Having the best MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) controllers for beginners is vital if you are just getting started with music, especially if you plan to do it for a living. A MIDI keyboard is an important piece of music equipment to have in your studio. A MIDI controller does have a sophisticated appearance and feel to it. This is unsurprising because, while these devices resemble a piano keyboard, they are more difficult to operate.
These ubiquitous gadgets may be plugged directly into your PC or laptop through USB – or even function wirelessly over Bluetooth in certain situations – and let you to perform and record with your DAW’s software instruments and any VST synth plugins you may have installed. Some can also control hardware synths, turning them into a central performance hub for your studio bundled software.
Depending on your requirements, you have a variety of midi keyboard controllers options to pick from. You can pick for a full-size 88-note model with weighted hammer-action keys or a tiny, portable MIDI keyboard that fits neatly in a laptop bag. Most of the alternatives we propose have extra features like knobs, pads, buttons, and faders to help you be more creative and have more control over your software.
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Arturia KeyLab Essential 49
- Software Included: Analog Lab V with 2000 synth sounds, Ableton Live Lite,...
- 49 key velocity sensitive keyboard with hybrid synth-piano feel
- Controllers: 1 clickable encoder, 9 encoders, 9 30mm faders, 6 transport...
The Keylab 49 includes numerous performance features and essential features. Drum pads, knobs, faders, transport controls, and software shortcuts are all present and correct. Nine endless rotating knobs and a 360-degree selection for patch browsing are also included on the keyboard controller.
Ableton Live Lite, UVI Grand Piano Model D, and Arturia’s Analog Lab 3, the latter of which contains 5,000 synthesizer patches, are among the software programs. If you want to use the keyboard controller with your preferred hardware synths, it also offers a MIDI out connector. But don’t worry—the Keylab 49 functions flawlessly as a controller for all significant DAWs.
The controller offers two factory settings (Analog Lab and DAW), eight mapping modes, and six user-programmable slots. It includes a Control Centre software that may be used as a map editor and library. Editing, importing, and exporting presets is simple because to the app’s clear design.
A complete keyboard controller that can be used right out of the box is the Keylab 49 (or 61). Beginners will value the quick preset browsing and software shortcuts that make it easy to locate sounds. It’s a great all-around MIDI keyboard for usage in the home, studio, and on stage thanks to the performance capabilities and accurate Analog Lab integration.
Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3] MIDI Keyboard Controller for Ableton Live
- Get hands on with Ableton Live - Have a seamless music making experience...
- Get creative easily with arpeggiator - Easy to use but deeply controllable,...
- Play chords with one finger - Lay down chords for your track quick with...
Novation Launchkey Mini MKII pocket powerhouse, designed primarily for Ableton users and recently updated, is packed with features, many of which were missing from the previous version, such as – finally – pitch bend and modulation touchstrips, a hardware MIDI out on a TRS jack, an incredibly flexible and versatile arpeggiator in your digital audio workstation, a chord memory feature, and a great, deal-sweetening software bundle at an affordable price range.
The integrated arp and fixed chord modes are two of the Launchkey Mini’s attractions. Multiple modes, rhythmic patterns, temporal divisions, and a four-octave range are all available on the arp playing style. It will auto-generate variations if you put it on Mutate mode. Fixed Chord allows users to define chord shapes and then trigger them up and down the keyboard. There’s also a MIDI output connector here, which allows the Launchkey Mini to work in independent mode with hardware, featuring arp and chord modes.
Of course, the Launchkey Mini Mk3 isn’t only for Ableton users; the pitch and modulation wheels also works with other DAWs, but if you’re a Live user, it’s without a doubt the best option at this price. The Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3 is a compact but nicely designed MIDI controller that works well with Ableton Live or without it. This is one of the Best MIDI Keyboards for Beginners in 2023.
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 Controller Keyboard
- 32 compact keys to control all your instruments and effects
- Sleek and solid design, fused with professional production features
- Comes with a powerful software package, including synths, basses, drums,...
The M32 is a remarkable success in terms of achieving an on-the-go Komplete Kontrol. Sure, those little keys aren’t as playable as their full-size counterparts, and aftertouch isn’t supported, but you won’t notice while you’re sitting in a cafe or on the beach, pounding down basslines in Massive.Because it’s a little longer than the normal compact keyboard, you’ll need a bigger bag or backpack to carry it about, but it’s a little price to pay for those seven extra keys and so much portable producing power.
The pitch and mod wheels have been replaced with a pair of short touchstrips, but the eight capacitive knobs, 4D encoder, and numerous buttons have not been reduced in size or feel, allowing you to get the full experience when browsing and manipulating plugins, operating Maschine, and getting hands-on with your DAW’s transport and mixer in the best midi controllers.
The A-Series’ surprisingly informative OLED display is also included, as is the Smart Play feature, which allows for scale snapping, chord triggering, and arpeggiation. It also works with any other applications as a standard customizable MIDI controller keyboard number of keys. The only drawback is the small keys, but if you can live with that, this is the best portable MIDI keyboard available.
Nektar Impact LX25+
- Premium midi controller with 25 expressive synth-action keys, on-board...
- 8 Hyper-Sensitive backlit pads
- Mac, PC and iOS compatible
The Nektar Impact LX25+ is, in our opinion, one of the best options for novices looking for a MIDI controller. It provides exceptional value for money and has a high user rating. It has a lot of characteristics that make it a popular choice. For starters, it is iOS compatible, so you can use it on the road simply connecting it to your iPad. While this isn’t exactly a revolutionary feature, it is distinctive enough to distinguish the Nektar Impact LX25+ from other MIDI controllers.
Due to its exorbitant price, midi controller keyboards was initially out of reach for ambitious musicians and casual users. The company’s response is the Nektar Impact LX25+. It’s a tamer variation of the original design. It, like its more expensive sibling, allows users to connect to DAWs. It lacks the full-color TFT display found in more pricier variants. It’s a 25-key controller, however it’s fairly huge and thick compared to other numbered keys.
The piano keyboards are good, and they’re synth-action keys. These keys have a medium action, which means they aren’t as smooth or bouncy as semi-weighted keys. However, unless you’re a competent pianist or keyboardist, the semi-weighted feel may not be necessary. Aside from the keys, it has eight rotating knobs that feel conventional and make it easier to compose music.
The Nektar Impact LX25+ performs admirably. It works with the majority of the major DAWs on the market. As a result, you’ll be able to use the core software functionalities regardless of whether you’re using Logic, Garageband, FL Studio, or Reaper.
AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 – 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller With 8 Backlit Drum Pads
- Music Production and Beat Maker Essential - USB powered MIDI controller...
- Total Control of your Production - Innovative 4-way thumbstick for dynamic...
- The MPC Experience - 8 backlit velocity-sensitive MPC-style MIDI beat pads...
In many aspects, the Akai MPK Mini Mk3 is the ideal MIDI keyboard for most people, especially those who want to add melodies, basslines, and simple chords to their projects quickly and easily. The addition of eight encoder knobs that can be mapped to virtually any parameter in your DAW, as well as eight full-sized MPC type drum pads, lifts it above a mere keyboard than each other.
As a result, you get a full-service production powerhouse that thrives in a variety of playing and performing scenarios. The best midi for beginners is compact enough to fit in a backpack, yet it’s packed with enough features and functions to make it a valuable addition to any studio.
Although the MPK mini mk2 featured good velocity sensitive pads, the mk3’s have the same extremely tactile design as the MPC series hardware. The MPK minis are always red, so you don’t have the RGB feature, but the essential functionality is the same. The OLED display is one of the most visible additions. Although it doesn’t appear to display the data generated by the keyboard, this tiny panel gives useful real-time feedback on controller data, MIDI channels, arpeggiator settings, and more. This is the Best MIDI Keyboard for Beginners in 2023.
M-Audio Oxygen 49 (MKV)
- Recording Studio Equipment Essential - MIDI controller with 49...
- Make Better Beats with these Beat Maker Must Haves - 2 banks of 8 backlit...
- Get Hands-on with Your Music Studio Equipment - 8 assignable knobs and 9...
The Oxygen 49 is a less expensive counterpart of M-Pro Audio’s 49, and while it lacks some of the latter’s functions, it’s still a capable MIDI controller. The Pro’s OLED display is replaced by a 3-segment LED display, and the 16 multi-colored pads are reduced to eight back-lit red pads, split into two banks of eight, so you can still program 16 sound sources from the front panel, just not at the same time.
The dedicated MIDI out connector is also missing, but the most significant distinction is that the Oxygen 49’s functionalities are largely triggered by soft keys and’secondary modes’ from the keybed itself without daw controls.
That so, you get a lot of the innovation from the Pro, including Smart Chord and Smart Scale modes for songwriting and composition, a superb arpeggiator, and Beat Repeat for triggering stutters and repeats from the pads. The Oxygen Pro 49 infused fresh life into the Oxygen line, and this midi controller for beginners is just as feature-rich and inventive, but with a lower price tag.
- Compact, expressive and rugged MIDI keyboard for when you want to make...
- Nektar DAW integration for most popular DAWs
- Comprehensive MIDI functionailty. Compatible with all MIDI music software...
If you’re constantly composing music on the go, a portable MIDI controller keyboard that fits in your laptop bag is a must-have. The SE25 from Nektar proves that compactness and mobility don’t have to mean sacrificing functionality and playability.
Only the somewhat less expensive Akai LPK25 (which lacks any type of DAW connectivity) comes close to matching Nektar’s latest pocket powerhouse in terms of budget controllers. Where else can you get Bitwig, Cubase, Garageband, Logic, Nuendo, Digital Performer, Mixcraft, Reason, Reaper, Sonar, and Studio One Nektar DAW integration for such a low price point in a budget range? This is the best usb midi keyboard for beginners.
Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 Slim-Key Controller
- THE BEST MUSIC-MAKING FLOW: MiniLab MkII is an easy keyboard controller...
- PORTABLE, YET FULLY FEATURED: Lightweight but rugged, MiniLab MkII is a...
- PREMIUM SOFTWARE INCLUDED: Get thousands of world-class presets spanning...
The MiniLab MkII USB Controller from Arturia is much more than a budget controller. The Arturia MiniLab MkII offers mountains of functionality in a deceptively little compact. You get 500 incredible presets from Arturia’s Modular V, CS-80V, Mini V, Arp 2600V, Jupiter 8V, Prophet V, Oberheim SEM V, and Wurlitzer V courtesy of the included Analog Lab Lite software, in addition to 25 highly playable mini keys, 16 encoders, eight pads (x two banks), and delightfully ergonomic pitch and mod touch strips. With Arturia’s MiniLab MkII, you have mobility, hands-on control, and beautiful sounds all in one package as this best beginner midi keyboard.
Nektar Panorama P6 61-key MIDI Controller Keyboard
- Nektar's most advanced MIDI Controller. 61 semi-weighted full-size velocity...
- Deep DAW integration for Cubase, Logic, Studio One, Bitwig Studio, Nuendo,...
- Comprehensive MIDI functionailty. Compatible with all MIDI music software...
The Nektar Panorama P6 is a high-quality MIDI controller that checks off a lot of boxes. We saw improved work flow and intuitive control during our testing. The Nektar Panorama P6 is a universal MIDI controller with a variety of functions for managing your music production. It has nine sliders, modulation and pitch wheels, 12 pressure-sensitive drum pads, 16 rotary knobs, transport controls, and a bright, clear TFT screen. Undo and Click buttons, Performance buttons, and other buttons can be found on the controller.
The ALPS motorized fader in the upper left corner of the front panel is one of our favorite physical features based on our testing. When DAW automation is enabled, you’ll see that moves are updated in real time.
The keys have a semi-weighted feel to them. As a result, it achieves a good weight-to-resistance ratio. When software and applications are added to the controller, it transforms from a good controller to one of the best semi weighted keys on the market.
In general, the beginner midi keyboard hits the majority of the correct notes. It’s a rather remarkable device, with nine sliders, various knobs and buttons, useful pressure sensitive drum pads, wheels, pedal inputs, logical structure, and octave-shift controls. All of these remarkable features are complemented with a good keyboard that makes playing simple and convenient. The Nektar Panorama P6 is an outstanding MIDI controller, whether for touring or studio use.
M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3
- Ultimate Expression - 49 full-size velocity-sensitive keys provide a...
- Total Control - Volume fader, transport and directional buttons for easy...
- Immediate Creativity - Easy plug-and-play connection to your Mac or PC—no...
The portable and expressive M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3, with its full-sized synth-action keys and intriguing instrument software bundle, is a great addition to any studio set-up or performance toolkit. This straightforward USB controller has a streamlined control layout that makes it easy to instantly unleash the full potential of your pianos, synthesizers, loops, and sound machines.
The Keystation 49 makes it simple for beginners to compose music. It is made to expressively play virtual instruments and to sequence music. You may use it with iOS devices by purchasing an Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter, which has a 1/4″ sustain pedal input.
49 full-size keys with velocity-sensitive and synth-like resistance are present on the keybed. Additionally, it includes a sufficient number of controls to increase playability and facilitate workflow. Beginners can utilize transit controls and music applications without a mouse or trackpad with ease.
This M-Audio MIDI controller is a popular pick for aspiring music producers who can’t play the keyboard. It is straightforward but effective. Additionally, it’s the ideal controller for amateurs or newbies on a tight budget that wish to play around with GarageBand. (with two-handed playing).
Tips On Choosing The best MIDI Keyboard for beginners Buying Guide
For people who are unfamiliar with music creation and music theory, selecting a new MIDI keyboard might be a difficult undertaking. MIDI keyboards come in a huge variety of styles and configurations, each with their own unique features.
Some keyboards are fully functioning, while others take a more “barebones” approach to what you need and don’t need.
Choosing the number of keys you want, whether it be 25, 49, or 61 keys, is usually the most basic option or place to start. Keep in mind the size of your studio workstation. Larger could be preferable—but only if your studio has the space for it! Among travelers and musicians on the go, little keyboards like the Akai MPK little Mk3 (full review here) are quite common.
Human User Interface
HUI protocol enables the synchronization of the states of sliders, buttons, wheels, and displays between a digital audio workstation (DAW) and a linked hardware control surface (in this case, a MIDI keyboard). Using the actual hardware, the user can add console automation to a track while performing live or recording. This automation can then be viewed transmitted, and recorded in real-time immediately on the screen in the DAW.
The dynamic control feature known as “aftertouch” enables users to directly alter the sound they are playing from their keyboard after they have depressed the key. Physical pressure variations can be used to alter additional factors, such as the release and decay strength, by pushing and holding down the note.
CV Gate/MIDI Sync
When employing analog/hardware synths or drum machines, this type of functionality is employed to transmit MIDI information data across devices for live and recording purposes. The gate ordinarily controls whether the note is on or off, whereas the control voltage (CV) typically controls how pitch is sent.
If you enjoy live hardware recording or performances, you should check that your MIDI keyboard has the necessary MIDI functionality in case you want to sync it with your other hardware. It’s also important to keep in mind that MIDI beat clocking, which differs from MIDI timecode clocking and is based on tempo, is always set to 24ppqn, or “Pulses Per Quarter Note.”
MCU (Mackie Control Universal)
Up to 16 MIDI devices can be effortlessly controlled from one master device thanks to MCU, which enables a single device to serve as the “master” MIDI controller for a DAW and can sync up to 16 MIDI devices from an MCU-enabled device via a computer.
Note: If you want to use MIDI gear in live performances or live recording circumstances, make sure you do your due diligence to verify what your DAW allows. Some DAWs, such as Reaper, have been known to have functionality issues in the past when using MCU protocol.
On a MIDI keyboard or drum pad, velocity typically counts the number of various pressure-sensitive outputs that can be connected to a single keypress. A conventional keypress typically has 127 points of velocity, with 1 being the softest press conceivable and 127 being the hardest, allowing for expressive and dynamic playing.
Although different plugins or built-in capabilities of some keyboards themselves can adjust and map velocity, 127 points of velocity continue to be the industry standard. This finally means that there are 127 various ways to hit each key, ranging from soft to strong pressing.
Weighted or semi-weighted keys are integrated onto many keyboards. This is done to mimic playing an actual acoustic piano. In a conventional piano, the hammers are attached to each key by a lever mechanism that creates a weight or resistance when each key is depressed, lifting the hammer. This can be a crucial component of an electronic keyboard because it works with velocity to provide playing a more organic and natural feel. A forceful press will produce a loud, harsh note, while a light press will produce a much softer note, and the weighted key will react to the press as though it were moving a real hammer.
It can be more difficult to produce the proper feeling or timbre when playing a note or chord when there is no resistance on the keys (particularly for someone who has trained or plays on an acoustic piano).
Some MIDI keyboard controllers come with the option of a “expression” pedal and/or footswitch, which enables the device to connect a sustain pedal or FX pedal via a 1/4″ TRS cable and to send and receive data that will alter how the note is played within the keyboard. Digital sustain pedals function similarly to the sustain pedals on an acoustic piano and can be acquired from a variety of music retail stores.
In a manner similar to how a sustain pedal keeps the piano’s hammers off the strings to prevent them from dampening the strings’ vibration, pressing your foot on the sustain pedal will hold the note even after you release the key and are no longer pressing it. The note or chord will end when the pedal is released.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best Midi Controller for a beginner?
A 49-key controller is an excellent alternative for novices in general. There are enough keys for you to play with both hands without being overwhelmed with alternatives. Because it’s a nice blend of practicality and usability, many of the most popular MIDI keyboards feature 49 or 61 keys.
How much should I spend on a Midi Controller for a beginner?
The majority of novice midi keyboards are priced between $100 and $200, though this varies based on the size and functions of the keyboard. Some keyboards are designed for studio production, while others are designed for performance, and this might affect the pricing. There are some inexpensive MIDI keyboard options that are suitable for beginners, but once you drop below $100, the build quality begins to deteriorate and your selections become more limited.
What is the difference between a keyboard and a MIDI keyboard controller?
A normal keyboard is, in essence, a self-contained instrument that does not require any other equipment to operate. A MIDI keyboard controller, on the other hand, necessitates the use of an external sound source.