Best 5 MIDI Keyboards & Controllers 2017
As time has progressed, there has been an assortment of new technologies that has made music an accessible art form to everyone. One of these technologies is the MIDI keyboard. The MIDI keyboard allows you to use synthesizer technologies to create full compositions using only one instrument and your computer. There are many great keyboards, but the following are the best on the market.
Nektar Impact LX49
Novation Impulse 49
Novation Launchkey 49
What Is MIDI?
MIDI or musical instrument digital interface is a technical standard or protocol that allows a computer to communicate with an electrical instrument or machine. Although it is common in keyboards, a MIDI can be attached to any instrument including a computer, a guitar, etc. A computer will interpret the signal of a MIDI instrument through two signals that can reach up to 127 in value. The first value will indicate the pitch or frequency you hit and the second will indicate the timbre of the instrument. A MIDI instrument will usually be utilized to modify a digital synthesizer or create a composition. The accessibility of MIDI is what makes it distinct in the musical field, allowing for the possibility to play several types of instruments through a single piece of hardware.
There are many components of a MIDI keyboard that make it great. Before making your purchase, please consider the following.
Number of Keys
Essential to any keyboard, the number of keys can range between 25 to 88 keys. Although it is not essential, having the option to use all 88 keys will be beneficial in the long run. This doesn't ultimately diminish the viability of a 25 key MIDI controller, in fact, there are moments when they are more useful than an 88 key. The most obvious occasion would be for a touring scenario. Alternatively, if you are a studio musician, you will save money in the long run if you buy an 88 keyboard as your first option. In essence, a 25 key controller is perfect for a touring musician a 49 or 61 key controller is both a touring or studio musician and the 88 key would be ideal for a studio musician.
Many contemporary producers will focus entirely on MIDI keyboard production. Because of this, a MIDI controller must have domain over an assortment of different functions within your digital audio workstation. On many modern MIDI controllers, you will notice a variety of various objects like knobs, sliders, and pads. All of these serve a different purpose, and at the same time, they can be interchangeable with certain responsibilities.
If you have used a DAW (digital audio workstation), you know that there are sliders and knobs. Most MIDI keyboards will have the ability to customize the function of each particular tool. Furthermore, if you utilize samples as a part of your compositions, many MIDI keyboards multiple pads that allow you to sync with your respective DAW. These pads can be used as triggers for selected samples that will record to your DAW if given the correct configurations.
What Type of Action?
There are three main types of keyboard action, synth action, semi-weighted, and fully-weighted. There is no perfect action, in fact, preference usually trumps any opinion.
The majority of MIDI keyboards are created with a synth action weight. These keys are weighted with plastic and springs instead of real weights. These keys tend to feel as though there is no resistance. Thus, the feel is extremely light and flexible in comparison to other weighted models. This model permeates throughout the music industry, making it just as viable as most keyboards.
This type of keyboard is "in-between" the other two weights (as denoted by the name). This kind of keyboard is made with a combination of spring-loaded build and a built-in weight for each key.
A fully-weighted action is an attempt to emulate the experience of playing a traditional piano entirely. It isn't completely faithful to the experience. However, it comes extremely close. Many MIDI keyboards do not come with fully-weighted keys, but many digital pianos will come with this feature. Fortunately, the majority of contemporary digital pianos contain MIDI accessibility as well.
MIDI mapping refers configuring of your MIDI keyboard. This used to be a trivial task that required a relatively firm knowledge of your respective keyboard. Fortunately, many DAW software has the automatic MIDI mapping. However, many do not. It is important to understand if your keyboard will work with your respective DAW as it is cumbersome to configure the MIDI by yourself with no prior technical experience.
If this is your first experience creating music, it is highly advisable to acquire a MIDI keyboard that comes with software plugins or a fully functional DAW. Without one of these features, your keyboard will create no sound rendering it useless. However, if you are not just starting out, there is no reason to consider acquiring a MIDI keyboard with a software bundle which would ultimately decrease the cost of your purchase.
Nektar Impact LX49
Novation Impulse 49
Novation Launchkey 49
Here is The Best MIDI Keyboards and Controllers on The Market in 2017
Nektar Impact LX49
The Nektar Impact is a 49-key controller that can be used in conjunction with most modern DAWs. It has an assortment of control features ranging from sliders to knobs, to pads. The keys on this controller are semi-weighted, so it will be easy to acclimate from a traditional piano. If you are a composer of EDM or hip-hop, you have access to both a pitch wheel and a mod wheel. These two wheels are responsible for a half-step increase or decrease in pitch and a slight touch of modulation by 127 steps, respectively. Nektar states that many software instruments will automatically map to this MIDI keyboard.
- Versatile music features
- Semi-weighted keys
- Easily Map to Most Daws
- No cables included
Akai Professional MPK249
Akai is famous for creating the MPC, the legendary sampling machine used in old school hip-hop and rap. The MPK series was made as an extension of this technology as an effort to expand the musical palette from samples to full-blown compositions. The MPK249 holds 16 MPC-style pads (with four banks so 64 sounds in all), 49 synth-action keys, eight knobs, faders, and switches (24 assignable slots for the switches). This keyboard was made with the features of a gigging keyboard, with the portability of a smaller keyboard. You can connect to virtual any platform through the MIDI ports or the USB connector. Lastly, there are two inputs for external pedals and one expression jack.
- Perfect for the touring musician
- Many features and external compatibility
- MPC pads for great studio use
- Power supply sold separately
The Alesis V49 49-key MIDI controller will provide you with a slim, yet luxurious experience. Alesis is known to provide affordable, yet powerful music technology to their customers. This controller holds eight pads, four sliders, and four knobs. Unfortunately, it does not include features like a mod wheel or pitch wheel. Alternatively, it does come with a sustain pedal and can be powered through a USB plug. This controller is designed to be a "plug and play" controller with minimal setup.
- Feature rich
- Lack of a pitch wheel or mod wheel
Novation Impulse 49 Keyboard
The Novation Impulse keyboard is present in almost every semi-professional studio. This keyboard allows for a great experience with the versatility of a full-fledged professional MIDI keyboard -- at a good price. Like the previous Novation keyboard on this list, the Impulse is designed specifically to be used in conjunction with Ableton Live, and Novation provides a trial version of Ableton upon purchasing this keyboard. The greatest feature on this keyboard is the integration of a mod wheel, pitch wheel, and an arpeggiator. These three tools, used correctly, will distinguish the sound of your productions from most another intermediate to professional artists at this price point.
- Semi-weighted keyboard
- Multi-functional drum pads
- Relatively novice keyboard, you would have to upgrade once you demand more of your MIDI
Novation Launchkey 49
Novation has been a significant producer of MIDI keyboards ever since they became popular in the music industry. The Launchkey is meant to serve a beginner to a novice who desires the flexibility of 49 keys while remaining mobile. The Launchkey features a range of features like knobs, color-coded pads, sliders, a mod wheel, and a pitch wheel. Furthermore, if you want to customize the experience, you can map the play, fast forward, record, and stop buttons to work seamlessly with your DAW of choice. Novation states that this keyboard was designed to work with Ableton Live and FL Studio, however, it can be integrated into any major DAW. Lastly, this keyboard comes with about four gigabytes of sounds, a sustain pedal, and Novation bass station (a great synthesizer for the creation of bass sounds).
- Rich with features
- Software included
- Only works with Windows 7-8, MACOSX 10.9-10.10
The clear winner between these MIDI keyboards is the Nektar IMPACT LX49. Nektar provides a fully features MIDI experience, complete with many options that will help you apply different nuances in your music. For example, the mod wheel and pitch wheel will help you add significant transitions, while the pads can provide an excellent platform for creating great hip-hop music. Furthermore, the keyboard comes with pre-mapped configurations, making it easy for you to attach to your computer and begin playing. If you wish to integrate this technology with an iOS device, you can do that as well. All of these features prove the versatility and accessibility of the LX49 and why it is the best MIDI keyboard on the market in 2017.