Best Midi Keyboard Reviews and Buying Guide 2017

A midi keyboard controller is a device with piano or synth-style keys that offers variety of controls such as knobs, pads, buttons, and sliders. They usually work very similar to typing keyboards, you press a key, and this movement is translated into data that controls the software you're currently using that also known as Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

An interesting thing about MIDI keyboards is fact that most of them don’t have sound of their own. They usually rely on connected device such as your laptop for producing sound. Below is the list best MIDI keyboards.

1. Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII Review

Akai is one of the most celebrated and trusted music gear Company in the market today with more than 30 years of experience. They know how to make great music equipments really well. And they make really solid MIDI keyboards with great build and quality.

The Mini MKII is best known for its portability, it’s made really compact. It’s affordable and convenient to make music anywhere anytime. It also includes little bundled software by Akai. You can use that software after registering with your MIDI keyboard from a serial number provided in the box.

Akai Mini MkII keyboard is also great with DAWs. It’s a great feature to have especially after trend being shifted to more and more towards a computer setup. Popular programs like Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Cubase, Reason, and Pro Tools work without any issue.

​Talking about control Akai Mini MkII keyboard comes with 25 velocity-sensitive keys, if you wish to expand the range than octave shift buttons comes handy. It also includes the 4-way thumbstick instead of separate pitch-bend and modulation wheels. It has 8 backlit which are generally enough for a mini keyboard, as most well-known keyboards have 12-16 pads.

Control knobs are really fun to use thought it is a bit tricky to assign them and pads feels nice and responsive, they feel good to touch and responds really good. You will definitely love them.

Keys included in this MIDI keyboard are mini keys. They are a bit smaller than standard MIDI keys and obviously smaller than pianos and if this is your first compact keyboard then it may take a little time to get use to it and you may find jamming a bit difficult at first but once you get used to the compact keyboard then it will be a smooth sailing. Those are the few cons of this device.

Overall, this is a great keyboard at a very affordable price. It is one of consumer’s most favorite MIDI keyboard in the market and specially recommended if you are looking for a cheap and convenient way to make music anywhere.​

Pros

  • Premium looks
  • Portable design
  • Nice and responsive pad
  • Great thumb stick controller
  • Affordable
  • Arpeggiator is built-in

Cons

  • Difficult to assign knobs
  • Keys are not that great

Midiplus AKM320 Review

Midiplus AKM320 Review

Midiplus AKM320 is one of the most favorite MIDI keyboard for beginners because of its affordable price, compact design, lightweight, and portability. It weighs only 1.6 pounds with a dimension of 4.92 x 18.11 x 1.18 inches.

For connectivity, there is a USB for easy plug-and-play. USB also works as a power source and it works very well with any DAW software.

Midiplus AKM320 is equipped with 32 notes, which should be enough for most of the songs that are not too complex. Onboard octave buttons (Up & Down) are well within reach for more octave ranges, really good feature especially considering its limited keys. For you to be more creative there are also velocity sensitive keys, other onboard features include transpose buttons and volume slider. Another note worthy feature is sustain pedal input.

Construction of this MIDI keyboard is very solid and the thing which we love most was its compact and lightweight design. You can slip this keyboard in your laptop bag and make music anywhere.

We couldn’t suggest you anything better if you are just starting to make music on computer or you are on a tight budget. It can also be a good secondary keyboard. Therefore, we think Midiplus AKM320 certainly packs a lot more than its price, thought it is far from being perfect but still a great option.

There is nothing much we could complain about this MIDI keyboard at this price but velocity sensitivity key could be made better and volume slider can be problematic at times.

Overall, it’s a best MIDI keyboard especially for beginners, equipped with almost every great feature required to create good music and with only 1.6 pounds, it is also very easy to carry around. Last but least it also have really great rating on amazon.com from the people who brought this product. It has an overall rating of 4 stars out of 5 by as many as 230 plus consumers which shows the superiority and consumer satisfaction of this MIDI keyboard controller.

Pros

  • Decent built quality
  • Easy to connect
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Competitive price
  • Easy and intuitive control

Cons

  • Difficult to assign knobs
  • Keys are not that great

3. M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV Review

M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV Reveiw

M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV is a 49 key MIDI keyboard controller. It is a third generation keyboard controller by oxygen in an already well established series. It is a part of 4 product line-up by oxygen. Other product includes Oxygen 25, Oxygen 61, and Oxygen 88. As suggested by name they represent their key bed size.

It can be seamlessly attached with windows or Mac. Generally you don’t need to install any driver because it has a 'class compliant' USB device; sometime you may need to install a driver for windows older version. Minimum requirement quoted to run this program is 1 GHZ of processor and 512 mb of ram. But in our opinion you may need a little more than that to run seamlessly.

This is full size keyboard and velocity sensitive with dimension of 32.04 x 9.56 x 3.7 inches and weighs about 6.4 pounds. The build quality of this keyboard is quite good and it is made up of plastic with smooth premium looking grey finish.

One of the most attractive features of M-Audio Oxygen series for so long has been their large collection of MIDI control features and even in Oxygen 49 it doesn’t disappoint you. Now speaking of features this keyboard controller consist of 2 plastic pitch bend and modulation wheels with a sizable finger indent on top left of the keyboard. Track Select and transposition can be done with 4 rubber keys on the right.

The highlight of this keyboard includes 8 velocity-sensitive trigger pads for variety of stuffs, 8 assignable knobs made with rubbery material for playing and controlling plug-in and instruments, and 9 assignable faders to help you mix with ease.

Finally, M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV is certainly a portable midi keyboard with very affordable pricing and apart from being compact and lightweight it also provide piano like feel with it full size keys. Therefore, if you are on a budget and looking for a keyboard which provide full value for money then we would recommend you to consider this midi keyboard.

Pros

  • Attractive and roomy design
  • Dedicated transport control
  • keys feel solid
  • Number of knobs and slider

Cons

  • LED display is just 3 digit
  • No option of AC power

4. CME Xkey 25-Key Review

CME Xkey 25-Key Review

Xkey has a sturdy, sleek, and compact design making it really pleasing to the eyes. It is just marginally larger than a 15’ Macbook pro and therefore very easy to carry around with your own laptop. Thought I always prefer good quality over sturdiness but this MIDI keyboard excel even in built quality.

The keyboard is made durable with premium metal and keys are chicklet with professional size, which is amazing in such a small footprint. Xkey appears to be a bit low profile but retains a good key travel distance Thought it takes a little time to get used to it but ones you get used to it you will love it. Black keys are considerably raised over white key.

Connecting Xkey to PC, Mac, ios and android is as simple as plug and play; a soft red light will indicate its connectivity. There is only one USB port and it also includes a cable out of the box. It has 6 jelly buttons and control for octave selection (up and down) as well as sustain, modulation and pitch bend (up and down).

For the price it sales there aren’t many good competitions for this controller, one good MIDI keyboard that comes to my mind is Akai MPK mini which comes at the same price point and has a bit more functionality (pads and knob) than this controller. But Xkey is a bit more durable than Akai MPK mini especially if you are looking to carry it around in your backpack. You need to take care of Akai MPK mini a bit more than xkey.

Overall, Xkey is a good looking, portable, made with premium metal and fully functional MIDI keyboard. The only downside of this device is limited pitch and modulation functionality.

Pros

  • Very portable
  • Premium build quality
  • Polyphonic after touch
  • Full-sized keys
  • Good value for money

Cons

  • Chiclets keys doesn't feel great
  • Limited functionality
  • USB port is difficult to reach

5. M-Audio Keystation 88 II Review

M-Audio Keystation 88 II Review

Keystation 88 includes 88 standard size velocity-sensitive keys with natural piano feel that are also semi-weight and series of control for increasing creativity. The octave buttons are nice and intuitive. It is a simple yet powerful MIDI controller specially designed for sequencing music and playing virtual instrument.

Inside the box it includes Piano, instruction booklet, cd software and USB for computer. They don’t include keyboard stand or sustain pedal. So that’s an extra expense for your pocket.

A great thing about this MIDI keyboard is its connectivity. All you got to do is plug it with your computer USB port and open you daw and that’s it, there is no hassle at all. An important aspect of any MIDI keyboard is its portability and Keystation 88 is a lightweight and durable controller perfect for those musicians who want to make music on the go.

Keystation 88 also includes Ableton Live Lite – it is one of the most incredible performance and production program available in the world. It’s a powerful tool for music creation, it helps musicians and producers to impulsively compose, remix, record and edit musical ideas in a fluid audio/MIDI atmosphere.

Overall, it is great MIDI keyboard controller which has something for everyone. If you are looking for a MIDI controller that has a lot of keys and is cheap, this is it! Because more than 250 reviews on Amazon can’t be wrong. And more than 60% of them have given 5 out of 5 stars to this amazing product from M-Audio.

Pros

  • Semi-weight and full size keys
  • Llight weight and portable
  • ​Nice and intuitive octave buttons
  • Pitch Bend and Modulation Wheels

Cons

  • Poor customer service
  • Limited functionality

6. Alesis V49

Alesis V25 Review

Alesis V49 has 49 full-sized keys (same as ones you see in piano) packed in a compact controller for any desktop production setup. It also has 8 LED backlit touchpads that responds to velocity and sensitive to pressure regards as a useful tool for expressive volume changes, 4 four assignable knobs and buttons. For creative control it has pitch and mod wheels. Overall, it has everything thing needed for a great keyboard controller in a much compact form factor.

Alesis V49 is a USB powered keyboard and the same port is also used for connecting it to PC or MAC. Like most of the MIDI keyboard this controller is also easy to plug and play without any hassle.

A notable feature of this keyboard is that every product of Alesis product adds dynamic expression to its virtual instrument. This means if you press the key softly it will produce a soft sound, and if you press it hard you will hear a louder sound. Thats how they are responsive to different in dynamics.

Alesis V49 is included with Ableton Live Lite 9 and Xpand!2 by AIR Music Tech. both of them are really nice addition by manufacturer. While Ableton live lite enables you to record, edit and remix your ideas instantly anytime, anywhere where Xpand!2 comes with many advance bundle of premium sounds.

Apart from software’s your get USB cable, user guide, warranty card, software download card and the Alesis V49 itself in the box.

Overall, we think Alesis V49 is a really good choice for anyone who is passionate about music. It comes at a very reasonable price. Only thing we would to add more is few more keys to this keyboard. And most of the customers who brought this product was very satisfied with its build quality and other features.

Pros

  • Very compact design
  • ​Looks really good
  • 49 full-sized keys and 8 Pads
  • 4 assignable knobs and buttons for better control

Cons

  • Keys dont feel like real piano
  • Keyboard Velocity is not up to the standard

7. Akai Professional MPK49

Akai Professional MPK49 Review

Akai Professional MPK49 is a nice looking MIDI keyboard controller packed with every essential feature that is breeze to work with. Keys included in this midi controller are semi-weight that is smooth and easy to work with.

On top right, it offers 8 360-degree knobs, faders and 8 backlit switches. Each of them comes with 3 banks giving you a total of 24 knobs, 24 fader and 24 switches.

On top left, it includes modulation wheels and orange-illuminated pitchbend. In centre it has a large LCD display that makes you see the things you are currently working with.

Many users complained of pretty stiff pads, thought you can still work with it. You can increase the sensitivity, decrease the threshold, or change the pad curve. But the great news is that pads do get loosen up with little bit of use.Installation of this midi keyboard is very easy. If you are using Sonar, Cubase, or Live or plug-ins from GForce or Spectrasonics, then is ready to work out of the box. If not, then installation is still very easy.

The Akai Professional MPK49 comes with 4 different modes which are Preset, Edit, Global, and Program Change. Each mode has their own features such as in present mode you can load, save, and copy up to 30 present as well as custom configurations in the internal memory, a very useful feature for musicians. And there are different sets of features for every mode.

Overall, it has some great features such as note repeat and MPC swing brought by Akai. Compact design, good build quality, and easy to configure adds to its overall appeal. But it also has its share of negativity in the form of lack of power button and power adapter is sold separately.

Pros

  • Lots of features such as Arpeggiator and Time Division
  • After Touch on pads and keyboard
  • Easy to configure
  • Feels great to use

Cons

  • Auto-mapping not available for older versions
  • A bit expensive
  • Power adapter is not inclued

8. Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note USB Keyboard Controller

Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note USB Keyboard Controller Review

Novation is another company that is doing really well in equipments and recording gear. They have produced some excellent midi keyboard controller and one of them is Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note USB Keyboard Controller. It has got positive reviews around the world from many critics. For the particular price this midi controller packs a powerful punch.

If you are new to this game or want a performance packed midi keyboard in 100$ then Launchkey Mini 25-Note along with Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII and CME Xkey 25-Key is a really great option.

Launchkey Mini 25-Note is quite compact and lightweight with just 1.5 pounds and dimension of 15.5 x 9 x 3 inches. It is one of the best midi keyboards in such a compact form factor. It also work without a glitch with most popular DAW’s like Pro Tools, Cubase, FL Studio, Reason, Logic and Ableton Live.

One thing that we didn’t like at first was its small key size. It doesn’t have regular size key or piano size key, neither they have a semi-weight keys like most of the midi keyboards now-a-days but once get use to them, they feel really nice to use and easy to jam with.

A major drawback we felt with this device was connectivity with ios device. You are required a camera connection kit to connect this device for ios. For other operating system it work just fine.

Apart from few drawbacks we feel it is a really great midi keyboard. It is small and lightweight, easy and direct integration with all major DAW’s and for added performance it includes led lighted pads.

Finally, don’t just take our word for this keyboard because it has an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 on amazon.com and most of the consumers on Amazon have given it 5 out of 5 stars. The number speaks for itself.

Pros

  • Decent built quality
  • Easy and intuitive control

Cons

  • Difficult to assign knobs
  • Keys are not that great

9. Behringer U-Control UMX610 Review

BEHRINGER U-CONTROL UMX610 Review

The Behringer U-Control UMX610 is a flexible midi controller with wide range of controls for wide range of applications. Every product of UMX series provide great flexibility and are generally very easy to use.

Out of the box it includes an operating manual, a audio software, a usb cable, power adapter, and more than 100 virtual instrument with more than 50 effect plug-in to get you rocking right away with unlimited possibilities for sound creation. I don’t know about you but I love additional plug-in it enhances sound creativity.

This midi keyboard has 22 assignable controllers in the form of 8 knobs, 10 assignable switches, and 2 wheels for Pitch Bend & Modulation. They can be assigned with any software that support midi controls. The knobs are well made and feel sturdy and smooth to use.Behringer U-Control UMX610 has 61 full size custom design key velocity sensitivity keys, which have been appreciated by many other reviewers. Though they are semi weight therefore they don’t exactly feels like piano keys. But they still are great to work with.

Additionally, it includes a UCA222 USB Audio Interface as a way to connect with PC and MAC. It works great and there is no need to install any driver in your computer as it’s a plug and play. Though, you may need to install for older operating system like window xps.

Now speaking of build quality, Behringer U-Control has a very good built quality for its price and thing which stands out is its shiny red paint, it’s really hard to not notice its shiny red paint. Knobs and buttons feel sturdy. Its compact enough to be carried anywhere. Overall, it has a great build quality. Just take care of red paint while travelling it a may scratch.

In conclusion, Behringer U-Control is a great keyboard for studio or live performance. It is a feature rich midi keyboard that got you covered in most of the aspects.

Pros

  • Decent built quality
  • Easy and intuitive control

Cons

  • Difficult to assign knobs
  • Keys are not that great

How to choose a Midi keyboard

Key Count

Midi keyboards come in variety of key option such as 25, 49, 61, or 88 keys. If you are someone, who aren’t so professional and want to play basic chords should be happy with small boards with 25, 32 keys.

Other things to consider are how much space you have in your studio. Do you play with your both hands? Do you travel often? Do you always take your keyboard along with you? These are the few questions you need to ask yourself before making a buying decision.

Keyboard Action Type

This is an important decision to make because the manner in which key feel when you push it is really important for better playing experience. If you are not comfortable with keys then it will certainly hamper your creativity and productivity. Different type of people prefer different kind of keys, it generally depends on what you are accustomed to, type of music you prefer to play. There are basically three types of keys –

Weighted keys

Usually found in 88 key beds, these types of keys try to imitate the mechanical feel of conventional piano keys. This is a really difficult thing to do as there are no strings or hammers in the MIDI keyboard controllers. Manufactures try different techniques of applying weight and spring in the controller to get a feel of piano. So, if you are someone who is very keen on original piano keys, then weighted keys are closest you can get.

Semi-weighted Keys

Semi-weighted keys are a really popular option these days. They are similar to weighted keys but with slightly less resistance and bit more springy keys. You can definitely consider semi-weighted keys if you don’t particularly want weighted keys, because usually semi-weighted keys are cheaper than weighted keys. And most MIDI keyboard controllers are equipped with semi-weighted keys, leaving with many options to choose with different prices.

Synth Keys

Synth keys feel more like an electronic key, they are spring loaded. Though they don’t give a feel of real piano but they have certain advantages over other keys. For instance, they are lighter than weighted and semi-weighted key which is a huge advantage for someone who moves a lot. They are easy to carry and because of spring action, they also tend to come back at their position quickly than other keys, which is again an advantage for quick jammers. Last but not least, they are also cheaper than weighted keys.

After touch

After touch is a feature that is usually found in high-end midi keyboard controllers. It is a nice and convenient way to add expressiveness in your music. People generally don’t know whether they need an after touch or not until they use it. There are two types of after touch monophonic and polyphonic.

Faders, Buttons, and Knobs

Most important things after keys are fader, buttons and knobs. They help you to control your music. Almost every manufacturer now-a-days include those few things. They give you hands-on, real time control over various important features of DAW’s such as synth’s filter cutoff and resonance, amp envelope, and so on.

Though many DAW’s also allows those feature to embed into a mouse but it gets too complicated and a mouse doesn’t provide an authentic piano feel. Therefore, it’s important to look for number of faders, button and knobs available with your controller.

Performance pad

Performance pad is another feature that is included with Midi keyboards. They are usually included at the top of the keyboard along with fader, buttons, knobs and LCD screen. They provide variety of features such as playing drums and trigger lops and sometime they are also equipped with after touch. Many of high end keyboards include 6 to 8 performance pads. Whether you need this feature or not entirely depend on your music complexity.

Mini keys Vs Full Keys

A dilemma for many users is whether to opt for full keys or mini keys. Both the keys don’t affect functionality of the keyboard. If you are looking for portable keys then you should opt for mini keys because they more compact than full keys, but if you want more original piano feel then full keys should be your choice.​