Due of the additional room required for a full-size piano configuration, 88 Key MIDI Controllers are typically found in larger studios. An 88-key controller makes it simpler for piano players familiar to the instrument to effortlessly switch, whilst smaller sizes prioritize portability. Piano players are prioritized, with some models featuring fully-weighted, hammer action keys.
If you need 88 weighted keys, acquire a stage piano or a workstation, seems to be the unstated consensus. However, even when you don’t require internal sounds, you could desire the space to spread out. The good news is that the available options are competitively distinct in their category, making it easy to find a keyboard that meets your requirements. We’ll list the key players a player needs to be aware of in this short guide.
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Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 Mk2 Keyboard
- Smart keyboard controller for all your virtual instruments and effects
- Pro-grade Fatar keybeds with aftertouch, fully weighted, hammer-action keys
- Pre-mapped control of KOMPLETE instruments and effects, plus hundreds of Native Kontrol Standard (NKS) plug-ins from leading manufacturers
The best 88-key keyboard to choose from is undoubtedly the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 Mk2. Although this one is expensive, none can offer such a wide range of functions and a more comprehensive base. The memory foam under the keys contributes to the keyboard’s extraordinarily sensitive response and seamless usability. The Mk2 is AC-powered and has a sustain and expression pedal in addition to a USB and five-pin MIDI to increase its value even further. The best integration is with Native Instruments’ renowned soft synthesizers and instruments. The mapping to the eight touch-sensitive infinite rotary encoders is the most important function, and it is excellent.
The Kontrol S stands out because to a few great features. First off, the interaction with Native Instruments’ own soft synthesizers and libraries is as seamless as it gets, with key parameters instantly mapping to the eight touch-sensitive infinite rotary encoders and appearing by name in the clear display that is present next to each knob. When you tap one, the focus is placed on that screen option. You can customize a setup by adding custom chord generation, custom arpeggiation, and custom scales. You can also use the keyboard’s controls to search the Kontrol browser for patches and multis based on category and attribute tags.
The only thing left to do is map a certain key or button to the interface’s multicolored LEDs above the keys, which are included with every standard Native Instruments plugin. Many features like this make this the best well-rounded pick out there.
The supplied soundware is the last but not least. Nine virtual instruments and soft synths—Massive, Reaktor Prism, Monark, The Gentleman piano, DrumLab, Retro Machines, Vintage Organs, West Africa, and Scarbee electric piano—are included in the NI package Komplete Select. These goodies are completed by an SSL-style bus compressor.
The only thing that could unsatisfy some players is? Although the individual screens and knobs are unquestionably cool, the KeyLab does not have drum pads or faders. Still, for artists who already use Native Instruments software, the S88 is a fantastic price and a no-brainer. This is the Best 88 Key MIDI Keyboard in 2023.
Arturia KeyLab 88 Essential 88-Key MIDI Controller
- EXPRESSIVE CONTROLLER WITH A FOCUS ON WORKFLOW: Durable, yet stylish, KeyLab Essential is an easy keyboard controller that adapts to your needs, your...
- ROLL CALL OF FEATURES: Remove all distractions and enjoy a responsive keyboard, tactile DAW commands, and swift preset browsing for a seamless...
- ALL THE ESSENTIAL CONTROLS: KeyLab Essential features 1 clickable encoder, 9 encoders, 9 faders, 6 transport switches, 4 command switches, 1...
Arturia KeyLab 88 continues to be the best 88-key controller for the money. It has 16 drum pads, nine faders (due to the organ players), ten infinite knobs, and a fantastic fully weighted keyboard. Oh, and the bundled Analog Lab software essentially functions as a self-contained “museum of synths and old keys” that draws sounds from Arturia’s sizable V Collection and automatically maps the most desired parameters to the Key-physical Lab’s controllers. The KeyLab 88’s inclusion of two premium virtual pianos—the physically modelled Pianoteq 5 Stage and sampled UVI Acoustic Grand—is also a plus. MIDI In and Out connectors are available for gear other than your computer, and the KeyLab can be powered by USB. There is a 1/8″ breath-controller input in addition to expression and sustain pedal jacks.
The 11 velocity curves can help lighten up the Fatar-sourced hammer action, which in our opinion skews a little heavy—pianists might consider this a benefit. Even though Aftertouch is also programmable, it has a wide sweet spot and is sensitive to even the smallest variations in finger pressure. We simply cannot overstate how much more costly this action feels than it actually is due to the key top textures, the keys’ snug fit, and the absence of lateral wobble. The drum pads have a satisfying enough feel that MPC enthusiasts might not object.
The Analog Lab instruments have the same sound engine as their full-priced equivalents, with the exception that they are preset-based and do not have the same complete vintage-mockup interfaces. Oscillators, filters, envelopes, and more are all available for tweaking and are shown on the screen in a pane that replicates the KeyLab panel. We discovered that settings automatically reverted to their correct hardware control assignments whether we ran Analog Lab standalone, hosted it in a DAW, or used MainStage, even if we switched away from the Arturia instruments and then back again. This is helpful because Analog Lab cannot host the UVI or Pianoteq pianos, therefore you must use a host program if you wish to use them alongside it.
The laptop shelf extension and/or music rack are positively attached to the back for live performance. We’re not sure how Arturia managed to fit a keyboard that pianists would enjoy and a sturdy construction in a compact that weighs under 30 pounds, but they did. The cliche “would be a bargain at twice the price” endures because, on occasion, it’s true. This is the Best 88 Key MIDI Controller in 2023.
M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro – 88 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller With Piano Style Weighted Hammer Action Keys
- Music Production Essential – MIDI keyboard controller with 88 full-size velocity-sensitive semi weighted keys for MIDI control of virtual...
- MIDI Keyboard Must-Haves - Volume fader, transport & directional buttons; pitch & modulation wheels, octave up & down buttons and sustain pedal input...
- Immediate Creativity - Effortless plug-and-play USB connectivity to Mac or PC—no drivers or power supply required; compatible with iOS devices via...
The most popular 88-note keyboard controller in the world, the M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3, is now in its third iteration and features numerous upgrades and enhancements. Many electronic musicians appreciate having access to a piano keyboard’s entire spectrum. However, not every keyboardist requires (or prefers) hammer-action keys, with their additional cost, bulk, and weight. The Keystation 88’s smooth semi-weighted key feel, minimalist control set, lightweight portability, and solid build quality reach the sweet spot for these legions of gamers. The convenience of having 88 full-sized keys in front of you is not limited to pianists.
You have complete control with the M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro to expand your creativity and make the most of your DAW, hardware synths, and virtual instruments. This controller has buttons for octave up and down, pitch bend and mod wheels, DAW transport controls, sustain and expression pedal inputs, and more. It also has an assignable slider that serves as a volume control. The studio controller is also ideal for connecting to your iPad for mobile music production with the optional Apple camera connection kit. Additionally, you receive three top-notch DAWs, a potent software production suite, free courses from Skoove and Melodics, and more. The M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 is ready to ignite your creativity with its sleek new look.
The M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 is a beginner-friendly keyboard that gained popularity by offering alternatives and high-quality performance at a reasonable price. This keyboard has a standard 88-key layout, pitch and mod wheels, a data slider that can be adjusted, and octave shift buttons. It is crammed into a small yet incredibly cozy and durable body. For those who use it to create music, it will also include an Ableton Live Lite and be able to connect to an iPad.
If you’re a novice wishing to learn and develop alongside your keyboard, bus-powered with an optional power cord and a sustain pedal will provide you with everything you need. This is a terrific purchase for anyone, especially beginners, looking to buy a small, compact, and all-around well-built keyboard that is ready for it all. It has a great price, all the fundamentals, and a lot of varied options. This is the best 88 key midi controller keyboards in 2023.
Nektar Impact LX88+ | USB MIDI Controller Keyboard with Nektar DAW Integration
- High quality MIDI controller keyboard designed for performers and producers wanting tactile instrument control. 88 semi-weighted full-size...
- Nektar DAW integration for most popular DAWs with Mixer and Instrument modes
- Comprehensive MIDI functionailty. Compatible with all MIDI music software applications
The LX88+ now features MIDI in/out to provide you the ability to use it for any production application, realizing the full capability of the Impact LX+ series. The Nektar Impact LX88+ USB MIDI controller, which is based on the lauded Panorama and the LX49+/LX61+ models that came before it, uses clever mapping to offer you direct control over your DAW session. For a quick workflow, alternate between Mixer, Instrument, and Preset modes. By providing default instrument parameter assignments on the labeled faders and encoders, you may avoid staring at your computer screen. The pitch and mod wheels, along with the 88 semi-weighted keys of the Impact LX88+, provide a fluid, accurate feel. All of the LX88controls, +’s including the knobs, 30mm faders, and performance pads, feel excellent.
Along with 88 keys, 8 pads, and numerous additional knobs and mixers, the Nektar Impact has these features. In addition to being bus-powered, this keyboard has a DC input for use when USB isn’t available and is incredibly thin and small—especially when you consider how many features it has in relation to its overall size. Although it comes with a wonderful keyboard with just-right (not too hard, not too soft) keys, Nektar DAW integration is the real thing. In order to provide seamless integration of the computer software and keyboard itself, the company has created integration files for 9 of the most popular DAW. You can start making music immediately by installing the integration file and attaching the keyboard to the computer. Aside from the basic pitch, mode, and shift buttons, this keyboard has more than 30 customizable buttons, LED colored pads, and other features.
You can purchase a keyboard and controller for an excellent price that is fantastic for both playing in the studio and going on the road. It is acceptable for even seasoned experts.
Studiologic SL88 Studio Lightweight Midi Controller with 88-Key Hammer Action Keyboard
- 88-key hammer action TP/100LR keyboard with After touch
- Compact, lightweight, extremely portable professional controller
- 3 default velocity curves and fixed curve with a programmable value; 6 editable user velocity curves
If you prefer to manage splits, layers, and control assignments directly on your primary keyboard rather than on the receiving end in host software like MainStage, the Studiologic SL88 offers a ton of capability. If your setup includes hardware modules like a keyless analog synth with virtual instruments, you might consider doing this. Two MIDI Outs (and one In) and USB make this even easier. Those two Outs will transfer commands from your computer to external equipment if you desire your software to serve as the “brain.” Two switches, one continuous control, and one dual-purpose input make up the four pedal inputs.
The sole difference between the Studio and Grand versions of the SL88 is how they operate. Both have triple sensors, Aftertouch, and are fully weighted. For both piano and non-piano use, the Studio model has a Fatar TP/100LR action with a lighter touch. The Grand upgrades to ivory-feel surfaces and hardwood keys for an additional 15 pounds.
The SL88’s user interface is quite inventive, and it can operate up to four zones onboard: A clicky infinite knob that also functions as a four-way cursor joystick and a pushbutton is located next to the 320 x 240 color display. With your fingers still on the knob, you may select presets, tweak parameters while highlighting them, alter their values, and confirm selections. The free SL Editor software (Mac/Windows) lets you see a lot more information at once and includes a “Key Balance” page that is just as sophisticated as the velocity curve editor on the Kawai VPC-1. While a number of useful General MIDI-based splits and layers are already preloaded, you can also roll your own. However, it doesn’t appear like either SL88 model comes packed with any virtual instruments to get you started.
You only get three assignable joysticks for real-time control. There are some good alternatives there: the left one is springy, the right one free-floats, and the centre one is exclusively springy on its X-axis. Studiologic intends to provide control expansion boxes that mount to a powerful magnetic rail on the rear panel if you want more knobs and other accessories. Currently, just a music stand and laptop shelf can be placed there.
The SL88 has a lot going on and includes a helpful, modern take on the master keyboard that served as the command center in the 1980s. Given that it is made primarily of metal, it is also extremely lightweight. A great deal and unquestionable sleeper smash.