Are you a beginner looking to make music but not willing to spend a fortune on instruments? You don’t have to worry as you only need to go electronic and then record your music with a MIDI keyboard. They’re the kind of keyboards that allow you to create your music with virtual instruments, a controller, and some recording software.
As much as they may look similar to the piano keyboards, they’re no generally the same thing. In fact, for beginners, a MIDI controller is all you need to start with if you want to venture into the world of making music.
10 Best MIDI Keyboards for Beginners On the Market
What Does A MIDI Keyboard Do?
It may seem a pretty obvious thing, but it should be said that a MIDI keyboard is merely a controller with drum pads, piano keys, and buttons, which allows you to input MIDI information into your DAW when you’re composing.
MIDI Keyboards can be via the keys of the piano, whereby you play it normally like a piano while at the same using the MIDI information with the instrument plugin. Besides, a MIDI keyboard can input information via the drum pads.
Moreover, they make it easier to control some other aspects of the DAW, such as rewind, the play, record, and skip forward buttons, meaning you don’t have to use the computer mouse all the time. Furthermore, most of the MIDI keyboards have knobs as well as faders, which allow you to control the volume, filter, pan, and much more automation of tracks.
MIDI keyboards simply add some ton of functionality to the workflow as well as enable easy compose faster than when writing in MIDI information note by note. Therefore, it’s a no brainer as to why most composers and producers prefer using MIDI keyboards than entering MIDI notes as well as editing automation with the mouse.
Best MIDI Keyboard for Beginners -Tips You Should Know
First, as you get the urge to purchasing and owning a MIDI keyboard, you will be quickly overwhelmed by the wide variety. Not only are there sheer brands to consider, but also, they have many features that you may need to look at. Some could be portable while others are suitable to be put in a music studio because of their weight.
For you to choose the kind of keyboard which is ideal for you, it is right for you to consider that which serves your needs best. As a starter, you need – to a beginner MIDI keyboard that will do your stuff without getting you through an uphill. Then going forward, you can upgrade to cater to the changing needs.
As you would like to dive into the world of music, it is very crucial to consider the following guide to help you acquire the best MIDI keyboard.
1. Your Budget
The cost will majorly be the limiting factor. Although for beginner MIDI keyboards, they are usually surprisingly cheaper. One that ranges between $100 and $ 200 could work best for a starter.
Going by the rule of thumb, you ought to uphold your budget without spending much to acquire extra features, which as a learner, you will not use.
2. Type and Number of Keys
The numbers will depend on your taste. Some will be having mini keys to save on space but deem to be uncomfortable when playing. Although a small MIDI keyboard will be ideal if you like traveling, larger keyboards will have larger keys and more comfortable while playing.
Key types are also very crucial. Weighted hammer keys are springier, something that can turn off beginners. Semi-weighted keys have tactical feedback, while Synth-action keys are less resistant and ideal for beginners.
Having the know-how on using various control features is very important as you look forward into making fine music. All the controls you could require will depend on the kind of music and equipment you have. It is important to note that most controllers serve best with given types of DAW; hence you should ensure your controller is in line with your choice of DAW.
4. Inputs and Outputs
In the modern era, most MIDI keyboards USB outputs to transfer data. In addition, a 5-pin MIDI DIN has been developed and can allow external hardware to be connected.
5. Knobs, Faders, and Buttons
The knobs, faders, and buttons are equally important as the keys. Thanks to the kind of realistic experience they bring about and a variety of addendums to your music e.eg. Adjust volumes, edit menus, and change octaves.
6. Power Supply
Are you a person on the move mostly? You should get a MIDI keyboard that is battery or bus-powered.
Logically, you could not want something that has got more features than you require. For beginners, Just get one that will serve your interests now and easy to learn, not necessarily one with many features.
Top 8 Best MIDI Keyboard for Beginners Reviews
There’re several MIDI keyboards that as a beginner you can choose, but not all the product in the market are what they claim to be, therefore, here are the top-rated MIDI keyboards you can select;
Do you want to have total control wherever you go? Akai MPK 25 comes with 25 keys as well as octave up/down buttons that allow full access to the melodic range. Also, it features up to 1400 sounds, meaning you’ll have everything you need for pro production.
Akai MPK25 features 8 fully-assignable Q-link knobs to allow you to mix and tweak plug-ins, which means you’re in command of your DAW. It’s also small making it super portable. Moreover, it’s very easy to use and very compatible with several DAWs.
It’s powered by USB that you only need to plug it into a computer, and you’re ready to go. Keys are not weighted but will respond to the manner you play them.
Alesis V49 MIDI Keyboard is one of the most expensive models but for a good reason. It features 16 velocity RGB drum pads that will respond to your touch.
Also, it features pitch as well as modulation wheels, 36 assignable buttons, and 12 assignable knobs for manipulating plugin effects as well as instruments, modulating filters, tweaking parameters, and changing volumes.
It’s a plug and plays USB model, meaning you can easily connect your favorite DAW. Additionally, the drum pads also light up when they’re being pressed, meaning working in a dark room won’t be your concern. The octave buttons will help you to access the full keyboard range and range.
Just more like the name suggests, AKM32 comes with 32 velocity-sensitive keys, 3 rotary knobs, 1 endless encoder, and 11 function buttons featuring LED-backlit.
It’s the best MIDI keyboard when you’re limited in the pocket as it’s relatively cheap. Plus, the Midiplus AKM32 is extremely easy to use, making it very suitable for beginners.
It also features pitch and modulation wheels, octave buttons, transpose buttons, and a volume slider. Moreover, it has an input for a sustain pedal as well as an input that you can connect the keyboard via a USB to your computer.
The model is lightweight, which makes it portable. If you don’t rely on drum pads for creating drums for your music, then this is the model tailored for you.
If you’re looking for the best weighted MIDI keyboard, then the M Audio 61 is the ideal option. First, it’s a 61 key MIDI keyboard, and the keys are full-sized as well as velocity-sensitive with an aftertouch feature imitating the sustain pedal.
M-Audio 61 Key MIDI Keyboard has 16 assignable drum pads for bass and drum lines. You can also assign a different color to every drum pad. The model comes with 8 customizable faders that can be used for real-time EQ, reverb, compression, and much more.
A premium software suite is included, making it one of the best MIDI keyboards available in the market. It also has an easy plug as well as a play connection to your computer or Mac. You don’t require any drivers or even a power supply.
When it comes to MIDI keyboards, portability should be a concern, and luckily, Akai LPK 25 MIDI keyboard is small enough that you can move around with it efficiently.
Like the name, it features 25 velocity-sensitive keys that will help you to play bass lines, melodies, chords, and more.
Also, you need a power supply to operate your keyboard, but only the USB that you plug and play with your computer and Mac. It also works with almost all popular applications such as sonar, ProTools, digital performer, and Logic.
It also has octave up/down buttons that increase your keyboard to a full melodic range as well as a sustain button for the expressive performances.
Roland’s A-88 MIDI keyboard is arguably the best 88-key model available and comes with the Roland PHA-4 keyboard. It features Ivory-feel keys that have piano-like responsiveness as well as sensitivity.
Durability is also its major attribute thanks to the constructed slim enclosure that’s built with good as well as premium materials. The model has numerous onboard controllers that include 8 control knobs, 8 pads, program controls, and pitch/mod wheel.
Moreover, it features 3 customizable key zones as well as an inbuilt arpeggiator. There’s also MIDI connectivity through USB-MIDI as well as bus-powered through USB-C. The model also features an included control app for the recallable assignment mapping and deep customization.
The keyboard Midiplus is arguably the best 61-key MIDI keyboard. As the name suggests, it features 61 delicate velocity mini-keys with capacitive touch strips for modulation as well as pitch fold.
The model also has octave switches, 6 programmable buttons for the transportation functions as well as MIDI CC controllers, 4 programmable knobs for MIDI CC controllers. Moreover, it has a 6.3 mm input jack for the optional sustain pedal.
It has 3 segments backlit LED, default setting: T1 (volume), T2 (pan), T3 (expression controller), and T4 (reverb). There’s also a MIDI OUT interface send MIDI message to your computer or can be used as a MIDI controller.
Whether you’re a studio producer or a mobile performer, Akai professional MPK Mini MIDI will let you take control, making your music in excellent new ways.
The unit is small enough that it can fit in your backpack. It’s USB-powered and provides 25 velocity-sensitive mini keys.
It has octave buttons as well as an ergonomic 4-way thumbstick for the pitch-bend as well as mod duties.
You’ll also get 8 backlit, eight assignable Q-Link knobs, and MPC-style pads with MPC note repeat as well as full levels. It has 1400 sounds, including everything for Pro Production.
There’s also an onboard arpeggiator with an adjustable resolution, modes, and range. It also features a full-size pedal input jack. Moreover, it includes Akai professional VIP3.0 virtual instrument workstation plug-in/software.
How Does A MIDI Keyboard Work?
Have you ever seen a keyboard player use a laptop on stage? A MIDI keyboard is merely a simple way of sequencing music as well as playing virtual instruments on your PC or Mac. It works such that it sends MIDI data to a synthesizer or computer, which interprets the signal and then spits out the sound.
Therefore, it means that there’re no audio signals sent via MIDI; instead, it works as a digital signal, a series of binary digits.
The computer understands and responds to the binary digits (0s and 1s) that are combined into 8-bit messages, which support data rates of over 31,250 bits per second.
The messages are used to communicate significant information like:
- The note pressed
- The moment the note is pressed and released
- How hard it’s being pressed (velocity)
- When the key pressure changes (after-touch)
- Pitch bend
A MIDI device is equipped with ports for ‘MIDI out,’ ‘MIDI in,’ and ‘MIDI Thru’ with a special cable type known as MIDI cable used to make the connections. Actually, each wire is made of 3 wires, 2 used for data transmission, and the other is a shield.
How Many Keys Do I Need On a MIDI Keyboard?
MIDI keyboards come in different sizes, meaning that they have various numbers of keys. As a beginner, the number of keys you require on a MIDI keyboard will, of course, depend on several factors, such as your personal preference and the purpose.
Besides, MIDI keyboards come with various amounts of keys, some are non-weighted (synthesizer style) while others are weighted keys.
To begin your journey, starting with a big MIDI keyboard won’t be an ideal choice to go by. You may want to ask yourself, are you already a seasoned player to play over 61 keys?
Therefore, the ideal number to start with should be a 32- or 25-key MIDI keyboard. It’s a good number that will help you to learn fast and master the skill much easier. Several keys would be unnecessary as you may only be using the octave keys.
However, if the agenda is to compose in a studio, then you might consider a bigger MIDI keyboard with 88 keys. But if you like touring and traveling most of the time, then you can imagine the portability headache for bigger MIDI keyboards. Therefore, you should first think of the needs, then you can decide accordingly.
What’s the Best Brand of MIDI Keyboard?
The fact that MIDI keyboards come with different sizes means that several brands are behind making these products. Undoubtedly, several brands have come out on top amongst others by producing the best MIDI keyboards that consumers have given thumbs up. So, who makes the best MIDI keyboard controllers?
One of the brands that have made its name by producing the best MIDI keyboards is Novation. Therefore, it means that you won’t be wrong with their products as the keyboards are well-built and very easy to use.
The brand has sensitive drum pads, which work even best when using them long samples or triggering loops that don’t depend on velocity.
>>Recommended Novation 49 Key MIDI Keyboard Controller<<
Akai is another popular MIDI keyboard brand, especially for novice players as well as bedroom producers. Their products are very solid, and the keys feel nice with the drum pads sensitive more than Novations’.
>>Recommended Akai 25 Key MIDI Keyboard Controller<<
3. Native Instruments
Another more professional brand is native instruments. The brand has some excellent MIDI keyboards, especially for more professional studios. The reason is that they’re more expensive as they feature some extra software coming along with them.
>>Recommended Native Instruments 32 Key MIDI Keyboard Controller<<
3 Top Recommended Beginner MIDI Keyboard Controllers On the Market
Here’re several MIDI keyboards in the market, all with various features. The best choice for you should not only be based on the brand but also on other factors such as the number of keys, budget, ease of use, portability, and the type of input for connecting to your computer. However, everything should be based on your needs and how you intend to use your MIDI keyboard.
If you want a pocket-size MIDI keyboard for easily carrying around, we recommend Akai LPK 25 Portable Beginner USB MIDI Keyboard.
If a weighted MIDI keyboard for beginners is what you’re looking for, M Audio 61 Key Weighted MIDI Keyboard is your option.