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

This could become a headache for most musicians – the task of choosing the best MIDI keyboard controller. And here we are to help you gladly!  Be brave and just patiently read this article to the end – we believe that many your questions and worries will evaporate.

Many of musicians still use the analog setup but the nowadays process is inexorably moving to switch to digital or a hybrid (analog and digital) setup.

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

So you need to choose MIDI controller. You need to decide for you:

  1. The amount of your budget.
  2. The quantity 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 that can substantially move the price?
  7. What about the software?

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

If you just starting your career of 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 the market came with in the early 2018.

And here are the best midi keyboards that could be suitable for experienced and skilled musicians. Let’s start with the top of price list and honestly describe the devices which can help the amateurs, the creative personalities, and the 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 beloved most of all for its price-quality ratio.

Our choice for beginners – MiniLab MK II

  • Compact dimensions, the thickness of the body is 32 mm. dimensions 35.5 x 22 x 5 centimeters, you can conveniently place the controller in a backpack, next to the laptop;
  • software support for the Analog Lab Lite, consisting of 5,000 synthetic sounds taken from a number of classic synthesizers (Prophet V, SEM V, CS-80V;
  • software Ableton Live 9 Lite;
  • semi-weighted keys with velocity-sensitive post-exposure (this function is not in mini-mini). As before, the MiniLab MK II uses 25 miniature keys with synthesizer mechanics and sensitivity to the speed of pressing. 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 his library there are 862 samples in wav format of 2.57 GB, recorded in 192 kHz and, subsequently, converted to 44.1 kHz. Those 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

  • Very rich 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 free space is still enough for their comfortable use;
  • connectors for connection are now output to the rear side, the controller can be placed close 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-priced, but the keys are quite elastic, do not clatter and do not hang out. Mechanics allows you to extract sounds with different velocities.

Disadvantages

The only thing we faced in search of a bad response – 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 encountered criticism of key cuttings when you press the sustain pedal and the inability 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 funny 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 to creating the best MIDI keyboard that could be connected to Komplete products. The requirements of most users were identified after researching. People waited for 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 completed the devices with high functionality and exceptional, rugged build. 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 humane and gadgets are not overvalued.

Specs:

  • 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 – when playing the backlight indicates which notes are engaged;
  • buttons easy-to-browse (via Komplete);
  • interesting feature – two touch strips of multi-purpose.

Advantages

KOMPLETE KONTROL devices can collaborate with any user-friendly and familiar environment. We mean of course Ableton Live as well as Logic. User can also connect 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 to study it.

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

The body of devices is made of durable plastic. The older models are featuring decorative metal inserts above on the sides. On order to achieve correct working with the KOMPLETE libraries, there is special plug-in (VST/AAX/AU Komplete Kontrol).

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 sounding discordant notes. Only the notes that make up the fret are lighted.

The strips with indication

This is unusual. Instead of traditional pitch and wheels of modulation, touch-sensitive strips are used in devices. 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 and you can do with it all you need.

Reviews

There are different opinions about working with wheels and strips. Someone say it’s convenient to work with wheels. You can adjust the wheel smoothly, that is, get exactly the position that is necessary, unlike the strips, where you have to get to the middle – to the zero point for a smooth shift of sound, takes aim

But on the strips an interesting indication and there are 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 high-professional musician. The devices are good for those who have money, who wants to get the high-quality modern keyboard and even for those who do not know the notes. These devices will give opportunities to play something meaningful.

NI Komplete Kontrol S49

599 $

Download sounds at the touch of a button – Komplete Kontrol is a universal device that 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 – right here and now!

Innovative lighting emphasizes 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. Play chords with individual keys or assign the entire keyboard – you decide. Create melodies when you press the button with the arpeggiator – it’s easy. And also to 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 production and sound 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 motorized touch-sensitive ALPS fader, which gives you a pro console-like mixer channel to control within your DAW. The system works just lightning fast.

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)

More recently, support for Bitwig and Logic Pro X has been added.

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;
  • contains 93 controls – parameters to MIDI map on your DAW, – really non-limited possibilities;
  • connectable pedals;
  • “Scale-Function” for easily change pad assignments;
  • controller for changing the pitch of the modulation controller;
  • dimensions 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 power to 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 feedback of the buyer Logic and Bitwig, everything is connected well and does not cause trouble. l. All operations are intuitive.

All the buttons of these midi keyboards work fine, the keys are pleasant to fingers, they do not “stick”. Build quality is good, worthy of the price. You can easily change the pad assignments and intervals within any of the pre-defined 30+ scales

The screen is bright and crisp, 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 controllers to date.

On the control panel an impressive number of elements 17 pens, 10 faders and 12 pads.

For a “flying” fader, you will need to provide additional power through a mini USB jack. After the power is applied, 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 separately, 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 confused.

Conclusions

Motorized touch fader, customizable LCD display, high speed, clear full control, many buttons, faders and pens. Rich software and functionality.

Akai MPK2

99 $ (mini) – 399 $

Models of this “family” come with hefty software bundle – Ableton Live Lite, Hybrid 3.0 virtual synth, SONiVOX Twist 2.0, MPC Essentials software (it is almost-worthy 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 don’t have “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 “aftertouch” function is a bit more expensive than the Novation keyboard but having better software and constructed better on the whole. It’s one of the best MIDI keyboards existing today.

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

  • The pads provide a total of 64 combinations;
  • Octave controls for up and down;
  • Relatively solid package of software;
  • LCD screen with high resolution;
  • 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;
  • Arpeggiator built-in (adjustable resolution, modes and range);
  • USB powered (no power adapter needed).

Advantages

Built-in arpegtator, which has a huge number of functions. In total, gives as many as 16 programmable pads. In general, good materials, compactness; multifunctionality; convenience. Quality assembly, super price. Eight assignable Q-Link pens. The stroke is smooth, the distance between them is large, with two hands it is convenient to turn.

A convenient chip is 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”. For my puffy fingers narrow keys. The USB slot is inconvenient. There is no setup documentation for a particular sequencer. Too smart settings of the software. Hard keys. There is no adjustment of the pitch.

Customers’ reviews

Some customers would like more controllers, the pads take their place, and in fact the accompaniment can also be recorded with keys. Some of the customers found this usb midi keyboard inconvenient in connecting via this port – maybe the manufacturer should change the USB port placement. Inaudible keystrokes, they did not like their move. At one guy some keys have ceased to define velocity. The game has a sensation caused by the fact that the device is too light, rattling its body in response to keystrokes.

The keys are sensitive, nothing sticks, there is no sense of cheap plastic, which pleases experienced musicians to appreciate. Compact size, it is convenient to make music on the road or out of the house. Convenient regulators. The pads are pretty sensitive.

For your money is a wonderful thing. It is convenient to use, because it is compact, does not require additional power, everything is about all one usb plug. With this you can create anywhere. The keys have good sensitivity. The pads are also comfortable, I also like the red lighting around. It sounds perfect.

Conclusions

On the whole it is a budget option. Not particularly pretentious materials, but Lightweight, functional, compact and just cool looks. Enjoying is very convenient, takes up little space, you can compose music everywhere, take it with you. In general, it is an excellent product for great money.

Alesis VX49

From 300 $

Let’s pay attention to this keyboard – MIDI device with 49 keys has all you need if you are artist or producer or just adore making music and appreciate the quality sound.

Many users highly estimated the Virtual Instrument Player software. In collaboration with it you get the direct access to all virtual tools in the PC, quick sorting and searching for your plug-ins appears.

The great advantage found 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 screen of 4.3-inch (1:1).

During the performance you can create new sounds and sets – thanks to 8 instruments. It can works in the mode of standalone controller and also at the same time take control under DAW and plug-in.

Characteristics

49 semi-weighted keys with “aftertouch” form the keyboard. MIDI controller looks smooth and gives pleasant feeling for fingers. The device comes 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 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 bundle.

  • 8 encoders and 8 knobs rotating on 360° are always ready to work;
  • a dedicated encoder with a push function help you navigating through the display;
  • the plugin for  load, play, & control any VST;
  • 8 Drum-pads backlighted with RGB, they are sensitive to force and speed of pressing;
  • all users are fond of multifunction RGB pad controllers;
  • what about Pitch Bend? device is equipped with wheels finished by rubber;
  • it comes with expression pedals (with input);
  • it has input for sustain pedal;
  • USB-MIDI port;
  • for external equipment there is MIDI input and output.

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 choose of soft is the greatest advantage. You can use a really rich package of software: 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 bundle. On the whole we haven’t met 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 device. We highly recommend it.

Novation Impulse 25, 49, 61

299 $

This is really a miracle – the controller of this class with fantastically solid assembly is perfectly equipped with plenty of functions and pads but comes with price twice lower than competitors.

The design and construction are completed to meet all the modern requirements. Its overall dimensions are 846x100x332 mm; it weighs 5 kg. We found price-quality ratio to be the best. Let’s figure it out.

Made of heavy-duty plastic it comes with – we assume – the best software, and the price could be lower if it wasn’t Ableton Live Lite. It is not really perfect in assembly as for example Akai, but being a good fellow, he tries to work for his 100% – very well. It works with Logic Pro – perhaps you could hardly found 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 offers 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. Very rich in functionality. The keys and controllers of the MIDI keyboard can be reprogrammed with the function Automap 4. For convenience in working with the Ableton Live music software and drum instruments, the MIDI keyboard IMPULSE 49 offers eight electronic pads with dynamic backlighting.

Specs:

  • 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. Do as you please, be free to choose;
  • large graphic LCD display for visual control of the operation in real time;
  • 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 via 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 through the use of electronic pads with dynamic backlighting. LED pad lighting gives extra comfort and convenience when working with drum instruments and samples.
  • USB connector;
  • support MIDI: in\out.

Customers’ reviews

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

It is a controller, so any knobs of twist and sliders can be tied to the device and work in any direction. The speed of work increases tens of times. Very strong, working at the limit of emotions. There are no analogs like Impulse 61 in its class!

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

Unbreakable thing with a bunch of different features, absolutely awesome. According to users, the price is slightly overpriced, but the functionality and quality of Novation are worth it. This device can serve you for many years.

Some users shared his 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 an updated mechanic. It is connectable 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;
  • connector for sustain and volume pedals;
  • X/Y touch controller;
  • Buttons of transport panel;
  • Connectors;
  • USB, MIDI – In,Out.

Features:

  • large LCD-display;
  • Mackie Control protocol support;
  • rich opportunities for appointment;
  • Equipment;
  • USB cable.

Disadvantages

Not so sensitive pads.

Our resume

We assume these devices to be very interesting having possibilities to be extended and great potential. Accent was made on easy working directly from the keyboard – the access in sequencers became comfy. Rich 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 acting).

This controller works great with the most 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.

Specs:

  • 16 start pads (velocity-sensitive);
  • Compact body 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.
  • Adopted for PC ans Mac with Novation V-Station and Bass Station VST
  • apps for the iPad.

Advantages

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 solid device.

Disadvantages

The drum pads are a bit smaller than the Akai or Oxygen. The device is powered via USB or from an optional power adapter. The system comes without built-in speakers.

Customers’ reviews

A flimsy design, 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 are not noticed, in addition no drivers are required (Win7 x64 and OS X 10.9.4).

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

Conclusions

This compact device with measurements of 770x81x270 mm and weight 3.1 kg will be your good friend in creating music. Nice design, multi-colored pads and affordable price make it to be your best choice if you start your musician 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 of the price the device offers users full-size and velocity-sensitive keys and a number of controls that expand the range of reproduced 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 found M-Audio Keystation as lightweight and durable device for working directly 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 via the Apple iPad (Camera Connection Kit) that you can buy separately.

Do you want 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 for 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 parts. After the part can be brought together. There are a number of carefully selected patches for the program.

Specs:

  • 49 synth-action, full-sized keys (except for the “mini-model”), sensitive with speed, as close to the original piano keys as per sensations;
  • virtual instruments are connected with USB-MIDI;
  • Transfer and direction buttons for control the digital workstation directly from the keyboard;
  • Make your play 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 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 – welcome to pay attention to mini version.

Nektar Impact LX25+ – excellent for beginners

100 $

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

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

This compact controller with the measurements of 476x267x69 mm can be easily used for live performance. It has rubber-coated pitch-bend and convenient modulation wheels, thanks to full-size keys the device can boast with good action, and even experienced musicians will highly estimate the full range of MIDI controls.

Controller’s eight pads are well-spaced. The modulation wheel does not return, the pitch wheel returns.  8 speed-sensitive pad pads with color illumination and the function “Pad Learn” will make music creation the adorable process in your life.

Characteristics

  • 25 sensitive keys;
  • Octave shift buttons;
  • LED display;
  • Transpose buttons;
  • 8 speed-sensitive pads highlighted in four colors,
  • 3 fixed values and 4 kinds of velocity curves;
  • 1 fader of 30 mm
  • 5 memory locations for user settings;
  • Nektar DAW functionality (with page button) for deep integration of the controller with 11 sequencers. Among them – 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, connection with Apple OSX, Windows XP, Vista, 7 & 8 and above, Mac OS X 10.7 and higher;
  • Connectible with Linux with special software.

Advantages

Full-size keys with a 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 performance, 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 gadget is high reactivity.

Disadvantages

Impact LX25 + does not have separate MIDI connectors and connects to a computer or iPad via 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 function “aftertouch” is presented. New software could become 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 that is considered to be the best. Clients would like to have more inputs / outputs (for other MIDI stuff).

Conclusions

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

Akai Professional LPK25 Bluetooth MIDI Keyboard

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

Main specs:

  • 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 come with approximate prices of 100 $ – 190 $ depending on the keys quantity (25, 37, 49, 61). Every of them are 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)

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment