The best MIDI controller will work seamlessly with your DAW to make composing and editing tracks much easier. These devices are bus powered and connect directly to your PC or Mac, so you won’t have to worry about searching for the closest outlet. 

Some models weigh in at forty pounds and are not exactly portable, while others can weigh just a few pounds and are very travel-friendly. 

The type of MIDI controller you buy should work well with your DAW of choice and should come equipped with the types of features and controls you rely on to create intense beats, piano pieces, or entire songs. It should also be a controller that you’re comfortable using, meaning, one that doesn’t significantly surpass your skill level. Entry-level models may not offer the same types of bells and whistles that pro-quality controllers do, but they can be simpler to use and will allow you to experiment with different beats, sounds, and editing tools. 

With hundreds of models online to choose from, finding the right MIDI for you can be overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve taken the time to weed through several models to provide you with the top ten MIDI controllers on the market. Each model has something special to offer, whether it’s the best choice for Ableton Live lovers, or a top-selling eighty-eight key model. We’re confident that we’ve found the top models around, designed for both beginner and pro use. 

If you’re totally new to MIDI controllers, then we recommend you read our extensive buying guide, which details the important specs and features to look for in your next MIDI. 

Our site also offers informative articles on how to use MIDI, so you can learn more about what these devices have to offer. Additionally, our article on the advantages of MIDI controllers will discuss what a keyboard MIDI controller is really capable of. 

Our article on how to use keyboard as MIDI controller can give you a look at alternative ways to record and compose, but ultimately, you’ll realize that the standard MIDI keyboard controller is the best way to go. 

Our goal was to create a site that provided our visitors with an in-depth realistic look at the top-selling models around. 

Now, we’ll start off with the best-seller on the market, the A-88 keyboard MIDI controller by Roland.  

Comparison Chart

Arturia KeyLab
Arturia KeyLab 88
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Roland A-88
Roland A-88
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Akai Professional MPK88
Akai Professional MPK88
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M-Audio Keystation 61
M-Audio Keystation 61
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Novation Impulse 49
Novation Impulse 49
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Akai Professional MPK225
Akai Professional MPK225
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Arturia MiniLab MkII
Arturia MiniLab MkII 25
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M-Audio Hammer
M-Audio Hammer 88
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Novation Launchkey MIDI
Novation Launchkey MIDI Controller
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Akai Professional MPK249
Akai Professional MPK249
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Arturia KeyLab Action Hybrid Keyboard Controller:

A top of the line eighty-eight key MIDI keyboard controller that’s definitely pro quality, the controller’s intuitive setup, editable controls, and free software will allow you to take your music to the next level. 

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Roland A-88: MIDI Keyboard Controller:

Classically trained and acoustic piano players tend to shy away from keyboard controllers because they lack the type of realistic feel that’s essential when composing. But this model from Roland changes all that. A MIDI controller that offers top of the line feel, this model is perfect for the computer composer who is also a pro pianist. 

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Akai Professional MPK88 Hammer Action USB Midi Controller:

Versatile, customizable, easy to use, and a breeze to set up, this MIDI controller is a great choice for beginners and pros and features perfectly weighted keys that provide the type of realistic feel you’ve been searching for. 

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M-Audio Keystation 61 MIDI Keyboard Controller:

A great buy for musicians on the go, this highly portable, fully functional, compact MIDI controller is also the perfect choice for musicians in search of a travel-worthy MIDI controller that’s budget-friendly, intuitive, and simple to use. 

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Novation Impulse 49 USB Midi Controller Keyboard:

A budget-friendly MIDI controller that comes equipped with the popular Automap feature, you’ll love how organized your workflow is with a versatile controller that simplifies the entire process. 

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Akai Professional MPK225 | 25-Key USB MIDI Keyboard:

Despite its small size, this model is packing some serious power. It works well with most major music production programs, comes equipped with all the tools you need to get started creating new music right out of the box, and it’s reasonably priced, so it should work for any budget. 

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Arturia MiniLab MkII Slim-Key Controller:

Compact, petite, and fully functional, this mini MIDI is a must-have for any musician who is looking for a travel-friendly model that offers the type of features and functionality they can get from a full-sized controller. 

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M-Audio Hammer-Action USB MIDI Keyboard:

Rated as the best choice of MIDI for Logic software, this feature-packed model comes with free Ableton Live music production software, and a wide range of controls that will allow you to fine-tune your music and create new pieces to your heart’s content. 

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Novation Launchkey MIDI Controller Keyboard:

Perfect for musicians who love playing synth instruments, highly adjustable, and by far the best choice for Ableton Live, this is a well-rounded MIDI that’s reasonably priced, easy to use, and a great buy for beginners and pros alike. 

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Akai Professional MPK249 USB MIDI Keyboard:

The perfect MIDI controller for FL Studio, this controller will improve your workflow, offers a ton of features and improved functionality, and can meet the needs of seasoned musicians and newbies. 

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Roland A-88: MIDI Keyboard Controller Review-Highest Rated MIDI Keyboard Controller 

Roland A-88

The A-88 MIDI keyboard controller by Roland features a slim design that’s perfect for the pianist who’s searching for hardware that offers realistic piano key response and action. The controller’s eighty-eight keys feature the patented Roland’s ivory feel G keybed, complete with escapement that’s designed to precisely mimic the behavior of a piano’s hammers lifting off the strings. And the result? Authentic feeling keys that both classical and acoustic pianists will love. 

Aside from the sturdy hardware and quality keys, this model comes equipped with a wide range of features. The most notable of its features is its compatibility with three operating systems including iOS, Mac, and Windows. This means that the pianist will be able to use this model to control their favorite PC and Mac DAWs, in addition to their favorite iPad apps. 

While authentic piano hammer action is the controller’s specialty, it also comes with important controls including transpose and octave buttons, switches, and adjustable knobs. This model also features keyboard layering and splitting, and has dedicated inputs for expression and sustain. 

Other top features include the D-beam controller and the mod and bend lever. If you’re new to Roland MIDI controllers, then you probably don’t know about the D-beam feature. The D-beam is an infrared beam of light that the user is able to interact with, just by moving their hand over it. 

This model also features a dedicated super natural mode which can be used when it’s hooked up with certain super natural instruments including Jupiter synths, and the Integra seven sound module. This mode will unlock a large variety of sounds and provides superior control over many of the manufacturer’s top synth machines. 


  • The assignable switches and knobs provide ultimate performance control. 
  • Users will have the ability to directly control their super natural Roland synths directly. 
  • The controller is compatible with three major operating systems. 
  • The realistic keys make this controller the perfect choice for pianists.
  • This model is also USB bus powered. 
  • Installation is fast and simple. 


  • Some pianists reported that over time, the ivory feel G keys will deteriorate with use, resulting in a streaking along the material. 
  • Others noted that some of the black keys tend to slightly rub against some of the neighboring keys, which results in friction noise. 
  • For the price, we were disappointed that the controller doesn’t come with a music stand. 



This Roland MIDI keyboard controller is the closest you’ll get to playing a grand piano. The realistic feel of the keys is sure to please any pro pianist, while the controller’s sheer versatility will allow you to truly get creative in the studio or during a live performance. Basically, this controller’s keyboard feels phenomenal, especially when you consider the board’s weight. This controller offers all the functionality that a pianist who’s working with a VST needs for ultimate sound. 

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Akai Professional MPK88 Hammer Action USB Midi Controller Review-Best 88 Key MIDI Keyboard Controller 

Akai Professional MPK88

The Akai professional MIDI keyboard controller provides the type of feel and control you’ve been looking for. The controller offers eighty-eight fully-weighted keys and is USB powered. 

Weighing in at sixty-five pounds, this controller isn’t exactly portable, but despite its heft and large case, setup is extremely simple, which gives way to sixty-four creative possibilities. Along with the pads, you’ll also get the speed selection and note repeat options. The pads offer one hundred and twenty-seven levels of velocity and are touch sensitive, providing your tracks with the natural sounding percussion, in addition to many other creative options. 

The weighted keys provide plenty of room to deliver the realistic feel of hammer action. The keys themselves feature a nice springy feel that’s able to deliver an impressive playing experience. For some, the keys can be too noisy, which can be a big issue if you want to use a microphone to record while you’re playing. But for most musicians, this wasn’t much of an issue at all. 

Located on the right side of the controller is a total of twenty-four assignable buttons and knobs. You’ll also find faders with a few banks that equal out to seventy-two assignable parameters for software. These features allow for improved live control over panning, track volume, bass, treble, and much more. This type of control also allows for a smooth workflow, which can be incredibly helpful during the creative process. 

Located on the top left-hand side are two wheels that control modulation and pitch. The modulation wheel will allow you to tweak sounds on the fly in addition to limitless creative exploration. The pitch wheel is easy to work with considering the wheel centers itself. 

This model gives users the option to split the board using a couple of separate sounds, providing musicians with the opportunity to truly get creative. When you throw in an arpeggiator, which is designed to sync to the tempo and comes equipped with a variety of speeds, you’ll have even more creative freedom. 

Additionally, you’ll find a latch button that you can use with the arpeggiator, that will hold the notes for you, which will free up your hands. 


  • A MIDI keyboard controller that’s well-designed and built tough, it offers an amazing studio presence. 
  • This model comes equipped with more features than any other MIDI keyboard controller in this price range. 
  • The controller comes with aftertouch and can work with either NC or NO pedals.
  • It features built-in arpeggiator, which is perfect when using the controller as a synth. 


  • There were some reports that the pads felt awkward to use.
  • For some, this controller may be too heavy, so you’ll need to purchase a strong stand. 
  • The keys are pretty loud, but this is common with action hammer models. 
  • You won’t find a power off switch on this controller. Instead, you must turn off the controller by disconnecting it from the USB cable.

It was difficult to find any major issues with this Akai model. It’s well-built, compatible with a wide range of software programs, and offers ultimate control over the music creation process.  This controller is a great buy for the beginner or pro. 

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Arturia KeyLab Action Hybrid Keyboard Controller Review-Runner up for Best 88 Key MIDI Keyboard Controller 

Arturia KeyLab 88

This eighty-eight-key model by Arturia is their largest MIDI keyboard controller in their Keylab series and it consists of a dedicated pre-mapped controller and Analog Lab software. 

This controller will not only work with the included software, it’s actually a universal MIDI. 

As we’ve mentioned, this controller comes with a total of eighty-eight hammer-action keys, which are perfect for anyone searching for a keyboard that offers a realistic weight.  The controller itself is powered via a USB cable, so there’s no need for an additional power adapter when you’re hooking the controller up to your PC. 

in total, this model comes with sixteen pads, ten encoders, nine sliders, l/O and USB connections, breath input, a sustain and expression pedal, and aftertouch. 

If you’re searching for a weighted, hammer action model, this is definitely one you want to check out. 

This package comes with five thousand synth sounds and more than two hundred multi patches that have been categorized based on musical genre. 

The control layout and front panel are very similar to the forty-nine and sixty-one key controllers in the KeyLab series. On the top left you’ll find standard mod and pitch wheels, with an octave up and down selector and value and preset knobs, category and parameter knobs, a Spartan blue fluorescent display that measures in at sixteen inches by two inches, and mode buttons. 

There are also a total of ten multifunction buttons that are assignable, and nine assignable knobs. 

Analog Lab offers thousands of presets, however, certain parameters such as envelope settings and filters are pre-assigned and editable to the controller’s sliders and knobs. While the editable parameters provide a decent amount of flexibility in terms of sound shaping, musicians and producers who are hardcore synth programmers will definitely miss the ability to create and edit sounds with unlimited and full user interfaces. 


  • This is a very solid MIDI controller that’s designed with a nice feeling keyboard and great build quality.
  •  If you’ve used weighted keyboards in the past, then you’ll quickly notice how this model’s keys aren’t overly heavy. 
  • This controller features classic MIDI in and out five pin din connections. 
  • Comes with control inputs for the sustain pedals, breath controller, and expression pedal.
  • Affordably priced and designed to fit the needs of the pro musician or producer. 


  • Some musicians had complaints regarding the ends of the model, stating real wood ends would have been an improvement over synthetic.
  • Additionally, we would like to see the addition of a bank up and down button which would make changing bank/notes much easier. 
  • While the setup may seem intuitive to the seasoned musician, amateurs will struggle with this feature-packed model. 

A lightweight eighty-eight key MIDI keyboard controller that’s packed with synth sounds, editing features, and the type of versatility you’ll definitely appreciate during a recording session, this model is the perfect choice for the seasoned musician or producer but can be difficult to use for the beginner.

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M-Audio Keystation 61 MIDI Keyboard Controller Review-Top Rated 61 Key MIDI Keyboard Controller 

M-Audio Keystation 61

Often, finding a versatile MIDI controller that’s fully functional and highly portable can be a challenge, especially when you’re on a tight budget. But this model by M-Audio changes all that with the introduction of the Keystation 61. 

This MIDI controller by M-Audio features sixty-one keys and is powered via USB connection to your PC. It offers features that will allow you to easily control and adjust music software programs, without the need for a mouse. 

The velocity-sensitive, semi-weighted keys offer a realistic playing experience. 

The controller also comes with a sustain pedal, octave range buttons, transport controls, modulation wheels, and pitch bend. 

For mobile song creation, the controller can be hooked up to your iPad. 

This package comes complete with a free download of Ableton Live. 

On the left side of the controller, you’ll find the modulation and pitch wheel, which can be used to control important MIDI and synth parameters. The main slider can be assigned to control any of the MIDI features, including the volume. 

The directional keys and dedicated transport controls allow you to tweak your music without having to hook up a mouse. 

This is a great system for a home recording studio. It’s also a great buy if you’ve been searching for a MIDI controller that you can take with you on the road. 

The controller operates on USB bus power and hooks right up to your PC. This means you won’t need to use anything but the included cable for both MIDI transmissions and power, which is what makes this model highly portable. 

With the help of the Apple camera connector, you’ll be able to use the controller with your iPad and your favorite music production apps. 


  • The compact, lightweight design makes this controller highly portable. 
  • A versatile controller that’s compact and lightweight, this model allows you to get the most out of your software synths and virtual instruments. 
  • The controller also comes with DAW transport controls, an assignable slider that also functions as the volume control, mod wheels, pitch bend, and data up and down buttons. 
  • Buyers will love the free Ableton Live download, which will allow them to start creating music immediately after setup is complete. 
  • The keys provide semi-weighted action that’s comfortable. 
  • The controller is perfect for players in need of keys that provide a solid feel when experimenting with virtual instruments. 


  • There were some issues with quality control. Around the middle octave, a few of the keys make a loud metallic click when pressed. 
  • Others had issues with the volume level, claiming it was too soft, even when turned all the way up. 

This is a very budget-friendly, highly portable MIDI keyboard controller that’s a great solution for the musician searching for a compact controller for their small home setup, or any musician in need of a controller that’s travel-friendly. But considering its smaller size and limited functionality, we wouldn’t recommend this controller for a pro recording studio or major live gig. 

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Novation Impulse 49 USB Midi Controller Keyboard Review-Best Selling 49 Key Keyboard MIDI Controller 

Novation Impulse 49

Known for producing very budget-friendly models and top of the line MIDI controllers, this model is very versatile and intuitive, and for the price, it’s a total steal. 

The Impulse 49 is the latest MIDI keyboard controller by Novation. This model comes equipped with semi-weighted keys and aftertouch and velocity sensitivity. You’ll also find a total of eight backlit pedals that are programmable. 

Use the controls and LCD display to set up layers and key splits, or assign controller messages to pads, buttons, encoders, and faders. This model has a bank of nine faders and buttons. 

It’s also equipped with eight DAW transport controls and endless rotary encoders. 

On the back of the controller is the USB port which connects the controller to your PC. Bus powered, the MIDI doesn’t need to be plugged into an additional power source. On the rear of the controller are sockets for expression and sustain pedals. 

Despite the fact that the controller is made out of plastic, it offers a solid feel. 

For many musicians, the Automap feature was a big reason for choosing this particular controller. If you’re not familiar with Automap, it’s a system designed by the manufacturer that allows their controllers to better integrate with DAW software programs. The idea behind Automap is to prevent users from having to worry about programming the controller in the typical way. Instead, the buttons, knobs, and faders work to instantly adapt in order to control plug-ins and mixers in the DAW while you work. 


  • The synth style action keyboard offers a positive feel and meaningful resistance, allowing you to play throughout the velocity range easily. 
  • The keys are aftertouch and velocity sensitive and can be switched using the roll button in order to generate note triggers. 
  • This model is lightweight, and highly portable. 


  • The controller’s case is made out of plastic, and flexes slightly when it’s picked up. This is a huge drawback for musicians in search of a controller that can withstand life on the road. 
  • The pads don’t consistently respond with their corners or edges. You’ll need to use a couple of fingers to get around that issue. 
  • Keep in mind that Automap only works for officially supported DAWs. Make sure you checkout DAW compatibility before you buy. 

For some buyers, the fact that the controller comes equipped with the popular Automap feature was enough to hit that buy now button, while for others, the model’s overall functionality and lightweight design made this the perfect choice for beginners. 

The Impulse is perfect for small studio setups or as a controller you can take with you on the road. The controller’s onboard system used to assign MIDI messages to controls is flexible and easy to use. For some users, the model’s Automap capability was a huge bonus.  Just keep in mind that it’s not compatible with all DAWs. Easy to use, this is a great MIDI controller that’s reasonably priced and fully functional, despite its compact size. 

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Akai Professional MPK225 MIDI Keyboard Review-Top Rated 25 Key Keyboard MIDI Controller 

Akai Professional MPK225

Akai Professional is one of our favorite MIDI controller manufacturers. Their intuitive take on MIDI performance allows you to easily and seamlessly create one masterpiece after another on a device that’s simple to use and loaded with all the right features. 

The MPK225 by Akai Professional is a twenty-five key keyboard MIDI controller that features some decent upgrades compared to Akai Professional’s twenty-five key models of the past. This controller comes equipped with full-size keys with pressure sensitivity, eight RGB illuminated MPC pads, the VIP 3 software platform, and iOS compatibility. 

It also features a slimmer design and keys that are described as more comfortable to use. 

The backlit MPC pads, octave controls, pitch bend, and modulation, give musicians more control over the creative process. 

The controller’s mapping abilities will mainly depend on the type of software program you’re using. Most musicians recommend using Ableton or Logic with this controller, which many musicians claim will allow you to enjoy seamless mapping. 

The controller’s faders and knobs work as intended. 

Overall, this MIDI keyboard is great. The keys are a little heavy, which can be an issue for musicians who normally prefer lighter keys. However, the keys aren’t fully weighted, like what you would find on an acoustic piano, instead, the controller is designed with semi-weighted keys that should work well for most musicians but can be an issue for pianists who are searching for a controller that offers a more realistic feel. 


  • For most musicians, keyboard feel is important. These semi-weighted keys offer middle ground action and they work well for both synth leads and piano parts. 
  • The aftertouch feature is perfect for adding modulation such as vibrato, and all without having to take your hands off the board. 
  • In addition to rotary encoders and assignable buttons, this model comes equipped with footswitch and sustain, and expression pedal jacks.
  • This controller allows you to load up pretty much any VST plug-in and combine it with a wide range of virtual instruments and sound effects. 
  • The huge list of plug-ins automatically maps to the controller.
  • Set up and use is very beginner-friendly
  • A great option for the musician in need of a solid and reliable budget-friendly keyboard MIDI controller. 


  • Honestly, the drum pads aren’t exactly top of the line and there have been complaints regarding the velocity sensitivity, especially when compared to the MPC pads you’ll find on higher priced models. However, the pads are still usable. 

You just can’t compare quality and performance when it comes to a twenty-five key controller and an eighty-eight key controller. What the MPK225 has to offer is perfect for smaller setups. It provides the type of versatility that you’d expect from a controller of this size, and while the drum pads may be mediocre, they still do a decent job. The controller comes with some great features and offers a seamless editing and production process when it’s paired with the right type of software program. Overall, for the price, you’ll get a well-built controller that can handle the basics and a model that’s very beginner-friendly.

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Arturia MiniLab MkII Slim-Key Controller Review-Best Portable MIDI Keyboard Controller 

Arturia MiniLab MkII 25

This model is more than just an affordable controller, it’s also a hybrid synth. This petite controller provides musicians with a ton of functionality, in a tiny package. It comes with twenty-five mini keys, eight pads, a total of sixteen encoders, ergonomic pitch and mod touch strips, and over five hundred presets. 

It’s also worth mentioning that this controller is a double octave model with rotary controllers and pads. The best features include the large number of controllers and the controller’s compact size, which makes it the top portable MIDI keyboard controller in our lineup. 

The case itself is long and narrow compared to Arturia’s past mini MIDI. The strips and control buttons are located close together, but there’s enough space for comfortable use. 

The controller measures in at thirty-two millimeters thick, with an overall size that’s comparable to a modern laptop. 

On the backside of the device, you’ll find the connectors. This allows the user to place the MIDI close to other gear in a home studio setup. Also on the back, you’ll find the Kensington Keylock. 


  • This model comes equipped with a total of twenty-five miniature keys that feature sensitivity to velocity and synthesizer mechanics. 
  • The controller features three velocity curves, in addition to a mode with fixed max value. 
  • The keys are soft and won’t dangle or clack. 
  • The pitch and modulation touch strip offers a couple of modes that emulate the function of the hardware wheels. 
  • The controller’s compact size allows you to easily stash it in a small bag for transport. 
  • With sixteen rotary knobs and eight backlit pads, there’s a ton of functionality in this small device. 
  • This is a really beautiful mini MIDI and it features a spectacular build. 


  • The drum pads are slightly reduced in size, however, they’re also nicely backlit. 
  • The fact that the controller doesn’t feature aftertouch is a huge downside for some musicians. 

In general, Arturia’s newest mini MIDI should be considered a success. Among the many changes the manufacturer has made over past models of mini controllers, the connectors have been placed in a more convenient location and the size of the controller is just more practical. Despite the many upgrades and more controls, the price of the controller somehow still remains very low. One of the most affordable mini controllers on the market, this feature-loaded find is the perfect solution for the musician who loves to compose on the road. 

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M-Audio Hammer-Action USB MIDI Keyboard Review-Best Keyboard MIDI Controller for Logic Pro X

M-Audio Hammer 88

Logic Pro is a top of the line music production program that’s been a huge hit with the pros for years. But finding the best MIDI controller for this software can be tricky. Without a doubt, Logic is one of the best programs on the market. So, when looking for a compatible MIDI, and one that will allow you to get the best from this DAW, you need a model that can also act as a control surface. This means it should come with a wide range of buttons and knobs that will allow you to choose the parameters for editing specific tracks. Basically, it should be a MIDI that allows you to totally control the program from the keyboard and that’s where the M-Audio hammer eighty-eight comes in. It offers a total of five pin MIDI outputs to trigger external MIDI devices, inputs for expression, sustain, and soft pedals, and controls for octave, volume, mod, and pitch bend. 

This is a no-compromise model that offers a realistic piano feel. It comes with eighty-eight velocity sensitive hammer action keys that are fully weighted. 

The MIDI comes with all the important essentials needed for an expressive performance including soft pedal jacks, and multiple zones for layering splits. With just one press of a key, you can even play four note chords. 


  • While this is hands down the best MIDI to use for Logic, this package also includes free Ableton Live software, so you know this controller is versatile. 
  • The controller is pro quality and offers a realistic feel and sound that any musician, especially the pianist, will love. 
  • The fader and mod wheel are both mappable to any controller parameter.
  • To choose programs, simply use the up and down buttons for fast access.
  • The pedal inputs allow the pianist to expertly articulate their performance like the pro they are. 
  • Packed with features, this controller also comes with a free music rest stand. 
  • This controller offers a much simpler set up process thanks to the plug and play action. 


  • The controller comes with a high price tag, but considering all the features and free software, the pros will definitely agree that it’s worth every penny. 
  • Weighing in at forty pounds, this is one heavy MIDI. 
  • Right out of the box you’ll notice that the keys are slightly stiff, however, they’ll loosen up over time. 

A top of the line controller that’s designed with the pro pianist in mind, this is a great buy considering it also comes with free pro software, a music stand, and all the features and tools you need to create, or recreate your favorite music. A little on the pricey side, this may not be the best choice for the beginner interested in trying their hand at composing and producing, but the pro will have a blast experimenting with the controls and parameters to beef up a track or create a new piece. 

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Novation Launchkey MIDI Controller Keyboard Review- Best MIDI Controller for Ableton Live 

Novation Launchkey MIDI Controller

Novation is a leading company in the industry. They offer MIDI controllers for musicians of all skill levels and they have a knack for producing the most efficient and user-friendly controllers on the market. The Launchkey is one of their latest models and it has created some buzz among musicians who love playing synth instruments. 

This package by Novation comes with everything you need including a sixty-one key MIDI controller, sixteen full-color RGB velocity drum pads, Ableton Live Lite 9 software, and a double X keyboard stand.

This MIDI controller is a fast and easy solution for musicians searching for a MIDI keyboard controller that works well with Ableton Live software. However, even if you prefer another type of DAW, you’ll definitely appreciate this model’s layout and keys that feel like the real deal. To use, just plug the MIDI right into your PC’s USB port. 

The model’s velocity sensitive RGB pads, knobs, faders, and keys provide the musician with total hands-on control of any Ableton Live instrument, session view, mixer, or effects. 

With the sixteen pads, you can play beats, control effects, launch clips, and much more. Equipped with full-color LEDs, the pads will match the color of the clips.

The MIDI’s velocity sensitivity means that you’ll be able to pack your tracks with more expression. 

If you want to use this model with a DAW other than Ableton, you’ll need to use the InControl protocol. 

Aside from Ableton, this MIDI also comes with Novation Bass Station, 4GB of sample content from Loopmasters, and V-Station. Plus, if you want to upgrade the Ableton to Suite or Standard, you can do so at a lower price. 


  • You can use the MIDI’s eight rotary knobs to adjust effects and instruments to perfection.
  • The nine faders offer more hands-on control over a mixer. 
  • The sixty-one-note synth keybed offers a realistic sound and feel, plus it’s really fun to play. 
  • While specifically designed for Ableton Live, this MIDI will work well with just about any DAW. 
  • The manufacturer designed the MIDI’s controls in a manner that allows it work instantly and seamlessly with Ableton. 
  • All of the MIDI’s controls are assignable. 
  • Class-compliant and bus powered.


  • While a good choice if you’re searching for a MIDI that you can use for synth instruments if you usually prefer to play piano style weighted keys, then using this model can definitely take some getting used to. 

Easy to use, very versatile, and reasonably priced, this is a controller designed for both the beginner and the pro. 

Overall, this model from Novation is a great feature-packed controller for the price. The MIDI’s keybed feels great if you want a model you can use to perform with synth instruments. The MIDI also perfectly integrates with Ableton, allowing you to easily switch from instrument to instrument and the controls will be mapped to it. Additionally, you can use the pads in order to change and trigger any clips. Using InControl technology, this model also works well with any other DAW.

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Akai Professional MPK249 USB MIDI Keyboard Review-Best MIDI Controller for FL Studio 

Akai Professional MPK249

The MPK249 MIDI controller by Akai Professional features some impressive improvements over their last line of MIDI keyboard controllers, including MPC pads that are RGB illuminated, and incredible aftertouch action. The MIDI comes with a ton of features that are designed to enhance your workflow, such as the MPC swing, MPC note repeat, and for complex melodic and rhythmic manipulation you can try out the arpeggiator. 

You’ll love the assignable encoders, buttons, and faders, not to mention the large LCD screen, transport controls, sixteen performance pads, and the iOS and USB modes. Really, Akai Professional gives you total control over your DAW. 

Described as the best MIDI controller for FL Studio, you’ll be able to juice any production using MPC workflows, and the types of reliable tools that producers have been using for years. The MPC note repeat and the sixteen levels will make it much easier to construct short sequences, and build beats, and the MPC swing feature delivers an organic, tighter groove.

The arpeggiator allows you to easily explore intricate melodies thanks to the adjustable patterns, range, and resolution. 


  • The semi-weighted keys work perfectly for fast synth leads and piano.
  • This MIDI provides enhanced response, and aftertouch sensitivity. 
  • You’ll enjoy total control over your beats using a MIDI that’s highly adjustable and easy to use. 
  • Designed to work seamlessly with FL Studios, now you can get the most out of your favorite DAW. 


  • For the price, we felt that the controller should have come equipped with an offline editor that would allow the user to adjust the parameters for each of the keys without the need of the keyboard interface. This task can be very time-consuming otherwise. Additionally, there’s no way to save any presets. 

A MIDI controller that rated very high with musicians in search of a controller that’s designed with efficiency in mind, this model by Akai Professional will totally change how you create and edit. It’s simple enough that a beginner can learn the ropes on it, but it also comes with all the features a pro can appreciate. A great buy if you’re on the hunt for a reliable controller that you can use with FL Studio or other leading DAWs, Akai Professional has really stepped up their game, leaving us eager to see what they come out with next. 

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MIDI Keyboard Controller Buying Guide 

Musical instrument digital interface, also known as MIDI, allows producers and musicians to play a single controller keyboard in order to trigger a wide range of sounds from samplers and multiple synthesizers. First created in the early 80s, the MIDI controller has come a long way, and these days, they’re more useful than ever. The modern MIDI controller can be used to control virtual instruments on a PC or Mac. With a hard drive full of samples and a MIDI, you’ll be able to easily bring thousands of sounds to your live performance or recording session. 

Home Studio Recording 

A MIDI controller is an essential tool for a producer. As an example, a producer can record MIDI data while monitoring a few sounds on a synthesizer, then switch instantly to a different set of sounds once the recording is finished. Most music recording software programs come equipped with a MIDI sequencing feature that allows users to transpose, time-stretch, quantize to a metronome, or edit individual notes. In order to use one of these controllers, you’ll need a way to capture the performance. Enter the best MIDI controller. 

Key Options 

If you prefer to play one-handed basses or synth leads, then all you’ll need is twenty-five keys. But if you plan to take on piano arrangements, then your needs are greater, requiring a model with sixty-one to eighty-eight keys. Currently, forty-nine key MIDI controllers are the most popular choice. They’re big enough to play with both hands, but they’re not too big for your desk in your home studio. Many of the compact models feature octave buttons that allow users to scroll up and down in order to access a piano’s eighty-eight key range. 

Lightweight, Semi-Weighted, and Weighted

MIDI Keyboard Controller Buying Guide

These terms are used to describe the controller’s action. Action involves the way the keys will respond to a player. A model that’s fully weighted has a feel that’s similar to an acoustic piano. On the far ends, the keys have counterweights, which need finger independence and much more force to play. Additionally, these boards are pretty heavy.

 Synth-action keys are springy and light, offering minimal resistance, and they’re typically found on entry-level keyboards and lightweight controllers. If spring-loaded keys are too light and fully weighted keys are just too heavy, semi-weighted keys can be the perfect compromise. Semi-weighted keys are typically found on pro controller keyboards. 

Hammer Action 

With an acoustic piano, pressing one of the keys lifts a damper off the strings of the piano, throwing a hammer in order to strike them. The harder the keys are pressed, the harder the hammer strikers, resulting in louder sound. With an electronic keyboard, there isn’t a need for strings, yet in order to replicate the feel of an acoustic piano, some manufacturers have created their own version of the hammer mechanism, which is referred to as hammer action. Models with hammer action need a heavier touch when playing the lower keys and a lighter touch on higher keys, much like a traditional piano. 


If you use a keyboard to play synths, organs, strings, wind instruments, horns, or any other type of sound that’s capable of long sustain time, then aftertouch can work to add more expression to your playing. Keyboards with aftertouch sensitivity allow you to apply more pressure in order to trigger the aftertouch effect in order to hold the note. You can lean into the keys, widening the rotary speaker effect, open the filter on a lick, or add vibrato.  This feature may not be necessary for classical piano playing, but it can allow synth players to have much more control over certain effects without having to use an extra foot pedal, joystick, or modulation wheel. This feature is commonly found on higher-priced MIDI keyboard controllers.

Improving Your Workflow

Most models of MIDI keyboard controllers are based on traditional live audio gear. They significantly improve DAW usability by allowing the musician to touch hardware controls, offering an element of tactility. You’ll be able to adjust a variety of parameters in real-time, including continuous controller data. But the best part of these devices is the fact that they allow you to adjust settings and parameters by feel while listening to the result easily via a UI. The ability to play a piano-style keyboard for most musicians is more intuitive than messing around with a graph of clicking on an icon. But what you need out of a controller will mainly depend on your work style. 

What’s a Profile? 

The side view of the white keys is called the profile. Lower priced models tend to use a diving board profile, but these often feel too flexible to pianists who are used to keys with a lipped profile and solid feel. Keyboard players and organists prefer a waterfall profile because it allows smoother action when sliding keys. 

Volume Adjustment 

Ask most musicians and producers, and they’ll tell you that the best way to control the volume of a signal, part, or channel is by using a fader. Moving a fader requires just one finger, so you can move a number of faders at one time. 

Fader Length: The length of a fader refers to the scope of a fader from minimum to max settings. Usually, these range from forty-five millimeters up to one hundred and four millimeters. 

As far as the length goes, one hundred millimeters or more is the pro standard, while sixty millimeters is decent enough for home music production. Forty-eight millimeters is commonly found on models designed for beginners. 

The size of the fader doesn’t affect the amount of volume because all of them go from zero to full amplification. A longer fader offers more subtle volume changes. 

Flying Faders: Flying faders control moves in real-time. When the fader is moved on the hardware, the software fader will move right along with it, just like moving the software fader will cause the hardware fader to move. 


Many models these days come equipped with MIDI pads, also referred to as drum pads. Usually, these pads come with three or four potential banks and are about eight to sixteen in number. So, if you need something similar to a drum machine, then this is a feature you’ll want to look for. 


All modern models feature a USB port that you’ll use to connect your laptop to a MIDI to receive and send data. Most models are class compliant, which means they don’t require a special type of driver to work and they’ll continue to work with updated software. 

In many cases, the cable will supply power to the MIDI from the PC, which minimizes the need for external power. However, using external power can reduce the amount of CPU usage, which will allow it to direct resources to other tasks. 

Some MIDI keyboard controllers come with a five prong port that you can use to connect to a range of hardware including drum machines and synths. If you’re searching for this type of connection and haven’t found it on new controllers, this is because USB 1 and 2 connections are able to sufficiently carry data just as well as older connectors. 

Narrowing Down Your Search 

Today, MIDI keyboard controllers have become an essential part of music production and they’re essential for playing software synths on stage or in the studio. You shouldn’t accept anything less than what you would normally get from a high-quality hardware synthesizer. These controllers don’t have to feel cheap, or be complicated to use. 

MIDI Controller Buying Tips

MIDI Controller Buying Tips

The following tips will help you to make a more informed decision when it comes to choosing the right model for your needs. 

  • Playability: often, the MIDI keyboard controller’s playability is overloaded. But just because it’s a controller doesn’t mean it has to play and feel like a toy. You’ll need reliable, great action in order to impart expression into your performances while getting the most from your sounds. When reading the best MIDI keyboard controller reviews make sure you pay attention to what musicians have to say regarding playability and feel. 
  • Controls: You’ll want a wide range of precise controls that you can use to operate soft synths, your DAW, and to tweak sounds. 
  • Durability: Whether you plan on taking the controller with you on tour or spending hours using it in the studio, the model you choose needs to be able to handle heavy use and extended jam sessions. 
  • Drivers: If a MIDI controller is constantly messing up your timing or causing your software to crash, then it won’t be much fun to use. While it may look great on the surface, if it has a substandard driver, it can cause intermittent connections and instability. If you’ve found a few models you’re interested in, be sure to do a little research on each manufacturer. Learn about their history in developing stable, fast drivers. 
  • Software: Whether it’s a virtual instrument or a DAW, having extensive control over your software is important.  Models that come equipped with configurable and customizable controls will be the best choice. 


How much you’re willing to spend will play a major factor in terms of the type and style of MIDI keyboard controller you end up with. There are a number of choices for any price range from under one hundred bucks to five hundred dollars or more. Usually, the higher the key count, the higher the price tag. You’ll probably also get extra software included in a package, which can also affect the price, so be sure to keep this in mind when you’re shopping around. 

Final Thoughts 

We hope our reviews of the top ten MIDI keyboard controllers have helped you choose the best MIDI controller for your live performance and recording needs. Of course, the right model for you will heavily depend on how you intend to use the controller, your budget, the type of DAW you use, and your skill level. 

If you’re a beginner, keep in mind that some of these controllers can be complicated to use. Often, the higher priced models that are designed with the pros in mind can be more difficult to adjust, but with a little practice and some help from MIDI controller forums and message boards, you’ll be able to make the most out of your new controller’s wide range of features in no time.

The Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers on the Market: 2017-2018
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The Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers on the Market: 2017-2018
Take a look at the best MIDI controllers, learn about some of the top features, and DAW compatibility, and where to find the right model for less!