Whether you are working from home or in a professional recording studio, a keyboard for making beats will be an integral part of the setup for music composition. The versatility and robustness of the beatmaker keyboard that you pick will go a long way in determining the quality of the tracks that you will create.
There are different kinds of keyboards and each of them packs up different capabilities. There is so much that goes into the quality of the best keyboard for making beats. For example, what is its sonic palette? Does it have great music production software? Can you carry it on the go? How is the ease of setup?
Does it support split layer performance that enables you to combine two voices for some evocative performances? What are the controller features like? How is the sleekness? Does it look good on the stage? How is the hardware reliability?
Is the interface simple or complex? Does it provide for analog and digital connectivity that allow you to interface it with external store and MP3, iOS devices and MPS players? Is it a simple plug-and-play keyboard beatmaker?
Below, we break down some of the main factors that you should look for when shopping for the best keyboard for making beats and review some of the best keyboards for making beats that you can purchase this year.
If you are in a rush, here is a quick rundown:
What To Consider When Buying a Keyboard For Making Beats?
Different recording studios have varied recording requirements, space, and budgets. However, when it comes to the keyboard workstation, you got to look for a setup that will not fail you.
The workstation of the beatmaker keyboards consists of the keyboard, sequencer along with sound module. You can select them in 61, 76 or 88 keys.
It is the keyboard workstation that enables you to record, arrange and sample the music even without relying on a computer before you can export it to DAW. You can also use your workstation as a MIDI controller. However, when using them in studios, the keyboard beatmakers are often purchased for very specific sounds.
If you are purchasing a keyboard beatmaker primarily to record piano, ensure it has the digital piano samples if you will need it.
These have been designed to sound and feel like the real piano.
Modern keyboards and pianos should have MIDI capabilities. You may also simply go shop for MIDI controllers. Check the reviews below. You can use a MIDI controller in cases where you would have needed an external sound module or a VST. MIDI controllers have a great strong point: they have been purpose-built to easily integrate with various other software and hardware.
A digital piano or a workstation on your keyboard beatmaker will not provide you with the same level of integration that you would get with a MIDI controller. Having a beatmaker with a MIDI controller gives you the best of both worlds. It will be one of your best assets in the recording studios.
Workstation Synthesizer vs MIDI Keyboard
A keyboard workstation creates electronic music of its own by combining the keyboard with the sequencer and sound modules. The MIDI keyboard, on the other hand, does not produce music of its own and instead does so via an audio interface with a computer. In a MIDI keyboard, it is the computer that produces the music via software.
Number of Keys
The keys in the keyboard for making beats aren’t all the same. The number and weight of the keys vary. When deciding on the number of keys, think about the space. Choose a keyboard that will realistically and comfortably fit in the set up of your recording studio.
Space isn’t just the only consideration when you are deciding on the number of keys. Having the space that can accommodate 88 keys does not necessarily mean that you actually need the 88 keys.
When deciding on the number of keys to opt for, think about the type of recording that you will be engaging in. This should be the primary consideration in selecting the number of keys. If you will be recording classical or jazz music, you are better off having all the 88 keys, without having to rely on the octave up/down button.
On the other hand, if you are a beatmaker recording music such as EDM tracks or hip-hop, even 25 keys would suffice.
The same obtains when deciding on the weight of the keys on your keyboard beatmaker. If you want to record some of the really subtle dynamics, then you will need keys that are fully weighted.
The software or sound module
Both digital pianos and workstations have in-built engines or sound modules. This really adds up to the cost. However, modern professional studios can rely on audio plugins and VSTs which lowers the cost of the beatmaker keyboards. VSTs such as Omnisphere and Keyscape can provide really good sound quality.
Here is a look at some of the best keyboards for making beats in your recording studio.
Best Keyboards For Making Beats List
Alright guys, let’s get to the list now!
Korg KRONOS2 88 Key
Type: Workstation with MIDI capabilities
Number of Keys: 88
The Korg KRONOS2 88 Key Workstation is one of the finest keyboard workstations around. It is used by both composers and professional musicians alike.
It is built with up to nine KRONOS sound engines including synthesizers, organs, strings, acoustic and electric pianos. It also features an in-depth parameter control as well as effects via its 8-inch SVGA color TouchView display which has a touch-drag functionality.
If you are a sonic purist, you will love its enhanced SGX-2 Grand Piano Sound Engine. It delivers impeccably dynamic and realistic piano tones. Get some expressive playing time with its Real Weighted Hammer Action 3 RH3 Keyboard. This creates the feeling of playing an actual piano!
It also features the KARMA Arpeggiator as well as a Phrase Looping feature that enables the user to quickly create tracks and jam out songs by leveraging Sequencer Composition Tools such as Open Sampling and Drum Tracks, putting more tools at your disposal for musical expression.
It has lots of effects, multi-track audio as well as MIDI capabilities. There is a massive library of sounds that you can use to create music. It is a great keyboard workstation for professionals.
Yamaha MOTIF XF8 88-Key Synthesizer Workstation
Number of Keys: 88
Over two decades since its launch, the Yamaha MOTIF has evolved considerably in terms of both functionality and expressiveness. This is a keyboard workstation that will breathe fresh life into your live performances. It also has superb intuitive control and expressive sounds.
The Yamaha MOTIF XF8 is built with music creation capabilities that can be easily integrated into various software applications.
This keyboard workstation includes a Synthesizer KIT, the Yamaha MOTIF XF8 88-Key Synthesizer Workstation and the Keyboard case. There is a flash memory expansion capability that is already a gold standard for future keyboard workstations.
The 741MB internal Wave ROM has some uber-realistic pianos, acoustic instruments, vintage synths, and even hip-hop sounds. It has the sonic palette that is used by many of today’s top producers.
With its sophisticated 8-element synth architecture as well as the expanded articulation and 18 different filter types, you have the leeway to shape sounds in any way you wish to. The Yamaha MOTIF also features 8 front-panel knobs as well as sliders that make it easy for you to accomplish this even in real-time.
Get a total of 1664 voices and 97 Drum Kits for a greater variety of sounds. With its Category Search function, you will easily discover the sounds you want. It also features rich instrument Voices including guitars, drums, piano, basses, wind instruments, drums, orchestra sounds, strings, and EPS plus a collection of both vintage and modern synth sounds.
Yamaha Montage 8 Synthesizer 88 Key Workstation
Number of Keys: 88
The Montage 8 is Yamaha’s flagship music synthesizer with 88 keys. It is a very powerful keyboard workstation; so powerful that it takes some time to master all its features and effects. The key-bed is impressive and has a Pure Analog Circuit digital-to-analog conversion which is quite rare for the modern workstations. It’s a construction that will inspire your creativity.
The Montage is designed with a sophisticated dynamic control as well as robust sound creation and streamlined workflow.
The Montage builds on the legacy of two of Yamaha’s iconic keyboard workstations: the DX and the Motif. The Montage is designed with two sound engines. The Motion Control Synthesis Engine will also unify and control its two iconic sound engines namely, the AWM2 for high-quality waveform and synthesis and the FM-X for a modern and pure FM synthesis.
It is also loaded with Virtual Circuit Modeling (VCM) effects as well as high-definition reverbs. If you loved the Yamaha MOTIF, the MONTAGE represents the next level in the Yamaha workstations, going the extra mile by providing editing and controls at the user’s fingertips.
Yamaha Genos Digital Workstation Keyboard
Number of Keys: 76
The Yamaha Genos is a fairly recent addition to the Yamaha line of keyboard workstations having been launched in 2017. This has been described as the ultimate keyboard workstation. It contains everything that a professional musician needs to create complete tracks and even full compositions.
It builds on the Tyros range of Yamaha workstations but with a superior digital workstation, overall design as well as better playing experience. There is a total of 1,710 instrument sounds, 550 backing patterns, 216 arpeggios and a lot more that users can play with.
Every instrument has an Articulation Element Modeling (AEM) technology that delivers a superior playing experience through the precise simulation of every characteristic in the selected instrument depending on how the user is playing in real-time. The effect is a pure and high-quality sound.
Roland Fantom FA 08 Music Synthesizer Workstation
Number of Keys: 88
This is part of Roland’s new FA series of keyboard workstations and its revolutionary design redefines the keyboard workstation as we know it. It has been streamlined to provide effortless real-time power, versatility as well as fast workflow.
It is perfect for composers, stage musicians or music creators who simply need lots of features to craft out their music. It supports all types of music that you may wish to play. It has an 88-note weighted-action keyboard. It also has a huge music collection inherited from the flagship INTEGRA-7 sound module.
Additionally, it features top-quality sound effects, expressive real-time controls along with onboard sampling to provide instant audio playback. Its SuperNATURAL Synth engine produces hyper-realistic acoustic piano notes and drums.
Akai Professional MPK249
Number of Keys: 49
The Akai Professional MPK249 is affordable but very versatile and professional. It is one of the most reliable and most respected MIDI keyboards in the market. It is a 49-key semi-weighted MIDI keyboard. It has a premium piano-style key bed that provides a really good response and a natural feel.
Its 16 MPC-style pads are RGB-illuminated. These are in 4 banks for a total of 64 pads. They are perfect for triggering melodies, samples, one-shots, loops and much more.
It also features 24 Q Link controllers that are assignable and consist of 8 control knobs as well as switches and faders that have been designed for hassle-free mapping and great DAW, virtual effect control and virtual instrument.
Onboard USB MIDI interface includes 5-Pin MIDI input and output that enables you to control peripheral MIDI equipment. It also comes with a comprehensive production software package for both PC and Mac including SONIVOX Twist 2.0, Ableton Live Lite, Akai Pro MPC Essentials and Hybrid 3.
It features an easy to navigate control screen that comes in handy for users new to the MIDI instruments. To top it up, Akai generally provides musicians with loads of music software.
Novation Launchkey 49
Number of Keys: 49
The Novation Launchkey has evolved considerably since its first launch. It has an impressive controller with Ableton. In fact, this MIDI keyboard was built for Ableton Live so it’s more user-friendly for Ableton although it still works perfectly with other DAWs.
It features 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads and dedicated navigation as well as control buttons. It is fully USB bus-powered and works without a power cable or drivers. Has backlit drum pads that are full-color RGB and are velocity-sensitive.
It has software support for both PC and Mac including the XLN Audio Addictive Keys and Ableton Live Lite.
Novation Launchpad Pro
Number of Pads: 64 RGB Pads
The Novation Launchpad Pro is more of a pad version of the Novation Launchkey. The control surface is quite unique from that of the other MIDI keyboards. It includes 64 RGB pads which light up to match the color of your clips in Ableton Live.
The pads are bright and colorful. It’s a design that stands out whether you on stage or producing some light show for YouTube. You can use its colorful grid to play samples and drums using pads that have been pre-mapped from Ableton Live’s arm tracks, start and stop loops, drum rack, control volumes and much more.
This MIDI keyboard resembles the old MPCs but its pads haven’t been designed for two-handed rhythms like in other keypads. Instead, the keyboard is used more like buttons for various functions including mixing, manipulating clips, firing-off effects and triggering loops.
Like the Launchkey above, it has been designed primarily for Ableton Live but it will work perfectly with other electronic DAWs like Reason and Studio. It’s widely used by many of the top musicians.
M-Audio Axiom Air
Number of Keys: 32
If you are shopping for a MIDI keyboard for the larger studios, then the M-Audio Axiom Air will not disappoint. A big keyboard in a large studio can be a great luxury. Having more space means you have plenty of features to create evocative music with.
The Axion AIR is the latest series in the M-Audio Axiom line of MIDI controllers. It looks really cool and delivers impeccable performance. It packs up all the standard controls that you would expect in a fully-featured MIDI controller. These include keys, knobs, pads, sliders, wheels, and transport controls.
It features a HyperControl automatic mapping technology that allows for easy syncing with all the major DAWs. This is one of the more advanced MIDI controllers out there.
Akai Professional MPD218
Number of Pads: 16
Like the Novation launchpad Pro, the Akai Professional MPD218 is a pad controller. This design grew incredibly popular during the 90s with the original Akai MPCs. You can use the pads to create drum beats and also control virtually any type of a percussion-based instrument.
It’s a pad-only version that features 16 velocity-sensitive backlit sensitive pads, iOS compatibility, Ableton Lite, a Plug-and-Play USB connectivity as well as 18 360-degree assignable potentiometers which can be accessed via 3 banks and which are used to control the virtual effect, DAW and the virtual instrument parameters.
This is an ultra-portable MIDI controller with a USB-powered pad controller. Use its 16 thick MPC pads to trigger effects, melodic samples, drums and a lot more. Three pad banks provide for 48 assignable pads in total.
A separately sold Camera Connection kit enables you to control the iOS apps and lots of control capabilities.
Well, I hope the list was helpful.
Of course, they are all in different budgets and are technically made for different purposes.
However, one of these keyboards for making beats on the list will undoubtedly fit your requirements – no matter what genre of music you are in!
Last update on 2020-04-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API