Controller Keyboard – Buying Guide, Opinions and Analysis
For all those people who feel a great passion for music and wish to dedicate a few hours of their week to playing a keyboard, it is essential to bring home a product that is easy to manipulate, with extensive functions and that offers the possibility of learning or progressively improve. After an exhaustive investigation, we have come to the conclusion that these models that we present below have the approval of their clients and the characteristics that allow them to be quality products. The first model that we must mention is the M – Audio Keystation Mini 32 II, which has a pitch bend wheel, a modulation wheel and controls to move up and down octaves with great ease when you consider it necessary. In addition, it has the USB – MIDI connection to synchronize in a very practical way with your computer. The other model that we cannot ignore is the Acorn Masterkey MK49, which in addition to allowing you to control its functions in a practical way, offers you the USB interface to connect it easily and transmit the information properly.
Buying Guide – What is the best keyboard controller on the market?
Among the various alternatives that exist to learn, develop and create new sounds making the most of your musical skills, the use of a controller keyboard is one of the most common options that provide a better creative and practical experience.
Now, since you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the number of options, we invite you to read this guide to buy the best controller keyboard, and thus know for sure the key elements that you should look at to choose one and make an investment. profitable enough beyond just looking at how much it costs.
Number of keys The number of keys on the keyboard is a fundamental value, because it will determine how much you can develop your creativity by having a greater or lesser number of notes available. Thus, it will depend on your skills using this instrument, which is closely linked to the experience you have with music.
In the market you will find simple 25-key keyboards that can even be played with one hand, ideal if you are a beginner; then we have a group of keyboards with keys between 45 and 61 that can be used by people who have a medium level, and a larger group between 76 and 88 keys that is considered for professional keyboardists, who require a greater range of options at the moment to prepare your music.
Types of keys
Although there are various classifications of the types of keys, the one we present below will help you make an appropriate choice. In this sense, we find three large groups of keys: Without counterweight: These are the cheapest keys on the market, because they are made of plastic, so they offer a relatively comfortable touch, highly recommended for those who do not have much experience like pianists. Semi counterbalanced:
It is a middle term in the scale of the types of keys, because they are not too classic like those of a conventional piano, but not as simple as the previous one either; although they are also made of plastic, they have a spring mechanism that gives them a good effect and that is why they are currently used in many keyboards and synthesizers. Counterbalanced: They have a counterweight mechanism that emulates those of a classical piano and offer a touch more similar to that of a digital piano. Hence, they usually have a higher cost, but at the same time they are more sought after for a completely professional use.
Knobs and faders These are just two of the elements that these keyboards can integrate. Its function basically lies in applying various effects to the sounds, taking into account that each one has a different way of being executed, the knobs being a little easier and with the possibility that there is no sudden jump in the sound when implementing said effect.
You should pay close attention to the power supply mode of the device. Some receive power directly via USB once they are connected to the computer, but others do not, but work directly from an electrical source.
So, depending on the context of use that you are going to give the keyboard, you will have to weigh this factor, knowing that in the first situation, you will always need to have a computer at hand, for the equipment to work, while in the second it will not. However, generally the use of the computer is a complement to the keyboard, hence it would not be a problem in the first case.
Screen The function of the screen in these keyboards is to visualize in real time the information that you are modifying and the changes that you make in the mixes and sounds.
Some recommend that it is not so essential to choose an instrument with a prominent screen in the comparison of controller keyboards, simply because you can visualize your activity on the computer; however, in other cases it can help you optimize your work.
To choose which is the best keyboard controller on the market, you should also consider if it has a MIDI connector, which would be the classic connection method that can work without requiring a computer.
If you want to use a computer, you have to have a Midi interface, and of course, with a USB connector, not just as an electrical power supply, but as a data transfer channel between both computers; therefore, you should seriously inquire about this value.
Top 5 Controller Keyboards – Opinions 2022
The extensive use of computers in music production and recording has extended to the adaptation of musical instruments, such as controller keyboards. Below we present the products recommended by our users to buy the best controller keyboard on the market.
1. M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK2 Compact Controller Keyboard
It is possible to connect it to the computer to create and interpret different musical rhythms, in addition, its connector is plug & play, so you will not need to install additional drivers to start using it.
Some buyers point out that due to its design, its use is recommended more for beginner users than at a professional level.
You will have the possibility of using it with a considerable variety of devices, since it is compatible with computers, MAC equipment and other devices that work with the iOS system.
One of the main qualities that this model offers you is the possibility of being able to handle it correctly and with a good level of precision, which is due to the fact that it has the essential control system incorporated, which will allow you to interpret and produce different melodies correctly.
It has built-in 32 action and synthesizer notes that are sensitive to intensity, this quality helps each melody sound with the same passion with which you play it, if the pressure is strong the sound will be intense, while if the touch is soft the audio will be lower.
According to the manufacturer, users can be sure that every nuance and subtlety they want to bring to their performances will be captured correctly. Likewise, it has integrated some modulation buttons that you can use to add individuality to the melodies you play, you will be able to give them more sustain or make them more immersive.
It’s a standard piano that gives you a full 88-key range, so you’ll have the ability to use it to play booming bass sounds and even stereo chords, so you can produce a wide variety of melodies.
Its design incorporates specific buttons, which are used to generate the octave changes up and down. Also, it is possible to extend the keyboard more than four octaves in any direction, which will help you to obtain optimal access to any note, beyond the 32 keys that the equipment has.
It is also possible to customize it and reassign the octave buttons, on the other hand, you can make changes in programs, tuning and in the other areas that you consider pertinent, in this way it is likely that you will achieve that the productions that you make are just as you want them.
It has Ableton Live Lite software, which is suitable for music production. According to the manufacturer, this will allow you to make the different compositions you want, even spontaneously.
This software is also suitable for making recordings, improvising, mixing and editing the musical ideas you have, you can do this in a compatible audio/MIDI environment.
The program also offers virtual, electronic and acoustic instruments, in addition to this, it also places MIDI sequences and digital audio recordings at your disposal. According to its specifications, its interface is simple, which will allow you to handle the software with ease.
In terms of design, it should be noted that this model is portable, therefore, you will be able to transport it easily, since it weighs less than half a kilo and measures 45 cm, which will allow you to store it without problems in a backpack.
2. Acorn Masterkey MK49 Keyboard Controller
Among the best controller keyboards of 2022, the Acorn Masterkey MK49 is positioned very well for its acceptance among users, who highlight that this device has a robust and functional design, made of plastic. With 49 full-size keys you’ll be able to play and record your favorite pieces.
Unlike the previous model, this keyboard is bigger and heavier: 86 x 11 x 26 cm and 2kg, respectively. It has two assignable wheels that you can customize and a display of alphanumeric symbols with red LEDs that simplify its use. This device highlights the sensitivity when playing exact notes to perform high-quality instrumental compositions.
The USB connection works at the same time as power, and it is installed via plug and play, so you will not need any drivers to use it on your computer or device. Customers recommend it for its powerful recorder and player system, which will help you to have your recording studio at home.
Some consider that Acorn should be the best controller keyboard brand, thanks to the designs of its models and the practicality they bring:
Keys: if you want more access to high and low tones, the Acorn could be the one, since it has a total of 49 keys so you can create the melodies as they provoke you the most.
Plugins: It has a couple of quite useful plugins to work the tones, such as a fader, two pitch bend wheels and configurable modulation, making it possible to let your inspiration work without limitations.
Control: It also has four three-character real-time control buttons, very useful for the rhythms of any style of music and for coordinating pitch and melody changes.
Display: and if you want to keep a specific setting for when you play, you can check the configured levels through an alphanumeric LED display.
Materials: one detail to consider is that the keyboard has a structure made of plastic, which could give the feeling of fragility.
3. Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII Keyboard Controller
For those who are wondering which is the best portable controller keyboard, this Akai model is the ideal option, since due to its small dimensions you can take it wherever you go to play and record your favorite music.
With 25 sensitive keys, this keyboard controller allows you to synthesize and use the buttons to increase the melodic range of the device, adjust the buttons and use the various preset styles with the included free software package.
Users recommend it for being compact and functional, since you can compose with it, use it with virtual instruments and create effects and DAWS anywhere. The Akay MK2 Hybrid 3 Synthesizer allows you to synthesize in high definition all the sounds you want to create.
The solid design of this keyboard is verified by our users, who express total satisfaction with its quality and dimensions of 18 x 31.4 x 4.6 cm and 739gr of weight.
Having doubts about which controller keyboard to buy is more common than you think, so we hope that the pros and cons of this model will help you decide:
Pads: with the AKAI model you can add special effects or pre-configured tones to your mix thanks to the easily recognized backlit pads.
Software: with the purchase of this controller keyboard you will obtain a software license that will allow you to get the most out of it and make the necessary adjustments according to your requirements.
Compact: It is quite compact and you can easily carry it wherever you need. Its measurements are 18 x 31.4 x 4.6 centimeters and it weighs 739 grams.
Keys: you should know that the AKAI one has only 25 keys, so your access to different tones must be through the integrated wheels.
Complicated: Programming the keyboard and its use is considered by some to be a bit complicated, especially if you do not have previous experience.
4. Alesis V-Mini Portable USB MIDI Controller Keyboard
In our list of recommendations, the Alesis V Mini stands out as the best value for money controller keyboard, with a compact design powered through the USB port, whose 25 velocity-sensitive keys allow you to synthesize musical notes to record your compositions wherever you want. you go.
The use of this device is very simple through the octave shift, modulation and pitch adjustment buttons. Users state that with this 499gr and 0.3 x 31.1 x 14 cm device, there are ample possibilities and options to create your own music, and although at first the software seems somewhat difficult, when you get used to it, it becomes very easy to use, especially if it is the first time you use a midi keyboard.
If with these recommended devices, you still do not know which one to choose, we invite you to discover the latest product on our list.
Alesis has a good alternative for those who want to acquire a good keyboard controller, since it offers users a device with a great value for money:
Pads: The Alesis V Mini has a total of four pads for effects or rhythms preset by the user, which help to mix with greater ease.
Software: A software license is included that includes various virtual instruments: xPand!2 by Air Music Tech.
Design: The structural design of the Alesis keyboard makes it look quite professional and eye-catching. In addition, its blue backlit buttons will help you identify them.
Hardness: One of the buyers considers that the hardness of the keys is a bit high, although he admits that it could be a defective product.
Keys: It has a total of 25 mini action keys, which may be somewhat limiting for more experienced musicians.
5. Nektar Impact GX61 USB MIDI Controller
Although it is one of the cheapest, the Nektar Impact GX61 is definitely one of the best controller keyboards, because with 61 velocity-sensitive keys it fully fulfills its functions, allowing you to synthesize your music and adjust it with the 14 MIDI buttons that you can customize according to your needs. your preferences.
You will be able to create your own DAWs through the integration with Nektar Daw, the eighth and transposed buttons as well as the rest of the options it has. Many users state that this keyboard is ideal for beginners as the keys are not semi-trap-weighted.
Its cost is totally proportional to its functionality, especially for those who want to start in the world of electronic music and need 61-key keyboards. It is important that before making a hasty decision, you review your budget and identify what you are looking for in the best keyboard controller, so that you can choose the best from our list.
If you are looking for a complete and multi-functional keyboard controller, check out the equipment that Nektar offers you:
Keys: one of the most complete models in our selection is the Nektar one with its 61 velocity-sensitive keys.
Complements: it has two integrated modulation wheels for rhythms and tones, as well as a pitch bend and octave and transpose buttons.
MIDI: in addition to this, it includes a total of 14 assignable MIDI buttons with which it will be easier for you to create that melody that goes around so much in your head.
Counterweight: Apparently, the keys do not have enough counterweight for the taste of some users.
Finishes: it is also said that the finish is made of plastic, so it is not as resistant and durable as other alternatives in controller keyboards.
M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK2 Compact Controller Keyboard
If you’re looking for the best controller keyboard on the market, we present to you the M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 II, a 32-key USB-connected device that lets you play virtual instruments on the go.
This standard velocity-sensitive keyboard is capable of synthesizing musical notes and controlling them with recording software. This compact keyboard stands out for its dimensions and weight: 13.7 x 44.4 x 5.7 cm and 699 g.
The M-Audio device is powered via the USB port and installs via Plug and play on any computer regardless of operating system.
The use of the keyboard is intuitive and its functional design is determined by backlit buttons. The versatility of this device is demonstrated by being able to be used on a mobile phone or tablet, so you have the freedom to create your music wherever you are with any of the different programs included.
This M – Audio equipment could easily be the best controller keyboard of the moment, since it is also one of the cheapest and this may also lead it to be the best controller keyboard for 50 euros:
Keys: the M – Audio team stands out for having a total of 32 semi-weighted keys that will help you easily maintain the tone for as long as you want. Plus, they’re velocity sensitive so you get the style and rhythm you want.
Connection: it is equipped with a USB-MIDI controller through which you can manage virtual instruments that you have on your computer, as well as manage the software to record your creations and be able to play them automatically.
Compatibility: another of its advantages is that you don’t have to limit yourself to a single operating system, but rather you have the option to choose between using Microsoft’s Windows or Apple’s iOS. Of course, you should know that you will need a Lightning to USB adapter.
Settings: Features a pitch bend wheel to adjust the lows and highs of your melodies, a mod wheel, and octave controls. These mechanisms allow you to add your own style to the sounds and tonalities with ease.
Dimensions: finally, we highlight that the M – Audio has dimensions of 13.7 x 44.4 x 5.7 centimeters and weighs just 703 grams. It’s quite compact and convenient to use, and best of all, it won’t take up too much space on your desk.
Width: Apparently, one of its disadvantages is in the width of the keys, since one of the users considers them to be thin and people with large hands would not be comfortable.
How to use a keyboard controller
If you are looking for an instrument that allows you to count and record your melodies along with the main sound functions, a controller keyboard is your best option. We show you in simple steps how easy it can be to use one.
Find the keyboard you like best
You can check on different websites the wide variety of keyboards on the market. Take into account your budget when choosing one, since there are keyboards for professional use for a high price and cheaper options. If you are a beginner, we recommend that you use an introductory keyboard with the basic functions. Then, make the purchase and wait until your shipment arrives.
Verifies the inclusion of all its accessories and cables
Controller keyboards are characterized by having USB inputs for pedals, pads, sound potentiometers and a screen that shows the executed program. All these accessories are essential for the use of a keyboard with a MIDI controller. If at the time of checking your package you notice that any of these accessories are missing, contact your seller and demand a new keyboard, since without them it will be difficult to use it.
Prepare the place to install it
The main function of these keyboards is to produce sounds through the computer and save the melodies in the process; for this reason, the keyboard should be located close to the computer for the best connection of the cables. The corners can be of great help as they add extra stability to the keyboard base. Clean the area where you will do the installation very well and try to remove any object that may fall on top of the instrument.
Download the specific software for your keyboard model
Once you have installed the piano base and the instrument on it, following the instruction manual, proceed to download the correct program. Go to the brand’s website and select the appropriate program for your computer with which the operating system will be able to read the signals sent from the keyboard.
Match the corresponding wires to the inputs
With the correct program installed on your computer, proceed with connecting the cables and accessories to the piano. Each part of the keyboard has a distinctive label that indicates the correct input, look for the appropriate USB and MIDI input on each cable for the proper functioning of your accessories.
turn on the keyboard
After making each necessary connection turn on the keyboard and wait until the computer recognizes it. Runs the installation program and keyboard recognition. Include it in the search selection and locate the program’s folder in an easy-to-find address.
Finish recognition and open the software
At the end of the recognition of the piano, open the installed program and enjoy the options and tools that it presents while you play your favorite melodies on the instrument.
Turn off the instrument and keep clean
When you have finished playing, immediately turn off the keyboard to avoid long exposure to electric current and cut off. Clean it frequently, especially the keys that are most prone to dust.
The most popular brands
Controller keyboards or MIDI keyboards are first-hand tools for music lovers, whether they are professionals or amateurs. There are many providers of this type of product on the market. However, below we recommend the best quality ones, according to users.
When talking about quality, the name of M-Audio, an American company, located in Cumberland, Rhode Island, which is one of the most recognized and respected firms in the field of music computer interface and integration solutions, immediately comes to mind. plus keyboard products, controllers and essential hardware, from microphones to studio monitors.
Founded under the Midiman name in 1988, M-Audio was the brainchild of Tim Ryan, an American engineer, son of a music-loving concert pianist who, while not a musician himself, devoted his skills to science, math and engineering to make themselves known within the music industry.
Initially, the company was dedicated to creating software and hardware aimed at addressing the challenges of connecting MIDI, audio, and computers within a system that facilitated electronic-based music composition.
In the year 2000 Midiman adopted the name M-Audio for the launch of its latest line of products. They experienced steady growth within the MIDI interface service, as well as in the catalog of audio implements. In 2002 they released the first Oxygen series keyboard, which went on to establish itself as the premier category of portable keyboard controller.
With more than 30 years in the music industry, Akai Professional is another recognized brand in the production of music software and supplies. Created in 1984, Akai Professional has made electronic music its main niche. Since its inception, its main purpose has been to provide artists with the necessary tools to express and explore new musical possibilities. Thus, Akai Professional products have become essential in modern music, both in the studio and on stage.
Today, the sophistication of digital sampling technology has become a basic component of popular music, one of Akai Professional’s strengths, allowing it to stay ahead in the industry, but also by manufacturing the equipment musicals, which have allowed it to be one of the most influential brands in recent decades.
Among the products offered by Akai Professional are the Music Production Center (MPC) series, keyboard controllers, conventional and wireless, pad controllers, DJ controllers, ableton controllers, recording equipment, among others.
Dedicated to the design and marketing of electronic musical instruments since 1984, Alesis is another recognized brand in music production, also located in the exclusive area of Cumberland, Rhode Island, United States. Likewise, it designs and markets digital audio processors, audio mixers and digital audio interfaces, where controller keyboards come in.
It also offers recording equipment, drum machines, professional audio and electronic percussion products, which make Alesis one of the favorite brands for professional and amateur drummers. Alesis Studio Electronics was founded by Keith Barr, who took advantage of his ability to design custom integrated circuits to introduce products that, due to their characteristics, were expensive for the time.
Their first product was an XT Reverb in 1985. In 1986 Alesis produced the first 16-bit MIDIverb professional effects processor and then, after partnering with Line 6 founder Marcus Ryle, Alesis introduced the MMT8 hardware sequencer and later, in 1987, the successful HR-16 drum machine.
Its products are manufactured in China with high quality standards, maintaining in each one of them modern characteristics, designed and adjusted to the modern musician, which make Alesis one of the best brands in the world when it comes to large-scale music.