Your Favorite MIDI Keyboard in 2018 – The Most Unbiased Review of the Popular Devices

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The task of choosing the best MIDI keyboard controller can become a problem for most musicians. And we are eager to help you! Take your time and patiently read this article to the end, it will erase lots of your questions and worries.

Lots of musicians still use the analog setup but the up-to-date technology is inevitably switching to digital or a hybrid (analog and digital) setup.

MIDI controller is sometimes irreplaceable for various musical productions. With its help the unlimited possibilities emerge, like endless amount of effects and sounds.

So you need to choose MIDI controller. What you should decide is:

  1. Your budget.
  2. The number of keys.
  3. The type of keys: synth-action, semi-weighted or full-weighted, with “aftertouch” or not.
  4. Does your controller need to be portable?
  5. Will you prefer device with pads?
  6. Do you need faders, buttons, arpeggiators which can substantially change the price?
  7. What about the software?

All these issues have great influence on your choice as well as on the price of your future MIDI keyboard.

If you are just starting your career as world music Superstar we believe that the best midi keyboard controllers for beginners will be Arturia MiniLab MK II, Nektar Impact LX25+, Akai Mini MkII, Novation Launchkey (mini). These are the most worthy ones which entered the market in the early 2018.

And here are the best midi keyboards which could be suitable for experienced and skilled musicians. Let’s start with the top of the price list and honestly describe the devices which can help amateurs, creative people, and musicians to feel themselves real professionals.

Arturia KeyLab

99 $ (mini) -799 $

If you want to enjoy the widest rich spectrum of musical instrument sounds, pay attention to the Arturia KeyLab is a two-octave MIDI keyboard controller with pads and rotary controls. It offers preset sorting by type, instrument or characteristic and preset editing. There are models with 25, 49, 61 keys, as well as a mini version of the MiniLab MK II, which is loved most of all as the quality meets the price.

Our choice for beginners – MiniLab MK II

  • Compact size, the body width is 32 mm., proportions 35.5 x 22 x 5 cm, so you can conveniently place the controller in a backpack next to the laptop;
  • Analog Lab Lite software support, consisting of 5,000 synthetic sounds taken from a number of classic synthesizers (Prophet V, SEM V, CS-80V);
  • Ableton Live 9 Lite software;
  • Semi-weighted keys with velocity-sensitive post-exposure (this function is not present in mini-mini). As previously, the MiniLab MK II uses 25 miniature keys with synthesizer mechanics and the pressing speed sensitivity. There are three types of velocity curves and a mode with a fixed maximum value. Similar sensitivity settings are also provided for the pads;
  • 2 clickable encoders;
  • 6 transport switches;
  • UVI Grand Piano Model D, which is a sampled concert grand piano Steinway. In its library there are 862 samples in wav format of 2.57 GB, recorded in 192 kHz and, subsequently, converted to 44.1 kHz. The ones, who used it, highly appreciated the sound quality.
  • Mod and pitch bend wheel;
  • 16 velocity-sensitive multi-function pads with bright RGB backlighting with an additional switching mode between tabs and between 8 presets with global device settings. Switching is carried out instantly while holding down the SHIFT button and the corresponding pad.
  • 10 encoders, 9 sliders, 10 switches (2 available).

Advantages of Arturia KeyLab

  • Software Ableton Live 9 Lite, Arturia Analog Lab 2 Lite, UVI Workstation with Grand Piano Model D;
  • Use of a large number of controllers, instead of traditional wheels, Pitch and Modulation touch strips are used;
  • Rotary knobs and pads are now closer to each other, but there is still enough free space for their comfortable use;
  • Connectors are now located on the rear side, the controller can be placed closer to any other device. You can connect sustain pedals through a full 1/4 “TRS connector;
  • The coating is matt and not so slippery;
  • The device is budget-friendly, but the keys are quite elastic, do not clatter and do not droop. Mechanics allows you to extract sounds with different velocities.

Disadvantages

Only thing noticed during the search of a bad response is that in a mini-version the client was unhappy with VST control with the help of endless rotary knobs. And there is no “aftertouch” in the mini version. Another criticism was encountered in the key cuttings: when you press the sustain pedal, you are unable to play fast stakatto, as the keys get stuck. But this is a single negative feedback, in general, customers rated the keyboard on 4+++ out of “Five”.

Conclusions

In general, midi controller keyboards Arturia KeyLab satisfied the most customers and the “mini-version” remains one of the most affordable devices equipped with plenty of controllers with its ridiculous price of 80-99 $. Maximum functionality for a low price! We recommend it!

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S-Series

530-750 $

You see “Germany” and keep in mind that is the best midi keyboard. It is hard to argue that German quality is considered to be a role model for almost everything.

Native Instruments seriously approached creating the best MIDI keyboard that could be connected to Komplete products. The most users’ requirements were identified after some research. People expected professional key mechanics; 100% integration of keyboards and virtual instruments; good design and the high-quality level comparable to the best world brands. In order to satisfy these demands the KOMPLETE KONTROLS-Series were born. The models are presented in different quantity of keys: 25, 49, 61, 88.

The “newborn” devices present perfectly realized concept of perfect quality. The manufacturers used high-quality components and complemented the devices with high functionality and exceptional, solid body frame. For example, now the customer has no difficulties of managing virtual instruments with the help of controllers on the keyboard.

At the same time, the price remains reasonable and gadgets are not overvalued.

Characteristics:

  • Semi-weighted keys by Fatar (in S88 they are fully-weighted);
  • Automapping;
  • Lighting up specific keys for chords;
  • A powerful and fully customizable arpeggiator mode: the backlight indicates which notes are engaged while playing;
  • Easy-to-browse buttons (by Komplete);
  • Two multi-purpose touch strips of.

Advantages

The KOMPLETE KONTROL devices are compatible with any user-friendly and familiar environment. We mean Ableton Live as well as Logic. User can also use it with ProTools and Cubase. It supports a stand-alone mode too (not connected to any “soft”). The users enjoy the easiness of understanding the plug-in interface, you won’t waste time on studying it.

The device has different numbers of full-sized keys by Fatar: 25, 49 and 61with “aftertouch” function. Key mechanics, tactile feelings are very convenient and responsive. Fatar is the Italian supplier of keys for famous world brands.

The body frame of the device is made of durable plastic. The earlier models are featuring decorative metal inserts above on the sides. There is special plug-in (VST/AAX/AU Komplete Kontrol) in order to achieve correct operation using the KOMPLETE libraries,.

Transport panel is illuminated. Buttons are bright. For example SHIFT button is intended to edit modes.

By pressing the SCALE button, the keypad switches to gamma mode to exclude the possibility of discordant sounding notes. Only the notes which create the fret are lighted.

The indication strips

This is unusual. Instead of traditional pitch and wheels of modulation, touch-sensitive strips are used in the device. The second strip shows the amplitude of oscillations by increasing or decreasing. Push the strip with your finger and you will launch the process. Your second hand becomes free!

Reviews

There are different opinions about working with wheels and strips. Someone considers working with wheels convenient. The wheel is smoothly adjustable, it get the exact necessary position, unlike the strips, where you have to get to the middle, to the zero point for a smooth shift of sound.

The strips have interesting indication and different modes.

Conclusions

All implemented opportunities are aimed to help creativity of newcomers and non-professional musicians. Even small midi keyboard will make you feel a high-professional musician. The devices are good for those who have money, who want to get the high-quality modern keyboard and even for those who do not know the notes. These devices will give a chance to play something meaningful.

NI Komplete Kontrol S49

599 $

Download the sounds at the touch of a button as Komplete Kontrol is a universal device which combines the latest innovations.

The automatic mapping function assigns all key parameters of the instrument to sensitive knobs. Everything you need to create a musical masterpiece is right here and now!

Innovative light emphasized switches, zones and other controls in full color, depending on the instrument. For example, the key color corresponds to the color cell in BATTERY 4.

The capabilities of Komplete Kontrol are huge. You decide whether to play chords with individual keys or to use the entire keyboard. It’s easy to create melodies when you press the button of the arpeggiator. You can also change, twist and automate sounds like never before with high flexibility. All this is now available.

S-series Komplete Kontrol was created and designed for Komplete 10 and Komplete 10 Ultimate, the most powerful tools for sound production and design. The keyboards are compatible with Komplete 9 and Komplete 9 ULTIMATE.

The instrument is equipped with Komplete Kontrol S 25 8 encapsulated encoders with displays. There is also a pair of sensor ribbon sliders, a browser section, an arpeggiator section and ladder settings. Switching capabilities are presented. USB-connector, MIDI IN/OUT and a connector for connecting pedals. Everything is on the rear panel.

Nektar Panorama P4

599 $

This midi controller keyboard received the award of the international music press MIPA-2012 in the category “Keyboard controller”.

What makes it different from other controllers? Its unique feature is the authomatized touch-sensitive ALPS fader, which gives you a pro console-like mixer channel to control within your DAW. The system works as quickly as lightning.

The total number of supported extensions reached 38. For example, here are some of them: DR-1 Deep Reverb (production of Synapse Audio), Env Shaper (FXpansion), Uhbik-A (U-He), Echobode (Sonic Charge), Uhbik-Q (U-He)

Support for Bitwig and Logic Pro X has been added recently.

Characteristics

  • Semi-weighted full-sized Keys (49, 61) sensitive to touch with “aftertouch” function;
  • It offers integration with Bitwig, Cubase, Logic Pro, Reason, Main Stage, and Reaper;
  • It contains 93 controls, parameters to MIDI map on your DAW, which gives you really non-limited possibilities;
  • Connectable pedals;
  • “Scale-Function” for easy change pad assignments;
  • Controller for changing the pitch of the modulation controller;
  • Size of the device (WxHxD) 845x95x330 mm, weight 6.35 kg;
  • The MIDI connector is just the output; there is a USB type B interface;
  • There is a Micro-USB port for additional powering the motorized fader
  • 12 velocity pads with adjustable sensitivity and you can choose one of the 7 velocity curves;
  • Crystal clear 3.5 “display.

Advantages

According to the buyer feedback of the Logic and Bitwig, everything is connected well and does not cause trouble. All operations are intuitive.

All the buttons of these midi keyboards work fine, the keys are pleasant to press and they do not “stick”. Body frame quality is perfect, it’s definitely worth its price. You can easily change the pad assignments and intervals within any of the pre-defined 30+ scales

The screen is bright and high definition, and of course, does a good job showing all the necessary data. Overall, the P4 is solid, looks good and is probably stronger than most recent controllers.

The control panel has an impressive number of elements 17 knobs, 10 faders and 12 pads.

For a well performing fader, you will need to provide additional power supply by means of a mini USB jack. After the power is supplied, you have a 100mm ALPS fader for use on any DAW track.

Disadvantages

You can install several software packages, but you will need to download them individually, some customers say that it would be great if it was a little faster. 12 pads work fine, but there is a possibility of additional 4 virtual pads, one of the buyers responded that it was confusing.

Conclusions

Authomatized touch fader, customizable LCD display, high speed and clear full control, a lot of buttons, faders and knobs. Various software and functionality are also available.

Akai MPK2

99 $ (mini) – 399 $

Models of this “family” come with formidable software set: Ableton Live Lite, Hybrid 3.0 virtual synth, SONiVOX Twist 2.0, MPC Essentials software (it is almost like DAW). They are compatible with Mac and PC.

The thumb-controlled pitch-bend works properly as well as modulation joystick.

The built-in arpeggiator is easy to use, it will let you manage complex synthesizer melodies, shape them with all your fantasy!

Here’s soft that you get with the Mini MkII: Akai Pro MPC Essentials, SONiVOX Wobble, and Air Music Tech Hybrid 3 synth. Mini version has the following dimensions: 12.5″x7.13″x1.75″. This model doesn’t have an “aftertouch” function. This version is really Gem for beginners.

Drum pads are velocity-sensitive and RGB backlit. There are buttons to lower and raise octaves. It is possible to switch the programs of the MIDI keyboard itself.

Akai midi keyboard with an “aftertouch” function is a bit more expensive than the Novation keyboard but has some better software and is better constructed on the whole. It’s one of the best MIDI keyboards existing nowadays.

It comes with full-sized 25, 49 and 61 keys (they are semi-weighted) and you can also get a mini-version.

  • The pads provide a total of 64 combinations;
  • Octave controls for up and down;
  • Relatively solid package of software;
  • High resolution LCD screen;
  • 8 assignable faders for plug-in mixing and tweaking; control knobs, buttons;
  • Pitch bend and mod wheels;
  • Note repeat, full level and tap tempo buttons;
  • Built-in arpeggiator (adjustable resolution, modes and range);
  • USB powered (no power adapter needed).

Advantages

Built-in arpeggiator, which has a huge number of functions, gives 16 programmable pads. In general, it presents quality materials, compactness, multiple functionality, convenience, quality construction, super price, eight assignable Q-Link knobs. The stroke is smooth, the distance between them is large and it is convenient to turn with two hands.

There is a convenient a joystick for controlling dynamics and modulation.

Disadvantages

Here are the negative reviews from users of these USB midi keyboards. A bit stiff action makes this model a lesser option for live performance. There are no “record” buttons, “play/pause”, “stop”. “The keys narrow for my puffy fingers” – one user said. The USB slot is inconvenient. There is no setup guide for a particular sequencer. The software settings are too difficult. The keys are hard to press. There is no pitch adjustment.

Customers’ reviews

Some customers would like to have more controllers to be replaced with the pads and, in fact, the accompaniment can also be recorded with keys. Some of the customers found this USB midi keyboard inconvenient in connecting by the port; perhaps the manufacturer should change the USB port location. The customers did not like the moving of the inaudible keystrokes. One person says, some keys have ceased to define velocity. The playing has a sensation caused by the fact that the device is too light, rattling its body frame as a response to keystrokes.
The keys are sensitive, nothing sticks and there is no feeling of cheap plastic, which is appreciated by the experienced musicians. Compact size makes creating music out of the house convenient. There are comfortable regulators. The pads are pretty sensitive.

This device is definitely worth its money. It is convenient to use as it is compact,it does not require additional power supply, it uses only one usb plug. With this device you can create music anywhere. The keys have good sensitivity. The pads are also comfortable the red lighting is adorable. It sounds perfect.

Conclusions

On the whole it is an on-the-budget option. It doesn’t comprise particularly pretentious materials, but it is lightweight, functional, compact and it looks just cool. The device is very convenient, it takes up little space and you can compose music everywhere. In general, it is an excellent product for a reasonable price.

Alesis VX49

Starting from 300 $

This keyboard is definitely worth your attention. This MIDI device with 49 keys has all you need if you are musician or producer or just adore making music and appreciate the quality sound.

Many users highly estimated the Virtual Instrument Player software. While using it you get the direct access to all virtual tools in the PC, quick sorting and plugin search.

The great advantage discovered by customers is high-resolution color LCD display that conveniently controls DAW and virtual instruments with help of dedicated interface buttons. All plugin set up feedback is displayed on the 4.3-inch screen (1:1).

By taking advantage of 8 instruments you can create new sounds and sets. It can work in the standalone controller mode and also, at the same time, take control under DAW and plug-in.

Characteristics

The keyboard comprises 49 semi-weighted keys with the “aftertouch” effect. MIDI controller looks smooth and feels pleasant under your fingers. The device is equipped with the following: octave, transport control, role mode and performance buttons. You can also enjoy the convenience of using the device with the functions of time division. Users also highly estimated the arpeggiator.

Dimensions: 115×955×315 mm, weight: 4.3 kg

The gadget has DAW Compatibility and it is USB powered. You can find a USB cable in the set.

  • 8 encoders and 8 knobs rotating on 360° are always ready to work;
  • Dedicated encoder with a push function will help you navigate the display;
  • Plugin for load, play & control any VST;
  • 8 RGB backlighted drum-pads, which are sensitive to force and pressing speed;
  • All users are fond of multifunction RGB pad controllers;
  • What about Pitch Bend? The device is equipped with rubber covered wheels;
  • Expression pedals (with input);
  • sustain pedal input;
  • USB-MIDI port;
  • There is a MIDI input and output for the additional equipment.

Advantages

Instant access to plug-ins, color buttons, over 10,000 sounds by Toolroom Records AIR Music Technology Sonivox, roll controllers, footswitch control.

According to client’s reviews, the rich choice of soft is the greatest advantage. You can use a really complete software package: Eighty Eight Ensemble and Ableton Live Lite, Hybrid 3 and Vacuum Pro, Loom, Velvet, Xpand! 2 and Transfuser.

Disadvantages

The adapter is not included in the set. On the whole, we haven’t found negative reviews.

Conclusions

We advise you to pay attention to this midi keyboard, Amazon offers the used ones for about 295$, and this price is adequate to the rich functionality of the device. We highly recommend it.

Novation Impulse 25, 49, 61

299 $

This is a real miracle: the perfectly equipped controller of this class with fantastically solid body frames with plenty of functions and pads being sold twice cheaper than its competitors.

The design and construction are designed to meet all the modern requirements. Its overall dimensions are 846x100x332 mm; it weighs 5 kg. The quality definitely meets the price. Let’s prove it.

Made of heavy-duty plastic it has the best software in the set, and the price could be lower if it wasn’t Ableton Live Lite. It is not as perfect as, for example, Akai, but it tries to show 100% performance. It is compatible with Logic Pro, perhaps you could hardly find the best soft for a MIDI controller and of course you can make your best choice of 25 49 or 61-key gadget.

The model has 49 keys, eight encoders, nine faders and nine assignable buttons. For comfortable use, the MIDI controller is powered by a standard USB port on a PC or laptop.

For visual inspection, the Impulse 49 model is equipped with a large graphic LCD display which is highly functional. The keys and controllers of the MIDI keyboard can be reprogrammed with the function Automap 4. For convenient work with the Ableton Live music software and drum instruments, the MIDI keyboard IMPULSE 49 has eight electronic pads with dynamic backlight.

Characteristics:

  • Keys are semi-weighted, dynamic, sensitive to force and speed of pressing. The system conveys the natural sensations of natural mechanical keys of a large piano;
  • It can be connected to Mac, PC and iPad;
  • Full interaction with external MIDI instruments;
  • Electronic drum pads with dynamic backlight;
  • Rotary controllers with a soft stroke for comfortable work with filters and effects;
  • You can reprogram the key assignments. Automap function for reassigning the parameters of knobs, faders and button functions. You are free to choose;
  • Large graphic LCD display for visual control of the real time operation;
  • Ready-made software suite with Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station Synth software synthesizer and Loopmasters Sample Pack sample set. Ableton software allows you to Control the mixer (all channels), transport, start the clip (with the help of shock pads with backlight); Plug-in / Device control (instant monitoring of own devices Ableton, third-party VST / AU plug-ins).
  • LED, multi-color backlight;
  • Main functions: start of clips and scenes in Ableton Live, drum pads;
  • Rotary regulators: 8 rotary controls, smooth soft stroke;
  • Tone wheel: 1 wheel;
  • Modulation wheel (Pitch): 1 wheel;
  • Modulation function: Octave +/-;
  • Different power sources from the standard PC USB port or external adapter.
  • Two large wheels with smooth running of Tone and Picth (modulation) functions;
  • Connectors for connecting external expression and sustain pedals;
  • Full interaction with MIDI devices by MIDI IN / OUT ports;
  • Large graphic LCD display for full control over the used programs, samples and keyboard functions, the device is equipped with a large enough graphic LCD display. The display is perfectly readable in bright light and bright sunlight. In the twilight and darkness, the LSD display has a pleasant blue glow.
  • Eight electronic pads with backlight;
  • Comfortable work and convenient interaction with the music software Ableton Live is achieved by means of electronic pads with dynamic backlighting. LED pad lighting gives extra comfort and convenience while working with drum instruments and samples.
  • USB connector;
  • Support MIDI: inout.

Customers’ reviews

We found only positive reviews, it is considered by users as an excellent model with high functionality! It provides easy and efficient work with sound synthesis, live performances, etc.

It is a controller, so any knobs of twist and sliders can be added to the device and work in any direction. The work speed increases hugely. There are no analogs like Impulse 61 in its class!

The high-quality keyboard responds to the finger pressure dynamics.

It is absolutely awesome unbreakable thing with a bunch of different features. According to users, the keyboard is slightly overpriced, but the functionality and quality of Novation are worth it. This device can be used for many years.

Some users shared their opinion that white keys are more pleasant than most MIDI keyboards. The black keys are soft, the stroke is small, you have to get used to it.

M Audio MIDI keyboard Code 49

Approx. 299 $

This universal device of unusual design has a large number of various controllers and updated mechanics. It is compatible with the most popular “soft”, using virtual AIR Hybrid and Loom instruments and here are the provided presets:

  • General ASCII – General MIDI
  • “Pro Tools” and “Logic Pro”, “Ableton Live” and “Bitwig Studio” and finally “Cubase” – Hybrid, Loom

You can use any of mentioned midi keyboard software as well as show your individuality and create your own settings and preset.

Keyboard:

  • The device comes with full-sized keys;
  • Provides synthesizer mechanics;
  • Velocity sensitivity;
  • Several types of curves;
  • All types have “aftertouch” function;
  • Division into zones.

Controllers:

  • Pitch bend;
  • Transpose and octave shift buttons;
  • Modulation wheels;
  • 16 brightly illuminated pads;
  • 8 rotary controls;
  • 9 illuminated buttons and the same quantity of faders;
  • Sustain connector and volume pedals;
  • X/Y touch controller;
  • Buttons of transport panel;
  • Connectors;
  • USB, MIDI Input and Output.

Features:

  • Large LCD-display;
  • Mackie Control protocol support;
  • Various appointment opportunities;
  • Equipment;
  • USB cable.

Disadvantages

Not so sensitive pads.

Our resume

These devices are assumed to be extremely interesting as they have extendable possibilities and great potential. Emphasis was made on easy working directly from the keyboard and so the access in sequencers became comfy. Plenty of features and flexible settings will bring success in studio and live performance.

The operational change of the controllers’ modes significantly expands the capabilities of the devices. That is why they can satisfy almost every demand.

Novation Launchkey 49 keys

99 $ (mini) -199 $

The budget mini midi keyboard with USB interface from the famous Novation brand has 49 keys with the velocity-sensitive technology (the speed of pressing is considered).

This controller works great with the most of the popular programs for running scenes and clips, among them Ableton Live and many others. It is equipped with InControl technology for DAW mapping and has compact body with connectable pedals.

Characteristics:

  • 16 start pads (velocity-sensitive);
  • Compact body frame with connectable pedals;
  • Two control buttons;
  • 8 rotary knobs;
  • Assignable faders;
  • Synth-styled keys;
  • 3-digit LED display;
  • Modulation and tone wheels;
  • Additional input for connecting the sustain pedal.
  • Compatible with PC and Mac with Novation V-Station and Bass Station VST
  • Apps for the iPad.

Advantages

There is a wide range of controls. Assignable faders, buttons and knobs and lot of controllers (transport, octave and many others) will make your playing brilliant and professional. You can create record and play music tracks everywhere, you’ll be a star at all live performances. This is really a reliable device.

Disadvantages

The drum pads are a bit smaller than the Akai or Oxygen. The device is powered by USB or from an optional power adapter. The system has no built-in speakers.

Customers’ reviews

A frail design and a creaky body. When one of the keys is pressed, a metallic knock is heard, a feeling that there is no damping gasket or is dislodged.

In terms of compatibility problems have not been noticed, in addition, no drivers are required (Win7 x64 and OS X 10.9.4).

Normal functionality, it works steady, compatible with Cubase, Kontakt and others.

Conclusions

This compact device with dimensions of 770x81x270 mm and weight 3.1 kg will be your true friend in music creating. Nice design, multi-colored pads and affordable price make it to be your best choice if you start your music career.

M-Audio Keystation with 49, 61 and 88 keys and mini-model

99 $

Take a step into the world of creating and executing PC-based music with this rather cheap midi keyboard M-Audio Keystation. Despite the price the device offers users full-size and velocity-sensitive keys and a number of controls which expand the range of generated notes, expression capabilities and improve the recording process. Create your musical masterpieces without using a mouse or joystick. M-Audio Keystation also includes a 1/4 inch (6.3 mm) pedal input, which allows you to connect an external pedal to the device, such as SP2, for a full sense of playing the real instrument.

Customers’ reviews

Traveling musicians describe M-Audio Keystation as lightweight and durable device for working at live concerts, producers consider it to be close to the real studio instrument.

These keyboard midi controllers are easy to use and to install. Big bonus is iOS compatibility by the Apple iPad (Camera Connection Kit) which can be purchased separately.

Would you like to hear the sound of the piano CD327 Steinway? You could do it with a premium virtual instrument SONiVOX Eighty-Eight Ensemble.

Carefully recorded and skillfully rebuilt, Eighty-Eight Ensemble provides the possibility of composing, recording and executing music by producers and any performers at the world level of the brilliant piano sound. You can create extremely complex, lush sound textures.

Many users liked Xpand, a multi-membrane workstation that offers you 4 active audio slots. Each is equipped with own stand-alone MIDI-channel, music band, mix, arpeggios, modulation and other settings; this is a great way to create individual tracks. After the production the tracks can be brought together. There is a number of carefully selected patches for the program.

Characteristics:

  • 49 synth-action, full-sized speed sensitive keys (except for the “mini-model”), as close to the original piano keys as possible;
  • Virtual instruments are connected by USB-MIDI;
  • Transfer and direction buttons for control the digital workstation are operated directly from the keyboard;
  • Make your playing expressive with changing pitch, octave control and modulation;
  • Support USB for connection to Mac and PC;
  • Light weight and a high degree of mobility during transportation;
  • Ableton Live Lite, powerful software for recording and editing, included;
  • AIR Music Tech Xpand!, multi-membrane workstation.

Conclusions

This solid keyboard is a brilliant “workhorse”. You can use midi keyboard almost anywhere, there is everything needed for a work. Choose your model with 49, 61 or 88 keys. If you need the compact one, you should pay attention to the mini version.

Nektar Impact LX25+ — excellent for beginners

100 $

Сompact (weighs only 1,8 kg) and inexpensive MIDI keyboard Impact LX25 + is compatible with computers (Mac/PC) and iOS-devices.

The price of the MIDI keyboard Nektar Impact LX25 + does not exceed 100$. The set includes Bitwig 8-Track software. We assume that it is a very good choice for this money.

This compact controller with the size of 476x267x69 mm can be easily used for live performances. It has pitch-bend covered with rubber and convenient modulation wheels, the device can perform good action by means of the full-size keys, and even experienced musicians will highly estimate the full range of MIDI controls.

Eight controller pads are well-spaced. The modulation wheel does not return to the previous point, while the pitch wheel does. 8 speed-sensitive pad pads with color illumination and the function “Pad Learn” will make creating music the adorable process in your life.

Characteristics

  • 25 sensitive keys;
  • Octave shift buttons;
  • LED display;
  • Transpose buttons;
  • 8 speed-sensitive pads lighted in four colors,
  • 3 constant values and 4 kinds of velocity curves;
  • 1 30 mm fader
  • 5 user settings memory destinations;
  • Nektar DAW function (with page button) for deep integration of the controller with 11 sequencers. Among them there are Logic and FL Studio, Cubase and GarageBand, Reason and Sonar and, finally, Studio One.
  • Remember-learn function;
  • MIDI messages and notes assignment to the pads;
  • Download or Save settings to any of the 4 cells;
  • Pad maps buttons “Clips” and “Scenes” are having bright LED indicators;
  • 1 1/4 “TS jack input for footswitch connection (MIDI assignable);
  • The rear panel has USB port;
  • USB, iOS, compatible with Apple OSX, Windows XP, Vista, 7 & 8 and above, Mac OS X 10.7 and higher;
  • Compatible with Linux by means of special software.

Advantages

Full-size keys with special coating are comfy for users. According to experts’ reviews the controls are the real Gems of the Impact LX25. DAW from your fingertips doesn’t require reaching for your mouse.

The whole processing, despite the plastic quality, makes a good and quite stable impression.

The pads respond well. One user was very glad that every knob is assigned to a function: cutoff, resonance, etc. The other benefit of the gadget is high operation speed.

Disadvantages

Impact LX25 + does not have separate MIDI connectors and connects to a computer or iPad by a USB port. Keyboard is worse in comparison with Axiom or Novation Impulse. The keys are not aligned; some of them are higher than others. No “aftertouch” function is presented. New software could be unfamiliar even to experienced users.

“Automapping for Live” should be set up, it is not available for the first time you switch on the controller.

If you compare it with controllers by Arturia, Alesis and M-Audio, you will find out that rotary knobs have less resistance. It does not work with usual Ableton Live Lite whoch is considered to be the best. Clients would like to have more inputs/outputs (for other MIDI appliances).

Conclusions

Perfect for beginners! Due to customer’s reviews the controller has all the essentials, if you want something cheap to start with, it’s awesome. It gives lots of controllers and great value for little money.

Akai Professional LPK25 Bluetooth MIDI Keyboard

These controllers are constructed like war machines and seem to be absolutely unbreakable. This LPK25 provides a complete brilliant stable wireless connection for your beloved “apples”: Mac, iPhone and, of course, iPad. It also has USB connection ability. The price for wireless version is about 99 $, for non-wireless – 60 $.

Main Characteristics:

  • built-in arpeggiator;
  • octave controls;
  • input for sustain pedal;
  • integrates with the LPD8 Wireless Drum Pad/Controller.

Our resume

With its low price we assume this keyboard to be the one of the best compatible with iOS and Mac. Enjoy your jamming for up to 12 hours long!

Korg microKEY Air (Bluetooth/USB MIDI Controller)

These devices are sold with approximate prices of 100 $ – 190 $ depending on the key quantity (25, 37, 49, 61). Each of them is featuring Bluetooth, so the question of connecting with Mac and iOS devices will be solved. You can also use a traditional USB cable. We assume it is one of the best modern portable devices and we recommend it.

Bottom line: what keyboard will you choose?

  1. Arturia KeyLab
  2. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S-Series
  3. NI Komplete Kontrol S49
  4. Nektar Panorama P4
  5. Akai MPK2
  6. Alesis VX49
  7. Novation Impulse 25, 49, 61
  8. M Audio MIDI keyboard Code 49
  9. Novation Launchkey 49 keys
  10. M-Audio Keystation with 49, 61 and 88 keys and mini-model
  11. Nektar Impact LX25+ – excellent for beginners
  12. Akai Professional LPK25 Bluetooth MIDI Keyboard
  13. Korg microKEY Air (Bluetooth/USB MIDI Controller)

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