The 10 Best MIDI Keyboards (2022)

MIDI keyboards are essential gears for music production today. Your digital instruments can easily be controlled and played in your DAW by connecting them via USB or Bluetooth. They help take your recording to the next level, easing the process.

Fortunately, there are many great MIDI keyboards for different needs and budgets today. From the MIDI instruments with the feel of a full piano keyboard to the speed and lightness of synthesizer keyboards, there are different options with extra valuable features like sequencing, arpeggiation, looping for extra creativity.

Among all of the MIDI keyboards offered, my top pick is AKAI Professional MPK249. It shines with its high quality and versatility as an entire workstation MIDI keyboard for beginners and professional musicians.

If you are looking for a more affordable entry-level MIDI keyboard, I recommend you to check AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3, a portable entry-level MIDI controller with nice features and a great value for the offered price.

The 10 Best MIDI Keyboards (2022)

And now onto the full list:

1. AKAI Professional MPK249

Top pick, Best all-round product
A complete workstation MIDI keyboard with great natural-feeling keys and extra features.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

AKAI Professional MPK249 is more than just a MIDI keyboard controller as it is a complete workstation with 49 semi-weighted full-size velocity-sensitive keys, genuine MPC functionality with 16 MPC pads, extra features, 24 Q-Link controllers in total, and handy connectivity options.

Pros

  • Great keys with natural feel and sensitive response with aftertouch
  • Great MPC features and quality MPC pads
  • Easy to connect and play
  • High performance and versatility with many controls and extra features
  • Comes with great music software

Cons

  • Backlight for knobs could be better

The keys feel genuinely natural and respond greatly to the different playing dynamics. The 16 MPC pads can be expanded to a total of 64 with four extra banks. Furthermore, MPC functions comprise 16 levels, tap tempo, time division, MPC note repeat, MPC Swing, and arpeggiator.

The keyboard is a plug-and-play style controller, making it quite easy to set up. It comes with a great bundle of software including Ableton Live Lite to get you immediately started producing music. Its only downside is that the knobs’ backlight isn’t that great, but it’s not a deal-breaker.

Keys49 Full-sized
Key action Semi-weighted, velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch
Controls8 control knobs8 faders 8 switchespitch bendMod Wheel
ConnectivityUSB, MIDI In/Out, 1 x 1/4″ TS (sustain/footswitch), 1 x 1/4″ TRS (expression)
Power USB-powered
Pads 16 RGB-illuminated MPC-style pads

Whether you are a beginner or experienced in music production, AKAI MPK249 offers a lot of versatility and quality to create your music easily.

2. AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

Budget pick, Great for beginners
A compact MIDI keyboard with great MPC features for beginners and traveling musicians.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 is a great mini-sized MIDI keyboard with 25 mini velocity-sensitive keys, 8 MPC pads, a 4-Way joystick for pitch and modulation control, OLED display, 8 assignable encoders, arpeggiator, and octave up and down selector. The mini keyboard is feature-packed and offers great quality and versatility for the price.

Pros

  • Great value for the price
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Good MPC pads and features
  • Comes with great music software

Cons

  • Keys are pretty small
  • Plastic buttons

Besides the great features, Akai’s MPK Mini MK3 is quite lightweight and portable, making it an ideal choice for musicians on the go. It looks like a simple keyboard to add melodies, basslines, and simple chords to your tracks, but it is a little powerhouse offering much more than that with its 8 MPC pads and 8 mappable encoder knobs.

Keys25 Synth Mini-keys
Key action Velocity-sensitive
Controls8 assignable encodersFull transport controls4-way joystick
ConnectivityUSB, 1 x 1/4″ TS (sustain pedal)
Power USB Bus-powered
Pads 8 MPC pads

I would not recommend this keyboard to musicians with big fingers as the keys are pretty small. Plus, the buttons are made of plastic, but it is normal when the offered price is considered. This MIDI controller is an affordable solution for any studio, traveling musicians, and entry-level music producers.

3. Arturia KeyLab 49 MKII

Best controls
A customizable master keyboard with great controls, DAW control functionality, and connectivity options.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Arturia KeyLab 49 MKII is a great MIDI keyboard that serves both as a traditional controller and hybrid instrument with great controls, many connectivity options, and its standalone options as well as DAW control functionality.

It features 49 full-sized semi-weighted keys with velocity sensitivity and aftertouch, 16 RGB-backlit performance pads, 9 faders, and 9 rotary knobs, along with tons of connection ports.

Pros

  • Great standalone use
  • Many connectivity options
  • Easy-to-use
  • Tight integration with the included AnalogLab software

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • Small display

The MIDI keyboard comes with the Pro-Feel keybed, which feels great with high-velocity sensitivity. The keyboard has three modes: DAW, Analog Lab, and User, which allows you to use it as standalone hardware or in combination with Analog Lab or your DAW of choice. 

Another great plus is its connectivity options which allow you to use the MIDI controller in combination with many other devices. It is deeply integrated with Analog Lab software, included in the package.

Keys49 Full-sized
Key action Semi-weighted, Velocity-sensitive with aftertouch
Controls9 faders9 rotary knobs
Connectivity1 x 1/4″ (sustain pedal), 1 x 1/4″ (expression pedal), 1 x 1/8″ (CV in), 3 x 1/4″ (aux), 4 x 1/8″ (CV out, gate out, mod 1, mod 2), USB, MIDI In/Out
Power USB / Optional adapter
Pads 16 RGB-backlit performance pads

Arturia KeyLab 49 MKII offers much more than a standard MIDI keyboard with its feature-packed and easy-to-use system.

4. Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3]

Budget-friendly, Versatile
A versatile and affordable mini-sized MIDI keyboard primarily for Ableton users.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Developed primarily for Ableton, Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3] is a budget-friendly MIDI keyboard with 25 mini-sized velocity-sensitive keys, 16 x Velocity-sensitive RGB Pads, 8 rotary control knobs, a great arpeggiator along with pitch bend and modulation touch strip as well as a bundle great music software included in the package.

Pros

  • Great value for the price
  • Good arpeggiator
  • Great integration with Ableton Live
  • Comes with many different software

Cons

  • Mini-sized keys may be too small for some players

The keyboard shines with its great features and software for the offered price and works brilliantly with Ableton Live. You can also use it with different DAWs of your choice like FL Studio or Cubase. It has a versatile arpeggiator and a chord memory feature.

Keys25 mini-sized keys
Key action Velocity-sensitive, Synth-action keys
Controlspitch bend Touch StripModulation Touch Strip8 x Rotary Knobs
Connectivity1 x 1/4″ (sustain pedal)1 x 1/8″ TRS Type A (Out), USB
Power USB bus powered
Pads 16 x Velocity-sensitive RGB Pads

It may be hard for musicians with big hands to use this keyboard as it features small-sized keys, but it is a great compact MIDI controller aimed at Ableton users. You can use it alone or as a part of a bigger setup.

5. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61

High-end, Complete MIDI keyboard
A complete and smart MIDI keyboard deeply integrated with Komplete software.
View Price at AmazonView Price at Guitar Center

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61 is a smart MIDI controller with a full-sized keyboard with 61 semi-weighted velocity-sensitive keys, many control options, dual screens, and tight integration with NI’s Komplete instruments and plugins that support NKS standard.

Pros

  • Complete keyboard with 61 keys
  • Tight Komplete and Maschine DAW integration
  • Smart MIDI keyboard with dual high-resolution screens

Cons

  • No sliders or drum pads
  • Pricey option

The MIDI keyboard is pre-mapped for NI’s Komplete instruments and is highly intuitive to use with the playing assistance system. It gets complete control of your DAW, which leads you to spend less time with your mouse. Along with the Fatar keybed and Light Guide, the keyboard features a pitch and mod wheel, touch strip, 8 touch-sensitive knobs, and 4-directional push encoder.

Keys61 Mini-sized keys
Key action Fatar Keybed semi-weighted velocity-sensitive with aftertouch
ControlsPitch WheelMod WheelTouch strip8 x touch-sensitive knobs4-directional push encoder
Connectivity2 x 1/4″ (expression, sustain pedal), MIDI In/Out/USB
Power 15V DC power supply (sold separately) / USB Bus powered
Pads No

If you like Komplete software, this is a great complete keyboard with great features and ease of use. It does not have any sliders or drum pads, but you will not feel the need for them with these premium-quality keys and features.

6. Arturia Keystep Controller & Sequencer

Best portable MIDI
A feature-packed and portable MIDI keyboard with 32 slim-sized keys.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Arturia Keystep Controller & Sequencer is a great and portable MIDI keyboard with 32 slim-sized velocity-sensitive keys, versatile control options, many inputs and outputs, and its compact and portable design.

Pros

  • Compact and portable
  • Versatile connectivity options
  • Great value for the price

Cons

  • Slim-sized keys
  • Rate knobs are not great

This MIDI keyboard offers great value for its price with its highly responsive keys, durable and portable design, loads of sync options, simple yet powerful arpeggiator and sequencer, as well as its MIDI control center software companion.

Keys32 slim-sized
Key action Velocity-sensitive with aftertouch
Controlspitch bendModulationTouch Strips3 x Encoders
Connectivity1 x 1/4″ (sustain pedal), MIDI In/Out, USB, 3 x 1/8″ (CV out, gate out, mod), 2 x 1/8″ (sync in/out)
Power USB bus-powered / 9V DC power supply (sold separately)
Pads None

Arturia Keystep Controller & Sequencer is a feature-packed yet simple to use MIDI keyboard for musicians on the go as well as beginner music producers who want a great entry-level MIDI keyboard.

7. Behringer U-Control UMX610

Good control, very versatile
A versatile and lightweight MIDI keyboard with many assignable control knobs for an affordable price.
View Price at Amazon

Behringer U-Control UMX610 is a versatile and lightweight MIDI keyboard with 61-full sized velocity-sensitive keys, 8 real-time rotary controls, and 10 assignable switches which can work with USB, battery, or adapter power. It is an easy-to-use and versatile MIDI keyboard to use with any DAW for an affordable price.

Pros

  • Complete keyboard with 61 full-size keys
  • Great customizable control options
  • Versatile and easy to use with many DAWs

Cons

  • Plasticky design

U-Control UMX610 is a relatively lightweight and compact MIDI keyboard suitable for traveling with. It is pretty easy to use as it works with many different famous DAWs like Logic, Reaper, and Ableton effortlessly. The ease of use and compatibility of this keyboard is simply great.

But you have to be careful as the lightweight design and affordable price come with the plastic build quality. Also, the full-sized keys are less responsive and feel slightly cheaper compared to other MIDI keyboards.

Keys61 full-size keys
Key action Velocity sensitive
ControlsModulation wheelVolume fader8 real-time rotary controllers10 assignable switches
ConnectivityMIDI In/Out, USB
Power USB, battery, or adapter power
Pads None

These are not absolute deal-breakers, and Behringer U-Control UMX610 is a great and versatile MIDI controller for synth and plug-in uses. However, if you are after a piano feel, you should probably look elsewhere.

8. Arturia KeyLab 88 Essential

High-quality, versatile (88 keys)
Premium quality, feature-packed MIDI keyboard with 88 full-size weighted keys.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Arturia KeyLab 88 Essential is a premium quality 88-key MIDI keyboard that is equipped with weighted full-size velocity-sensitive keys, 16 velocity-sensitive pads, 9 rotary encoders, 9 faders, pitch bend, mod wheel, and many connectivity options. This feature-packed MIDI keyboard comes with a great software bundle.

Pros

  • Great number of control options add versatility
  • Many connectivity options
  • Great feeling 88 keys
  • 16 velocity-sensitive pads
  • Great build quality

Cons

  • Relatively small display

KeyLab 88 gets integrated with the most popular DAWs easily, and it comes with Ableton Live Lite and Analog Lab software. Plus, it is a relatively portable device with a sturdy build quality. 

The only letdowns are the different responsiveness of the black and white keys, along with its relatively small display. The responsiveness is not a big deal if you are after using it for synth emulations and trigger loops, but for piano use, this might be a problem.

Keys88 full-size
Key action Full-weighted, velocity-sensitive with aftertouch
Controlspitch bendMod Wheel9 x Rotary Encoders9 x Faders
Connectivity1 x 1/4″ (sustain), 1 x 1/4″ (expression), 3 x 1/4″ (pedal input), MIDI In/Out/USB, 1 x 1/8″ (CV in), 4 x 1/8″ (CV out, gate out, mod 1, mod 2)
Power USB bus power, 9-12V DC power supply (sold separately)
Pads 16 x Backlit, Velocity-sensitive

Overall, I recommend Arturia KeyLab 88 Essential to producers and musicians who like to work with different DAWs creating music frequently.

9. M Audio Oxygen 49 IV

Good beginner MIDI, budget-friendly, 49 keys
A great entry-level MIDI keyboard with 49 full-sized keys and a straightforward design.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

M Audio Oxygen 49 IV is one of the great entry-level MIDI keyboards on the market. It features 49 full-sized velocity-sensitive keys with a synth-weight, DirectLink system to integrate different DAWs easily. Its affordable price and enough number of assignable control options.

Pros

  • Great value for the price
  • Easy to use, beginner-friendly
  • 49 Full-sized velocity-sensitive keys

Cons

  • No classic MIDI ports (USB-midi)

The MIDI controller has everything to get beginners started producing music. It also has 8 velocity-sensitive pads, which adds to the versatility of the device. 

Some drawbacks are the plastic build and the lack of classic MIDI ports, but these are quite acceptable as this is an entry-level affordable MIDI tool. So USB cable is the only option to connect the MIDI keyboard to your laptop, but that should be enough.

Keys49 full-size
Key action Synth-action, velocity sensitive
Controls8 assignable knobs9 assignable faders
Connectivity1 x 1/4″ (sustain pedal), USB
Power USB powered
Pads 8 velocity-sensitive

Overall, M-Audio Oxygen 49 IV is a great beginner MIDI keyboard for a home studio to get you started producing music. Furthermore, it comes with a generous software bundle, including Pro Tools First and Ableton Live.

10. Nektar SE25

Extremely budget-friendly, portable
Very affordable, portable, and simplistic MIDI keyboard with 25 mini-sized keys.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

Nektar SE25 is an extremely affordable, simplistic, and portable MIDI keyboard with 25 mini-sized synth-weighted keys with velocity sensitivity. It does not have many features, but it gets the job done successfully with its ease of use and simplistic approach.

Pros

  • Lightweight, compact and portable
  • Simple yet sturdy design
  • Great value for the price
  • Highly easy to use

Cons

  • No pads
  • No MIDI ports

SE25 has two assignable controls and two buttons for its pitch bend, pan, transpose, sustain, and modulation features. It does not have any pads or MIDI ports, making the device slightly less versatile. But, it is designed for affordability, portability, and simplicity, so the lack of these features should not be a deal-breaker.

Keys25 Mini-sized
Key action Synth-weighted, velocity-sensitive 
ControlsPB1, PB2 (assignable to pitch bend, Pan, Transpose),S Buttons (sustain, modulation)
ConnectivityUSB
Power USB bus powered
Pads None

If you are looking for a basic and reliable MIDI keyboard with a portable design, Nektar SE25 is an ideal choice.

What is a MIDI keyboard?

A MIDI keyboard is a piano-keyboard-shaped device that interacts with music-making software called DAWs by sending them MIDI messages. These messages are translated into sound by the software plugins or virtual instruments in DAWs. Shortly, they are keyboards for playing the sounds recorded in DAWs.

MIDI keyboards are often connected to the Pc or laptop with USB or MIDI cables to send them the MIDI messages. When you press a key or a pad on the MIDI device, the music-making software receives the message and is turned into the sound you mapped before playing. From drums to synths, pianos to string instruments, you can map your keyboard to create any sound you like to play in real-time or record.

Most MIDI keyboards have additional functions like programmable pads, faders, encoders, arpeggiators, and sequencers for added versatility in terms of composing and performing. 

What to look out for when buying?

When buying a MIDI keyboard, things to consider are the key number, size and action, portability, additional features like pads, and of course, the price. Depending on your needs and budget, you should go for a MIDI controller with a good balance of features.

Keys are the most critical elements of MIDI keyboards. A good MIDI keyboard should feature velocity-responsive keys with a preferably full-size semi-weighted design. But, synth-weighted keys are more affordable and can get the job done if you are not after a piano feel. More keys mean more control, but it also means you are sacrificing portability for control with more keys.

Another vital factor is portability. You should opt for a less-number of keys if you frequently carry your gear around. But, if you are going to use the MIDI device in the studio and not move it around, you should go for more keys and features as they give you more versatility.

Additional features like pads, control knobs, faders, sequencers all come in handy for more control on your DAW and fewer mouse movements. If you want to use your MIDI keyboard to fully control your DAW, you should look out for these extra features.

And, of course, more features, more portability, and a good key feel all raise the price. If you have the budget for it, you can go all in without hesitation, as MIDI keyboards are essential devices for music production. Otherwise, check your needs and sacrifice some aspects while focusing on others to find the right product.

What key size is best?

Key size is an important factor with MIDI keyboards. Full-size keys are more recommended for better feel and control, especially for piano players. Mini-size keys are harder to control and do not provide a real piano feel. But, mini-size keys elevate the portability of the device.

How many keys do you need?

A MIDI controller should have a minimum of 25 keys which equals two octaves. Often they feature 49 keys, four octaves which is the recommended amount. More keys are better if you are after the piano feel. But, the music type and the need for portability determine the right amount of keys for the user.

Conclusion

As MIDI keyboards are some of the most crucial gear for music production today, there are many different models for different needs on the market. It is quite easy to get confused and overwhelmed by the choices. But, analyzing your needs and researching well can easily get you what you need to purchase the ideal MIDI keyboard for you and start producing music as soon as possible.

My top recommendation among the best MIDI keyboard controllers is AKAI Professional MPK249, a great MIDI keyboard with a great balance of features, feel, and price.

If you want something more affordable, you can go with the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 model, a great entry-level, compact, and portable MIDI keyboard with a great value-for-price ratio.

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.

Leave a Comment

Leave a reply

Musician Wave
Logo