MIDI Controller – Buying Guide, Opinions and Analysis
MIDI controllers are very important devices in music production, since they facilitate the use of audio programs or plugins that you have installed on your computer. Therefore, we recommend the Korg Nanokontrol 2, which is used to mix songs in DAW programs more easily, thanks to its 8 programmable faders, 8 rotary buttons and other controls such as Rec, Play or Stop. Another good option is the Donner EC1421 controller, which is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. Similarly, it has a control panel to select the tone you need.
The 9 Best MIDI Controllers – Opinions 2022
If you want to acquire one of these devices that meets your expectations, check the following reviews where we will present you the best MIDI controllers of 2022, perhaps one of these models is the one you are looking for.
1. Korg 011776 MIDI Controller
This could be the best value for money MIDI controller, as it is one of the cheapest, but it has 8 faders to control the volume of each track in DAW programs and 8 assignable knobs to the function you want.
It is also a USB MIDI controller with S, M and R buttons on each of its 8 faders, so you can record and listen to tracks with such ease. Even if you don’t want to use the computer mouse to click on the Play, Stop or Rec controls, this little kit will help you, as it has buttons for each of these functions.
On the other hand, we mentioned that the controller has a function called Track, which is used to change tracks quickly. In addition to this, it should be noted that it does not need a power adapter, since it works with the same USB connection while you use it on the computer.
It may be one of the cheapest MIDI controllers today, but its features are striking at first glance, so this time we present some of the most outstanding ones.
Type: This is a MIDI controller for recording and mixing in the studio, so you can use it in your musical productions.
Memory: The device stores up to 4 scenes, so you can use it with various applications.
Compatibility: You will not have problems if you want to use it on your Mac or Windows computers.
Efficiency: Despite its compact size, it offers a variety of functions, making the recording and mixing process much more practical.
Complexity: With Logic Pro X it is a bit complicated to use, since there is not much information about it on the Internet.
It is not easy to find the best MIDI controller, but if you are a pianist, this model could be the one for you. This is because it has 61 velocity-sensitive keys, so you can play chords and melodies with high dynamics. In addition, it is a USB MIDI controller, so it will work with various computer programs and plugins.
When playing electronic music live you need a MIDI keyboard with pads. In this sense, the Nektar Impact LX61+ brings 8 hypersensitive pads that you can configure with the sound you want, for example, cymbal, snare, bass drum, effects, etc.
In the same way, this controller offers 8 faders to add compression or sound effects such as Decay, Release or Sustain. Also, next to them is another fader that controls the overall volume of the mix or each track.
This could be the best MIDI controller of the moment, as it has various advantages and disadvantages that draw the attention of users on the Internet, so we present some of them.
Keys: With its 61 keys you could make high quality recordings, since they are velocity sensitive.
Pads: The 8 pads will let you play drum beats, effects, and loops, depending on how you set them up.
Compatibility: It works with iOS, Mac and Windows, so you won’t have any problems using it in the recording studio.
USB: Connects to computers or devices through a single USB cable, which makes it easy to use.
Input: It is missing that it brings a MIDI input, to be able to connect external controllers.
MIDI controller keyboard
3. Donner DMK25 MIDI Keyboard Controller
It is a MIDI controller keyboard that allows you to create the best rhythms quickly and easily, since it has 25 action keys. In addition, it has a bar to set an octave up or down, so it is possible to get a larger number of notes.
Also, it gives you the possibility to choose between 4 velocity curve modes, which is suitable for adapting the rhythm to different playing styles, whether it is a soft or dynamic composition. For this reason, it is a good option if you are wondering which MIDI controller to buy.
This model is compatible with Windows, Mac OS, Linux operating systems, among others, so that it can be used in the production of digital music at a professional level. As for its design, it is ultra-thin and light, which makes it easier to move.
If you are still wondering which is the best MIDI controller, then you need to take a closer look at the most important features of this equipment before making the final decision.
Playback: Offers 6 navigation buttons for rewind, play, forward, stop, loop and record, giving you added versatility.
Bar: It has a touch bar to play notes an octave higher or lower according to your needs.
Pads: It incorporates 8 backlit pads that allow you to play preset notes in the creation of musical rhythms.
Instructions: The information in the manual may be insufficient to understand the full operation of the controller, making it difficult for inexperienced people to use.
With this MIDI controller keyboard you can make various arrangements for your musical productions, since it has 49 velocity-sensitive keys distributed exactly in 4 octaves. And, if you think you are missing more keys, you can go up or down the octave, finding lower or higher notes, depending on the need of the moment.
As for the Pitch and Modulation wheels, we can say that they are very well synchronized with various recording programs, so you can enjoy it with hundreds of plugins. In addition to this, we mention that it has a port for a Sustain pedal, another 5-pin MIDI and the typical USB for greater connectivity.
Another quality that we should know about this MIDI controller is the program that it comes with, Ableton Live 9 Lite, which is one of the most used in audio recording, editing and mixing due to its practical user interface.
This is one of the simplest 49-key keyboards on the market, but it has great qualities, so we’ll break it down for you below.
Functionality: With this MIDI keyboard you can not only play chords, but also create sequences.
Learning: For a limited time the controller offers you access to the Melodics application, to easily learn to use this type of musical instrument.
Connection: It does not require a power adapter, since it uses power directly from the computer via USB.
Pads: It would be nice if it also brought some sensitive pads, as these are very useful for effects or drum rhythms.
It is a MIDI DJ controller with 32 velocity-sensitive keys and Play, Stop or Rec buttons with which you can play, stop or record music. It also comes with 8 pads and 8 assignable knobs, so you can use various electronic music sounds or effects on them.
In the same way, it has direction arrows to slide through the different virtual instruments of the DAW programs and select the one you need. The advantage of this is that you won’t have to use the computer mouse to change from one sound to another, making the recording process easier.
On the other hand, we mention that it has HyperControl technology, so that it can be integrated into the programs automatically, without having to make complicated configurations.
M-AUDIO is perhaps the best brand of MIDI controllers at the moment, as it has a lot of experience in manufacturing this category of products. Next, we recommend one of its most compact keyboards.
Keys: Its design offers 32 keys, 8 pads and 8 assignable potentiometers, in addition to some configuration buttons.
Programs: Among its programs is Ableton Live Lite, which offers great convenience in music production.
Convenience: This keyboard controller is powered from its USB connection and requires no complex configuration to integrate with your software.
Wheels: It does not come with the Modulation and Pitch wheels, so people who are used to using them may not be completely satisfied with their purchase.
Akai MIDI Controller
If you are looking for a portable Akai MIDI controller, we recommend this model, as it is light and compact, so you can take it anywhere without taking up much space in the trunk of your car or your backpack. Its 25 keys and Octave buttons allow you to play hundreds of chords or melodies in your live concerts or recording studios.
It also has a Sustain button, for greater dynamism and realism in the songs you play. In other words, thanks to this function, you will get sounds similar to a conventional grand piano or keyboard.
As if that were not enough, due to its 40 mini pads it will be possible to more easily play samples, loops, sound effects and much more. That’s why you’ll be able to make arrangements, compositions and live performances more efficiently.
If you are looking for a MIDI keyboard with a size similar to a laptop, check out the qualities of this product, since it is small and versatile.
Design: It has 8 assignable knobs, 40 mini pads and 25 keys. The latter are distributed like a traditional keyboard.
Octave: If you want to make bass lines you can use the Octave button and find deeper and deeper sounds.
Illumination: The 40 mini pads bring illumination of various colors, so even if you play at night or in low light, you can comfortably see what you are doing.
Settings: In FL Studio you have to do the settings manually, which might be a bit tricky for beginners.
7. Acorn Masterkey MK49 Keyboard Controller
If you want an easy to use MIDI keyboard with few buttons, this might be the one for you. It only comes with 4 assignable knobs, 1 edit button and the option to raise or lower the octave. Also, unlike other controllers, this model simply has 1 fader to adjust its input volume.
Another aspect that you should know is that it has Pitch and Modulation wheels, which makes it a basic and efficient keyboard. Thanks to these wheels it is possible to add effects to the notes you are playing.
In addition to this, this beginner MIDI keyboard has 49 keys, which are distributed throughout the instrument like a traditional piano. And to facilitate your learning, it provides the name of the notes next to the keys, so you can play the ones you really need when you are studying at music school.
This could be the best MIDI keyboard for students, as its user interface is very simple, so if you want to learn to play, check out the following qualities.
Keyboard: This part of the controller is made up of 49 keys, that is, 4 octaves to play the chords you want.
Display: Comes with a small red light alphanumeric display to indicate controller settings for easy learning.
Compatibility: You can connect it to Windows and Mac computers, so you can use it without any problem.
Lightness: The keys are a bit lighter than other MIDI instruments, which could be a disadvantage for some buyers.
It is quite a portable and at the same time efficient MIDI controller as it has 16 colorful and responsive pads as well as 25 keys. In other words, it will serve to make chords, melodies or solos in recording studios or live performance. Its pads can be configured to make the sounds or effects you need and are widely used in electronic music. Also, some people use the pads to play sequences with just one touch.
Also, it should be noted that this small controller has 8 assignable potentiometers, through which you can use different functions of the Ableton Live application.
In addition, it is important to know that it does not require a power adapter, since it is powered from the computer through a USB cable. This prevents clutter on the recording studio desk.
It’s not a very extensive keyboard controller, so if you often travel with this type of instrument, the Novation Launchkey Mini could come in handy; These are its most outstanding features.
Pads: Apart from its 25 velocity-sensitive keys, it also has 16 pads with illumination and varied colors.
Knobs: This keyboard features 8 assignable knobs for conveniently adjusting audio effects or other Ableton Live features.
Compatibility: Works with Mac, iPad, and Windows, so you’ll be able to plug it into most of your devices.
Keys: The keys are too small for some people’s hands, however, they do their job without any problems.
9. Omnitronic 057 409 MIDI 9 Black ADF Controller
Its 9 faders and 9 potentiometers are used to mix the different songs you are recording with greater comfort. The former can be assigned for the volume of each track, effects or other functions of DAW programs. Also, it should be noted that this MIDI controller has a fader for the general mix, so it is a fairly complete device for music production.
Likewise, it comes with 13 assignable buttons, so you can use them according to the needs of the moment, for example, to activate loops or sequences.
On the other hand, it has buttons that can be very useful for a DJ, Play, Stop, Loop, Rec, Rew and FF. In this way, you will be able to play or stop songs and record audio without having to use the mouse. In addition to this, we mention that it is compatible with Windows and Mac, so you can mix or edit on almost any computer.
The various features of this MIDI controller make it a versatile piece of equipment with which you can grow more in music production, so here we will explain some of those qualities.
Faders: It has 9 faders to control various parameters of your DAW programs, volume, compressor, effect, etc.
Potentiometers: With the 9 potentiometers you can adjust high, medium and low frequencies or any other parameter of the applications you use to produce music.
Memory: If you want to save the adjustments made in your editing applications, it will be possible in this equipment, since it has 4 programmable memory banks.
Keys: It is missing that it brings at least 25 keys to make chords and arpeggios of piano, organ, guitar or other virtual instruments.
If you are going to buy a MIDI controller and you do not know which one to choose among so many options available on the Internet, it is best that you review this purchase guide. The purpose of it is to guide you on the most important qualities when purchasing a controller.
In a guide to buying the best MIDI controller, this quality cannot be missing, since your choice will mainly depend on it. This is because not all controllers serve the same purpose, some are even used by DJs and others by keyboardists. The best thing is that you acquire a team that meets your requirements.
In other words, if you are a pianist, you should get some controller that has keys. For their part, music producers and DJs require a controller with both keys and pads, faders, assignable potentiometers, etc. Basically, it is a question of choosing the MIDI controller according to the use that you will give it.
People who will only use this product to play piano, organ, guitar, or other virtual instruments should purchase a MIDI keyboard controller, without pads or faders. Of course, it is important to clarify that this electronic device does not normally offer its own sound, but rather connects to DAW programs or VST instruments to be able to emit the notes. That is, a controller simply sends signals in code, which are processed and digitized by the computer. Do not confuse the controller with a traditional keyboard, since the latter, although most of them have MIDI output, also have their own sounds.
On the other hand, there are keyboardists who also use pads to trigger sequences, arpeggios, loops, effects, etc. If that is your case, it would not be a bad idea to buy a MIDI keyboard with many controls, since these abound on the Internet and, although there are high budget ones, you could also find a good and cheap one.
The most appropriate thing is that you choose a model that suits your computer. There are some of these devices that only work with Windows, others with Mac. Even, due to technological advances, there are now controllers that can be connected to iOS, for example, on an iPad.
But, if you have several computers and all of them are used for music production or direct, it is best to buy a controller capable of connecting to any operating system.
Another aspect that we mentioned is the compatibility of multimedia editing applications. For example, some controllers work only with Ableton Live, others with FL Studio or Cubase. Therefore, check this technical detail in the product description on Amazon.
Do not worry about how much a certain controller costs if you have not checked this quality before, because, although it does not affect the price of the controller much, it does influence the effectiveness of your purchase. These are the MIDI output ports, some controllers have 5-pins, which are effective, but their technology is older and not everyone has such cables in their homes or recording studios.
Another type of MIDI output that the controllers bring is the USB type, similar to the one that many current printers have. This is a good option if you don’t want to buy cables, because the one for your printer could probably do the trick. Also, some controllers include this type of cable in their packages.
Likewise, it should be noted that some controller models come with both types of MIDI outputs, so with them you won’t have any difficulties in terms of connectivity.
On the other hand, it is important to know that smaller devices usually have only one output and this may be USB, because it is more compact than 5-pin MIDI.
Before making a comparison of MIDI controllers, it is best that you review this aspect, since we are referring to the general size of the controller. That is, take into account the space you have for this product in your home or recording studio. Sometimes, people buy very large keyboards that later they don’t know where to install them to make their musical productions.
Also, it is essential that you acquire a controller according to the use you are going to give it. If you already have one of large dimensions and what you need is another to complement, perhaps a compact and light model will be useful to you, one that does not take up much space when moving it.
Instead, if you have enough space in your home or studio, don’t hesitate to buy a large MIDI controller; this will save you a lot of work in future productions, because those of these dimensions almost always offer more keys or functions.
Frequently asked questions
Q1: How to use a MIDI controller?
There are several ways to use a MIDI controller. If it has a keyboard, you must configure it with an application or virtual instrument that emits the necessary sounds for your songs. You can’t directly listen to a controller, as these don’t have speakers, the only way to make it sound is by connecting it to the software on your computer.
Also, controllers with faders and pads must be connected to the computer via USB in order to enjoy their functions. You can use these to mix the tracks of your productions more easily, through DAW programs.
Also, we mention that they can be used in recording studios or live performances, depending on the brand and model, as well as the need of the user.
Q2: How to connect a MIDI controller?
To connect a MIDI controller you must follow some fairly simple steps and in a few minutes you will be able to use it. The first thing you should do is find the MIDI port, although most have several. However, there are two that are the most common, the 5-pin MIDI ports and those USB type A, B, C or micro-USB, depending on the controller you are using.
Normally, cables for MIDI connection have common USB at one end; This is the one that is connected to the computer. As for the other end of the cable, you can connect it to the MIDI output of the controller, respecting its shape.
Q3: How to set up a MIDI controller in FL Studio?
First, you plug one end of the MIDI cable into your computer and the other end into your controller. Then wait a few minutes while the drivers are automatically installed on your computer.
Next, turn on the controller and open the FL Studio program. Select where it says Options, there you must activate the box that enables the MIDI controller, which in some versions of the software is called Enable. It should be noted that you will find this option in the MIDI Options, next to the name of the controller you have connected.
Q4: How to set PC keyboard as MIDI controller in Protools 8?
Most DAW programs such as Protools 8 offer a simple interface for configuring your computer’s keyboard as a controller. You simply have to open the virtual instrument you want to use and play any letter on the keyboard.
Another method is to install a virtual keyboard and the MidiYoke driver. There are several virtual keyboards available on the Internet, buy one of them that is compatible with Pro Tools 8 and enjoy your keyboard as if it were a MIDI controller. The downside of this is that the keyboard letters are not velocity sensitive and so the dynamics will not be perceived as with a true MIDI controller keyboard.
Q5: How to use iPad as a MIDI controller?
It’s very easy, you just have to install an application on the iPad that works as a WiFi MIDI controller. This one is easy to use because it connects to the WiFi network at home or your recording studio.
Of course, on the computer you must have the same application installed or one that is compatible with the one on the iPad. In addition, you have to connect the computer to the same WiFi network so that everything you do on the iPad has an effect on your musical productions.
Q6: How to install MIDI driver in Cubase?
First, connect the controller to the computer and turn it on. Later, open Cubase and when the DAW software loads, set up a session for MIDI instruments or create a MIDI track directly in the production you are making.
Having the MIDI track open some musical instrument in it, for example, Pianissimo. In this way, what you play on the keys of the controller will sound on your computer.
Q7: Which is better: synthesizer or MIDI controller?
Both the synthesizer and the MIDI controller are used in music production and electronic music recording. Although they tend to look a lot alike, there are some differences. However, there is no one better than another, the most recommended thing is that the electronic device you buy adapts to your needs to carry out your musical projects.
Synths come with a default sound library and some come with built-in speakers. In contrast, the controller doesn’t output any sounds of its own, but it can make using DAW applications much easier.
Q8: How to amplify a MIDI controller?
It’s not complicated to amplify a MIDI controller. Firstly, connect it to the computer and compatible software. It is possible to make this connection using audio interfaces or directly on the computer.
Finally, connect an active speaker through the audio output of the computer or interface. In this way, you will only need to turn on the speaker to listen to the plugins or virtual instruments that you want.