12 Best MIDI Keyboards in 2017

Whether you have taken up music as a hobby or you are a professional musician, the chances are that you will be looking at some point for the best MIDI keyboard. It’s an essential piece for most music studios and one that you simply can’t go without if you want your recording to go smoothly.

If you are not sure what to buy, then this guide will help you on your quest. You’ll find tips on how to choose a MIDI keyboard and also which are the most popular options. Shopping for your passion no longer has to be a complicated task!

Top 12 MIDI Keyboards Comparison Table

Design Name Number of Keys Item Weight Rating (1-5)
   1. Novation Launchkey 49 USB Keyboard Controller for Ableton Live  49  8.2 lbs  4.3
   2. IK Multimedia iRig Keys Pro full-sized 37-key MIDI controller for iPhone  37  3.5 lbs  4.3
   3. M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV | 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard & Drum Pad Controller  49  6.4 lbs  4.2
   4. Akai Professional MPK249 | 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard & Drum Pad Controller with LCD Screen  49  12.6 lbs  4.2
   5. Novation Impulse 49 USB Midi Controller Keyboard  49  14.8 lbs  4.2
   6. Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note USB Keyboard Controller for Ableton Live  25  2.4 lbs  4.1
   7. Acorn Instruments Masterkey 49 USB MIDI Controller Keyboard  49  4.5 lbs  4.1
   8. midiplus AKM320 midiplus MIDI Keyboard Controller  32  1.6 lbs  4.0
   9. Akai Professional LPK25 | 25-Key Ultra-Portable USB MIDI Keyboard Controller  25  1 lbs  4.0
   10. Korg microKEY2 – 37 – Key iOS-Powerable USB MIDI Controller  37  3.1 lbs  4.0
   11. Alesis V61 | 61-Key USB MIDI Keyboard & Drum Pad Controller  61  9.8 lbs  3.9
   12. M-Audio Keystation 88 II | 88-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller  88  16.9 lbs  3.9

Buying Information

Buying the best MIDI keyboard is never an easy decision, and there are various factors you need to consider before making up your mind. Buying the wrong MIDI keyboard may impact greatly the outcome of the music and may be inconvenient for you as well.

Here are some aspects that you need to consider before buying a MIDI keyboard.

  • Number of Keys – One of the most important aspects in choosing a MIDI keyboard is deciding on the number of keys. The more keys it has, the more sounds you can send across. The smallest keyboard has 25 keys, but keep in mind that this will only offer you the basics.

The max number of keys on a MIDI keyboard is 88 – just like a full-size piano. Such a keyboard will offer more sound diversity and an opportunity to play across several octaves. People purchasing these kinds of keyboards generally have a piano background and cannot settle for less.

One of the most popular types of MIDI controllers is the one with 49 keys. They are not too small, but not too big either. It’s enough for you to go across 4 octaves and it won’t take too much of your space.

  • Portability – Usually, the more keys a MIDI controller has, the heavier it will be; however, that rule is not set in stone. If you plan on taking your keyboard on the road a lot, you may want to go for something around 5 pounds, and that can be easily carried around.

After you check the weight of the keyboard, be sure to verify its dimensions as well. If it has a big framework, it might not be easy to store it in your back together with your laptop.

If your plan is to leave your MIDI keyboard at home, then it won’t be a problem choosing a heavier one, as long as it has the features that you need. Keyboards around 10 pounds generally have weighted keys, which will give the songs a more acoustic feel.

  • The Feel – If you have history playing the piano, then you may already know what a keyboard is supposed to feel like. Keys that feel heavy to the touch are known as weighted keys, and they are the closest to the original piano song.

There is also the option of semi-weighted and unweighted keyboards; however, the less weight they have, the farther you will be from the original piano sound. If you have a controller whose sound only manifests in your computer, you may not need your keyboard to be weighted.

There are also keyboards advertised as velocity-sensitive, which is also related to touch. For example, if you hit a keyboard just slightly, it will play a very soft note; on the other hand, if you touch a key with full-force, the note will be registered with max strength.

  • Extra Controls – There are several things you might get with a MIDI keyboard in addition to the keys. Think of knobs, pads, buttons, sliders, wheels and so on. Some MIDI controllers may even make you feel as if you are in command of a spaceship – and you have no idea how to land.

Think about your workflow and keep in mind what sounds you want to get. If you have a program on your computer to manipulate the sound effects, you can go only for the basic controller. It will all depend on your general preference.

Top 5 Best MIDI Keyboard Reviews

1. Novation Launchkey USB Keyboard Controller

This keyboard will give you everything that you expect and more. It is a fairly low-priced controller with a keyboard that offers you everything that you need to play and record.

It has 15 launch pads that are colorfully lit around the beats to make your live session even better.

The 49 keys are enough to provide you with all the tones that you require. For someone who doesn’t have any extensive piano background but is not at a beginner level either, this MIDI keyboard can promptly give you everything that you want in terms of music.

These velocity-sensitive keys will pick right at the sound that you want to get in your recording. You don’t need a mouse to control it, and you have no pointless features either.

Overall, this is the best MIDI controller that you can buy, and it will surely offer you the results that you are looking for. It’s not too heavy, so it can be easily carried around if you need to change your recording place.

2. IK Multimedia iRig Keys Pro MIDI Controller

When you are new to pianos and portable keyboards, you probably want something to deliver the basics without throwing in too much of a hassle.

If you believe that a 25-key MIDI controller is too simple for you, this 37-keypad will definitely suit your needs.

This can not only be connected to your laptop, but to your phone as well – and you can deliver the sound through the headphones. You will no longer have to fear that your neighbors will come knocking at your door, demanding you to tone it down.

The key action is superior as they are sensitive to touch. You can change between octaves and play with the volume until you eventually come up with the perfect song to record.

3. M-Audio Oxygen MKIV Controller

This versatile MIDI keyboard is easily connected to the computer, and it can deliver the sound right away, without any complicated tidbits.

Equipped with 49 full-size keys, this keyboard will give you the basics you will need for recording a note without the risk of it sounding too simple.

You have eight assignable knobs to mix and manipulate the instruments/plugins, and also nine assignable built-in faders that can easily be mixed. The sound will be superior, detailed and overall perfect.

The velocity sensitivity is pretty good, and while it doesn‘t sound like a real acoustic piano (it’s electronic, after all), you will still get a pretty good recording out of it. It’s definitely an investment worth making.

4. Akai Professional MPK249 USB MIDI Keyboard

This controller with a velocity-sensitive keyboard is perfect for those private sessions in which you record a beautiful song.

It has 49 weighted keys that will respond perfectly to your touch so that the recorded result sounds exactly like an acoustic piano.

This MIDI keyboard was made to play and record. Once you know for sure that this is the song you want to keep, you simply have to turn on the recording program.

It’s very versatile in the sense that you have 24 assignable Q-link controllers that include knobs, switches, and faders (8 of each).

It’s heavier than most keyboards, but that’s just because it has more features incorporated, along with weighted keys. If you have a fixed studio where you do your recordings, then this is the perfect MIDI keyboard to purchase for your work.

5. Novation Impulse USB Midi Controller Keyboard

This ultra-responsive Novation keyboard features 49 weighted keys with an aftertouch that will remain even after you pressed the keys – a feature which brings deepness to the songs.

The knobs are pretty sturdy for the price paid, and this also applies to the keyboard. They do not look cheap and definitely seem like they will last gloriously through the years.

It can integrate with computer mixing software without any issues, and the input delay is not that high either. You’ll be able to get to work right away.

The MIDI keyboard is, however, rather heavy, so it is not very suitable if you plan on moving around a lot. The advantage is that the sound produced is deeper than your average unweighted keyboard – which will definitely be a plus once you start recording.

Final Thoughts

The best MIDI keyboard should have enough keys to accommodate to your level. As a beginner, you may want to opt for a 25 or a 37-key controller, and as an advanced piano player, you may want to opt for one with 88 weighted keys.

If, however, you find yourself at an intermediate level, then a 49-key controller will be just enough for you. It will provide a sound that is not too simple but not too complex either.

So far, our winner is the Novation 49-key Launchkey controller. It’s a reliable tool for every hobbyist or professional wanting to add a touch of piano to their songs.