compact Living
  • Pros:
    • Velocity-sensitive keys
    • Touch-sensitive strips
    • AnalogLab Lite included
    • Built-in chord mode
    • Compact design
Best For Pianists
  • Pros:
    • Full-sized keys
    • DAW integration
    • Transport controls
    • Semi-weighted keys
    • Optimized for Maschine
Best For Value For Money
Pros:
  • Ultra-portable
  • Feature-rich
  • Bundled software
  • 8 MPC-style pads
  • 25 mini keys
Best High-End Option
Pros:
  • 61 velocity-sensitive keys
  • Comprehensive controls
  • Full AnalogLab software
  • Unparalleled sound control
  • Producer-focused
Best For Ableton
Pros:
  • Multi-DAW compatibility
  • Versatile functionality
  • Instant mapping
  • 5-pin MIDI DIN
  • Designed for Ableton
Best For Travel / Compact Living
Pros:
  • Velocity-sensitive keys
  • Touch-sensitive strips
  • AnalogLab Lite included
  • Built-in chord mode
  • Compact design
Best For Pianists
Pros:
  • Full-sized keys
  • DAW integration
  • Transport controls
  • Semi-weighted keys
  • Optimized for Maschine

Whether you’re a pro producer with years in the game or a complete beginner just starting your music production journey, the MIDI keyboard you choose will make a big difference to your workflow and output.

Seriously, it’s the difference between a smooth, creative workflow and a frustrating, dead-end process.

So, let’s not waste any time.

Here’s the definitive list of MIDI keyboards you absolutely need to check out in 2023. Trust me, these are the controllers that’ll take your music production to the next level.

And we’ve included options for all budget levels – from beginner right the way up to producer-grade.

Let’s dig in and do this…

Best MIDI Keyboards

MIDI ControllerKey FeaturesSoftware BundleBest For…
Akai MPK Mini MK3Fits in a backpack, 25 mini keys, 8 MPC-style pads, 8 knobsAbleton Live Lite, MPC BeatsIdeal for mobile producers; create tracks on the go.
Arturia MicroLab 25Velocity-Sensitive Keys. Touch-Sensitive Pitch and Modulation StripsAnalogLab Lite (600+ sounds)Built-in chord mode for easy chord playing.
Komplete Kontrol A2525 Full-Sized, Semi-Weighted Keys, Transport ControlsNone specifiedGreat for pianists; full-sized keys for a familiar feel.
Novation Launchkey 49 MK3Sliders, buttons, 5-pin MIDI DINNone specifiedMulti-DAW friendly; no manual mapping needed.
Arturia KeyLab Essential 6161 Velocity-Sensitive Keys, Comprehensive Controls: 9 faders, rotary encodersFull AnalogLab Software (6,500 sounds)Full control without touching your computer.

Akai MPK Mini MK3: The Traveler’s Choice

Akai Professional MPK mini mk3

The Akai MPK Mini MK3 is a powerhouse in a small package. Designed for the producer on the move, this controller easily fits into a backpack.

With 25 mini keys, eight backlit MPC-style pads, and eight assignable knobs, it’s feature-rich despite its size.

The bundled software, including Ableton Live Lite and MPC Beats, adds incredible value to your purchase. If you’re inspired to create music wherever you go, this is your go-to MIDI controller.

  • Portability: This is your go-to if you’re a producer on the move. I’ve personally taken similar models on international trips, and it fits right into a backpack.
  • Feature-Rich: Don’t let the size fool you. With 25 mini keys, eight backlit MPC-style pads, and eight assignable knobs, this little beast packs a punch.
  • Software Bundle: Comes with Ableton Live Lite and MPC Beats. If you’re starting out, bundled software is like gold. It’s a two-for-one deal that adds value to your purchase.

Real-World Application: Imagine you’re in a hotel room in a foreign country, inspired by the local music. With the Akai MPK Mini MK3, you can lay down a track right there and then. I’ve done this in places like Romania and Poland, and the experience was seamless.

Arturia MicroLab 25: The Software Powerhouse

Arturia MicroLab 25

Arturia’s MicroLab 25 is a compact MIDI controller with a focus on software and sound manipulation. It features velocity-sensitive keys and touch-sensitive pitch and modulation strips.

The bundled AnalogLab Lite software offers over 600 keyboard and synth sounds, making it a software powerhouse.

Its built-in chord mode is a game-changer for those who aren’t keyboard virtuosos but want to add complex chords to their tracks.

  • Velocity-Sensitive Keys: If you’re keen on dynamics, this is your pick.
  • Touch-Sensitive Strips: Forget wheels; shape your sound with pitch and modulation strips.
  • AnalogLab Lite: Comes with over 600 keyboard and synth sounds. Arturia is a veteran in the software game, and this bundle is a testament to that.

Real-World Application: Let’s say you’re not a keyboard virtuoso but want to add complex chords to your track. The MicroLab features a built-in chord mode that lets you program a chord and play it across every key. It’s like having a session musician in your controller.

Komplete Kontrol A25: The Pianist’s Dream

Komplete Kontrol A25

The Komplete Kontrol A25 is a dream for pianists transitioning into production. Unlike other portable options, it offers 25 full-sized, semi-weighted keys.

The controller is optimized for Maschine software, with knobs that map perfectly into the DAW. Transport controls allow you to play, record, and set tempo without touching your computer.

It’s the perfect blend of tactile familiarity and advanced features.

  • Full-Sized Keys: Unlike the micro keys on other portable options, this one offers 25 full-sized, semi-weighted keys.
  • DAW Integration: If you’re a Maschine software user, this controller is a no-brainer. The knobs map perfectly into the DAW.
  • Transport Controls: Play, record, set tempo—all without touching your computer.

Real-World Application: If you’re a pianist transitioning into production, the full-sized keys will make you feel right at home. I’ve found that the tactile familiarity speeds up the creative process.

Novation Launchkey 49 MK3: The All-Rounder

Novation Launchkey 49 MK3

Novation’s Launchkey 49 MK3 is the Swiss Army knife of MIDI controllers. Designed primarily for Ableton, it maps instantly to other major DAWs like Logic and Reason.

It offers a range of functionality, including sliders, buttons, and a five-pin MIDI DIN connection for external gear. If you’re a multi-DAW user, this controller eliminates the hassle of manual configuration.

  • DAW Compatibility: Designed for Ableton but maps instantly to other major DAWs like Logic and Reason.
  • Functionality: Comes with sliders, buttons, and a five-pin MIDI DIN connection for external gear.

Real-World Application: If you’re a multi-DAW user, this is your Swiss Army knife. The seamless mapping saves you the hassle of manual configuration, letting you focus on what matters: making music.

Arturia KeyLab Essential 61: The Producer’s Pick

Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 MIDI Keyboard Controller Black

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 is a producer’s playground. With 61 velocity-sensitive keys and comprehensive controls, including nine faders and rotary encoders, it offers unparalleled control over your sound.

The full AnalogLab software, featuring 6,500 sounds, is a massive bonus. This controller lets you manage every aspect of your sound without ever touching your computer.

  • 61 Velocity-Sensitive Keys: More keys, more range. Simple as that.
  • Comprehensive Controls: Nine faders and rotary encoders give you unparalleled control over your sound.
  • Full AnalogLab Software: We’re talking 6,500 sounds here. It’s a producer’s playground.

Real-World Application: With the KeyLab Essential 61, you can control every aspect of your sound without ever touching your computer. It’s like having a full studio console in a single piece of hardware.


Other Notable Mentions

  • Oxygen Pro 49 by M-Audio: A solid choice from a brand that’s been in the game for a long time.
  • Nektar Impact LX88: For the piano enthusiasts who need all 88 keys.
  • Komplete Kontrol S series by Native Instruments: Comes in various sizes to fit your needs.

Buying Advice & Key Takeaways ⬇️

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this guide to the best MIDI keyboards for 2023.

Did we include EVERYTHING?

No, just a selection of the ones that we have tested and played with inside the last 12 months. 

That’s why the list is quite compact; we wanted to focus on quality, highlighting the best possible options for every possible budget. 

But if you need a recap of everything discussed above, here’s a quick key takeaways based on everything we’ve discussed so far…

Best MIDI Keyboard for Beginners?

If you’re just starting out, the Akai MPK Mini MK3 is your best bet. It’s portable, feature-rich, and comes with bundled software to get you started. You won’t feel overwhelmed, and it’s budget-friendly.

Best MIDI Keyboard for Live Performance

For live performances, the Komplete Kontrol A25 stands out. Its full-sized, semi-weighted keys offer a tactile experience, and the transport controls allow you to manage your set without touching your computer.

Best MIDI Keyboard for Logic Pro X

The Novation Launchkey 49 MK3 is a solid choice for Logic Pro X users. It’s designed for Ableton but maps instantly to Logic, offering a seamless workflow. The range of sliders and buttons adds to its versatility.

Best MIDI Keyboard for Ableton

If you’re an Ableton user, look no further than the Novation Launchkey 49 MK3. Designed with Ableton integration in mind, this controller offers instant mapping to the DAW, allowing you to jump right into your workflow.

The added functionality of sliders, buttons, and a five-pin MIDI DIN connection make it a comprehensive choice for Ableton users.

Or, if you want a cheaper option, the Akai MPK Mini MK3 is very, very good for the money.

Absolute Beginner? No problem.

Learn how to 10x your guitar playing, use all the latest gear, and record like a professional – all from the comfort of your bedroom!

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