The Top 5 Midi Controllers Reviewed
As technology has evolved, the way we make and record music has changed. A job that used to require a team of people can now be completed by an individual with the help of an innovative piece of equipment known as a midi controller and an audio interface.
Midi controllers are an integral part of the music-making process in this day and age, and they are used frequently by contemporary musicians, artists, and producers. Today’s midi controllers, which are sometimes known as keyboard controllers, offer an updated take on the first keyboards with MIDI specifications introduced in the 1980s. The aim was to enable musicians to utilize multiple synthesizers from the keyboard. Today, musicians, songwriters, sound engineers, producers, and singers can all benefit from the various perks offered by cutting-edge midi controllers.
When it comes to shopping around for a new midi controller, you’ll quickly find that there’s a raft of options available to cater for all budgets and preferences. Some products have much better reviews and ratings than others, and it’s wise to compare brands and models to find the best midi controller for you. The good news is that you don’t have to trawl the Internet and spend hours seeking out the top-rated gadgets on the market. We’ve done the legwork for you, and we’re thrilled to share the fruits of our labor. Here’s a handy guide to the best midi controllers on sale at the moment.
Best Midi Controllers
Designed for use with Ableton Live, the Novation Launchkey is an impressive 49-note USB keyboard controller. This device has been tailored specifically for use in Ableton Live, but its InControl technology feature does allow mapping with other digital audio workstations.
One of the best things about the Novation Launchkey is the ease of use. You can get started without devoting hours to setting up and engaging in trial and error when pressing buttons and knobs. With USB input and class compliance, you can fire up your midi controller and get to work without worrying about external drivers or power provided by a desktop PC or a Mac.
What are the advantages of buying the Novation Launchkey?
In addition to the speed and simplicity of setting up and using your midi controller, the Novation Launchkey also enables you to modify and mix your tracks, to take advantage of free keys and pad drumming tuition and to use neon colors to create and lay down beats using sensitive, color-coded RGB pads.
Buyers can also benefit from a software bundle that offers iPad apps, bass station soft synths and a Loopmasters sample pack.
Who should buy the Novation Launchkey midi controller?
The Novation Launchkey has a vast amount to offer buyers, especially those who are already familiar with Ableton Live. If you use this software, and you plan to continue with it, this is an obvious choice to consider. Tailored to this program, it’s easy to produce the best electronic sounds without spending days setting up your stall and familiarizing yourself with the interface and controls.
- MK2 version of Novation's 49-note USB keyboard controller for Ableton Live
- 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, 8 knobs, and dedicated navigation and control buttons
- Software for Mac and PC and sustain pedal 1/4 inch jack socket,7 segment 3 character LED display,pitch bend and modulation wheels,16 full-colour RGB backlit velocity sensitive drum pads
- Fully USB bus-powered and class compliant; works without drivers or power cable
- Software for Mac and PC, Including: Ableton Live Lite, XLN Audio Addictive Keys, 2-year limited warranty on manufacturing defects
Touted as a fine example of a ‘new breed’ of midi controllers by the manufacturers, the Nektar Impact LX49 offers generic MIDI controls and smart capabilities. Ideal for those looking to have fun while creating music, this 49-note, velocity-sensitive keyboard controller is simple to set up and easy to operate.
The best bits
The Nektar Impact LX49 is a versatile model, which has a full-size keyboard that is ready to use in seconds. When you plug in the MIDI cable, the operating system will automatically install the driver, enabling you to get going without delay. You can choose from 4 different velocity curves to cater for hard and soft touches and personal preferences, and you can achieve amazing results, no matter the style of music. You can also take advantage of the Octave feature, which enables you to reach both higher and lower notes.
Another benefit of the Nektar Impact LX49 is its integration properties. This device has pre-programmed setups for several popular types of digital audio workstation, and you can use the 6 transport buttons to maintain control at all times.
This midi controller also boasts advanced mixer control options, with the ability to regulate 8 channels of the DAW mixer. The innovative control center also offers the opportunity to create and send unique MIDI messages. There’s also scope to experiment and learn with 8 pads and the Pad Learn feature.
Are there any cons?
Many people rate this product very highly in terms of performance, but some buyers have raised concerns about the durability of the product.
In summary, the Nektar Impact LX49 has plenty of positives, but it’s not perfect.
- 49 note (61 on LX61+) velocity-sensitive synth-action keyboard
- 8 hyper-sensitive backlit pads
- Mac, PC and iOS Compatible
- Software instruments automatically Mapped to controls
- Includes Bitwig 8-track DAW
A versatile midi controller, which is powered by a USB connection, the M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV promises to deliver a smooth, precise, clean synth action. Boasting 49 keys that are sensitive to pressure and speed, the manufacturers of this keyboard controller pride themselves on creating a device that showcases the subtle nuances of music.
Featuring octave up and down buttons, it’s easy to access a wider range of notes, and buyers can enjoy several tools as part of the Premium Software Suite, which is included. You can also maximize the benefits of this controller by utilizing VIP Oxygen 25 software. Users also have access to an expansive library of sounds, which can be added to tracks and tunes to enhance and enrich the audio.
The M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV midi controller offers a wealth of features, including:
- 49 velocity and pressure-sensitive keys
- Eight adjustable knobs for modifying effects and adding plugins
- 8 pads for finger drumming and creating samples
- 9 customizable faders
- Software packages
- Multiple DAW integration options
Is this midi controller the best option for me?
There are many plus points included in user reviews of this product, and it is an impressive midi controller. However, some shoppers have criticized the build quality, the durability and the DAW mapping. There’s a huge range of features and all kinds of software options, which will appeal to those looking to experiment and have fun with music, but there are also downsides. If you’re looking for the best midi controller, you might find that you can source a better quality product at a similar price.
- Compact, ultra portable performance keyboard controller with 49 full size, synth action velocity sensitive keys and on board pitch bend and modulation wheels for expressive performances
- 8 velocity sensitive trigger pads for beat production and clip launching; 8 assignable knobs and 9 assignable faders for manipulating virtual instruments, DAW parameters and plugins on board LCD screen provides instant parameter feedback
- Dedicated octave up and down buttons increase the keyboard to the full melodic range and transport buttons let you control your DAW without reaching for the mouse
- Innovative DirectLink automatically maps controls to popular DAWs including Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase and more
- Class compliant, plug and play functionality and USB powered specification for simple user friendly setup
Priced at under $100, this compact, sleek, slim key midi controller is likely to appeal to those who are looking for a reliable, impressive product at an affordable price. Lightweight, portable, and easy to use, this is a great option for beginners eager to delve deeper into music production and those who have a passion for performing.
The Arturia MiniLab MKII midi controller is a 25-note slimline keyboard, which comprises two banks of eight sensitive pads with RGB lighting. Boasting 16 rotary encoders and 2 touch sensors, this is a piece of kit that is small but mighty. Easy to transport and carry around with you, this is a product that is geared towards modern performers, making it possible to produce the best quality sounds on the go.
With the Arturia MiniLab MkII midi controller, you have everything you need at the touch of a button. With a straightforward interface and seamless integration with included software, you can get started with minimal effort. The software package includes Ableton Live Lite, UVI Grand Piano, and Analog Live Lite, which offers a library of more than 500 synthesizer tones.
What’s good about the Arturia MiniLab MKII?
This midi controller gives you access to a host of controls at your fingertips, enabling you to create a studio-like environment wherever you are. Ideally suited to those on the move, as well as those who have their own studio or recording or performing facilities, this is a versatile piece of gadgetry that affords access to leading software titles and a host of features for less than $100.
Are there any drawbacks?
Buyers have praised the quality of this midi controller, as well as its design and functionality, but the VST control knobs have come under fire.
- Portable and Compact - MIDI Controller
- The most responsive keyboard experience in its category
- 500 of the V-Collection 8 presets / 21 Keyboard Instruments and Synthesizers / fully mapped right out of the box
- The perfect solution to get started with music production
- 16 Assignable Encoders to control your DAW
A modern, super slimline 25-key midi controller, the Akai Professional LPK25 is a compact, portable product that is designed for making and producing music on the move. Ideally suited to those who like to broaden their horizons and escape the confines of a music room or makeshift studio from time to time, this 13-inch midi controller gives you flexibility and freedom to roam.
Features of the Akai Professional LPK25
The Akai Professional LPK25 midi controller has been developed to provide musicians and producers the opportunity to break through barriers and diversify sounds. Rather than being restricted to the boundaries laid out by a computer and a mouse, this midi controller, which is perfectly suited to use with a laptop, gives you an abundance of options. The octave up and down feature increases the range of notes, and there’s also an in-built arpeggiator with four arp modes and tempo controls to jazz up melodies and create unique, powerful bass lines.
Another major draw of the Akai Professional LPK25 is its adaptability. This midi controller is compatible with multiple applications and platforms, including Ableton Live, ProTools, GarageBand, Logic, and Sonar.
Who should buy the Akai Professional LPK24?
This product is perfectly suited to songwriters and musicians who like to get out and about and make music in different settings. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of more expensive devices, but it is a great option for those trying to make it in the mobile world.
- 13 inch, slim line laptop performance keyboard with 25 velocity sensitive mini keyboard keys for playing melodies, bass lines, chords and more
- Dedicated octave up and down buttons to increase the keyboard to the full melodic range plus a sustain button for expressive performances
- On board arpeggiator steps through chords automatically and generates inspiring melodic ideas quickly. 4 programmable memory banks for instant recall of mappings for DAWs, virtual instruments, effects and more
- USB powered and plug and play setup for Mac and PC
- Works with all popular applications including GarageBand, Logic, Sonar, Cubase, Ableton Live, ProTools, Reason, Fruity Loops, Digital Performer, and more
Are you on the lookout for the best midi controller? If so, take a look at these reviews for inspiration!
What Is A Midi Controller?
If you are a beginner, here is a great video that explains what a midi controller is and how to set one up: