The 10 Best MIDI Controllers (2022)

MIDI controllers are versatile pieces of gear that allow you to control the functions and sounds of your DAW, VST plugins, and other synths, making them essential in any modern studio. By connecting them to your computer via USB or Bluetooth, you can have a much easier process for music production.

MIDI controllers come in different shapes and features. Still, all give you the editing freedom and ease of use to create music. MIDI Controllers take your recording sessions to another level with the feel of physical touch and features that make the whole process easier and more efficient.

My top MIDI controller pick is the Arturia KeyStep Pro, an all-around MIDI keyboard with great functions, ease of use, and versatility which is great for beginners as well as experienced producers.

My budget MIDI controller pick is the Akai Professional MPK Mini MK3, an entry-level yet feature-packed and portable MIDI keyboard with a great value for the offered price.

The Best MIDI Controllers (2022) – At A Glance

And now onto the full list:

1. Arturia KeyStep Pro

Top Pick
A great MIDI keyboard with many connectivity options for effortless music production.
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Arturia KeyStep Pro is my top pick MIDI controller as it is one of the best MIDI keyboards on the market. It features 37 slim keys with synth action and aftertouch, tons of connectivity options, a 16-track drum sequencer, drum triggers, four CV, gate, and mod outs, and the ability to control hardware synthesizers.

Pros

  • Versatile and easy to use layout
  • Many connectivity options
  • Great sequencer and arpeggiator
  • Durable and portable design

Cons

  • Slim keys may feel too small for some players
  • Small touch strips

All these features on a portable and sturdy design with an easy-to-use layout create one of the best MIDI keyboard controllers in the price range for beginners as well as experienced musicians. The sequencer and arpeggiator are the shining stars of the MIDI controller, and the 4-track polyphonic step sequencer is highly versatile.

My only complaint is the size of the keys and touch strips, as they may be an issue for big-handed players. But, they are not hard to get used to if your hands are not gigantic.

ConnectivityUSB,MIDI In, 2 x Out,3 x 1/8″ (clock in, out, reset),8 x 1/8″ (drum gate out),12 x 1/8″ Voices 1-4 (CV out, gate out, mod out)
CompatibilityWindows 7 or later,MacOS 10.8 or later
Key Size37 Slim keys
Key TypeSynth Action, Velocity-sensitive with Aftertouch
ControlsPitchbend & Modulation Touchstrips with Looper Control, 5 x Encoders

Overall, Arturia KeyStep Pro is a great MIDI controller with lots of versatile features, making music production much easier and more fun.

2. Akai Professional MPK Mini MK3

Budget Pick
A feature-packed and portable MIDI keyboard with a great value-for-price ratio.
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Akai Professional MPK Mini MK3 25 is one of the most popular entry-level MIDI controllers thanks to its great value-for-price ratio and feature-packed portable design. The MIDI keyboard has 25 mini-sized velocity-sensitive synth keys, many control options, including 8 velocity-sensitive performance pads, and a great 4-way joystick for pitch bend and modulation.

Pros

  • Great value for the price
  • Tons of controls with 8 MPC pads
  • Portable and lightweight design

Cons

  • Not the greatest build quality (it’s a reliable MIDI controller, but feels quite plasticky)
  • Small keys without aftertouch
  • Weird thumbstick

It has a highly portable design, which measures even smaller than most laptops, making the controller ideal for carrying around. Although it is an entry-level product, it is a versatile powerhouse with 8 MPC pads and 8 assignable control knobs.

As far as drawbacks, the thumbstick is quite weird and takes some getting used to. Also, the keys are small and do not have an aftertouch. Overall, the build quality is not the best but it will get the job done, especially when the price is considered.

ConnectivityUSB,1 x 1/4″ TS (sustain)
CompatibilityWindows 7 or later,MacOS 10.8.5 or later
Key Size25 Mini keys
Key TypeSynth action velocity-sensitive
Controls8 assignable knobs, Octave Up & Down buttons, 8 velocity-sensitive performance Pads, Pitchbend/Mod 4-way Joystick, Note Repeat button, Full Level button, Tap Tempo button

For the offered price, Akai Professional MPK Mini MK3 is a great MIDI keyboard suitable for beginner music producers and those who like to go around with their gear.

3. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49

Well-rounded, budget-friendly
Solid beginner keyboard with a smart design, great keybed, and good software bundle.
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Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49 is the downgraded version of the famous S series of Native Instruments. It is mainly designed for and deeply integrated with Komplete software, but you can use it easily with most major DAWs like Logic Pro. 

Pros

  • Great keybed and build quality
  • Good software bundle
  • Quality keyboard for the price
  • Easy to use, pre-mapped with major DAWs

Cons

  • Keys without aftertouch
  • Fewer features and controls

The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49 features a great keybed with 49 semi-weighted keys, 8 touch-sensitive control knobs, a pitch-bend, a modulation wheel, and a 4-way push encoder.

This MIDI controller shines in the software bundle it comes with, such as the great synth packs and Maschine essentials. It has fewer features and controls than other controllers, but it is more than enough for entry-level music production.

ConnectivityUSB,1 x 1/4″ TRS (sustain/expression)
CompatibilityWindows 10 or later,MacOS 10.12 or later
Key Size49 full-sized
Key TypeSemi-weighted
Controls8 x Touch-sensitive Control Knobs, 4-way Push Encoder, 1 x Pitch-Bend Wheel, 1 x Modulation Wheel 

If you are a Native Instruments or NKS plug-ins user, this MIDI controller is a great choice as it is deeply integrated with the DAW and can control it easily. But as it is well-integrated with other major DAWs, it is a quality, well-rounded keyboard for the offered price.

4. Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 25

Portable, great for control
A highly portable and versatile MIDI controller deeply integrated with Ableton.
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Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 25 is an affordable MIDI keyboard with a highly portable and lightweight design. It is equipped with 25 mini-sized velocity-sensitive keys, 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, and 8 rotary knobs, along with great chord and arpeggiator modes. 

Pros

  • Highly portable design
  • Deep DAW integration with Ableton, which comes in the package
  • Great control options with 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads
  • Great arpeggiator and chord mode
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Mini-sized keys without aftertouch
  • Does not include a MIDI adapter

The MIDI controller is specially designed for and fully integrated with Ableton Live, which comes in the package. The users highly appreciate the arpeggiator and chord modes. 

The only letdown is the mini-sized keys without aftertouch as they may feel too small for big-handed players. A MIDI adapter would have been nice in the package as it is not included.

Connectivity1 x 1/4″ (sustain pedal),1 x 1/8″ TRS Type A (Out), USB
CompatibilitymacOS 10.11.6 or LaterWindows 7 or LateriOS
Key Size25 mini-sized keys
Key TypeSynth-action Velocity-sensitive
Controls16 x Velocity-sensitive RGB Pads, Pitch bend, Touch Strip, Modulation Touch Strip, 8 x Rotary Knobs

Overall, Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 25 is a great mini portable MIDI keyboard for beginners or players who have a small space in studios or traveling musicians. I recommend this MIDI controller if you plan to use Ableton Live, as the MIDI controller works greatly integrated with the DAW.

5. Nektar Impact LX25+

Great value for the price
A very affordable MIDI keyboard with 25 full-sized keys and a good amount of controls.
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Nektar Impact LX25+ is one of the most affordable MIDI keyboards on the market. However, the device’s performance is much bigger than its price tag with its 25 full-sized synth-action keys, 8 velocity-sensitive pads, 8 encoders, a pitch and mod wheel, and a fader.

Pros

  • Full-sized synth-action keys with velocity sensitivity
  • A good amount of controls with 8 velocity-sensitive pads
  • Great value for the price
  • User-friendly with decent DAW integration with major DAWs

Cons

  • No semi-weighted keys
  • Relatively big and heavy
  • Limited rotation on knobs

It is pretty easy to use, thanks to its great integration with major DAWs. This makes it a great beginner MIDI keyboard. However, it is relatively big and heavy for a 25-key keyboard, making it less portable. Also, the keys are not semi-weighted, and the feel is not authentic.

Another nuisance would be the limited rotation of the knobs, as well as the limited integration with Ableton Live, though a script is available to get you started.

ConnectivityUSB,1 x 1/4″ (assignable)
CompatibilityOS X 10.7 or later,iOS,Windows 7 or later 
Key Size25 Full-size
Key TypeSynth-action, velocity-sensitive
ControlsPitchbend and Mod Wheel, 8 x Encoders,1 x Fader, 8 LED Backlit Pads

For the price, Nektar Impact LX25+ is a more-than-great entry-level MIDI keyboard. It features everything to get a beginner started with its good amount of controls, user-friendly design, and full-size keys. Check out the full review of the Nektar Impact LX25+.

6. M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3

Affordable, easy to use
A simple and affordable MIDI keyboard with a no-frills design, ideal for beginners.
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M-Audio Keystation is one of the most sold MIDI controllers globally, thanks to their versatility, simplistic no-frills, easy-to-use design, and durable, lightweight construction. It is an affordable device that comes with a great software bundle.

Pros

  • Simplistic, no-frills design, easy to use
  • Great software bundle
  • 49 full-size synth-action keys with velocity sensitivity
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Relatively few features
  • No aftertouch

There are 49 full-size synth-action keys with velocity sensitivity on the keyboard, pitch bend, mod wheels, and a volume fader. There are few control knobs or extra features on the device, making it easier to use but less versatile.

One other drawback would be the lack of aftertouch on the MIDI controller which is quite a turn-off for many MIDI users out there, however, not a major dealbreaker, in my opinion.

ConnectivityUSB,1 x 1/4″ (sustain)
CompatibilityWindows,macOS,iOS
Key Size49 Full-size
Key TypeSynth-action, velocity-sensitive
ControlsPitchbend and Mod Wheel, Volume fader

M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3 is a great MIDI controller for newcomers to the music production world. For such an affordable price, it comes with great DAWs like Ableton Live Lite and ProTools First, and the simplistic design is great to explore and get familiar with the music production progress.

7. Alesis V25

Premium Software Included
Extremely affordable yet feature-packed entry-level MIDI controller with a great software bundle.
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Alesis V25 is one of the most affordable MIDI controllers on the market, which comes with a premium software bundle and good features for beginner music producers. 

Pros

  • Comes with a premium software bundle
  • Great value for the price
  • A good amount of control options
  • Lightweight and durable design

Cons

  • No transport controls
  • Pads are prone to double-triggering
  • Keys without aftertouch
  • No screen

The Alesis V25 has 25 full-size synth-action keys with velocity sensitivity, 8 pads, 4 control knobs, 4 assignable buttons, and mod and pitch bend wheels.

Just the software bundle alone makes this MIDI controller a great purchase for the price. Along with the nice amount of control options it is equipped with, Alesis V25 is a good option for getting familiar with the music production and MIDI world. 

ConnectivityUSB,1 x 1/4″ TS (sustain)
CompatibilitymacOS 10.8 or laterWindows 7 or later
Key Size25 Full-Size Keys
Key TypeSynth Action Velocity-sensitive
Controls1 x Pitch-Bend Wheel, 1 x Modulation Wheel, 8 x Velocity-Sensitive Pads, 4 x Rotary Encoders, 4 x Assignable Buttons

Of course, some drawbacks are understandable for the price range. There are no transport controls to control the DAW, and the pads are quite hard to press, which leads to double-triggering sometimes. But besides some issues, it is a great and affordable controller with a lightweight and durable design.

8. Xkey 25

Durable, easy to use
Budget-friendly MIDI controller with an aesthetically pleasing design.
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Xkey 25 is a simple MIDI keyboard with a lightweight and portable design which features a great set of 25 full-size velocity-sensitive keys with polyphonic aftertouch. The controller shines with its good playability and simple design without bells and whistles.

Pros

  • 25 full-size velocity-sensitive keys with polyphonic aftertouch
  • Lightweight and portable, high-quality build
  • Good playability

Cons

  • Pitchbend and mod buttons are hard to control
  • No pads, knobs; few controls
  • Not compatible with Windows

There are no pads or knobs on the keyboard but a pitch bend and a mod button. They are pretty hard to get used to as they are often controlled with wheels. Also, the lack of control options makes the controller less versatile.

Another limitation is that the controller is only compatible with Apple devices. However, this MIDI controller does feature a very simplistic and aesthetically pleasing design with portability written all over it.

ConnectivityUSB
CompatibilityOS X 10.9 or later,iOS 4.2 or later
Key Size25 Full-size
Key TypeSynth-action, velocity-sensitive with aftertouch
ControlsPitch-Bend Button, Modulation Button

But if you are an Apple user and looking for a controller with a great keybed and do not care about extra controls,  Xkey 25 is a good and budget-friendly choice.

9. Donner DMK 25

Ultra-thin and portable
A portable mini MIDI keyboard with great control features.
View Price at Amazon

Donner is a well-known brand for its budget-friendly yet good quality products, and the DMK 25 MIDI keyboard is no different. 

Pros

  • Great set of control options
  • Compact, lightweight, and portable
  • Great value for the price
  • Four programmable memory banks

Cons

  • No bundled software
  • Mini keys may be too small for some players

For an affordable price, the ultra-thin portable device offers 25 mini-size synth-action keys with velocity sensitivity, a great set of control options, and four programmable memory banks to recall your presets.

The only letdown with this MIDI keyboard is that it comes without any software. Also, the mini keys may feel too small for big-handed players, but it is not hard to get used to them.

ConnectivityUSB-C,1 x 1/4″ TS (sustain)
CompatibilityWindowsMac OS X
Key Size25 Mini-keys
Key TypeSynth-action, velocity sensitive
Controls1 x Pitch-Bend Wheel, 4 x Modulation Wheel, 4 x Assignable Knobs, 8 x Velocity-Sensitive Pads, 6 x Transport Buttons, 4 x Assignable Faders

Overall, Donner DMK 25 is a feature-packed MIDI keyboard controller with a great value for the price.

10. M-Audio Oxygen 61 (MKV)

Extremely versatile
A highly versatile 61-key MIDI keyboard with generous amounts of controls and features.
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The biggest member of the Oxygen series, M-Audio Oxygen 61, is a MIDI keyboard with 61 full-size synth-action keys with velocity sensitivity, a generous amount of control options, and nice features like smart chord and arpeggiator modes.

Pros

  • Arpeggiator and smart chord functions add to the ease of use
  • A good amount of controls
  • Comes with a good software bundle
  • 61 full-size synth-action keys with velocity sensitivity

Cons

  • Keys without aftertouch
  • Non-weighted keys
  • Knobs and controls are hard to see in the dark

The controller comes with a good software bundle and features easy integration for major DAWs of your choice. The non-weighted keys are a drawback depending on your needs as they don’t provide an authentic piano feel but are good for percussion and synth playing.

Another potential drawback for some would be that the knobs and controls are kind of hard to see in the dark, making the whole process a bit stale and inconvenient.

ConnectivityUSB,1 x 1/4” (sustain pedal)
CompatibilityOS X 10.11.6 or laterWindows 7 SP1 or later
Key Size61 Full-size
Key TypeSynth-action, velocity sensitive
Controls8 x Back-lit Pads, 8 x Assignable Knobs, 9 x Assignable Faders

To summarize, M-Audio Oxygen 61 (MKV) is a great controller with a wide range of notes, good control options, and smart features for a relatively affordable price to maximize your composing possibilities.

What are MIDI controllers?

MIDI controllers are devices that interact with DAWs to make music production easier. By sending MIDI messages to DAWs on PCs or MIDI-enabled devices, MIDI controllers are used to trigger sounds via your plugins or virtual instruments to play music or control the DAW features.

You can also produce music with a computer keyboard using the buttons, but MIDI controllers are specially designed devices to make this process easier. They have different features like keys, knobs, sliders, buttons, pedals, and other sensors, along with smart features like arpeggiators to interact with the DAWs and produce music more efficiently.

What are the different types of MIDI controllers?

There are many types of MIDI controllers such as MIDI keyboards, DJ controllers with MIDI compatibility, percussion-drum pads, mobile MIDI controllers, and instrument-shaped controllers such as guitar and wind MIDI controllers.

MIDI keyboards are the most popular MIDI controllers, which look like electronic keyboards with different numbers of keys and extra controllers like wheels, knobs, and pads. They need to be connected to a DAW, or an instrument sample must be loaded into them to trigger sounds.

Some DJ controllers are MIDI compatible, which you can use integrated with your DAW, reaching more sonic possibilities and features.

A percussion pad or a drum pad is another type of MIDI controller that features a different number of pads and controllers on them, which you can assign a different sound from your DAW.

Lastly, MIDI wind instruments are often saxophone-shaped electronic MIDI controllers. You can assign different sounds to the notes and play them like a wind instrument blowing in them. The same structure goes for MIDI guitar instruments; they are MIDI controllers in the shape of a guitar to reach different sonic possibilities by playing a physical guitar-shaped MIDI device.

Does key size make a difference?

The key size is important for ease of use and portability. MIDI keyboards with smaller keys are harder to play, especially for big hands, while full-size keys replicate the piano feel much better. However, a smaller key size means more portability and more keys on a tiny keyboard.

You should analyze your needs well to choose the size and the number of keys. If you want portability and if you want to use the MIDI keyboard for basslines, synths, and drum lines, you can go for a small size limited number of keys. But if you want to use it like a piano, you should go for larger keyboards with full-size keys.

How many keys would be enough?

To use a MIDI keyboard like a piano, you should go for larger keyboards like 49 or 61 keys. But, if you will use it just for bass and drum lines, synths, and lead, playing a 25-key would be enough. So, enough number of keys heavily depends on your needs.

What to look out for when buying a MIDI controller?

When buying a MIDI controller, you should look for compatibility, connectivity options, controls, portability, and price. These features heavily depend on your needs, so you have to analyze your needs and budget to find the most suitable one.

Compatibility refers to operating systems the MIDI controller can work with, such as Windows, Mac OS X for computers, and iOS and Android for smart devices.

Connectivity options are the input and output ports of a MIDI controller, which allows you to connect computers, smart devices, or MIDI-enabled devices and extra gear to the controller. Depending on your device and software, you should choose a suitable MIDI controller taking the compatibility and connectivity into account.

Controls are the number of keys, pads, wheels, knobs, and other sensors, which allow you to trigger sounds or control features in your DAW. Depending on your needs, more control means more versatility and can make the music production progress more efficient.

Portability is another important factor if you want to use your MIDI controller outside your studio. Smaller controllers are often more portable, but they have fewer controls which means less versatility.

And finally, the price is an important factor as always. If you have a tighter budget, you should go for the feature-packed smaller devices with a good value-for-price ratio. Or you can analyze your needs and sacrifice some features to have precisely the ones you need on your preferred MIDI controller.

Do the more controls mean the better the controller?

More controls do not necessarily mean the better the controller. More controls add more versatility and possibilities to the controllers, but it comes down to what you need and don’t need. If you don’t use the additional controls, they will only make things more confusing and the controller-less portable.

Conclusion

MIDI controllers are the crucial elements of music production today. They integrate greatly with DAWs making the production more efficient and easier, giving you almost endless sonic possibilities to explore.

My top pick is the Arturia KeyStep Pro, a great feature-packed MIDI keyboard with great versatility for all kinds of needs.

For musicians looking for a budget-friendly option, I recommend the Akai Professional MPK Mini MK3, one of the most popular entry-level MIDI keyboards with a great value for the price.

Berk Öztuna is a handpan player, percussionist, and guitarist. He has been playing multiple instruments over the last 10 years. He started his music career as a guitarist, playing with several bands before putting his main focus into playing the handpan.

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