Synthesizers and keyboards have traditionally been somewhat tricky – not the playing of the instruments themselves, but getting the right sound and tone. As revered noise musician Boyd Rice once said, you could find the perfect sound, but then the cat could run across the thing and you’d spend the rest of your life trying to find those exact same settings again and never succeed. Nip this problem in the bud by buying one of the best MIDI keyboards.
The MIDI keyboard and its subsequent rise in popularity have changed everything. It has made the synthesizer and home recording process a lot simpler and more accessible to the aspiring musician. Nowadays, you can near-instantly capture the sound you’re searching for and record it pretty much anywhere. Laptops have become the new recording studios, and with a relatively simple set-up you can record tracks with a level of production that you would never have thought possible a decade or so ago.
What is the best MIDI keyboard to buy? How much should you pay for one? It can be somewhat overwhelming to say the least, and trying to decide can definitely leave you feel like you’re floundering in the dark. That’s why we’ve put this article together, and in it, we’ll be taking an up close and personal look at the top 7 best MIDI keyboards to buy in 2019.
What is a MIDI Keyboard?
A MIDI keyboard is a piano-style keyboard (usually featuring similar dials to a synthesizer’s) that is plugged straight into a computer or other electronic device. MIDI stands for ‘Musical Instrument Digital Interface’, and the instrument itself is unique because it doesn’t produce any sound by itself. Like a typing keyboard, the keys on the MIDI correspond to certain signals found externally. That is, without an external device, the MIDI is as useless as a computer keyboard plugged into thin air.
Even though the MIDI technology was originally invented in the 1980’s, it wasn’t until relatively recently that it became a household name. This is mostly because people back then really didn’t have terribly advanced technology at home. As we well know, it’s a much different story today.
What Does a MIDI Keyboard Do?
A MIDI keyboard enables the player to create and record sound at home without the hassle of traditional analog equipment.
How Does a MIDI Keyboard Work?
A MIDI keyboard works by translating the keys played into 3-byte messages, that are then sent to an external device such as a computer, creating sound. MIDI signals make it possible for two electronic devices to ‘talk’ to each other.
Where Can You Buy a MIDI Keyboard?
A MIDI keyboard can be purchased from most musical instrument stores and from online retailers such as Amazon.
Are They Suitable for Beginners?
Absolutely! Whether you’re an experienced keyboard player or just starting out, there’s a suitable MIDI for your creative wants and needs out there for sure. Just bear in mind that you will have to either learn or already have knowledge of recording software. For beginners who are using a Mac, GarageBand is an extremely user-friendly piece of software. For those of you who use Windows, try out Mixcraft.
Why Go MIDI?
The MIDI keyboard offers a convenience that up until now hasn’t been available to the amateur recording artist. Its ease of use, practicality, and accessibility make it an extremely valuable instrument to have in your musical arsenal.
Another good reason for using a MIDI is the fact that pressing keys on your computer’s keyboard is extremely frustrating when trying to compose and record music. Having actual piano keys to press makes cutting tracks so much easier.
Using a MIDI will also get you a whole lot closer to finding the sound and tone that you’re eyeing without having to spend a lot of money on an analog synth/keyboard like a Korg or Moog. A MIDI gives you enough room to experiment and the freedom to toy with an endless range of styles.
How Many Keys?
The answer to that question depends entirely on your style of playing. For instance, if industrial is your preferred genre, you’re not going to need half as many keys than if you’d play classical. There’s no point in forking out extra bucks for an 88 key MIDI if you’re only going to use 32 of them.
Can I Play a Midi Straight through an Amplifier?
Unfortunately, the answer to this particular question is “No, you can’t”. Unlike a conventional keyboard, a MIDI keyboard itself doesn’t produce any sound. This renders it useless if directly connected to an amplifier.
How We Have Reviewed
The following products were reviewed based on the following parameters: Features, Pros & Cons, Price, Where to Buy, and Warranty. We’ve compiled this list of the Top 7 Best MIDI Keyboards To Buy in 2019 by thorough product testing, feedback from users, and cross-referencing both the price and the features of the reviewed products.
Overall Price Range of the Top 7 Best MIDI Keyboards
Prices range from around $130 to $550. Generally, the more you pay,the more you’re going to get; but there’s some great mid-priced products in our best MIDI keyboard list that are definitely worth considering.
What We Reviewed
midiplus Dreamer 61 USB MIDI Keyboard Controller
- Modulation & Pitch Bend touching control pads 3X7 segment LED display screen a Data Select encoder which has mode select...
- standard USB port(used for provide power and communication), Keyboard MIDI OUT interface, MIDI port, sustain pedal and...
- ATTACHMENT: Owner's manual, USB cable, CD
The midiplus Dreamer 61 USB MIDI Keyboard Controller is a great mid-priced instrument. It sounds great while its full-sized keys play wonderfully. If you want a beat pad, you’re going to have to source one separately.
The key features of the midiplus Dreamer 61 USB MIDI Keyboard Controller include the Modulation and Pitch Bend, a LED display screen, a Data Select encoder, and a sustain pedal.
The midiplus Dreamer 61 USB MIDI Keyboard Controller is definitely one of the best MIDI keyboards on the market, and you can pick one up for around $200.
midiplus USB MIDI Keyboard Controller (X8 Pro)
The midiplus X8 Pro is another great mid-priced MIDI. It boasts 88 keys, and its metal body makes the model an extremely durable one.
The top key features of the midiplus USB MIDI Keyboard Controller (X8 Pro) include 88 semi-weight velocity full-sized keys, 9 editable knob controllers with back light, and 8 groups of adjustable velocity curves.
The midiplus USB MIDI Keyboard Controller (X8 Pro) can be picked up for around $280.
midiplus USB MIDI Keyboard Controller (X6 Pro)
- 61 full size semi-weight velocity keys Build-in 128 high quality GM standard sounds
- 9 editable knob controllers with back light
- 8 groups of adjustable velocity curve
The midiplus X6 is essentially a step down from the X8, which makes it cheaper, but also less versatile.
The midiplus USB MIDI Keyboard Controller (X6 Pro) features 61 full sized semi-weight velocity keys, with built-in 128 high-quality GM standard sounds. It also features 9 editable knob controllers with back light and 8 groups of adjustable velocity curves.
The midiplus USB MIDI Keyboard Controller (X6 Pro) is not only one of the best MIDI keyboards, it’s also one of the most affordable one at only $200.
Nektar Panorama P6 61-key MIDI Controller Keyboard
- Control Bitwig Studio, Logic Pro X, Reason, Cubase, or Nuendo from a single device
- 61-note weighted velocity-sensitive keyboard w/aftertouch
- 100 mm ALPS motorized fader
The Nektar Panorama P6 is for those of you who are serious about home recording.
The Nektar Panorama P6 61-key MIDI Controller Keyboard features the ability to control programs such as Bitwig Studio, Logic Pro X, Reason, Cubase, or Nuendo all from a single device. This MIDI also features a 61-note weighted velocity-sensitive keyboard with after touch. One of the great things about the Nektar Panorama P6 is its built-in drum pad. This MIDI boasts an impressive 16 encoders, 9 45mm faders, 10 assignable LED buttons, and 20 preset locations, which store all settings – including links to the keyboard, pad, and F-keys.
While the Nektar Panorama P6 61-key MIDI Controller Keyboard is definitely one of the best MIDI keyboards out there, you’ll be certainly paying for it around $550.
Roland 32-key MIDI Keyboard Controller, Black (A-300PRO-R)
- 32 velocity-sensitive keys with channel after touch
- 45 assignable controls: knobs, sliders, buttons, transport and more. 8 Dynamic Pads for finger drumming and MIDI...
- USB Bus Powered - no AC adaptor required (AC adaptor is an optional). Bundled with the Cakewalk Production Plus Pack...
The Roland 32-key A-300PRO-R is an amazing instrument. Don’t believe us? Try one out for yourself – you won’t be disappointed.
Roland have been making keyboards and synthesizers for a long time, and their 32-key MIDI keyboard is one of the best. It features 32 velocity-sensitive keys with channel after-touch, 45 assignable controls and 8 dynamic drum pads. Roland’s A-300PRO-R is also USB powered, making its AC adapter absolutely optional.
This MIDI can now be found on Amazon at around $220 – which is a steal.
Alesis V49 | 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard & Drum Pad Controller (8 Pads / 4 Knobs / 4 Buttons)
- Perfect building block for music producer needing to control plug-ins and virtual instruments
- 49 full-sized, square-front keys with adjustable sensitivity
- 8 LED-backlit drum trigger pads respond to both velocity and pressure
The Alesis V49 is a great MIDI for both beginners and experienced players, and its price makes it the most affordable on our list.
The Alesis V49 features 49 velocity-sensitive keys, 8 LED-backlit drum pads, 4 assignable knobs, 4 assignable buttons, and both Pitch and Mod wheels. It’s also USB powered with sustain-pedal input.
You can pick up your own Alesis V49 for around $130.
Akai Professional MPK249
- All-in-one controller with keyboard and trigger pads for performing live and composing in studio
- 49 semi-weighted, full-size keys with pressure sensitivity. USB-MIDI with 5-pin MIDI input & output
- 16 RGB-illuminated MPC-style pads (64 assignable via 4 banks)
The Akai Professional MPK249 is for more serious players and showcases more features than you can shake a stick at.
The Akai Professional MPK249 boasts 49 full-sized semi-weighted keys with pressure sensitivity, alongside 16 pads, 8 control knobs, 8 switches, and 8 faders. What also makes the Akai Professional MPK249 one of the best MIDI keyboards around, is that it includes the state-of-the-art award-winning VIP software.
You can get your paws on an Akai Professional MPK249 for around $400.
Best MIDI Keyboards: The Verdict
We’re going to break this verdict down into two parts: The best MIDI keyboard for beginners and the best MIDI keyboard for advanced players.
For beginners, we recommend seriously considering the Alesis V49. It’s the cheapest on this list, is easy to use, and includes drum pads. So whether you’re planning to start recording your own hip-hop beats or just piano tracks, the Alesis v49 will have you covered.
For those of you who are more advanced musically and more serious about writing and recording, we recommend the Roland A-300PRO-R. At its current price, it’s a steal and has all the features that you’ll need to record professional sounding songs.
A MIDI keyboard can be a truly great investment. For anyone who is interested in writing and recording music, we highly recommend getting one. It will make your creative life a lot easier and open up a lot of sonic possibilities.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of the top 7 midi keyboards to buy in 2019. Leave any feedback in the comments section below.