Akai mpk mini best buy

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Best MIDI keyboards 2021: top Mac, PC, iPhone and iPad controller keyboards for beginners to pros

A good MIDI controller keyboard is a studio essential; and the best MIDI keyboards will take your recordings to another level. Not sure where to start? We've got all the guidance you'll need right here.

These ubiquitous devices can be plugged directly into your PC or laptop via USB - or, in some cases, even operate wirelessly over Bluetooth - and enable you to play and record with your DAW's software instruments and any VST synth plugins you might have installed. Some also double up to offer control over hardware synths, making them a central performance hub for your studio.

There are plenty of options to choose from, dependent on your needs. You can opt for a compact, portable MIDI keyboard that fits comfortably in a laptop bag, or you can go all in with a full-size 88-note model with weighted hammer-action keys. Most options we recommend here also come with additional features such as knobs, pads, buttons and faders to boost creativity and give you even more control over your software.

You can get a perfectly decent cheap MIDI keyboard for way less than $/£100 if you shop around, but up your spend even slightly and you'll get your hands on a higher quality model with more features and higher specs. It might well be a little more rugged, too; something to consider if you want to take it on the road.

Many of the best MIDI keyboards also come with mapping templates for the most popular DAWs - Ableton Live, Logic Pro, FL Studio, etc - making it easy to get up and running and start producing music right out of the box.

We’ve presented our picks in price order to help you find the right one for you. Our price comparison widgets have found the best deals online right now, too. If you need more guidance, hit the ‘buying advice’ button above.

Looking for a great Black Friday music deal? Check out our Black Friday keyboard piano deals page for all the latest news and the biggest MIDI keyboard offers. 

Best MIDI keyboards: Our top picks

MIDI controller keyboards tend to fall into two main categories – compact, portable devices with 25 keys and larger, desk-based options with 49 or more keys. In the compact corner, because of the sheer number of features crammed into such a light, small footprint, our recommendation right now is the Novation LaunchKey Mini Mk3. As well as offering instant support for Ableton Live, the Launchkey Mini also provides pads for clip launching or drum tracks, and handy creative tools like an arpeggiator and chord memory function.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for a larger controller, we heartily recommend Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol S-Series boards, and in particular the Native Instruments Kontrol S61 Mk 2. They feature excellent keybeds, fantastic styling, wonderful twin colour screens and impressive functionality – these 49, 61 and 88-key offerings are very hard to beat and will reduce the amount of time you spend interacting with your computer via mouse or trackpad.

Elsewhere, you really should check out the Nektar Impakt LX88+, Novation SL49 Mk3 and the Arturia KeyStep Pro, which can connect simultaneously to DAWs, hardware synths and even modular gear.

Best MIDI keyboards: Product guide

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1. Nektar SE25 MIDI keyboard

Professional, practical and portable playability for a paltry price

Specifications

Price: $49/£44/€48

Compatibility: PC, Mac

No of Keys: 25

Key size: Mini

Key type: Velocity-sensitive

Controls: 6 function keys; assignable PB1 & PB2 buttons for pitch bend, transpose, volume, pan & track; assignable ‘Part Two’ button for octave, MIDI channel, transpose, layer & latch; S button for sustain & modulation

Connectivity: Micro USB port, sustain pedal input

Power: USB

Software: Bitwig 8-Track

Dimensions (mm): 335 x 100 x 21

Weight (kg): 0.4

Reasons to buy

+Incredible value+Nektar DAW integration+Fits in a laptop bag

If you’re someone who’s always making music on the move, a pint-sized MIDI controller keyboard that’ll fit in a laptop bag is an essential item. Nektar’s SE25 demonstrates firmly that features and playability needn’t be sacrificed for the sake of size and portability.

Only outpriced in the budget controller stakes by the ever-so-slightly cheaper Akai LPK25 (which doesn’t provide any form of DAW integration), Nektar’s new pocket powerhouse represents incredible value for money. 

Where else can you get Nektar DAW integration for Bitwig, Cubase, Garageband, Logic, Nuendo, Digital Performer, Mixcraft, Reason, Reaper, Sonar and Studio One for a measly 44 quid?

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2. Akai MPK Mini Mk3

One of the best value MIDI keyboards

Specifications

Price: $119/£89/€98

Compatibility: Mac/PC/iOS

No. of keys: 25

Key size: Mini

Key type: velocity-sensitive

Controls: Eight assignable encoders, eight MPC pads, full transport controls, 4-way joystick

Connectivity: USB

Power: Bus-powered

Software: MPC Beats, Bassline, Tubesynth, Electric, Hybrid 3, Mini Grand, Velvet

Dimensions: 32 x 18 x 4 cm

Weight: 750g

Reasons to buy

+Loads of control+Great bundled software

Reasons to avoid

-Mini keys are certainly mini

The Akai MPK Mini Mk3 is, in many ways, the best MIDI keyboard for most people, particularly those looking for a quick and easy way to add melodies, basslines and simple chords to their projects. What elevates it above a simple keyboard, however, is the addition of eight encoder knobs which can be mapped to practically any parameter of your DAW, and eight full-sized MPC style drum pads.

What you get, therefore, is a full-service production powerhouse which excels in many different playing and performing situations. It’s small enough to be thrown in a backpack, yet contains enough useful features and functions to make it a highly useful addition to any studio. 

Read the full Akai MPK Mini Mk3 review

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3. Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3 MIDI keyboard

Ableton-friendly supermini controller gets a sizable update

Specifications

Price: $110/£110/€116

Compatibility: PC, Mac, iOS

No. of Keys: 25

Key size: Mini

Key type: velocity-sensitive

Controls: Octave shift, Transpose, Pitch and Modulation strips, 16 velocity-sensitive backlit RGB launch pads, 8 rotary encoders, 10 function buttons

Connectivity: USB B port, 3.5mm TRS Type A MIDI out, Sustain Pedal input

Power: USB

Software: Ableton Live Lite, two months of Splice Sounds, AAS Session Bundle, Softube Time & Tone, Spitfire Audio LABS Expressive Strings, Klevgrand DAW Cassette and R0Verb, XLN Audio Addictive Keys, membership of Novation Sound Collective

Dimensions (mm): 330 x 172 x 40

Weight (kg): 0.69

Reasons to buy

+Fantastic arpeggiator+MIDI Out+Brilliant integration with Live+Sustain pedal input

Reasons to avoid

-No MIDI adapter included

Developed primarily for Ableton users and newly updated, this pocket powerhouse is just brimming with features, many of which were missing from the previous version, including - finally - pitch bend and modulation touchstrips, a hardware MIDI out on a TRS jack, an incredibly flexible and versatile arpeggiator, a chord memory feature, and a great, deal-sweetening software bundle.

Of course, the Launchkey Mini Mk3 isn’t exclusive to Ableton, as it plays perfectly nicely with other DAWs too, but if you’re a Live user, it undoubtedly represents the best solution at this price point.

Read the full Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3 review

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4. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32

The best MIDI keyboard you can buy for compact music creation

Specifications

Price: $139/£99/€119

Compatibility: PC, Mac

Number of keys: 32

Key size: Mini

Key type: Velocity-sensitive

Controls: Eight touch-sensitive control knobs, two touch strips, four-directional push encoder

Connectivity: USB

Power: USB

Size: 47.5 x 16.7 x 0.5cm

Weight: 1.45kg

Reasons to buy

+Portable+More keys than your average mini MIDI keyboard+Tight software/hardware integration

Reasons to avoid

-Mini keys

Delivering almost the exact same functionality as the Komplete Kontrol A-Series (see below), this eminently mobile USB 2.0 bus-powered keyboard manages to squeeze 32 mini keys and the full complement of Komplete Kontrol... controls into its tiny frame. 

The pitch and mod wheels have been replaced with a pair of short touchstrips, but the eight capacitive knobs, 4D encoder and numerous buttons are uncompromised in their size and feel, giving the full experience when it comes to browsing and manipulating plugins, operating Maschine, and getting hands-on with the transport and mixer of your DAW. 

The surprisingly informative OLED display from the A-Series is also in place, as is the Smart Play feature, enabling scale snapping, chord triggering and arpeggiation. And, of course, it also works as a regular configurable MIDI controller keyboard with any other software. Mini keys are the only potential downside, but if you can live with those, this is the best portable and affordable MIDI keyboard you can buy.

Read the full Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 review

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5. Korg microKEY2 Air-25

A compact MIDI keyboard that works wirelessly

Specifications

Price: $139/£86/€99

Compatibility: PC, Mac, iOS

Number of keys: 25

Key size: Mini

Key type: Velocity-sensitive

Controls: Joystick, Arpeggiator button, Sustain/TAP button, Octave Shift buttons

Connectivity: USB, Bluetooth

Power: USB or batteries

Size: 39.5 x 13.1 x 0.52cm

Weight: 0.67kg

Reasons to buy

+Works wirelessly+Decent Natural Touch keyboard+Very compact

Reasons to avoid

-Mini keys aren't for everyone

The microKey 2 Air range includes 25-, 37-, 49- and 61-note models, all of which have the advantage of working wirelessly over Bluetooth. If you want to use this feature you'll have to install a couple of AA batteries, but these last for a good length of time and good old USB bus-powering is also an option. 

The microKey 2 Air 25 isn't the most controller-packed keyboard, but it gives you the basics and plays far better than many of its rivals. It's also easy to set up and operate, so if you want to free yourself from the tyranny of cables, you've found the MIDI controller keyboard you need.

Read our full Korg microKEY2 Air-25 review 

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6. Arturia Keystep 37

Versatile MIDI keyboard with neat tricks of its own

Specifications

Price: $159/£149/€159

Compatibility: Mac/PC

No. of keys: 37

Key size: Mini

Key type: Velocity sensitive

Controls: Four assignable encoders, transport controls, touch strips for pitch and modulation

Connectivity: USB, clock sync, CV gate/pitch/modulation

Power: 12v DC or bus

Software: Ableton Live Lite

Dimensions: 55 x 35 x 15 cm

Weight: 1.6kg

Reasons to buy

+Sequencer and arpeggiator offer a lot of creative potential+Strum functionality is very fun!

Reasons to avoid

-DAW mapping can be temperamental

Sitting nicely between the Keystep and Keystep Pro, the Arturia Keystep 37 has enough features of its own to be classed as an upgrade over the original - and much-loved - model. The expanded 37 key section allows more complex patterns and melodies to be played, while adding four assignable encoder knobs - with visual feedback - offers real-time feedback on your DAW parameters.

The sequencer is a joy to use, with the ability to program up to 64 steps directly onto the keyboard itself. This, along with the arpeggiator, can be used within your DAW or to control external hardware or modular synths making it a versatile studio workhorse which suits several different workflows.

Read the full Arturia Keystep 37 review

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7. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25

The Komplete Kontrol experience at a great price

Specifications

Price: $169/£119/€149

Compatibility: PC, Mac

Number of keys: 25

Key size: Full-size

Key type: semi-weighted

Controls: Pitch and Modulation wheels, transport buttons, 4-directional push encoder, eight touch-sensitive knobs

Connectivity: USB

Power: USB

Size: 48.8 x 25.7 x 8.9cm

Weight: 2.4kg

Reasons to buy

+Top-notch build quality and keybed+Works great with Komplete Kontrol+Decent software bundle

Reasons to avoid

-Comparatively bulky

Available in 25-, 49- and 61-key versions (we received the A25 for review), the A-Series borrows many of the S-Series’ best features (see above), including the 4D Encoder (a joystick/rotary control/button combo) for software navigation; eight touch-sensitive knobs for plugin parameter control; beefy pitch and mod wheels; and most of the same backlit buttons, albeit laid out slightly differently. 

There are, however, two major cuts: the dual colour LED screens (or alphanumeric LEDs on the S25, which still languishes at Mk1), and the unique per-key Light Guide LEDs. Even with those things taken away, though, and the reduced level of Maschine integration, we’re still very much blown away by the value proposition presented by the A25 and the A-Series keyboards in general. 

Incredibly well-built and wonderfully playable, they deliver up the Komplete Kontrol experience at a truly irresistible price. 

Read the full Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A-Series review

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8. Novation Launchkey 37 Mk3

A great choice for Ableton Live users

Specifications

Price: $179/£180/€199

Compatibility: PC, Mac

Number of keys: 37

Key size: Full-size

Key type: Velocity-sensitive

Controls: Pitch and Modulation wheels, 16 RGB velocity-sensitive pads, 8 knobs

Connectivity: USB

Power: USB

Size: 258 x 555 x 77mm

Reasons to buy

+Tight control of Ableton Live+Decent compatibility with Logic Pro X+Nice compromise between size and functionality+MIDI output, custom modes allow use with external hardware

Reasons to avoid

-You might not like the pitch and mod wheels above the keyboard

Common to all of Novation’s ‘Mk3’ Launchkey devices (there are 25-, 37-, 49- and 61-key variants) is a sleek, matte-black look and low-profile design, along with a series of new features designed to take advantage of updated elements of Ableton Live.

These include a button to activate Live’s Capture MIDI tool, along with Push-style device-control, which here makes use of eight rotaries sitting along the top of the controller. These latest Launchkeys also gain excellent standalone Chord, Scale and Arpeggiator modes, which can be used with or without a computer. All controllers in the Launchkey range get a hardware MIDI out, so users can take advantage of these features to control hardware synths, too.

Other than that there are 16 backlit, velocity-sensitive pads, a compact parameter screen and a decent crop of buttons for browsing and transport control. Both the pads and the keyboards themselves have been upgraded for this generation, and both feel great with decent velocity response (although no aftertouch).

Ultimately, you’ll be hard-pushed to find a better Live-centric keyboard, and there’s little here not to recommend.

Read the full

Sours: https://www.musicradar.com/news/the-best-midi-keyboards-our-favourite-laptop-desktop-and-ios-keyboards

The best controllers to buy in 2021: 15 best MIDI keyboard controllers under $300

Sure, all you need to make music now is a laptop and a DAW, but there may come a time when keys ‘A’ through to ‘;’ on your laptop keyboard feel like a barrier to your burgeoning creativity. Fortunately, you can get some affordable MIDI keyboard controllers that will give you more than just some extra notes. Although all of the controllers on this list have a keyboard at their heart, many also offer assignable pads, knobs and sliders in abundance with an appealing price tag.

Covering all your needs from portable keyboards for mobile production to a MIDI powerhouse for a compact studio, here are our favourite MIDI keyboards for under $300.

The 15 best MIDI keyboard controllers under $300 at a glance

  • ROLI Lumi Keys Studio Edition
  • M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3
  • M-Audio Oxygen MKV 61
  • Nektar Impact GX Mini
  • Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3
  • Arturia KeyStep 37
  • CME XKey 25
  • Novation Launchkey MK3
  • Nektar Impact GX49 and 61
  • Akai Professional MPK Mini MK3
  • Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32
  • Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49
  • IK Multimedia iRig Keys 2 Mini
  • Keith McMillen QuNexus
  • Alesis V61

ROLI Lumi Keys Studio Edition

ROLI LUMI KEYS Studio Edition

Pairing the MPE-enabled expressivity of a Seaboard with the layout of a traditional keyboard, ROLI’s Lumi Keys Studio brings new dimensions to producer arsenals.

Rock keys sideways to wobble synth leads, strike them to punctuate chords on an electric piano or depress them to sweep the filter on a long pad. These are just a few examples where the Studio Edition’s MPE talents shine.

Meanwhile, the illuminated keyboard presents useful information intuitively, highlighting the right keys of a scale, notes being played by the arpeggiator and more.

One limitation the controller has: its short note range, which covers just two octaves. If you have the cash to splash however, you could link a second unit to get a more full-fledged controller.

Read our full review here.

Price: $299
Type: MPE keyboard controller
Keys: 24
Connectivity: USB

M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3

M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3

The Keystation 88 is surely one of the most affordable ways to get your hands on an 88-key controller, and it comes complete with full-sized, semi-weighted keys to boot.

While you won’t find features such as aftertouch or performance pads onboard, M-Audio was thoughtful enough to include DAW controls – which can be remapped – so you won’t have to reach over to the keyboard and mouse every time you want to lay down a take.

It also comes bundled with some very useful software: Pro Tools First and Ableton Live Lite DAWs; MPC Beats and five virtual instruments from AIR Music, as well as a selection of sample packs.

Read our full review here.

Price: $249/£175
Type: Keyboard controller with semi-weighted keys
Keys: 88
Connectivity: USB, 9V DC 500mA power supply (sold separately) 1 x 1/4″ TS (sustain pedal), 1 x 1/4″ TRS (expression)

M-Audio Oxygen MKV 61

M-Audio Oxygen 61 MKV Arpeggiator

The MKV 61 is the largest of M-Audio’s popular Oxygen controllers, which is now in its fifth iteration. The update brings new DAW integration, Smart Chord/Scale and an arpeggiator, all while keeping things in a light and robust build.

The five-octave keyboard features non-weighted keys can be seen as benefit or drawback depending on what your needs are. While they won’t provide an authentic piano feel, they are well-suited to performing percussive sounds such as drums and synth stabs. It also supplies eight backlit pads, eight knobs and nine faders to bolster its production capabilities.

The wide note range of the controller, combined with smart chord and scale features make the Oxygen MKV 61 an excellent tool for composition. And it comes at a price point that should be wallet-friendly for most.

Read our full review here.

Price: $229/£158
Type: Keyboard controller
Keys: 61
Connectivity: USB, 1 x 1/4” (sustain pedal)

Nektar Impact GX Mini

Nektar Impact GX Mini

Nektar’s Impact GX Mini may be small, but its customisable controls make it easy to adapt to your workflow. It also has a clever workaround to moving through more octaves than you see on its hardware.

This two-octave keyboard controller features velocity sensitive mini keys and a modulation joystick that can be assigned with MIDI. The Part Two performance feature lets you momentarily transpose the keyboard up or down an octave at the push of a button.

There are also DAW controls spanning transport, track navigation controls and more that are also MIDI-assignable.

Learn more here.

Price: $70/£59
Type: Keyboard controller
Keys: 25
Connectivity: USB, 1 x 1/8″ (sustain pedal)

Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3

Novation Launckey

The third iteration of Novation’s Launchkey Mini series is primed for Ableton Live, but can easily be mapped to other DAWs. It’s built with 16 RGB velocity-sensitive pads, eight assignable knobs and 25 velocity-sensitive mini keys. Combine this with the transport controls and modulation and pitch Touch Strips, and you’ll realise that getting hands-on with your DAW and plug-ins is pretty swift with Launchkey Mini.

The Arp and Fixed Chords mode are a blessing, too, letting you get a bit more experimental than you would expect to get with 25 keys. These modes let you trigger multiple notes simultaneously, either as a user-defined chord structure or as an arpeggio that can be held infinitely. By holding Shift and adjusting controls on the Launchkey Mini, you’ll notice that you have control over these modes with arpeggio timings, swing and key. The Shift key will also let you dictate what the RGB pads represent, which is particularly useful in Ableton Live’s Clip View. Launchkey Mini Mk3 is great for anyone with limited studio space or looking for a budget option for playing small parts in a live performance.

Read our review here. 

Price: $109.99/£100
Type: Keyboard controller
Keys: 25
Connectivity: USB (MIDI and power), 3.5mm TRS MIDI out, Sustain pedal input.

Arturia KeyStep 37

Arturia KeyStep 37

The newest addition to Arturia’s renowned KeyStep range is the aptly named KeyStep 37. Built with three octaves of velocity-sensitive slim keys, the compact controller also has an impressive number of MIDI controls, outputs for hardware synths, and a built-in screen making it a nerve-centre for the studio or live performance. Four MIDI mappable rotary knobs live on the top panel for quick access to your DAW parameter, with a set of transport controls next them to control your entire workstation.

KeyStep 37 lets you get creative with a 64-step polyphonic sequencer, plus eight different modes for an onboard arpeggiator. The unassuming controller also packs in 12 different chord modes with a Strum feature for a more intriguing way of triggering chords. Scale mode will also keep you in key, quantising the whole keyboard with five different scale modes to choose from.

Find out more here. 

Price: $169.00/£149
Type: Keyboard controller
Keys: 37
Connectivity: USB (MIDI and power), 5-pin MIDI In/Out, Sync In/Out, CV Outs (Mod, Gate and Pitch), Sustain pedal input, 12V DC power.

CME XKey 25 

CME XKey 25

This 388 x 135 x 16 mm MIDI keyboard is ideal for throwing in your backpack to lay down some ideas on a commute or in a park. CME’s XKey 25 isn’t packed with knobs, pads and gizmos but its sleek, lightweight and robust aluminium design looks like it’s come straight out of Apple HQ.

The playing feel is quite unlike anything else on this list, with about as much travel in each key as  Apple’s first-gen aluminium typing keyboards. This unconventional build permits fast playing, though, and it’s full-size velocity-sensitive keys feature polyphonic aftertouch for expressive modulation – ideal for dreamy, evolving pads. Plus, there are pressure-sensitive pads for pitch bend and modulation, joined by octave up/down and a Sustain button.

XKey is USB MIDI compliant, so connects easily to a variety of music-making platforms for desktop and mobile apps with a single USB cable. For about twice the price, you can go wireless, too.

Find out more here.

Price: $99.99/£109
Type: Keyboard controller
Keys: 25
Connectivity: Micro USB

Novation Launchkey MK3 

Novation Launchkey Mk3

Certainly an upgrade on the Launchkey Mini (above), Launchkey 37 Mk3 is a more ergonomic controller with full-size keys, RGB pads and real mod and pitch wheels. It’s also built with more tactile controls for navigating your DAW and instruments, as well as the addition of a small screen giving you real-time parameter information. The Arpeggiator and Chord Modes from the Launchkey Mini are found on the Launchkey 37, too, and it comes bundled with Ableton Live 10 Lite and more to get you up and running immediately.

In our review, we said: “If you’re in the market for a well-built, feature-packed keyboard controller, we compel you to consider the new Launchkey. Its keys are incredible, and the whole unit feels premium. If you’re compositionally jaded or have fallen out of love with your setup, launch the Launchkey’s Chord and Arpeggiator modes, and you’ll soon be in full flight once more. The seamless Ableton Live integration is a standout feature too, while the other features work flawlessly in all the other DAWs as well. Providing far more than just a standard controller keyboard, the Launchkey MK3 is another win for Novation.”

Read our review here.

Price $180
Type: Keyboard controller
Keys: 49
Connectivity: USB (MIDI and power), 5-pin MIDI, Sustain input

Nektar Impact GX49/61

Nektar Impact GX49 2

With a price tag of just $100, Nektar’s Impact GX49 is perfect for artists and producers looking for greater musical freedom on a tight budget. 49 full-size velocity-sensitive keys are the main focus with the GX49, with just eight buttons for DAW control, which can send primary and secondary messages for a total of 14 controllable parameters.

Nektar’s Impact GX49 excels at tight DAW integration for Bitwig, Cubase, Nuendo, Digital Performer, Reason, Reaper, Logic Pro X, GarageBand Studio One and Cakewalk by BandLab. This is as easy as installing the correct DAW template upon connecting the keyboard to your computer and letting the GX49 do the rest. Those transport controls will map automatically to your DAW and you’ll be free from the shackles of a mouse and keyboard. The GX49 is an incredibly affordable studio keyboard, especially considering its specs.

Find out more here.

Price: $99.99/£79 for 49-key. $119.99/£89 for 61-key
Type: Keyboard controller
Keys: 49
Connectivity: USB (MIDI and power), Sustain/Footswitch input

Akai Professional MPK Mini MK3

Akai Mpk Mini Mk3

As the brand’s best selling MIDI keyboard, Akai’s MPK Mini has every right to be on this list – especially with the recent unveiling of its MPK Mini Mk3. The Mk3 features 25 mini keys, eight classic MPC-style velocity-sensitive pads for triggering and finger-drumming and eight endless rotary encoders to control parameters on your instruments and effects. A quirky joystick in the top left lets you play with modulation and pitch, with a toggle for the arpeggiator just beneath.

The MPK Mini Mk3 gives you a visual aid with a small OLED display, which will provide you with real-time parameter values as you manipulate them. As with all of these keyboard controllers, you can manually map the MPK Mini to any DAW of your choice, but it’s worth checking out the bundled software that comes with this product. Namely, the new MPC Beats software is immediately available out of the box, along with AIR’s Hybrid soft synth, Mini Grand, Velvet and a variety of MPC expansion packs.

Find out more at here.

Price:  $119/£90
Type: Keyboard controller
Keys: 25
Connectivity: USB (MIDI and power), Sustain input

M-Audio Keystation 49/61 MK3

 

M-Audio Keystation 49

M-Audio’s Keystation MIDI keyboards are some of the best-selling in the world, and for good reason. With a no-frills approach to control and performance, the Keystation 49 Mk3 prides itself on simplicity and utility, with 49 full-size velocity-sensitive keys with natural-feeling action. A volume fader, ergonomically designed pitch and mod wheel and a selection of transport controls are featured on the left of the keys – these can, of course, be remapped to your preference. The controller as a whole is durable and lightweight, with connectivity for a sustain pedal, making it a great option for live performances.

The comprehensive software bundle that comes with Keystation 49 makes it an ideal keyboard for beginners. Pro Tools First M-Audio Edition and Ableton Live Lite are included with Keystation 49, giving newcomers a taste for a fully-functional DAW. Three AIR virtual instruments are also included: Mini Grand, featuring seven acoustic piano sounds; Velvet, a virtual electronic piano with five sounds from the 60s and 70s; and Xpand!2, a multitimbral synthesis plug-in that functions as an all-in-one workstation.

Read more here. 

Price: $119/£79 for 49-key, $199/£109 for 61-key
Type: Keyboard controller
Keys: 49 or 61
Connectivity: USB (MIDI and power), Sustain input

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 

Komplete Kontrol M32

Berlin-based Native Instruments is one of the most recognised music technology brands in the world. Its immense catalogue of powerful software instruments and armoury of intuitive hardware work in tandem and the affordable Komplete Kontrol M32 MIDI keyboard is no different. For such a modest price, this controller packs a real punch, with 2,000 sounds included and a bundle of 17 NKS instruments and effects, including Monark, Carbon, Reaktor Prism synths, and more.

With 32 small keys, Kontrol M32 is portable, lightweight and versatile, making it highly usable in a variety of environments. You’ll get eight touch-sensitive control knobs and an array of buttons that are pre-mapped to Komplete instruments and also neatly integrate into your DAW. As we said in our review: “If ever we could easily write an answer to the question ’Do you need this?’, it is now. Simple: ask yourself whether you are starting out in music production and if you have a minimal studio. If the answer to both questions is ‘yes’, then get this keyboard”. Just be mindful of the processing power of your computer before going too crazy with NI plug-ins.

Read our review here. 

Price $139.99/£89
Type:
Keyboard controller
Keys:
32
Connectivity: USB (MIDI and power), Sustain input

NI Komplete Kontrol A49 

NI Komplete Kontrol A49

If the Komplete Kontrol M32 isn’t quite big enough for you, it might be worth saving a few more bucks and setting sights on the Kontrol A49. As with the M32, you’ll get a software library with Monark, The Gentlemen, Reaktor Prism and more from Maschine Essentials. The A-series Kontrol keyboards have a few more encoders and controls to command your DAW and virtual instruments. The integration with your DAW is pretty good, but if you’re performing with the Native Instruments NKS plug-ins, the A49 gives you a real hands-on experience.

In our review, we said: “You get a controller keyboard that locks into the ever-increasing NKS world of instruments and effects and delivers total control over its best bits. It will even make an attempt at controlling your DAW, but that’s not really what Komplete Kontrol is about; it’s about total hardware and software plug-in integration, breaking down any barriers between the two.”

Read our review here.

Price £149/$219
Type: Keyboard controller
Keys: 49
Connectivity: USB (MIDI and power), TRS pedal input, assignable to sustain

IK Multimedia iRig Keys 2 Mini

IK Multimedia iRig Keys 2 Mini

IK Multimedia’s iRig series is renowned for its effortless integration with iOS and Android devices, and iRig Keys 2 mini upholds this reputation. The extremely portable 25 velocity-sensitive mini key MIDI controller connects directly to mobile devices and gives you a 3.5mm stereo output for realtime monitoring on speakers or headphones. MIDI In/Out (3.5mm) is also included for using it as a keyboard for other MIDI-enabled gear. Above the keybed is a set of programmable function buttons, plus five assignable knobs, one of which is an endless encoder for handling precise data values. The four other knobs can control up to eight parameters with a ‘5-8’ button, giving them a secondary function.

Bundled with the iRig Keys 2 Mini controller is a selection of music-making apps, as well as all the necessary cables. You’ll get SampleTank 4 SE, SampleTank FREE for iPhone and iPad, iGrand Piano FREE for iPhone, iPad and Android and iLectric Piano FREE for Android. The iRig Keys 2 Mini is a superb option if you’re often on-the-go or have a minimal music production setup. For a little extra cash, you can also get the iRig Keys 2, which has an expanded keyboard, pitch and mod wheel, and enhanced connectivity for Mac and PC.

Find out more here. 

Price $99/£79
Type: Keyboard controller
Keys: 25
Connectivity: Micro USB (MIDI and power), 3.5mm MIDI In/Out, Headphone out, Sustain input

Keith McMillen QuNexus 

Keith McMillen QuNexus

Arguably the quirkiest controller of the bunch is Keith McMillen Instruments’s QuNexus, which is no surprise given the company’s other products like the QuNeo and K-Mix. The QuNexus is certainly unique in its style – you’ll be playing with pads here rather than realistic piano keys, but they’re still pressure- and tilt-sensitive with polyphonic aftertouch. Plus, they’re backlit, making it a particularly useful controller in a poorly lit environment. Pitch bend is achieved with a pressure-sensitive pad, and there are four function buttons above the Octave Up/Down buttons. Holding the shift button will also give the keypads a secondary function, so you can map these to toggle whichever parameters you like in your DAW.

Where the QuNexus shines, though, is in its durability and ability to connect to everything. It’s designed to survive spills and has no protruding knobs that could shear off in a packed rucksack. It’s bus-powered and can hook up to your computer with a straightforward plug-and-play approach. Alternatively, if you’re looking to control hardware synths and effects, the QuNexus might be the solution. It sports three 3.5mm TRS connections for Gate and CV and can be connected with a 5-pin MIDI DIN with the KMI Expander, though this is sold separately.

Find out more here.

Price $192/£180
Type: MPE mini keyboard controller
Keys: 25
Connectivity: Micro USB (MIDI and power), CV/Gate In/Out, Pedal input/CV1-2 in (3.5mm)

Alesis V61 

Alesis V61

If you can still get your hands on one, the Alesis V61 is certainly one to consider if you’re coming from a composition background or just hate octave shift buttons. At only £199, the main sell is the 61 velocity-sensitive full-size keys with pitch and mod wheels. You also get eight velocity-sensitive pads backlit by blue LED. These are great for triggering samples during a performance or toggling parameters on and off. There are four additional pots and four buttons for you to custom map, making this primed for studio and stage use. Granted, the pitch and mod wheels are a little on the small side, but if you can get past that then the V61 could be a no-brainer.

To get you started off right, Alesis’ V61 comes with Ableton Live Lite and AIR Music Technology’s Xpand!2 synth, which has already made an appearance on this list with Akai’s MPK Mini MK3. It’s also nice and slim so won’t be taking up too much desk space in your studio. Simply put, if you don’t need tons of buttons and widgets and find yourself prioritising musical performances, the V61 is seriously worth considering.

Find out more here. 

Price $199/£125
Type: Keyboard controller
Keys: 61
Connectivity: USB (MIDI and power), Sustain input

Sours: https://www.musictech.net/guides/buyers-guide/the-best-keyboard-controllers-to-buy/
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Akai MPK MINI 2 - 46772

Product description

AKAI PRO MPK MINI MK2 USB is a compact MIDI keyboard with smaller keys. The controller has 25 keys, 8 MPC pads, 8 knobs for mixing and a joystick for controlling dynamics, and modulation. Using the MIDI keyboard MPK MINI MK2 USB, users can engage in creativity and music almost anywhere. You can always take a compact, portable midi keyboard with you wherever you go, on a trip, tour, on tour or on a vacation in the countryside. The keyboard has not only compact size, but also light weight, while not losing its functionality and rich opportunities for creativity. The controller is easily connected to a laptop or PC, which makes it possible to use it with music software. Keyboard power is supplied via an integrated USB port. The controller keys are built on synthesizer mechanics, the design of the keys is unweighted. The keys are sensitive to velocity, have an aftertouch effect. The design of the keys has a diode backlight and especially sensitive triggers from the popular AKAI MPC RENAISSANCE controller. The AKAI PRO MPK MINI MK2 USB MIDI Keyboard offers the best combination of price, quality and creativity and music creation possibilities.

Learn more
Sours: https://www.qoovee.com/en/magazin-muzykalnyi-instrumentov-music/akai-mpk-mini-2-46772/
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