Finding a good MIDI keyboard controller for beginners that will suit both your budget and needs is not as easy as it seems to be. The market is flooded with both fantastic MIDIs and the ones you wish went out of business a long time ago.
Which one to pick when you don’t know much about the MIDI controllers but want to pick the very best one without getting ripped off? That’s exactly what our list of best MIDI keyboards for beginners is for!
Alright, I’ll stop boring you – let’s get to the list already!
1) Alesis V49
Check out Alesis V49 Review.
I personally own an Alesis V49 and couldn’t be happier with my MIDI controller. That’s why it’s the first one on the list. These guys make all kind of stuff for music production, and they are really established on the market. They also make tons of drum pads, mixers, interfaces, and much more, so you can trust them!
As you would’ve guessed from V49, this Alesis MIDI keyboard for beginners has 49 keys, which are non-weighted and velocity sensitive. It’s about 3 feet in length, and that’s something to keep in mind when building a music studio. If your desk has a lot of gear on it, 25-key MIDI controller for beginners will do just as fine!
In my opinion, 49 keys are the most beginners with no experience playing the piano should go for. I’ve never played piano and mostly use my MIDI keyboard for chord progressions. The keys are velocity sensitive, so your melodies won’t sound robotic. As you go, you’ll “feel” the key velocity, and this will develop your piano skills!
Weighted keys are a deal breaker to some people, so let me give you a piece of advice. If you don’t know the feel of a real piano, this won’t be a big deal for you. You can invest in a MIDI keyboard for beginners with semi-weighted keys, which are usually more expensive. Speaking of fully-weighted keys, there is only a handful of MIDI controllers that offer such feature – it’s not in demand among producers.
Another cool feature is a set of drum pads that light up when you press them. You can assign any drum sample or virtual instrument to it and create drum lines manually. They will sound a lot more natural and groovy because they won’t be set perfectly on the grid, which is the trend these days.
2) Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII
Check out Akai Professional MPK Mini MK2 Review.
Akai MPK is one of the most popular MIDI controllers in the world and has been for years. Did you know that Akai has been around since the late 1920s and made MIDI keyboards since the 1980s? That’s a brand you can trust!
It’s compact and incredibly light, weighing under 2 pounds! That’s why it’s the perfect fit for any home studio where you don’t have a lot of space. Moreover, it’s only a foot long, so even the smallest desk with only your monitor on it can easily fit this MIDI keyboard for beginners.
Don’t let the size trick of the MIDI controller trick you! Even though it’s tiny, Akai MPK Mini comes with more than a handful of features. You get 8 velocity-sensitive drum pads that you can assign drum and synths samples to. This alone will help you improve the quality of your drum lines and rolls.
On top of that, this Akai MIDI keyboard for beginners has 8 knobs to ease the use of filters and 2 banks. So double the pads and knobs by 2.
You can also buy a case for it, which can be quite handy if traveling. it’s very appealing to DJs and producers that are touring a lot.
3) Nektar Impact LX25+
Check out Nektar Impact LX25+ review.
This one is also a very popular MIDI keyboard for beginners. However, it’s a bit different from the previous two. First, it’s compatible with iOS, so you can connect it to your iPad and use in Garage Band. Not a game changer, but something different. That’s a neat function especially if you use an iPad Pro as your computer for music production.
The functionality of Impact LX25 is different from the “average” MIDI controller for beginners. I would say it’s a little more complicated, especially if you are only starting to produce music. Besides the 2 wheels and 8 drum pads, it has a lot of more advanced functions some amateurs would love!
In the previous version, you could just assign knobs to whichever plugins you wanted. The 8 knobs on this one are to be used with synth, bass, and other generators mostly. 4 of them are set to tweak the oscillation tune, level, and 2 mods. The other 4 are to play around with cutoff frequencies, resonance, envelope amount and low-frequency oscillation.
You can use presets as well, but truly understanding how sound generators work will change your producing game drastically. It’s not necessary, but well worth your time in the long run. To finish up, Nektar ImpactLX25+ is a fantastic MIDI keyboard for beginners if you are reasonably proficient in working with sound generators.
Keep in mind that the learning curve is quite steep! It integrates with every DAW for beginners so you shouldn’t worry about that at all!
4) M-Audio Keystation Mini 32
Check out M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 Review.
M-Audio is one of the biggest producers of professional gear for professional and amateur musicians all over the world. As you could’ve guessed already, MIDI keyboards for beginners is one of their specialties. The prices can vary from a hundred bucks to well over a thousand!
M-Audio Keystation Mini is a small portable MIDI controller with 32 mini keys. It’s not the most advanced MIDI keyboard out there, but it’s sure one of the best ones for its price!
The keyboard controller includes an input volume knob and a sustain button. If you don’t like the feel of a button, it does have an input for a sustain pedal as well. You can switch the octaves with a press of a button, which lets you work on any scale you’d like without any tweaking in your digital audio workstation software.
M-Audio Keystation Mini MIDI keyboard for beginners comes with 32 velocity-sensitive keys which will make your chord progressions and melodies a lot more alive and natural.
If you are picking your first keyboard, you don’t really need any knobs, pads, or switches. Make your workflow in the piano roll window a lot easier and smoother with this MIDI controller for beginners.
5) MidiPlus AKM320
Check out MidiPlus AKM320 Review.
Do you ever need something but don’t want to spend a lot of money? Well, if you are looking for a MIDI keyboard controller for beginners and don’t want to stretch your budget, midiplus AKM320 will do fantastic for you!
It’s not the fanciest MIDI keyboard on the market, but it’s an excellent choice for beginners who don’t need a lot of features in their MIDI controller! Midiplus AKM320 integrates perfectly with every DAW and doesn’t require any power supply to work. All you have to do is to plug it into your Mac or PC and you are set!
Let’s look into the features of this particular MIDI keyboard for beginners. It lets you switch the octaves and modulate the input signal. That’s not a lot for a professional music producer but will do wonders when you are building a music studio for the first time in your life!
The developers’ website doesn’t look very professional, so some people may be worried about getting proper support. However, I’ve messaged the guys just to see how well the customer service is doing, and they’ve gotten back to me in under 24 hours! Moreover, Amazon handles all the shipping and returns, so there is nothing to worry about!
6) M-Audio Code 61
Check out M-Audio Code 61 review.
If you are serious about music production and have some experience in the field, then investing in M-Audio Code 61 MIDI keyboard controller will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make!
It’s a 61 key MIDI keyboard with a vast number of features. First of all, the keys are full-sized and velocity-sensitive, with an aftertouch feature that imitates the sustain pedal. You can assign up to 4 zones to split the keyboard or add layering to your melodies.
The MIDI keyboard for beginners features 16 assignable drum pads for drum and bass lines and a lot more! On top of that, each drum pad can be assigned a different color, so if you like to separate kicks from hi-hats, this feature is a must-have for you!
Have you ever used 360 encoders? If you haven’t – you are missing out! They are very similar to knobs, but you can set the sensitivity to low and have the full control of 8 filters, faders, or effects!
Assignable XY pad is used by professional producers all over the world. Control multiple parameters of your DAW with a tap of your finger. That’s something everyone should look into, especially if you are producing hip hop and EDM.
It also comes with 8 customizable faders. They can be used for real-time EQ, compression, reverb, and a lot more! M-Audio Code 61 has more potential than 95% of MIDI keyboards for beginners out there!
7) Arturia KeyStep
Check out Arturia Keystep Review.
If you are looking for a less intimidating MIDI keyboard, Arturia is your perfect choice. It seems incredibly low-key and will be suitable for even the smallest home music studios. This MIDI keyboard for beginners is only 22″ in length, so you’ll never have to worry of not having enough space on your producer’s desk!
Even though the price of the MIDI keyboard is not high, you don’t have to worry about the developers compromising the quality of the product. The MIDI controller actually overdelivers for the price you pay. It offers every beginner more than he or she will need when starting out.
It works with every major DAW for beginners, and you don’t have to “force” your computer to find Arturia KeyStep. Unlike other cheap MIDI keyboards for beginners that a lot of beginners buy and then regret their decision, Arturia will integrate seamlessly and work flawlessly.
It offers a ton of features for its size and cost such as polyphonic step sequencing, mod and pitch strips, the playback and recordability, and various modulators.
8) Novation Launchkey 49 MK2
Check out Novation Lauchkey 49 MK2 Review.
If you are thinking of a MIDI controller as an investment in your passion and future, Launchkey 49 MK2 MIDI keyboard for beginners is worth considering. Actually, it’s more of a must-have piece of your music studio if you are a music producer or a DJ.
If you happen to use Ableton as your digital audio workstation, you are in more luck than ever. It’s been specially designed to simplify the workflow in Ableton! Luckily, there is no need to use your mouse all the time anymore! Launchkey MK2 lets you control your session grid, various digital instruments, effects, and more!
These line of products’ MIDI keyboards for beginners come in various size. If you need fewer keys or don’t have much space in your home studio, you can downgrade to 25. And if you happen to need more keys because you are more experienced, you can always go up to 61 keys for a small premium.
The MIDI keyboard for beginners is packed with faders, pads, and knobs to simplify and speed up your workflow. It’s incredibly light for its size and the number of features it comes with. Keys are non-weighted and velocity-sensitive, so you can add your personal touch to each melody and chord progression you play.
9) M-Audio Oxygen 49 MK4
Check out M-Audio Oxygen 49 MK4 Review.
If you are not a fan of Launchkey MK2 or don’t use Ableton as your primary DAW, then you should look into M-Audio Oxygen MIDI controller for beginners. Why? Because if you happen to use FL Studio, Logic, or Pro Tools, you’ll be more flexible with one of these bad boys!
If you’ve never had a MIDI keyboard before and have your way of doing things without one, consider changing your mind. MIDI controller can increase your productivity and make music production a lot more fun. Moreover, the process will become more visual and hands-on.
The MIDI controller has 8 trigger pads that sound louder or quieter depending on the pressure you’ll apply. They are called velocity-sensitive pads! The sound comes out a lot more natural when the velocity isn’t constant. That’s another reason to use a MIDI keyboard for beginners instead of clicking around with your mouse!
M-Audio Oxygen MIDI controller for beginners also integrates seamlessly within your DAW and lets you modify various instruments’ and plugins’ settings in-real-time with the knobs, switches, and pads! Making music has never been simpler! The OneLink function lets the Oxygen MIDI keyboard for beginners map all critical parameters into the DAW of your choice!
If you don’t have a DAW yet, you get Pro Tools First bundled in with your MIDI keyboard, so you can try it if you happen to own a Mac as your computer for music production!
10) Akai Professional MPK249
Check out Akai MPK249 Review.
Well, doesn’t this MIDI controller look futuristic? If you are serious about music production and want the best MIDI keyboard to begin with or feel like upgrading your gear to improve your workflow – Akai MPK249 will be your best bet.
The keyboard has 49 keys which are semi-weighted! On top of that, they are velocity sensitive. If you are a beginner, having at least semi-weighted keys will benefit you so much if later on, you’ll decide on buying a full-sized digital piano! Your fingers will get used to the feeling, and you won’t have to worry about anything anymore!
When it comes to features of this MIDI keyboard for beginners, you’ll be amazed by the quantity and quality of them! First of all, let’s talk about assignable elements – there are more than I’ve ever used in a session. First of all, you get 16 MPC-style pads.
Ever feel like you need more? Well, luckily for you, Akai MPK249 has 4 banks. Therefore, multiply your 16 pads by 4. That’s right – you can use up to 64 different digital drum or synth instruments. Most producers don’t need this many! Moreover, you get 8 knobs, faders, and switches, and 3 banks for each.
If you are still debating, you might as well just keep scrolling. With all the fantastic features and integrations, you can’t find a better MIDI keyboard for beginners for the price.
Factors To Consider When Buying a MIDI Keyboard For Beginners
What’s Your Budget?
As I’ve mentioned in the list, a keyboard can range from as little as $40 to well over $1000. You have to make sure to purchase the one that suits your needs and your budget the most. If you are looking for the best beginner MIDI keyboard controller but never produced before, then there is no need to go for the top-of-the-line product!
In this list, we didn’t go over the most expensive MIDI keyboards for a simple reason that people with such budgets are likely very experienced already and trust word of mouth from other producers more than anything. Some of the keyboards have cheaper and more expensive alternatives with fewer or more keys, so keep that in mind!
What’s Your Preferable Number of Keys?
Depending on the size of your music studio and your previous experience, you may want a smaller or a bigger keyboard than the ones on the list. Remember that most of them come in different sizes, so if you like a particular brand or style of a MIDI keyboard for beginners, make sure to check whether they sell them in different sizes.
Producers and DJs who tour and travel a lot prefer smaller MIDI keyboard controllers (as Keyboardkraze mentions more than once on his blog), while beatmakers who work out of their music studio sometimes go for a bigger one with up to 88 keys. Think of your needs and decide accordingly.
Do You Need Weighted Keys?
This question is probably being asked the most when it comes to MIDI keyboards for beginners. Once again, it depends on what you are looking for. You have to note that MIDI controllers for beginners with weighted keys will be a lot heavier and more expensive.
If you’ve never played the piano and don’t plan on learning how to play one in the future, there is no need to get weighted keys because you’ve read that they are better in the long run on Reddit. In the beginning, you are better off keeping your expenses low, so you have more money to invest in advertising and other services.
What Power Source Is The Best for Your MIDI Keyboard?
To keep it short, some MIDI keyboards for beginners need external power sources, and others don’t. Most of them are bus-powered which means they work when you plug them into your desktop or laptop computer.
Other types are MIDI keyboards for beginners that need more than a small power supply of your computer. Most of them either use batteries or an AC adaptor. If you are using them with your digital audio workstation, you’ll still likely have to connect it to your computer with another cable.
What Kind Of Inputs and Outputs Do You Need?
Most of the time you will only have a USB output that connects your MIDI keyboard for beginners to your DAW. That’s what manufacturers use in 99 products out of 100. That’s the input you’ll always have.
If you know how to use a sustain pedal and you happen to own one, you should use it when making melodies with your MIDI controller. Then you should make sure the MIDI keyboard controller you are buying has an input to connect your sustain pedal. This will help you enhance your sound and turn it into a genuine piano tune!
How Many Knobs, Buttons, and Faders Do I Need?
If you haven’t noticed yet, all these best MIDI controller keyboards for beginners have switches, buttons, knobs, faders, pads, and a bunch of other features. As a result, you keep asking yourself how many you need to become a successful music producer? Well, you don’t need any at all.
Therefore, don’t fall for a beginner MIDI keyboard with many pads and switches simply because it looks cool. You are able to take ultimate control over numerous filters and parameters of your DAW up to your liking with faders, knobs, and buttons.
If you’ve already found your perfect workflow, then all these knobs, switches, and buttons can help you to speed everything up. As a result, you can become more productive and start releasing more music!
There are many MIDI keyboards on this list. Some of them have tons of features, and the others have none. They start from under $50 and go up to $700. I’ve been using my Alesis V49 for over a year now, and I still love it!
However, there is no way I would’ve been able to use it to its full power at the beginning of my journey. And let’s be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to afford it back then.
If you’d like a moderately priced keyboard with tons of cool features that will last you a very long time, I suggest Alesis V49.
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Last update on 2019-09-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API