Finest MIDI keyboards of 2022

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Up to date Oct 13, 2022 3:00 PM

It’s by no means been simpler (or cheaper!) to make music because of computer systems and reasonably priced MIDI keyboards. Till just lately, even essentially the most fundamental of residence studios seemingly required a complicated diploma in electronics to know how you can hook every thing up—to say nothing of the associated fee. These days, you will have entry to extremely highly effective, surprisingly intuitive music-making software program and {hardware}. And on the heart of all of it ought to sit the most effective MIDI keyboards.

Paired with a good laptop, an audio interface, and possibly a set of studio displays or mixing headphones, a MIDI keyboard can imply you’re in (present?) enterprise. The appropriate keyboard helps you to enter all these notes and chords which might be going to set the world on hearth. Don’t begin popping corks but, although, as you continue to want to decide on the type of MIDI keyboard that’s greatest for you. It’s a bit extra sophisticated than simply getting any previous factor with piano keys and plugging it into your laptop. The world of MIDI controller keyboards is a broad one, with extra variables than a badly deliberate highschool science honest challenge. What number of keys do you want? What sort of connectivity is greatest for you? How a lot cash do it’s important to spend? You’ll want to think about all of those (and extra) earlier than you can begin gathering royalty checks from all of your future hits. Don’t fear, nonetheless, as a result of we break all of it down for you. Listed here are our picks for one of the best MIDI keyboards.

How we picked one of the best MIDI keyboard

There’s a bewildering variety of MIDI keyboards in the marketplace, with choices that vary in key quantity, dimension, and weight to ones providing extra esoteric extras, like CV/gate connectivity for interfacing with modular synthesizers. Some are normal use whereas others have been designed to work greatest with particular digital audio workstations (DAWs) and music manufacturing software program. What all of them supply, nonetheless, is compatibility with MIDI, or Musical Instrument Digital Interface—an industry-standard connection/communications protocol that converts interactions with the keyboard into directions for appropriate computer systems, musical devices, and different outboard processors/sound modules.

We checked out all of those choices when hammering out our listing of one of the best MIDI keyboards. To slim down our prime controllers for every class, we made use of our personal expertise as specialists within the discipline—particularly, I’ve spent three many years as each knowledgeable musician and author for prime music know-how publications, together with Assault Journal, Laptop Music, MusicTech,,, and extra. As well as, we drew on the opinions of our friends and factored in essential consensus, consumer impressions, in addition to the use circumstances of well-known music producers and composers.

Due to the big variety of fashions in the marketplace, all with completely different function units, it’s greatest to first resolve how you propose to make use of your MIDI keyboard. This can largely rely in your enjoying model, in addition to probably style. A lo-fi hip-hop producer may have very completely different wants than a live performance pianist, for instance. 

First, take into account the keys. What number of do you want? A full piano keyboard has 88 keys (key depend can be expressed within the variety of octaves). Keys come in several sizes too, from full-size all the way down to mini. There’s additionally key weight. Weighted keys offers you extra of a piano really feel—vital for a jazz pianist, not a lot for an EDM producer. 

Subsequent, resolve what number of knobs and sliders you want. Many MIDI keyboards can double as studio management facilities, with knobs mapped to your DAW or smooth synths. It’s your decision set off pads, both for finger drumming or launching clips in a DAW like Ableton Reside. Connectivity also needs to be in your listing. Primary MIDI keyboards may have a single USB connector, whereas extra complicated ones may have DIN MIDI ports, CV/gate, or jacks for expression pedals. Most can be PC or Mac-ready, however some may additionally work with an iOS system.

Is portability necessary? A MIDI keyboard that may operate on the go may have a distinct function set than one meant to carry down the studio fort. Lastly, your funds will decide how removed from fundamental you may get. An 88-key keyboard with knobs, sliders and loads of connectivity may value as a lot as a brand new synthesizer—or extra!

What’s a MIDI keyboard?

It may be useful to outline simply what a MIDI keyboard is. Consider a MIDI keyboard as a silent synthesizer. It has piano-type keys and probably different controls nevertheless it doesn’t produce sound by itself. It interfaces with a pc, system, or one other digital instrument by way of MIDI and permits the consumer to play the vacation spot instrument’s sounds remotely. Further controls like knobs or sliders ship management data to the instrument on the different finish. That is helpful for altering the timbre of a sound, corresponding to opening and shutting a low-pass filter, or for adjusting the amount on a digital mixer. Further controls can embody transport buttons for beginning and stopping playback on a DAW, sequencers for producing musical passages impartial of a DAW, and buttons for triggering drums or different samples. MIDI keyboards will be as complicated and full-featured as you want them to be, or, conversely, as easy.

Do I actually need a MIDI keyboard?

Whereas a MIDI keyboard can definitely support in music composition, it isn’t strictly vital. Most DAWs will can help you set off notes by way of a QWERTY keyboard. You can even draw them straight into the MIDI sequencer part of your DAW, which could even be the popular methodology of observe enter for some producers. However for a lot of—and particularly for pianists enjoying classical or jazz music—that is nothing however cumbersome and irritating. The piano keyboard hasn’t modified a lot in operate in a whole lot of years and there’s a motive for that. It’s an efficient solution to get musical concepts out of your head, by way of your fingers, and out into the world. You would possibly be capable to get by and not using a MIDI keyboard nevertheless it’s definitely an entire lot extra enjoyable with one.

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The most effective MIDI keyboards: Critiques & Suggestions

As a result of MIDI keyboards don’t make any sound themselves it may be tempting to scrimp on one and put that cash towards one thing else within the studio (possibly you’re eyeing a high-quality new monitor to make your session look as candy because it sounds). However when you think about that your MIDI keyboard will probably be the middle of your studio or reside rig, that you simply’re going to be placing your fingers on it greater than another piece of drugs you personal, you begin to see why funding is price it. So, as the value typically will decide not solely high quality however the variety of choices, it may be useful to start out with a funds after which work from there, with any further requirements like knobs and sliders following swimsuit. Regardless of your funds, although, you will be assured that all the keyboards on this listing are worthy of your hard-earned money.

Finest total: Native Devices Komplete Kontrol S88

Why it made the lower: A full keybed plus good DAW and laptop integration imply you’ll lastly take your eyes away from the pc and give attention to the music.


  • Keys: 88 full-size weighted keys
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0, MIDI in/out, 2 pedal controller inputs
  • Compatibility: Mac/PC


  • Totally weighted hammer-action keys
  • Two high-res coloration shows
  • DAW integration


Fashionable music manufacturing is all concerning the DAW, or the digital audio workstation. Due to this, we are inclined to preserve our eyes educated on the pc monitor, for higher or for worse. German firm Native Devices thinks that is for the more severe and so has designed a sequence of MIDI keyboards that encourage you to look away from the pc and work together extra with the keyboard itself. Known as Komplete Kontrol, they vary from the small to the massive, with our decide for greatest total MIDI keyboard, the S88, on the prime of the road.

Because the identify suggests, the S88 has 88 keys, with a totally weighted Fatar keybed with hammer motion—one thing that piano gamers on the lookout for an acoustic piano really feel and degree of management will certainly respect. It additionally has two management pedal inputs to make sure that your enjoying will be as practical because it must be. To this keybed it provides a row of eight rotary encoders and a slick four-directional push encoder for navigating the 2 high-res coloration shows. The latter are how NI will get your eyeballs off the monitor. With deep DAW integration, this full-size MIDI keyboard can replicate parts of your DAW on the dual screens, permitting you to do duties like mixing from throughout the keyboard. It additionally integrates with software program by way of the included Komplete Kontrol utility, which might run standalone or as a DAW plugin. This maps Native Devices and taking part third-party software program immediately to the knobs, saving you the difficulty of getting to create MIDI maps to manage issues like filter cutoff.

Komplete Kontrol S88 will not be low-cost however as a totally featured MIDI controller with a piano-like keybed, it’s simply begging to be the centerpiece of your property studio. For musicians who just like the performance however don’t want all of the keys, look to the Komplete Kontrol S49 or Kontrol S61 for a similar extras with out the additional octaves.

Finest modular: Joué Music Devices Joué Play

Joué Music Instruments’ Joué Play MIDI controller in the studio

Why it made the lower: This controller marries beauty and construct high quality with a creatively inspiring method to MIDI management.


  • Keys: Varies relying on module
  • Connectivity: USB-C
  • Compatibility: Mac/PC/iPad


  • Swappable controller modules
  • Attractive construct and design
  • Creatively inspiring


  • Bundled app has restricted enhancing
  • MPE requires Professional (paid) firmware improve

Fashionable music creation is extra than simply enjoying notes on a keyboard—drums, results, and distinctive articulation are all a part of the expertise. With that in thoughts, wouldn’t or not it’s good if there was a controller that you might regulate to suit the state of affairs? Joué Play, a MIDI keyboard controller by French boutique firm Joué Music Devices, suits this invoice completely. 

Joué Play is modular, with rubber controller mats that may be swapped out relying on the duty at hand. The four-module model that we reviewed (there’s additionally one with two) incorporates your customary piano-style key controller together with one with drum pads, one other with a guitar fretboard, and a second key mat however with out black keys, excellent for many who wish to experiment with scales. Further controls range relying on the module however transport and octave buttons are widespread throughout all of them. The mats sit snugly on prime of a steel and wooden base—an RFID chip telling the system which module’s controls to acknowledge—and the entire system feels reassuringly sturdy. It’s additionally a delight to the attention, with two completely different coloration units to select from, a vivid Fireplace (proven above) and a extra subdued Water.

The tip result’s a novel controller that not solely provides Swiss Military-like adaptability for the manufacturing activity at hand but additionally manages to be creatively inspiring, with distinctive management surfaces like XY pads and raised bubble domes that encourage experimentation. Joué Play works with any software program instrument however has the deepest integration with the bundled app. Though the app sounds nice, some could discover the enhancing capabilities missing. In such a case, you’ll need to pony up an additional $50 for the Professional firmware improve that unlocks extra customizable management and MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression).

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Finest for novices: Akai Professional MPK mini mk3

Akai Pro MPK mini mk3 is the best midi keyboard for beginners.

Why it made the lower: Keys, pads, knobs, and even a free bundled DAW—what extra may a newbie need?


  • Keys: 25 mini keys
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0, maintain pedal enter
  • Compatibility: Mac/PC


  • 8 pads straight from the MPC line
  • Light-weight and moveable
  • Consists of free MPC Beats DAW


  • Mini keys may very well be higher

Wish to make beats however don’t know the place to start? So long as you will have a pc, Akai Professional’s MPK mini mk3 can present a strong and reasonably priced entry level into the world of music manufacturing.

For these not within the know, Akai Professional is the corporate behind the MPC line of {hardware} samplers, a sequence of grooveboxes that laid down the blueprint for hip-hop and different genres of music. What does this must do with a MIDI keyboard? The MPK mini mk3 (the best-selling MIDI keyboard on the earth, in line with Akai Professional) borrows a few of that MPC {hardware} magic and pairs it with MPC Beats, the DAW model of the music-making working system contained in the machines. For round $100, you’re making music with one of the best of them.

Consider the MPK mini mk3 as an all-in-one MIDI controller. It’s obtained 25 mini keys, eight drum pads taken straight from the MPC with each channel and polyphonic aftertouch for full timbre management (exceptional at this value level), eight limitless encoders for controlling software program instrument parameters, a mappable X-Y joystick, an arpeggiator, and even an OLED display screen for visible suggestions. It’s gentle sufficient to tackle the go and strong sufficient to not slip round your studio once you bang out drum beats.

Whereas the motion on the keys may very well be higher, for this value you’re getting loads of controller for not a lot cash. It’s arduous to not suggest it extra strongly for a lot of, not simply as one of the best newbie MIDI keyboard.

Finest weighted keyboard: M-Audio Hammer 88

M-Audio Hammer 88 is the best weighted midi keyboard.

Why it made the lower: Grand piano motion for round $500.


  • Keys: 88 full-size weighted keys
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0, MIDI out, 3 pedal ports
  • Compatibility: Mac/PC


  • Attractive weighted piano really feel
  • Inexpensive value
  • Music relaxation


  • Lacks further controls

There are music producers after which there are musicians. Whereas these within the former class need all method of management with their MIDI keyboard, the latter actually care about only one factor: the keys. Should you’re primarily a keyboardist and your technique of expression is your instrument, you need a MIDI keyboard that may present a piano-like expertise. You need M-Audio’s Hammer 88.

A well-made keyboard with a minimal aesthetic, Hammer 88 provides seven octaves of velocity-sensitive and weighted keys. They’ve a considerable, virtually acoustic really feel to them and piano gamers will take to them immediately. A part of the piano expertise is utilizing the pedals, so Hammer 88 gives three pedal ports: one every for maintain, smooth, and expression. There’s even a music relaxation included.

Whereas M-Audio’s keyboard doesn’t supply loads by way of hands-on management—no arrays of encoders or sliders right here—it does make concessions to fashionable synth gamers, with pitch and modulation wheels, in addition to two fundamental choice buttons. A bundled utility permits customers to arrange splits and different configurations.

At solely round $500, M-Audio’s Hammer 88 is a placing discount. And, for those who actually end up needing drum pads, M-Audio makes one with further controls. Gamers, do search this one out.

Finest small keyboard: Arturia KeyStep Professional

Arturia KeyStep Pro is the best small midi keyboard.

Why it made the lower: A plethora of management choices elevate this Swiss military knife of a MIDI keyboard.


  • Keys: 37 slim keys
  • Connectivity: 4 x CV/gate/modulation output units, 8 drum gate outputs, 1 MIDI in, 2 MIDI outs, USB, clock synchronization in/out, metronome line out, maintain port
  • Compatibility: Mac/PC


  • 4 sequencer lanes
  • Analog and digital drum triggering
  • DAW management mode


  • White coloration could flip some off

A lot of the MIDI keyboards on this listing are designed to work in tandem with computer systems. But there’s a rising motion of musicians breaking away from the display screen and going DAWless. This contains modular synthesizer customers, for whom experimentation, free from the inflexible construction of a computer-based sequencer, is essential. If this sounds such as you, you want Arturia’s Keystep Professional.

A 37-key controller, the Keystep Professional combines sequencing and MIDI observe triggering into one system. It has 4 sequencer lanes with one doubling as a drum programmer. Sequencing right here goes past simply observe on/off, but additionally contains gate size, observe offset, velocity, and extra. Consider it as a field of instruments to experiment with notes and patterns. The Keysetp Professional can transmit management data by way of MIDI over USB or five-pin DIN MIDI cable, or by way of management voltages—the language of modular and classic synths. In fact, Arturia’s MIDI keyboard may also work with a DAW, with a customizable controller mode for mapping to smooth synths and different purposes.

As a result of it does a lot, the Keystep Professional is a bit expensive for a MIDI keyboard with mini keys. Must you need one thing equally unconventional however with a friendlier price ticket, Roli’s Lumi Keys and Keith McMillen’s QuNexus Purple are inspiring options.

Finest for Ableton: Novation Launchkey MK III 61

Novation Launchkey MK III 61 is the best midi keyboard for Ableton.

Why it made the lower: It’s essentially the most, properly, able-bodied controller for every thing the Ableton energy consumer wants.


  • Keys: 61 full-size keys
  • Connectivity: USB, MIDI out, maintain pedal port
  • Compatibility: Mac/PC


  • Easy Ableton integration
  • Loads of knobs, sliders, and buttons
  • Glorious value


  • Non-Ableton customers could really feel disregarded

Regardless of what some could argue, all DAWs aren’t the identical. Certain, they’ll all get you to the identical place—a (hopefully) completed music—however the best way they transport you there can typically be very completely different. A living proof is Ableton Reside. With its two views and give attention to clips and reside efficiency, it does issues very in a different way than, say, ProTools. Wouldn’t it make sense to have a MIDI keyboard that was made only for Ableton?

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Novation has been making Ableton-focused MIDI keyboards and controllers for nearly a decade now and the Launchkey MK III sequence is the fruits of this expertise, with 25-, 37-, 49-, and 61-key fashions out there. The flagship mannequin, the MK III 61, is our decide for one of the best MIDI keyboard for Ableton.

As you’d anticipate, the Launchkey MK III 61 integrates fluidly with Reside, a lot in order that utilizing the controller turns into second nature. Clip launching, view altering, recording, even mixing can all be dealt with proper from the keyboard, with the plethora of knobs and sliders making this simple to do. It has a number of further, non-DAW performance as properly, with scale and chord modes and a deep arpeggiator to assist in your creativity. The complete-size keys really feel good as properly, notably for the value level, which is shockingly low for a tool like this.

Whereas it does work with different DAWs like Logic Professional X, it’s not as slickly built-in. However for those who’re an Ableton energy consumer, Novation’s Launchkey MK III 61 is virtually a requirement. (FL Studio producers, take a look at Novation’s FLkey 37, the world’s solely devoted FL Studio MIDI keyboard.)

Finest funds: Nektar SE25

Nektar SE25 is the best budget midi keyboard.

Why it made the lower: It’s light-weight, eminently usable, and so low-cost it’s virtually an impulse buy.


  • Keys: 25 mini keys
  • Connectivity: Mini USB
  • Compatibility: Mac/PC/iOS


  • Very low-cost
  • Extraordinarily light-weight
  • Helpful performance


Not everybody wants an all-singing, all-dancing MIDI keyboard. Generally, a small funds keyboard suits the invoice completely. Whether or not that’s since you’re working with restricted studio area otherwise you need to take your music manufacturing on the highway, tiny is usually simply high-quality. Tiny and low-cost is even higher, and tiny, low-cost, and high quality is the funds musician’s trifecta.

MIDI controller firm Nektar provides a variety of controllers however we’re notably smitten with the SE25, a two-octave MIDI keyboard that manages to be nearly every thing you want in not loads of area—and for a gorgeous value. At solely 33.5cm x 10cm x 2.1cm, it’s not a lot larger than the 25-key MIDI controller itself. This makes it excellent for plopping down on a desk with a laptop computer and attending to work. It’s additionally astonishingly light-weight, with its 400 grams and bus energy making it a no brainer for on-the-go manufacturing.

Whereas it doesn’t have any knobs or sliders (there’s no room!), it does have six buttons that, when pressed in sure mixtures, offer you entry to a surprisingly great amount of management, from MIDI channel adjustments and observe harmonizations to fundamental DAW integration.

This all provides as much as a funds MIDI keyboard that’s price a glance—and a play.


Q: What number of keys ought to a MIDI keyboard have?

The variety of keys a MIDI keyboard ought to have relies upon fully on how you propose to make use of it. A full-size piano has 88 keys, or seven octaves and an extra three keys beneath backside C. In case you are a piano participant or need a MIDI keyboard to be taught to play piano, that is what you need to be aiming for. Most synthesizers have 61 keys or 5 octaves, making this one thing of an ordinary MIDI keyboard dimension for digital musicians and producers. Small and moveable MIDI keyboards can go all the way down to as little as 25 keys or two octaves. Whereas that is high-quality for a conveyable system, it may very well be restrictive for day-to-day use, particularly for those who wish to play two-handed chords.

Q: Can you employ a MIDI keyboard with out a pc?

The vast majority of MIDI keyboards are made to interface with a pc by way of USB. These could even draw energy by way of USB, which means it could not work as a standalone controller. There are some, nonetheless, that may play properly with different devices and even iOS gadgets. These present their very own energy and have completely different connectivity choices, corresponding to five-pin DIN MIDI ports for connecting to synthesizers and drum machines and CV/gate for interfacing with modular gear and older digital devices. For iOS gadgets, you’ll want a MIDI keyboard that doesn’t draw an excessive amount of present in addition to a lightning adapter. A powered USB hub may very well be an possibility for working with higher-draw MIDI keyboards.

Q: Can I exploit a synthesizer as a MIDI keyboard?

If you have already got a synthesizer or two, you might in all probability use one as a MIDI keyboard. Supplied it has MIDI, it’s going to on the very least set off notes and transmit fundamental efficiency knowledge, like pitch bends. For instance, we use a classic Roland Alpha Juno-2 as a keyboard controller as we just like the motion on the keys. Nevertheless, it doesn’t have any knobs or sliders, so will not be an ideal resolution. Synthesizer producers acknowledge that musicians could need to use their devices for this function and so could embody management modes of their synths. This isn’t ubiquitous, nonetheless. Synthesizer know-how has modified loads over the 5 many years they’ve been round, so older fashions could not supply full compatibility with fashionable DAWs. MIDI keyboards are designed with fashionable management and performance in thoughts and so are nonetheless one of the best guess.

A ultimate phrase on selecting the right MIDI keyboard

Whereas we’ve targeted on issues like funds, efficiency, and choices on this listing, any instrument or system in your studio ought to contribute to the last word objective of constructing music. So, past every thing else, it’s best to go together with the MIDI keyboard that’s most creatively inspiring to you. Whether or not which means flashy colours, a minimal aesthetic, or one which has each bell and whistle conceivable relies upon fully in your circumstances. Your MIDI keyboard would be the musical conduit that connects your creativeness to actuality. Make it possible for it fulfills that operate, too.