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Best MIDI Pad Controllers 2024

Jumping back and forth between the computer screen, audio interface, and other hardware might hinder your flow, whether you’re performing live or in the studio. To create seamless live performances and studio sessions using these MIDI-powered beat machines and synth stations, the best controllerists frequently use their DAW only as a platform and operate directly from their MIDI controllers.

MIDI pad controller devices come in a huge variety today. However, attempting to accumulate every new piece of production equipment that hits the market is not only expensive but also unnecessary. Given that the pad is the focus of pad controllers, you want something that is responsive, sensitive—but not overly sensitive—well-made, and well-integrated with your preferred DAWs. Also stressed in our selection criterion was configurability. While we enjoy controllers that you can just put in and start using, we also prefer having the option to override the preset control settings.

AKAI Professional MPD226

AKAI Professional MPD226 - USB MIDI Controller...
  • Pro Beat Production, Anywhere - Ultra-portable feature-packed pad...
  • Expandable Banks - Easily accessible dedicated controls for 4 pad banks...
  • Assignable Control - 4 assignable faders, 4 assignable Q-Link knobs and 4...

The MPD226 is the best-selling pad controller from Akai and performs everything you could possibly need. The integration is butter smooth, the pads are big and sensitive, and it even has a portable design. It is completed by a built-in screen and a number of slick faders and knobs. This will undoubtedly be the best MIDI pad controller that the majority of buyers can find.

This is the middle model in Akai’s lineup of three MPD devices. With a thorough redesign of its functionality, it is also among the best MIDI pad controllers available. As a result, it has a very contemporary appearance and has a number of benefits over the manufacturer’s earlier models. If you are an experienced user and the akai professional mpd218 isn’t cutting it for you, using this model will probably make you happy.

The pad should receive a lot of attention because it is likely the most crucial component of a pad controller. According to our tests, these are great. Following user feedback, Akai decided on a complete redesign rather than trying to enhance the pad part of earlier models. As a result, the pad section of this machine contains pieces that have never been seen before. The pressure-sensitivity is the best we have ever tested, and the sensitivity is remarkable. With these pads, the Akai Professional MPD226 may be connected to many devices and various parameters of those devices can be controlled.

The Akai Professional MPD226 has a number of features, including backlighting and color-changing options. Furthermore, you can alter this to fit your preferred setup. With this skill, playing is more enjoyable and you can do it at night. Although excellent, the sensitivity can be changed. The majority of pad controllers do not often have this feature. The Akai Professional MPD226’s control section is first-rate. It is simple to assign the faders, buttons, and knobs. The fact that these controls are placed far from the pad area is a crucial aspect of this design. They won’t interfere with your playing as a result. Another great aspect of this concept is the software suite. Along with other programs, it includes MPC Essentials and Ableton Live Lite. Last but not least, the editor software is flawless. You have a ton of customizing possibilities.

This is suggested for experienced users who seek a superb MIDI pad controller with the fewest possible defects. This is the best MIDI pad controller available right now thanks to the excellent pads and strong integrations with most DAWs. This is the Best MIDI Pad Controller in 2023.

Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK3

Native Instruments Maschine Mikro Mk3 Drum...
  • Compact, music production instrument that integrates powerful software with...
  • Four ways to input sound using the 16 pads – drum in pad mode, play...
  • Software - use on its own or as a VST, Audio Unit, or AAX plug-in in all...

The MPC-inspired hybrid hardware/software beat production studio from Native Instruments comes in a smaller package with the Maschine Mikro Mk3. Its larger sibling served as the series’ (and, let’s face it, midi drum controllers’) high point, providing you the power of their premium Studio product together with an audio interface and touch-strip for good measure.

The Maschine Mk3 is designed to promote “on the fly” creative activities over the maschine mikro mk2. It’s intended that users be able to build loops using rhythms, samples, and melodies before adding effects and other features. In fact, it is excellent at generating ideas and allows you to swiftly layer loops (or “grooves”).

The hardware is excellent, as you could expect. Additionally, the pads are incredibly playable and ideal for finger drumming. There is no need to rely on mains power since it is powered by the USB bus, which is also convenient.

Korg nanoPAD2 Slim

Korg nanoPAD2 Slim-Line USB MIDI Pads - Black
  • Low-profile pad controller – excellent for playing or entering drum data
  • Sixteen solid, responsive, and velocity-sensitive trigger pads
  • Control multiple MIDI parameters via the X-Y Touchpad

A fun and simple-to-use controller, the Korg nanoPAD2 may be used to make beats and rhythms as well as melodies and harmonies. It offers a total of 64 possible pad assignments thanks to its 16 velocity-sensitive pads and four switchable scenarios.

Before other companies embraced and incorporated the idea of extremely tiny MIDI controllers into their products, Korg’s nanoSeries invented the notion. Korg demonstrates with the NanoPAD2 that despite their age, they are still in touch with their customers and clientele. The nanoSeries 2 includes the Korg NanoPAD2. The three models in the lineup are all MIDI devices that are powered by USB. As a result, they are true plug-and-play technology.

Additionally, it has an X/Y touchpad for controlling various synthesizer parameters, which when combined with the “touch scale” function enables you to perform phrases on it effortlessly (works a bit like a Kaossilator). The Korg NanoPAD2 has outstanding pads. As your fingers move over the 16 velocity-sensitive pads, we saw throughout our testing that they respond impressively. As a result, you appreciate holding a device that almost feels alive. It can be altered in up to 64 different sections by switching between the scenes.

It will be ideal for the creative musician who wants to have fun and develop new musical ideas while on the go because it is very affordable, lightweight, and simple to use (its proportioned to fit perfectly in front of your laptop computer). Given that this is more of a good all-arounder than a professional gadget, it will be less suitable for individuals who require a huge number of sample possibilities and exceptional controllability.

You will undoubtedly like this good controller’s modest size if you’re seeking for a super-compact MIDI pad controller. Although it’s not the best MIDI pad controller available, it’s unquestionably among the most portable.

Novation Launchpad X Grid Controller

Novation Launchpad X MIDI Grid Controller for...
  • Take Control of Your Performance – Essential performance controls are a...
  • Dynamic and Expressive Playing – Large RGB velocity- and...
  • Our Deepest Ableton Live Integration – Quickly launch clips and scenes,...

Ten years have passed since Novation’s initial 8×8 pad controller debuted on the market, as indicated by the X in the name of this third-generation Launchpad. Without a question, the Launchpad has had a significant impact throughout that period, serving as a design model for numerous other clip-launching MIDI controllers, the focal point of innumerable electronic live performances, and the origin of an entire subgenre of YouTube mashup films. When the first Launchpad was introduced, Live’s clip view was one of its most obvious uses. Although Akai’s APC line of MIDI devices had been developed to operate with Live’s workflow before it, it was the first controller to feel completely devoted to the DAW’s clip-focused Session mode.

DJs now have an easy way to trigger their own music “live” thanks to the Launchpad, and its use as a combination loop trigger and light show tool has given rise to many YouTube videos from users. The Launchpad successfully spawned a brand-new genre of live electronic performance. It’s a format that many following devices, like the Launchpad Pro from Novation, the official Push controllers from Ableton, and the most current standalone Force from Akai, have expanded upon.

This version’s improvement over earlier iterations is obvious. In addition to being smaller and more svelte (while having larger pads), it now has velocity sensitivity, which was previously only available on the Launchpad Pro. While the “virtual” faders used for mixing are still no match for the real thing, this instantly makes this a far more creative controller and enables cool, velocity-controlled modulation of the pace at which level and parameter changes occur. The new custom modes are simple to set up in Novation’s Components app and are useful for customized MIDI control as well.

The four Custom Modes on this redesigned Launchpad are arguably its best feature. Similar to prior Launchpads, these arrangements allow the user to assign the pad grid to send out a variety of different MIDI messages. That refers to the capability of sending MIDI note, CC, and program change messages for this most recent controller. Each custom mode may be made by adding any combination of trigger pads, switches, and virtual faders to the pad grid layout using Novation’s slick, browser-based Components editor.

The Launchpad X is a great choice for unique performance configurations to control your preferred instruments or artistic effects because it’s all incredibly user-friendly and adaptable. Just a little bit unfortunate that the unit lacks MIDI Out, which would enable these to be patched straight to hardware. This is a smart advancement of the traditional Live controller. The hardware is more versatile for contemporary usage and feels and looks better than ever.

Arturia BeatStep Pro Controller and Sequencer

Arturia BeatStep Pro Controller and Sequencer —...
  • THE ULTIMATE SEQUENCING POWERHOUSE: BeatStep Pro is a controller and a...
  • MASTER YOUR PERFORMANCES: Make your MIDI devices and VST instruments do...
  • EASY TO USE: Setup is a breeze with color-coded connections on the back...

A midi controller is not all that the Arturia BeatStep Pro is. This cutting-edge piece of equipment features 16 pressure, velocity, and light-sensitive pads and can save up to 16 projects. 16 dials that can be customized completely are also available. To give your music a more organic, random feel, there is a tap tempo control, a drum fill generator, and a note dequantization option. You may also easily and swiftly express your creativity with your tunes thanks to the many scale options. Transpose these scales to any key.

Through its USB, Midi, and gate outputs, it may be utilized with Macs, PCs, as well as midi-compatible synthesizers, drum machines, and other devices. Two melodic sequencers and an internal drum sequencer allow you to make beats and songs using the hardware, and the internal drum sequencer even records the velocity of the notes as you play them.

For individuals who use live on-stage drum machines, synths, and VSTs, the Arturia BeatStep Pro is ideal. The performance process is smoother, more interesting, and more enjoyable thanks to this device’s connections to all of them. Additionally, it is robust and thin enough to fit inside your laptop bag. Additionally, it can be powered via USB from your laptop.