10 Best Midi Keyboard Controllers For Home Studio Recording

If you are a producer of Electronic Dance Music (EDM), owning a good quality MIDI controller keyboard would be considered as an essential piece of equipment to have in your home recording studio.  

But just like rest of your studio arsenal, there are various factors that have to be considered before making a purchase. 

This article will give you insight into the 10 Best Midi Controllers For Home Studio Recording, and will also explain the differences between a Midi Keyboard and a Midi Keyboard Controller.

 

10 Best Midi Controllers For Home Studio Recording

Midi Keyboard vs Midi Keyboard Controller

What is a Midi Keyboard?

A midi keyboard is the electronic equivalent of a traditional acoustic piano. A midi keyboard has weighted touch sensitive keys that will enable you to emulate the sound and feel of playing long and short notes on an acoustic piano.

Unlike a digital piano, midi keyboards tend not have preinstalled sound banks, nor do they tend to have output speakers installed.

Some midi keyboards do have the capabilities for you to download and install various sound banks, and the output connections to enable sounds to be played through your home studio equipment. 

 

What is a Midi Keyboard Controller?

Midi Keyboard Controllers are designed to create midi data for your Digital Audio Workstation, (DAW) or to trigger sounds from your outboard gear such as synths, and samplers. 

They tend to not have touch sensitive weighted keys like midi keyboards or digital pianos, and they also tend not have preinstalled sound banks, or output speakers.

For more information on midi keyboard controllers, please read the blog post: "Designing a Studio For Home Studio Recording"

 

10 Best Midi Keyboard Controllers For Home Studio Recording

1. Akai MPK mini mk3 

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

Price:  £90 - €99 - $119

The Akai MPK Mini Mk3 is most definitely a good value MIDI keyboard controller for producers that want to create melodies, basslines, and drum patterns.  

What sets it apart from other Midi Keyboard Controllers is that it has eight encoder knobs, that can be easily mapped suit the parameters of your DAW, as well as having eight full-sized drum pads.
Akai MPK Mk3

This Midi Keyboard Controller is compact but is also very versatile which makes this a very useful piece of kit to have in your home recording studio. 

 

2. Nektar SE25 MIDI Keyboard Controller

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 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: 33.5 x 10 x 2 cm
Weight: 400g

Price: £45 - €55 - $55

This midi keyboard controller is light, compact, and is ideal for producers that need to make their music on the move. 

The Nektar SE25 will easily fit into your laptop bag, yet it demonstrates that it's usability and features are not compromised by it's size.  

Nektar SE25

The SE25 can integrate your DAW with: Bitwig, Garageband, Cubase, Digital Performer, Logic, Nuendo, Mixcraft, Reason, Reaper, Sonar and Studio One, making it extremely versatile. 

The price is extremely competitive for it's functionality and versatility, sitting just under the £50 price bracket.    

 

3. Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3 Midi Keyboard Controller

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, Splice Sounds, AAS Session Bundle, Softube Time & Tone, Spitfire Audio LABS Expressive Strings, Klevgrand DAW Cassette and R0Verb, XLN Audio Addictive Keys, Novation Sound Collective
Dimensions: 33 x 17 x 4 cm
Weight: 700g
Price:  £100 - €109 - $139

 The Launchkey Mini with it's keyboard and drum pad functionality was primarily devised for Ableton Live users.

The Mk3 version has recently been updated with exciting new features that were not incorporated in it's previous versions.

These include: pitch bend and modulation touch-strips, hardware MIDI output on a TRS jack, an updated arpeggiator, and a chord memory feature. 

Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3 Midi Keyboard Controller

The Mk3 version integrates with other DAWs, but if you’re a Live user, it most definitely the best midi keyboard controller to have at this price point.

 

4. M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKV

Compatibility: Mac/PC
No: of keys: 49
Key size: Full-sized
Key type: Velocity sensitive
Controls: 8 velocity-sensitive trigger pads, 8 assignable knobs, 9 assignable faders, transport buttons
Connectivity: USB, sustain pedal
Power: USB
Software: Ableton Live Lite, MPC Beats, Skoove and Melodics instrument learning, Air Hybrid 3 and Mini Grand instruments
Dimensions: 81 x 24 x 9 cm
Weight: 2.9kg
Price:  £135 - €149 - $179

The M Audio Oxygen 49 costs less than the Pro version. Although it does have a few less features, it is still an excellent Midi keyboard controller in its own right. 

M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKV

The Oxygen features a  3-segment LED display, and 8 velocity-sensitive trigger pads. You also have access to 16 sound sources when programming, making this a worthy piece of kit for it's price.

 

5. Nektar Impact LX88+

Compatibility: PC, Mac, iOS
Number of keys: 88
Key size: Full-size
Key type: Velocity-sensitive, semi-weighted
Controls: 8 potentiometers, 9 faders, 9 assignable buttons, 6 transport buttons, 8 velocity-sensitive pads
Connectivity: USB, MIDI Out port, 1/4-inch TS jack footswitch input
Power: USB or mains
Size: 127.6 x 27.9 x 8.9cm
Weight: 8.2kg

Price:  £249 - €289 - $319

If you’re looking for a full piano-size 88-note MIDI keyboard controller, then the Nektar Impact LX88+ is most definitely a piece of equipment that has to be given some serious consideration.  

The Nektar’s Impact LX88+ comes with 88-key semi-weighted full sized keys that will give you comprehensive DAW control with it's nine sliders, nine buttons, eight knobs, eight pads, and transport controls. 

Nektar Impact LX88+

The LX88+ is still reasonably compact and is also light weight, that makes it easy to manoeuvre even though it is packed with a numerous amount of useful features.  

 

6. Roland A-88MKII

Compatibility: Mac/PC
No: of keys: 88
Key size: Full-sized
Key type: Velocity sensitive with Escapement and Ivory Feel
Controls: 8 pads, 8 knobs, Pitch Bend/Modulation lever, 2 assignable buttons, 3 x pedals
Connectivity: 3 x TRS pedal jacks, MIDI in/out, USB Type-C, DC
Power: USB or external PSU (not supplied)
Software: Control software and Standard MIDI File player
Dimensions: 143 x 27 x 12 cm
Weight: 16.3kg
Price:  £879 - €959 - $999

This 88 key, full-size piano action MIDI keyboard controller has had a complete overhaul, and is jam packed with new and exciting features.

The control section has been updated with new backlit pads and knobs, and also features two assignable Control Change buttons.

There are also some new added features which include, transpose and octave selectors, velocity curve options, and an onboard arpeggiator.

Roland A-88MKII

The A88MkII has 88 full sized ivory feel keys, 3-sensor key detection and key-specific progressive hammer action, that will deliver the feel of a real acoustic piano.

If you are a music producer that requires a full sized midi keyboard controller with the feel of an acoustic piano that is competitively priced, then the A88MkII has to be considered as one of the best options on the market.

 

 

7. Novation 49 SL MkIII

Compatibility: PC, Mac
No: of keys: 49
Key size: Full-size
Key type: Semi-weighted, synth-style, velocity-sensitive
Controls: Pitch and Modulation wheels, 16-full colour RGB backlit velocity-sensitive drum pads, page and scene launch buttons, 8 continuous rotary knobs, 8 sliders, 6 transport controls, octave/transpose buttons, track buttons, 5 RGB TFT screens
Connectivity: USB, MIDI Out/Out2/Thru, Sustain and Expression pedal, Footswitch pedal, CV/Gate/Modulation 1 and 2, Clock out
Power: Mains power
Size: 81.7 x 30 x 10cm
Weight: 6.8kg

Price:  £540 - €619 - $699

Novation 49 SL MkIII offers great integration into your computer and to your DAW with the intension of making the initial setup as hassle free as possible.  

The 49SL MkIII comes with an eight-channel onboard sequencer, digital and analogue outputs, modulation wheels,16 pads, rotaries and faders. 

novation 49sl mkiii

The Novation 49 SLMkIII has amazing abilities to sequence and control analogue hardware, MIDI instruments, plugins, and your DAW, all from one interface 

 

 

8. KorgmicroKEY2 Air-25

Compatibility: PC, Mac, iOS
No: 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 x 13 x 0.5cm
Weight: 670 g

Price:  £90 - €109 - $129 

The KorgmicroKEY2 Air-25 is the ideal midi keyboard controller for making music on the move. It has an excellent feature of wireless bluetooth connectivity, and can be powered by either USB or AA batteries. 
KorgmicroKEY2 Air-25

If you want to free yourself from hassle of having to connect with the use of wires, then the KorgmicroKEY2 Air-25 is what you need in your home studio recording itinerary. 

 

9. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25

Compatibility: PC, Mac
No: 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
Price:  £119 - €129 - $139

The Komplete Kontrol A25 features a 4D Encoder (a joystick/rotary control/button combo for software navigation), eight touch-sensitive knobs for plugin parameter control, pitch and modulation wheels.

Komplete Kontrol A25

This is a sleek well built midi keyboard controller with full sized semi-weighted keys that is powered and connected via USB.

 

  

10. Arturia KeyStep Pro

Compatibility: PC, Mac, iOS
No. of keys: 37
Key size: Slim
Key type: Velocity and aftertouch sensitive
Controls: Four-track controller/sequencer, with arp and drum sequencing modes. I, 4x CV voices w/ pitch, gate and mod/velocity outs, clock in/out/reset
Connectivity: USB, sustain in, speaker and line output
Power: USB or mains
Dimensions: 59 x 22 x 4cm
Weight: 2.7kg

Price:  £339 - €399 - $399 

 

The KeyStep Pro features four sequencing channels, each of which can record a sequence of up to 64 steps.

Each of these is polyphonic, (up to 16 notes per step). Tracks 2, 3 and 4 are equipped with an arpeggiator, while track 1 doubles up as a 24-part drum sequencer. 

 Arturia KeyStep Pro

This midi keyboard controller combines the cross-format analogue and digital sequencing of the BeatStep that makes it idea for creating melodic rhythms.

The Keystep Pro has to be one of the best "do-it-all" midi keyboard controllers on the market right now.  


 

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