The piano has been through history one of the most iconic and popular instruments. With the arrival of electronic music, a combination of keyboards and computers became essential in any musicians studio and work. And a combination of full 88-key piano with MIDI controllers is the best way to combine both worlds.
Seeing loads of keyboards when deciding which one to buy certainly doesn’t do much help. So, we decided to narrow it down for you and put up this list of 5 best 88-key MIDI keyboards, to help you choose the right one. So, let’s get to it!
Our Pick of the Best 88 Key Midi Keyboards
1. Alesis Q88
This keyboard proves to be a great addition for beginners as well as professionals, especially if you’re on a budget. Slim and light, it will give you all the essentials you need for MIDI controller, as it comes with pitch and modulation wheels, adjustable data slider and octave shifting buttons.
It’s important to note that this keyboard is not free-standing, so you will need a computer and MIDI program to play it. Compared to some of the keyboards on this list it may seem that this keyboard is lacking functions and options, but it will provide you with all of the essentials you need for studio or road. Especially if you are planning on using it together with your DAW, this keyboard will act as a great controller and will give you all the freedom you need.
Overall this is a great keyboard, with all the essentials packed into a small package, great for road due to its slim build, and all that for a killer price that is unmatched in today’s market.
2. Nektar Impact LX88+
Here is one of our favorite keyboards and controllers on this list. Coming with 88 keys, 8 pads, and a bunch of other knobs and mixers, this keyboard is a great addition to any studio, professional or amateur. Bus-powered, this keyboard comes with DC input when USB isn’t available, and it is really slim and compact, especially when you compare its size to all of the functions that come with it.
It is supplied with a great keyboard, as keys are just right (not too hard, not too soft), but the real deal comes with Nektar DAW integration. The company has made integration files for 9 of the biggest DAW, which brings you complete integration of the computer program and keyboard itself, without any complications. That enables you to jump right on to making music, simply by installing the integration file and connecting the keyboard to the computer. Besides that, the keyboard itself is well built, from sturdy materials, and it will enable you to play whichever way you like.
Also, the great amount of features that come with this keyboard includes more than 30 programmable buttons (knobs, sliders, etc), 8 pads with LED coloring, and standard pitch, mode, and shift buttons.
For a great price, you will get a more-than-great keyboard and controller, suitable even for hardened professionals, playing in the studio or taking it on the road with you.
3. Roland FA-08
And now moving on to the heavy-weight category. This beast from Roland FA-08 is not actually just a MIDI controller but (as the name suggests it) a whole music workstation. With all of the controls and buttons on it, it’s easily deduced that this is strictly professionals tool, as it is simply too complicated for a beginner to play.
This keyboard comes with a built-in 16-pad sequencer, 16-part sound generator section, that comes with 2 expansion slots (SD cards) and 16 part MIDI sequencer. With all this inside, it’s normal that this keyboard is somewhat larger and heavier than others on this list, but compared to everything it houses, size is rather fine and not an issue. It will allow you to compose and record music any way you like, giving you plenty of options to work with and quality sound as well. It also comes with a huge color LCD that will allow you to manage your way through all of the options. Besides just playing, this device will allow you to compose, record, make samples, tweak sounds and edit songs, all in one place.
All that being said, this keyboard probably has in it more options and controls than all of the other keyboards on this list together, but that will come at a hefty price.
This workstation with all of its features and price is a high-end, professional tool that does its job perfectly, be it in live performance or in the studio.
4. M-Audio Keystation 88 II
This keyboard comes with basic 88 key, pitch, and mod wheels, adjustable data slider, and octave shift buttons. It’s packed tightly in a compact, yet very comfortable and sturdy body. It will also come with an Ableton Live Lite and can be connected to an iPad, which is very convenient if you use it for music-making. Bus-powered, with an optional power cord, as well as a sustain pedal, it will give you all of the essentials you need, especially if you are a beginner looking to learn and grow together with your keyboard.
With a great price and all of the essentials, with a lot of different options, this is a great buy for anyone, especially beginners, looking to buy small, compact and all-around well-built keyboard ready for it all.
5. M-Audio Hammer 88
Introducing to you the big brother from the previous keyboard on this list, M-Audio Hammer 08. Even though this keyboard is coming from the same manufacturer and on the first glance has the same characteristics as the Keystation 88 Mk II, just for a higher price, it is most definitely not the same at all.
First of all, the quality of build is significantly better for Hammer 88. Unlike its little brother, this keyboard is solely made of thick metal, making it sturdier and also bit heavier than the Keystation 88, but still, it’s light enough so that it can be easily moved if you need it for gigs and not just studio work. But the best feature on this keyboard is its keys – M-Audio really made them the selling point on this controller. They are fully weighted, giving you the full grand piano feel when playing, unlike the other keyboards on this list. Besides that, Hammer 88 offers you pitch and mod wheels, two buttons and one slider, which can be edited through accompanying the software, as well as the standard array of plug-ins in the back.
This keyboard is a great buy for a great price offering anyone great quality (standard for pricier keyboards) and a nice amount of options and features within this great keyboard and for not a lot of money at all. Professional or amateur, this keyboard will satisfy your every need, whether you play it as a backup or a centerpiece of your setup.
We hope that we helped you with your decision by making this list. Of course, there are a lot of other keyboards out there, but in our opinion, these are the top 5 available at this moment (standing out with their quality and price) and buying any one of them won’t be a mistake – whether you are a hardened professional or just a beginner trying to learn how to play. And that’s what matters most.