best midi controller

The Best Midi Controller of 2018 For Home Recording

My love for music started when I was young. And I was so happy that I learned how to play different musical instruments. Although I am not a pro, I am starting to explore more which led me to discover the wonders of midi and keyboard controllers.

Apparently, midi controllers are great additions to your music and recording room, especially if you are composing your own music. Many have thought that this instrument is not really helpful. But, little did everyone know that controllers are the most versatile tool in music creation.

With these thoughts at hand, I recently purchased my very own controller. And if you are interested in buying one, I’ve put up a quick and comprehensive guide for you. Accordingly, this guide includes the best midi keyboard controllers on the market today.

List of The Best Midi Keyboard Controllers

MIDIPLUS AKM320

Most Budget-Friendly

midiplus akm320 midi keyboard controller
  • check
    Portable and Compact 
  • check
    Very inexpensive 
  • check
    Great for beginners 

Rated by: Harry

Akai Professional

BEST CHOICE

akai professional mpk mini
  • check
    Features high-end technology 
  • check
    Comes with a free 1.5GB music library 
  • check
    Inexpensive

Rated by: Harry

Worlde Panda 

Most Functional 

worlde panda mini portable midi controller
  • check
    All-inclusive MIDI controller 
  • check
    Easy to use 
  • check
    Inexpensive 

Rated by: Harry

Before you proceed, take note that there is no such thing as “the perfect product.” All of the controllers included here have their own advantages and drawbacks. Hence, it is very wise that you consider every factor first.

Akai Professional MPK Mini-MIDI Keyboard

Quick Summary

akai professional mpk mini

Rated by: Harry

For an affordable price tag that falls under $100, you can already have a pretty decent MIDI controller. Akai Professional MPK Mini MIDI Controller keyboard is one of today’s most basic keyboard controllers setup.

But while it’s basic, the features are not that really designed for entry-level users. Even so, this can be best midi controller for you.

This mpk mini mkii Keyboard from Akai Professional features 25 keys in totality. Accordingly, it has a total length of 12.4 inches weighing about 1.6 pounds only. 

So, if you are a musician who travels a lot for music production and composition, this can suffice your needs and wants for a midi controller.

The keyboard type for this controller is a synth-action type. So, if you are fond of creating music in a much more modern tone, this can work just as fine for you. And when you are transmitting MIDI-data, its effective USB input and output option is available.

As for the pads and buttons, this Akai Professional controller has 8 velocity-sensitive rubber drum pads. It comes with two banks and eight configurable control knobs.

Now, the things I like about this MIDI controller is that it features high-end functions. Most of the time, you can only see these features on expensive types of controllers. So, I suggest that you take advantage of this if in case you will purchase this controller.

The Hybrid 3 by AIR music technology is also equipped in its system. This functions as the high-definition synthesizer that creates more warmth to the analog synths.

PROS

  • Inexpensive
  • It features high-end technology 
  • It comes with an exclusive and free 1.5GB genre-spanning music library

CONS

  • Not very durable
  • Difficult to set up
  • Instruction Manual is not very helpful

MIDIPLUS AKM320 MIDI Keyboard Controller

Quick Summary

midiplus akm320 midi keyboard controller

Rated by: Harry

If you are new to the world of controllers, the MIDIPLUS AKM320 MIDI Keyboard controller might be the best one for you.

Apparently, I was looking forward to buying this one as my first ever controller because it is almost all-inclusive and yet very basic. Pretty great option for beginners who want to get to know the real vibe and function of a MIDI controller.

It has 32 keys which are all velocity sensitive and are in the mid-size range. But while it features 32 keys, it does not have any drum pads or knobs faders. 

The buttons that you would see on the interface are wheels for modulation and pitch.

Alongside these wheels, there are also octave and transpose buttons that you can adjust by simply pushing the buttons up and down. And the same is true for its volume slider. It may seem too basic, especially for advanced users and musicians, but the AKM320 can be one of the best midi-controllers for beginners and newbies.

The input and output options are largely focused on its USB hubs. However, keep in mind that the hub is not included in the package. So, that will be an additional cost on your end if in case you choose to purchase this set.

For a price range under $50, you can already have an entry-level controller that you can use for your practices and lessons. In fact, the company is giving out free lessons for selected buyers which apparently caught my attention as I was surfing for my first controller before.

PROS

  • Portable and Compact
  • Very inexpensive 
  • Great for beginner

CONS

  • Lacks necessary pads and knobs
  • Keys are too stiff
  • The velocity of the keys are not really responsive

M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 I MIDI Controller

Quick Summary

m audio keystation mini 32 i midi controller

Rated by: Harry

M-Audio Mini 32 I MIDI Controller is quite making a noise in the market today. This because the controller is very inexpensive but it comes with high-end features and technology. 

Some users would even say that advanced-level musicians could utilize this controller in creating electronic music.

With these things at hand, it is only fitting that I include this keyboard controller in my list of the best midi controller. 

As the name states, this controller feature 32 velocity sensitive keys. And similar to the MIDIPLUS AKM320, it does not have drum pads, knobs, and faders. Nevertheless, it features pitch bends, modulation buttons, and “sustain” keys.

The overall size is rated at 17.1 inches which is pretty small that it can fit in your laptop bags. Also, the total weight is around 1.1 pounds. Hence, this MIDI controller is very convenient and easy to bring anywhere with you.

Now, what makes the Keystation Mini 32 I MIDI Controller really popular these days is the smart features that it provides to the users. These features include the ProTools First, Ableton Live Lite, Eleven Lite, and Xpand!2 systems.

Using these systems and audio interface, users are now capable of making and creating music virtually. And not only that they are capable, users are also being immersed in different systems that are largely present in the electronic music industry.

Hence, it will be easy for you to learn and navigate almost all systems that are used in the industry when it comes to composing and creating music. And that is if in case you choose to buy this. You can purchase this for a price that falls below $50.

PROS

  • It has smart features and systems
  • Great for beginner and advanced-level users
  • Very inexpensive

CONS

  • Not very durable
  • It has apparent issues with the velocity sensitivity
  • Some keys are stiff

Korg NanoKontrol 2 Slim-Line USB Controller

Quick Summary

korg nanokontrol 2 slim-line usb control surface

Rated by: Harry

The Korg NanoKontrol 2 Slim-Line USB Control Surface does not come with keys. Apparently, it only features the controls, knobs, and buttons that you will need for your controller. 

Even so, it will still allow you to create and produce music through your laptop or computer. Accordingly, the output medium is USB for this product. 

For a price that falls under $75, you can already have a great synthesizer for the best midi-controller of your choice. 

Also, the package includes already an exclusive software that will allow you to virtually control the whole setup.

Many advanced musicians use the Korg NanoKontrol 2 as it supports most of the major title DAW programs and software. Hence, it has become more convenient for them when they compose and create music.

By and large, the NanoKontrol 2 features 8 channels that come with 3 buttons, a fader, and one knob for each channel. Also, it features a marker advance parameter that goes side by side with its new select track function.

It is lightweight and very compact. So, you can bring this along with your primary midi keyboard when you are traveling.

PROS

  • Versatile
  • It is compatible with many major DAW software 
  • It comes with its own and exclusive software

CONS

  • Not very durable
  • It can be really expensive when purchased with the keyboard
  • Pads and buttons are not sensitive

Alesis Q25 25-Key USB MIDI Controller

Quick Summary

alesis q25 25-key usb midi controller

Rated by: Harry

Another controller that I included in my list of the best midi-controller is the Alesis Q25 25-Key USB Controller. And for a price that falls under $150, you could already have this item in your studio.

The Q25 model from Alesis is the most basic in their MIDI Controller product line. But while it is considered as the perfect controller for entry-level users, it has features that are beneficial to most mid-ranged musicians.

As the name states, the Alesis Q25 has 25 velocity sensitive keys. 

Accordingly, it has a total length of 19.5 inches which is quite compact and portable. As for the weight rating, it is measured at 3.1 pounds which is pretty heavy in comparison to most MIDI controllers of today.

When it comes to the features, this controller does not specify its keyboard type. All we know is that it is not semi-weighted since the only semi-weighted type in the Alesis Controllers product line is the Q88.

In addition, it does not have any drum pads. On the top of the keys, you would only see the buttons and options for Pitch, Modulation, and Octave Shift functions. It also comes with 1 pedal input and a MIDI output over USB.

PROS

  • Quality keys
  • The package comes with an Ableton Live Lite Alesis Edition of software
  • Easy to use

CONS

  • Quite heavy
  • Too basic for its price
  • Not durable

Numark Mixtrack 3 Virtual All-In-One Controller

Quick Summary

numark mixtrack 3 virtual all-in-one controller

Rated by: Harry

If you are more of an aspiring DJ than a composer, the Numark Mixtrack 3 Controller might be the best option for you. You would not see any keys included in the controller but I still included this one on my list of the best midi-controllers of today.

If versatility is the real advantage of MIDI controller, then this MIxtrack 3 from Numark is most versatile of all.

As mentioned, aspiring DJs may utilize this controller for their respective practices and lessons.

All of the features of the Numark Mixtrack 3 Virtual All-In-One Controller are mainly designed to produce electro-type of music genre. Even so, it can still be used as a normal controller for anybody who wants to compose and create any music.

And speaking of features, the Mixtrack 3 has two touch-sensitive metal jog wheels. Also, it has rubber-trigger pads and multi-function touch strip. It is important for you to note that these features are not largely meant for beginners and entry-level users.

You can purchase this for a price that falls under $150. And this is actually the most expensive controller that I’ve included in this list.

PROS

  • Versatile
  • The package comes with a DJ LE Software
  • It features 100mm long pitch sliders

CONS

  • No RCA-output
  • Poor customer service
  • Difficult to set up

MIDIPLUS Smartpad USB MIDI Controller

Quick Summary

midiplus smartpad usb midi controller

Rated by: Harry

MIDIPLUS is one of the brands that manufacture the most unique MIDI controllers. One apparent reason for this is that almost all of their products appear quite differently in comparison to most controllers of today.

Accordingly, I take it that the Smartpad USB MIDI Controller from MIDIPLUS is one of the best controllers of today.

But, this is not only because of its overall appearance. Although it plays a huge role on my considerations, this controller is so much more for me.

Instead of using keys, this model features 64 backlit buttons. And it comes with 8 encoder knobs, 8 control buttons, and a function selection.

You can have your very own Smartpad Controller for a price that falls below $75 which apparently is a very inexpensive price. Moreover, the package includes one standard USB cable and a User’s Manual.

In addition, this Controller can be utilized together with other DJ virtual applications as long as they have a MIDI output. Also, it is very compatible with Ableton Live Lite. However, it is not included in the package. So, you may have to purchase it as well.

PROS

  • Unique and sleek design
  • Very portable
  • Durable

CONS

  • Lacks necessary package inclusions
  • Difficult to set up with various software lines
  • Manual mapping is needed

Worlde Panda Mini Portable-MIDI Controller

Quick Summary

worlde panda mini-portable midi controller

Rated by: Harry

If you are looking for a MIDI controller that has all the necessary inclusions and attachments, then you may want to check the Worlde Panda Mini Portable-MIDI Controller.

And this is because the product features all the basic parts and aspects of an average MIDI controller.

For this reason alone, I take it that this portable controller is one of the best midi-controllers of today.

When you purchase this, you will get to experience 25 velocity-sensitive keys. Also, these keys are velocity assignable which has 3 velocity curves and one constant velocity rating. Along with the keys, you will get to experience the 8 trigger pads, 4 assignable knobs, 4 sliders, and 4 banks for various settings too.

You may purchase this all-inclusive MIDI controller for a price below $75 today.

PROS

  • All-inclusive MIDI controller
  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive

CONS

  • Drum pads are not effective
  • Not compatible with Windows 10
  • The software comes with various malware

Factors To Consider Before Purchasing A Midi Controller

Keep in mind that these factors are the ones that would help you decide which is the right controller for you out of all the best controllers of today.

1. Key Count and Size

The number of keys in a controller will depend largely on your own preferences. If portability plays a huge role in your buying decision, you should very well consider the key count.

Today, most midi-controllers come with 25, 49, 61, and 88 keys. Of course, if you want a compact and mini-midi controller, you’ll want to have the one with 25 keys. Even so, there are controllers that have 61 and 88 keys that are compact and portable.

Also, it is important for you to note that the average length of a controller normally ranges around 20” to 50”.

2. Keyboard Action Type

The keyboard-action type of a controller is apparently the way how the key responds to your playing routines. This is very essential as it may help you find the best midi controller. Normally, the build quality and the type of the sound is largely affected by the type of the keyboard action. And there are three types of keyboard actions:

  • Weighted Hammer

If you want the sound to be much more like the ones you hear from a piano, then you may want to have a midi keyboard that features a weighted hammer action. Usually, this is the best choice of every musician that is pretty accustomed to playing a piano.

  • Semi-weighted 

Semi-weighted action is similar to the weighted hammer-action. But, this action mixes with the Synth action types. This means that the sound is a little bit of piano but it mixes with a more electric type of music.

  • Synth 

As for the Synth Action, you will want this type if you are not a pianist by nature. Say, for instance, you are a guitarist and you want your music to blend with a midi output, then this type of action may be the ideal one for you.

Controllers that feature Synth Action are great for playing fast keys and music. So, this can be a real advantage on your end if most of your music is fast-paced and upbeat.

3. Buttons, Faders, Knobs, and Pads

On an average note, a midi controller features 8 pads or more. This will allow you to produce various sounds like drums and trigger loops that can enhance further your music production and organization.

midi keyboard

Along with the pads, midi-controllers have buttons, faders, and knobs as well. These go side by side with the performance pads. And keep in mind that they take that much space as well on the top of your keyboard.

Nevertheless, these buttons and sliders will give you real-time and hands-on transmission of MIDI data.

4. Aftertouch

Most beginners do not need an aftertouch feature in their midi keyboards. But, when you get to experience using this feature, you will surely love it.

Apparently, an aftertouch feature will give you much more expressive playing and touching on the keys. It leaves a certain vibration at the end of each press. Also, it is a convenient and ergonomic way of enhancing your every press.

Remember, you don’t largely need this. But, it can enhance your playing and your music composition.

5. Connection Input and Output

Another factor that you have to consider is the input and output method of the controller. Most modern midi-controllers have a basic setup for input and output. And this usually involves transmitting MIDI by using USB.

But, for a more complex method, there are other jack options as well that you may want to look at, especially if you are playing and performing on a live audience.

Depending on your convenience, standard setup, and preference, it will be largely up to you what input and output option you will need.

The Verdict

Out of all the best midi-controllers that I included in this list, the only one that stands out the most is the Akai Professional MPK Mini MIDI Drum Pad and Keyboard Controller.

akai professional mpk mini

Primarily, it features all the basic parts and aspects of an average MIDI controller. Secondly, it comes with a free 1.5GB music library which is very helpful for every musician and composer. And thirdly, it features high-end technology functions that are only found in most high-end types.

Now, choosing the controller that is for you can be really challenging. But, keep in mind that with the right knowledge and consideration, you will get the most appropriate for you and enhance further your music composition and performance.