Are you considering purchasing a MIDI keyboard controller to support your music production? There definitely are a lot out of options out there, but some are no good for beginners and some are not worth the money in general. You can find out what is going to work in your situation by reading along.
Making sure you have a good keyboard controller starts with finding out what is out there. Some MIDI keyboards are rated well just because they are cheap and that's not the singular factor that should sway you. If you really want something that will last and help you create a lot of good music, it might cost you a pretty penny. Also, the lower priced options sometimes come with less features and keys so it can be even more difficult to get the sound out of it you want.
Thankfully, we’ve already done the research to help you get started on finding the best MIDI keyboards to start off with!
Novation Launchkey Mini
Akai Professional LPK25
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII
M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV
M-Audio Keystation 49 II
Make sure you have a MIDI to USB hub to use with your keyboard. Some of the newer ones have a USB connection by default. If you are trying to make music on a computer, it probably won't have a MIDI port on it.
There are different mixers and audio interfaces that you can hook right up to a keyboard with just MIDI but you have to think about your setup. What works for you might not be what the best keyboard can support so you may need to shop around for the right MIDI keyboard with the best connection options.
Features to Look For
- A MIDI keyboard controller should have keys that you are comfortable with playing.
- You need to think about the music you're going to make.
- Be wary of options that have a lot of frivolous features.
Some of the better ones are those with pressure sensitive keys that let you control how loud the sounds are that are being triggered. If you don't have that option, you can still get by since most music programs will let you adjust the sound of all of the notes that you hit on the keyboard while recording. Sometimes, it's just better for the sounds coming out of a MIDI keyboard to be a little more natural with pressure sensitive keys when making music.
Some people like to have just a few keys on a small keyboard so that they can make quick melodies they have in mind. If you need a bigger keyboard, that's not a problem either, but you have to think about what you need for your studio. For those that are making music on a laptop and don't have a lot of room, the good thing about MIDI is that you can play notes and then change their pitch when editing your song so you don't actually need a large amount of keys.
It is generally better to purchase instruments and sound triggering equipment separately instead of buying a product that has all features of many products. Think of it as a jack of all trades, master of none type of situation. If anything, test out a few different pieces of hardware to make sure they didn't skimp on the keyboard part. If a company mostly makes musical instruments, that doesn't automatically mean that they can also make a good MIDI instrument.
Don’t Just Look at the Hardware
When buying a MIDI keyboard controller of any kind, find out what the return policy is on it.
- Most instruments, especially ones like this, are likely to have a pretty decent return policy attached. There are all kinds of problems that can occur, such as a key that doesn't play properly.
- But, you'll probably have to ship the item back to the company that sold it to you or bring it back if it's in store.
- Also note, if it's past the return date that they'll allow for, you may end up having to sell it at a loss so always know what the policy states.
MIDI is not going to do much if you don't know how to use software or just the instruments that are built into the MIDI keyboard you're using. There are a lot of software synthesis programs that you can buy, so it's a good idea to find out more about them. Some have demos, but you may not be able to use a keyboard with them or save on them when you create something new. It's always good to try something before you buy it even if that something is software that you are curious about trying.
Before You Click Buy
Be a little careful when looking up reviews for a MIDI keyboard controller, because some may not be what you think they are. People tend to give out items, for instance, to get someone to review it for them. That means that the person may just be giving it a great review because it was free and they want to get more free stuff in the future from the company. Then, there are companies that pay others to say something nice about their product or to talk trash on competitors. If you want to avoid all of this, stick with our detailed reviews that cover the pros and cons of these MIDI keyboards.
Playing around with a keyboard controller is only a good idea if you actually know how to be careful.
- If you break it by accident, say if you spilled something on it or were too rough with it, you can lose all of that money that you put into it.
- Some companies do offer a protection plan in case something happens that is your fault or for other reasons.
Either way, find out what the conditions are for any protection plan in case some kinds of damages aren't included unless you pay an additional amount.
Learning to Use a MIDI Keyboard Controller
You need to learn how MIDI keyboards work and how to play the kind of music you are getting into.
You can find tutorials online that include videos. You may even be able to find a video of someone using the same instrument that you have. If you are going to learn this way, make it a point to see if the comments on videos or tutorial sites have anything negative in them. If people are all saying that they don't think that's the right way to learn something, it's best to go find a different source of learning that is more well received.
When it comes down to it, you need to make sure that you are serious about finding the best MIDI keyboard for beginners that isn't actually only for people that are starting. You need something that will last you after you learn how to play around with it and make music. I can say firsthand that it can be nice to just spend a hundred or less on something that you can practice with, but for just a little more you can get something that will last and will have all of the features you're looking for in a new addition to your studio.
Working On Your First Tracks
One thing a lot of people don't think about is the amount of work that goes into perfecting a piece of music.
- You are going to need, at the very least, studio monitors or headphones while you are making music. If you plan to share it with the world, then you can't just rely on some old computer speakers or another setup that's not all that great to begin with.
- Have a look at our studio monitors equipment articles to learn more about what you can get and study what works. It'll also guide you in identifying what products would be best left on the shelf due to quality issues.
Don't fret if you can't make music as well as others when you first get started. You may hear from some people that you're good but that doesn't mean much until you really practice and you get compliments from strangers. Try to practice each day if you can, and eventually you're going to develop muscle memory. That way, you're going to know what to play when you have a certain sound in your mind. Soon, you will be able to play anything you hear or anything you thought of and that is a very freeing feeling when you can make music without tweaking it a lot.
Try not to get ahead of yourself when you want to become a musician. It's easy to make a few tunes on a keyboard and then to think that it is great but you need to step back and work on what you're doing first. If you want to use the best keyboard to make awesome music, you have to work your way up and practice for a while. Once you do that, anything you put out will be miles ahead of anyone else just starting out because people try to get into music before they are prepared and that's why they don't make it.
You can find the best MIDI keyboard controllers for beginners easily. There are so many out there and a lot of them are great. Hopefully with our help, you'll get to know what works well and you can make all kinds of music from the electronic dance music we keep raving about and even hip hop beats. Below are a couple mini reviews of MIDI keyboards that I would recommend for someone just starting out!
Quick Look: Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII 25-Key MIDI Keyboard
The Professional MPK Mini MKII 25-Key USB MIDI by Akai is perfect for both beginners and experienced MIDI keyboard users! It is sleek and has a compact feel of the keys. To learn more about this product, here are some pretty neat features:
Nothing To Hold You Back
This MIDI keyboard includes everything that you need to help you lay down all your musical ideas. You can easily increase your range with the dedicated Octave Up and Octave Down buttons.
The adjustable arpeggiator found on-board will easily help you create more melodies. This MIDI keyboard uses an 8 MPC-styled drum pads made of rubber. This is an important feature as the product is able to keep pace in touch with your creativity.
Plug It In and Go
The Professional MPK Mini MKII 25-Key USB MIDI keyboard is also low maintenance. It does not require software drivers. You also do not need to use an external power adapter in order for the product to operate.
It is hassle-free. All you need to do is to plug and it will be ready for you to play. It also has a USB-MIDI feature. This enables the MIDI keyboard to power up to your computer with a single USB connection.
Choose the Effects That You Want
In order to unlock the true potential of this hardware, you must download the MKII MIDI Editor. Do not worry as it is absolutely free. This MKII MIDI Editor is very powerful preset management software. It lets you customize your hardware and software setup on your computer so that you are able to allot more time in making great music.
This package includes all the essentials and can help you to quickly write down and expand your musical ideas. What are you waiting for? Get yours now!
Quick Look: M-Audio Keystation 49 II USB MIDI Keyboard
The M-Audio Keystation 49 II is a well designed and affordable USB MIDI controller keyboard that should work well for any beginner’s home studio.
It allows you to program realistically performed melodies, chords, and drum patterns with an accompanying digital audio workstation of your choice. The brand itself has the added benefit of being a true industry standard. For at least a decade now, they've been bringing high quality studio equipment to the masses for relatively low cost.
This particular unit is no exception; the Keystation 49 II is a mere $97, and it's often available for even less when on sale.
Despite the immensely affordable price, the functionality of the keyboard is perfectly on par with what you'd expect from higher end models.
The keys are semi-weighted, and they're even velocity sensitive. As such, they're very responsive to what you play, and they'll allow you to introduce legitimate dynamics into your tracks. If you want to gradually build the intensity of your chords as you ramp up towards a chorus, the Keystation 49 II will capture those nuances perfectly. The unit even has a sustain pedal input to allow for greater expression when performing, and you can control the modulation and pitch as well.
The best of all, this is a true starter pack of sorts. The keyboard includes Ableton Live Lite: a powerful digital audio workstation, as well as SONiVOX Eighty Eight Ensemble: a virtual piano with amazing functionality. Even the most experienced musicians have sung the praises of this software, and it should be of great use even to those that have more experience.
Overall, the M-Audio Keystation 49 II USB MIDI keyboard controller is a fantastic product. Whether you're expanding your existing equipment or just starting out with your own studio, this will definitely help push your musical endeavors to the next level.
A reliable MIDI keyboard controller is essential for any musician or producer working today, so don't hesitate to hop on board as soon as you can!