In the previous part, I talked about “Things to Consider for Buying a Best MIDI Controller”. And today, I have final details a guide for buying The Best Midi Controller Keyboards. Here we go!!!
First, know what you need
Before deciding which midi keyboard is best and right for you, you’ll want to figure out the features you need, and just as importantly the features you DON’T need. Then when you know exactly what will fit, you can find the best priced and highest quality options.
I should note that some people wonder what’s the best midi controller keyboard for Ableton, Pro tools, FL studio, Cubase, Logic, Sonar, Reason, Garage band, or whatever DAW they use is.
The midi controller found on this page will work with any digital audio workstation (DAW) as keyboard compatibility has to do with the operating system you are running rather than the music production software you are using. So find the best midi controller keyboards that suits your needs, and rest assured if it’s compatible with your OS then you’ll be fine regardless of what music production program you are using.
Let’s run through some of the basics details of midi controllers to narrow down the type of midi keyboard best suits what you’re after.
Midi Controller Keyboards Vs. Synthesizer Keyboards
Which one do I need? Before going any further, it’s important to understand the difference between a midi controller and a synthesizer keyboards.
A typical synthesizer keyboards has actual “built-in” sounds (or a built in software synthesizer) ready to play audio from the keyboard itself. These are the typical keyboards most people think of when they go into a store and start playing music from them.
A midi controller keyboards however is NOT capable of generating any sound from the keyboard, and must be plugged into something that can generate sound such as an external synthesizer, sample player or computer (via audio interface and DAW software).
So, why would someone want a midi controller vs. a synthesizers?
- Well if you are using a digital audio workstation (DAW) or external synths, you probably don’t want to spend your money paying for built in sounds. You’re not even going to use when all you want is to “control” sounds and midi data with the keyboard. Even bands that play live with keyboards may only use a midi controller keyboard to control a software synthesizer.
- Most synthesizers in the several hundred dollar range don’t offer that great of built in sounds, and so it makes a lot more sense for producers to simply buy a high quality midi controller, and let their software take care of the synthesis needs.
In short: If you need a keyboard that actually generates sounds, go with a synthesizer instead of a midi controller.
Which Midi Controller Keyboards Is Best Suited to you?
For those who want the most power and cheapest keyboard to produce music using computer software or external hardware synthesizers, keep reading to find the best midi controllers at below.
1#: Portable Midi Controller
These are the cheap midi controller keyboards for those whom:
- Want to make music at any location? These small compact keyboards let you take your keyboard with you on the go with a laptop.
- Those who don’t have a lot of space and want something that fits on their desktop next to their computer.
- Those who want the cheapest midi keyboard controllers and are minimalists who do NOT need a bunch of knobs and faders or extra keys.
- Those who just need something to input midi data into a program and aren’t as concerned about actually “playing” a piece of music. IE: Producers rather than actual keyboardists / pianists. Typically you will use these to input melodies, bass lines, drum parts, etc. one part at a time separate from one another in a digital audio workstation.
2#: Minimalist Midi Controller
The following midi controller keyboards are the best for those whom:
- Want to have the flexibility to play more keys, but don’t need a lot of knobs, faders, and additional features. Note: I can’t remember the last time I’ve needed more than a single knob or slider for anything I was producing. (Most people only really need the keys and sometimes pitch bend and modulation)
- Want the cheapest midi controller to get the job done and don’t need it to “feel” like an actual piano. IE: No weighted keys.
3#: Full Featured Midi Controller
These midi controller keyboards offer the greatest versatility of all the keyboards. They are for those whom:
- Want additional control with more sliders, knobs, and other features at an economical price.
- Want the best price for those features and are willing to sacrifice a little bit on the feel of the keys in order to get the most features for the dollars spent.
- Want something from a reputable brand. M-Audio sometimes gets hated on, but I haven’t found another brand that balances the quality, compatibility, features, and cheapest price outside of say Alesis.