The Best MIDI Keyboard for Ableton

If you’re in search for the best MIDI keyboard for Ableton, you may have come to the right place. While there are a plethora of options, you don’t want to get stuck with one that doesn’t work properly or to your liking. As a musician, you need versatility and flexibility, as that’s what your creativity desires, and this boils down to everything you use during the creation process.

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of purchasing a MIDI keyboard for Ableton Live, the factors you should consider before investing in a MIDI keyboard for Ableton, as well as tips on how to choose the best MIDI keyboard for your needs!

Product

Keys

Pads

Knobs

Price

Our Top Choice

Novation Launchkey 49

49

16

8

Great Budget Picks

Akai Professional APC Key 25

25

40

8

M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV

49

8

8

Alesis VI25

25

16

8

Professional Grade

Akai Professional MPK261

61

16

8

Novation Impulse 49

49

8

8

The Benefits of Buying a MIDI Keyboard for Ableton

First things first: you may be new to the world of MIDI keyboards, and for Ableton, you may need a bit more guidance. For starters, Ableton is a type of music sequencer software that you’re able to use as a digital audio workstation for both operating systems (Windows and Mac OSX; unfortunately, not for Linux thus far). You’re able to use Ableton to help you design instruments for your performances, and you can utilize features like arranging, mastering, recording, composition, and totally mixing. When you have a MIDI keyboard, you’re able to use a digital keyboard interface that allows you to place in the Ableton sequencer. Instead of having all of your instruments out at once and trying to replicate a song or sound, the proper MIDI keyboard will allow you to do this virtually with ease – or physical; whichever you desire!

You may be wondering why you should buy a MIDI keyboard when it doesn’t produce sounds by itself. You’ll have to get some through programs like VST or a type of one-hit sample which allow you to explore a plethora of ways to obtain sounds, and gain access to features that will allow you to excel further than your standard keyboard. Features that you should look for will be shown in the next section.

An added benefit of using a MIDI keyboard for Ableton is that you can use knobs to manipulate sounds for an approach that is more hands on than not. Beyond this, you can put together beats from samples that are of the highest quality for an at-home studio; although, professional producers may use similar equipment as well with Ableton. Those that use a DAW music program can have much more control over what they produce than not when using the best MIDI keyboard for Ableton.

Factors to Consider Before Purchasing the Best MIDI Keyboard for Ableton

Before you jump into buying a random MIDI keyboard for your Ableton live application, you’ll want to ensure that your keyboard has the basic features of record, stop, and play. Without, your workflow will be reduced indefinitely and entirely. When you want to create loops and repeat said loops or stop the aforementioned, these buttons will come in handy immensely, and will save you time overall.

Those interested should also invest in a MIDI keyboard that has a mod and pitch bend wheel for optimal sound creation. Those that are using other programs than Ableton may not find usage for these, but it’s a great and nifty feature to have.

Tips to Know Before Purchasing

Before I get into the reviews, you should know that a great MIDI keyboard for Ableton should have knobs over sliders. The aforementioned is due to the motorization of the knobs versus the sliders, which have to be manually pushed. If you want total control, the sliders may be the way to go, but for those that want automatic control during creation for a more efficient workflow will want to go with knobs.

It’s also worth mentioning that you’ll also have to know how to play the keyboard (mostly) in order to begin creation. While I suggest learning a bit before diving into MIDI keyboard purchasing, it’s not impossible to use prior to using a normal keyboard.

Reviews

Novation Launchkey 49 USB Keyboard Controller for Ableton Live

Manufactured specifically for usage with Ableton Live, features of this affordable keyboard controller include the following:

  • MK2 version of the 49-note keyboard
  • 16-velocity sensitive RGB pads, 8 knobs
  • ​Fully USB bus-powered, works with drivers and power cables
  • Software for both Mac and PC

The Breakdown of the Features

If you want something versatile that can work with both Mac and PC, you’ll want to snap up this MIDI keyboard. The Mk2 version of this Novation keyboard is specifically designed for Ableton Live, and features Ableton Live Lite and XLN Audio Addictive keys.

The Advantages of the Product

One of the favored advantages of this Ableton Live MIDI keyboard includes the 16-velocity sensitive RGB pads and 8 separate knobs. You can also purchase this keyboard with 25 keys, a mini version of the 25 keys, and even 61 keys. Your budget and desires will ultimately make this decision.

The Disadvantages of the Product

One of the disadvantages of this MIDI keyboard for Ableton Live is that when setting up, the software may have some issues and you’ll need to go online and download a patch of sorts. Otherwise, you should be able to begin composing upon setup!

Akai Professional APC Key 25, Ableton Live MIDI Controller with Keyboard

Available at an affordable price, this Akai Professional MIDI keyboard boasts a few features. Some of these include the following:

  • First controller with enhanced control
  • 25 synth-action mini keys, conventional performing and composition
  • 40 tri-color LED pads, 8 assignable knobs
  • 1.7lbs total, USB-powered

The Breakdown of the Features

The aforementioned plug and play MIDI control keyboard is meant for Ableton Live, and is the first keyboard created for an even more enhanced control. Being able to integrate the Ableton software with ease, this USB-powered, 1.7lbs. compact MIDI controller is available at an affordable price. Featuring 40 tri-color mini keys, you can either perform with this or for composing conventionally.

The Advantages of the Product

One of the advantages that I enjoy is that it has 25 synth-action mini keys, and 8 different knobs for assigning with. Having this much versatility in a small package can help even the most advanced achieve their dream sounds.

The Disadvantages of the Product

There aren’t too many disadvantages, but if you’re looking for something with more than 25 keys, you’ll have to choose elsewhere from this list or research further to find your dream MIDI keyboard to use with Ableton Live.

M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV, 49-Key USB MIDI

Manufactured by M-Audio, this Oxygen 49 MKIV, 49 Key USB MIDI controller is something you may want to invest in. Features of the aforementioned controller include the following:

  • USB connection to computer
  • 49 full sized keys, velocity sensitive, synth-action
  • 8 pads for beat production
  • 8 assignable knobs

The Breakdown of the Features

Being such a versatile MIDI keyboard, you’re able to produce a variety of sounds beats. Thanks to the 8 velocity sensitive pads for the production of beats, you can do so with ease. For those that like assigning knobs, you can assign up to 8 and you can also assign 9 other faders for optimal mixing.

The Advantages of the Product

I think that the incorporation of full sized keys within this USB MIDI keyboard allows functionality and optimal ease of use. It’s also worth mentioning that the aspect of being velocity sensitive allows you to explore and use with ease.

The Disadvantages of the Product

There aren’t too many, but for those that like to use pads often, the impact has to be a little harder than the impact of using keys – which isn’t a true disadvantage, but something to know when using them.

Alesis VI25, Advanced MIDI USB Keyboard

Manufactured by Alesis, a leading brand, this MIDI keyboard is compact and features an organized way of composing the sickest of beats. Features of the aforementioned include:

  • Options for 25 keys, 49 keys, or 61 keys
  • Can play virtual instruments
  • Square-front, semi-weighted keys, 25 full sized
  • 16 multi-color RGB pressure responsive pads

The Breakdown of the Features

Having pressure responsive pads means that you can create different levels of sounds and create more versatile compositions. Along with this, there are 25 full-sized semi-weighted keys that are square front. You can play virtual instruments and choose which number of keys you’d like. Along with this, you’re going to receive a free download of Ableton Live Lite when purchasing.

The Advantages of the Product

Not only do you receive Ableton Live Lite for free, but you’ll also be able to have fun composing various levels and sounds using the RGB pressure responsive pads.

The Disadvantages of the Product

There aren’t too many disadvantages, but if you’re looking for something with better pads, you may want to look elsewhere. While the pads are efficient for playing and have mostly high-rated reviews, if you’re a professional and need more for you money, you may want to invest in something more.

Akai Professional MPK261, USB MIDI and Drum Pad Controller

Next on our list is another Akai Professional that’s a step above the rest. Also acting as a drum pad controller, you’re going to receive the following upon purchasing:

  • 61 semi-weighted full sized keys that are sensitive when pressure is involved
  • Revamped control layout
  • LCD Screen, USB powered connection
  • 16 RGB-illuminated pads, assignable

The Breakdown of the Features

Within this MIDI controller that’s USB powered, you’re also receiving a device that acts as a drum pad controller. Beyond this, the revamped control layout allows for more efficiency during creation. There are also assignable and illuminated RGB pads (16, in fact!)

The Advantages of the Product

I love that you’re able to use the trigger pads in this MIDI controller to perform live, and you won’t have to bring any excess equipment or materials to help show off your sound. Another advantage is that the composition of the MIDI keyboard is more compact and well-designed, as it’s been revamped since the last models have been released.

The Disadvantages of the Product

There aren’t many – if any at all. You may have to get some help with the software if you’re a software newbie like I was, but this MIDI controller is more than efficient for the average and the more advanced user.

Novation Impulse 49 USB MIDI Controller Keyboard

Last on our list is another Novation MIDI keyboard, and it definitely boasts a few features. While not as colorful as our previous entries, its features include the following:

  • Automap 4 control software
  • Includes downloads for bass station synth from Novation, Ableton Live Lite, Loopmasters sample pack, and even Addictive Keys
  • Full DAW and plug-in control surface
  • 8 knobs, 9 faders

The Breakdown of the Features

One of the great features of this controller keyboard is that it does come with so many download options from Ableton Live Lite, Loopmasters sample pack, Addictive Keys download, and even a bass station synth from Novation. Beyond this, there are 9 faders, 8 knobs for assigning, and automap 4 control software.

The Advantages of the Product

I think that the main advantage (besides having an entire MIDI controller) is that you do have access to so many free downloads. Plug it in, play, and begin creating! Beyond this, you can also use it as a regular keyboard as well on your computer!

The Disadvantages of the Product

There aren’t too many disadvantages that I can see, but you may want to look at the knobs when you purchase. They are a little too easy to turn, and some may feel as if that’s a disadvantage during creation.

The Final Verdict

Now that you’ve learned the basic things to know about the best MIDI keyboard for Ableton, you’ll want to make a decision or sleep on the ones we’ve mentioned to you. If you’re curious as to a suggestion to point you in the right direction, I feel that the Novation Launchkey Keyboard controller may be your best bet.

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