A MIDI Keyboard is a producer’s main hub of their work area.
I’ve been producing for over 10 years now, and have come to the conclusion of what’s required in a MIDI Keyboard.
You have to be careful because companies add in tons of features (which you may or may not use), but it’s reflected in the cost!
My final verdict for the best MIDI Keyboard while not being gouged on price is:
At first, you may scratch your head and think, “Why buy a keyboard with no sounds in it?”.
Well the answer is that a MIDI Keyboard will actually play our sounds inside our computer!
On top of that, it is like the main hub of your home studio, having access to the transport buttons to play, stop, and record your track at any time!
In addition to transport buttons on a MIDI Keyboard, there are other features they provide such as mixer sliders, pan pots to adjust effects, as well as pitch and mod wheels to modulate your sound while playing!
Let me tell you off the start, a lot of these MIDI Keyboards come with way more features than you need, and you guessed it, they tack that onto the price.
You do want to get a quality keyboard, which feels comfortable to play, but this is an area where you can save some money to your home studio, and get away with the exact same results as with the most expensive MIDI Keyboards in the industry.
So before we continue, this is what I look for in a MIDI Keyboard myself.
A lot of these features suggested don’t necessarily speed up your workflow, as working with a mouse is sometimes just easier!
Must Have Features in a MIDI Keyboard
- Quality Piano Keys
- Transport Buttons (Stop, Play, and Record at Minimum)
- Awesome Drivers and Compatibility with my DAW
- Overall Look is Kind of Important, Depending on Price
Let’s get started.
My Current MIDI Keyboard – M-Audio Axiom 49 2nd Generation
I have really enjoyed my M-Audio Axiom 49 2nd Generation MIDI Keyboard.
It gives my home studio a really professional look, and the colors are cool too!
But looks only go so far right?
Well how these MIDI Keyboards work is they sell them in ranges of how many piano keys you want. You have to think about desk space here, as well as how well you can play the piano!
They do come with octave buttons to move up and down the notes, so no matter what, you’ll always have full range of your piano notes.
Now depending on your DAW, this can dictate which features you’re allowed to use with your MIDI Keyboard.
I know, that sucks right!
When I first got this Axiom 49 2nd Generation, I was so excited because it supported a feature called DirectLink.
This allowed you to take full control of your music program, because it would automatically map parameters to your knobs and sliders!
This meant if you opened up a VST, you could automatically rotate the knobs, and they’d be mapped for you!
But in FL Studio, they didn’t support this feature, and I was really disappointed.
Regardless, you can always manually map parameters yourself, so it wasn’t a huge deal. I just like convenience! 🙂
I really like the knobs on the M-Audio Axiom 49, and it even has drum pads if you want that MPC like feel!
The only downside to these MIDI Keyboards is their sliders are manual.
This means they are not motorized to give you that real hands-on mixing approach.
For that, you’d need a motorized control surface!
Overall, the Axiom 49 2nd Generation has done me great.
It is a bit dated now, so there are newer MIDI Keyboards out there with newer features, but even to date this MIDI Keyboard does me great.
But like I mentioned, a lot of these MIDI Keyboards come jam-packed with features which they tack onto the price.
In my opinion, I don’t use almost any of the features the Axiom 49 gives me.. so I could of gotten away with the M-Audio Oxygen 49 instead.. however, I think the feel of the keys on the Axiom feel better, so you get what you pay for, you know?
Top MIDI Keyboards
Now, as I always talk about. This music industry is a business like no other.
These companies will continue to try and sell, sell, sell us until we can take no more!
Remember, these companies add on features which are not either needed, or may only partially help your workflow. But they’re sure to tack it onto the price.
With that said, here’s some of the top and most expensive MIDI Keyboards.. They may be cool, but in my opinion, this is too much.
You just want a simple keyboard with quality keys to play beautiful piano pieces, trust me.
If you want to buy into the hype, then that’s your choice! Here’s the list of expensive and jam-packed featured MIDI Keyboards:
- Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol 49 MIDI Keyboard
- Akai Advance 49 MIDI Keyboard
- Nektar Panorama P4 49-key MIDI Controller Keyboard
- BEHRINGER MOTÖR 49 MIDI Keyboard – The reviews on this thing are horrible, but the concept is amazing! The motorized faders is what I’ve been wanting in a MIDI Keyboard for the longest time. Yet it’s still priced the same as other competitors.. weird isn’t it?
Akai MPK2 USB MIDI Keyboard Series
The Akai MPK2 Series is definitely one of the top MIDI Keyboards in terms of quality, features, and functionality.
But you guessed it, it is reflected in the price.
So if you’re someone who wants the best, then this Akai MPK2 series of MIDI Keyboards is for you!
The Akai MPK2 series comes in 25, 49, and 61 key versions with semi-weighted full size piano keys!
This is an awesome feature if you love to play piano.
In addition, it also has pressure sensitive keys. This is important for certain VSTs that play different sounds at different velocities!
The overall look to this thing is cool too!
And since it’s from AKAI, the makers of the classic MPC, you get those awesome MPC buttons!
So enough with the ridiculous priced MIDI Keyboard right?
Here’s what I’d recommend. They should do the job great.
I have not tried these personally, except for the M-Audio Oxygen, so it’s up to read reviews and see if you think the product will suite you!
Novation Launchkey 49 MK2 MIDI Keyboard
The Novation Launchkey 49 MK2 MIDI Keyboard looks promising.. however the reviews talk about the poor quality of the keys a bit.
Overall the product has great reviews, and is super affordable in comparison to other MIDI Keyboards.
It contains all the basic functionality that was in my list above, the only thing I guess lacking is the quality of the keys.
Do your research before purchasing!
M-Audio Oxygen 49 2nd Gen MIDI Keyboard
Now I have actually personally used the first generation of the M-Audio Oxygen 49 MIDI Keyboard.
It was a downgrade in piano key quality to my Axiom 49 2nd Generation, but it’s like a $150 price difference.. So that’s what I’m saying.
You still get the same performance out of these lower quality MIDI Keyboards, but maybe they just don’t look as nice, have as many features, or feel the same.
At the end of the day though, all you need is a MIDI Keyboard which will help you compose your melodies a lot easier. And the M-Audio Oxygen series will do just that with affordability!View M-Audio Oxygen 49 2nd Generation MIDI Keyboard
So those are the best bang for buck I can see in terms of MIDI Keyboards.
It all depends on what you want to spend and the features you need. Quality is also a factor as well!
If you want to see more MIDI Keyboards, just check them out on amazon!
If you have any questions about these MIDI Keyboards, just ask! I would love to respond and help you find the best one for your home studio!