Best MIDI Keyboards of 2020 – Ultimate Round-up

Analog synths, workstations, digital pianos, MIDI keyboards, they all fit under the “keyboards” category. But, each one possesses a different forté. Let’s find out why MIDI Keyboards are to be found everywhere, from bedroom studios up to Superbowl halftime shows!
Then, we will suggest some of the best MIDI keyboards on the market!

Comparison Chart of the Best MIDI Keyboards

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best MIDI controller overall.
  • Comes with integrated software for MAC and PC use, ¼ inch jack socket, pitch bend, and modulation wheels.
  • 49-note USB keyboard controller with 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, 8 knobs and control, and navigation buttons.
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  • 32-keys controller with high-velocity sensitivity.
  • USB powered and highly lightweight and portability.
  • Pitch bend, modulation and sustain buttons for highly customizable performances.
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  • Best MIDI controller for the money.
  • 49 keys which allow you to control MIDI hardware and software.
  • 4 rotary encoder knobs, 1 slider, pitch-bend, and modulation wheels.
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  • Best 25 key MIDI controller.
  • Velocity-sensitive keys, USB powered.
  • 8 trigger pads and 8 assignable knobs, includes Pro Tools, First and Eleven Lite.
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  • Best 49 key MIDI controller.
  • 16 velocity-trigger pads with RGB feedback.
  • 36 assignable buttons and 12 assignable knobs.
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  • Best 61-key MIDI controller.
  • Nektar DAW integration for most popular DAWs.
  • 14 assignable buttons, MAC, PC and iOS compatibility.
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  • Best 88 key MIDI controller.
  • Triple-pedal unit with wooden key.
  • Music rack and graded-hammer action.
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  • Battery-powered specification.
  • Best MIDI controller for FL Studio.
  • Pitch/mod joystick control with 128 sounds and 10 drum kits.
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  • 61-note with velocity sensitivity.
  • Best MIDI controller for Logic Pro X.
  • 12 pads and 16 encoders, 9 faders, and other great additions.
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  • Best MIDI controller for Ableton.
  • New sampling workflows include slice, play and manipulate samples from push.
  • Sizeable multicolor display, play or step sequence beats, notes, chords, automation.
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What is a MIDI Keyboard? 

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital interface. It’s a protocol that all modern electronic musical devices use to communicate. So, MIDI Keyboard is a device equipped with piano-like keys that work under MIDI protocol. It is used mainly with desktop and laptop computers in order to play and control various virtual instruments inside of recording software (often referred to as DAW - Digital Audio Workstation).

Midiplus AKM320

It can contain more controllers such as pads, knobs, encoders, sliders that can enhance a user's creativity and because of its cost and space-effectiveness it is considered an essential part of every modern home (project) studio.

What Does a MIDI Keyboard Do?

MIDI Keyboard sends information over MIDI protocol by using either 5-pin MIDI or USB-MIDI port. That information can be used for:

Recording MIDI Files

Whether you use keys or pads, you create MIDI files that can be used with external sources. These files can save you a lot of time in case you want to change the instrument because no re-recording is required and everything can be post-edited. 

Create Events in Software

By using knobs or sliders of MIDI keyboard you can modify audio or MIDI tracks. Volume change, altering filters and effects on-the-fly are just some basic ideas.

How to Choose a MIDI Keyboard

Here are some questions that you may ask before purchasing MIDI Keyboard.

Number of Keys

It varies from 25 to 88 keys. Modern music players may find 49 keys as ideal. 25, 33 or 37-keys could be enough for mobile studio work or synth-bass performance. If you're all about two-hands playing, you would go towards 88-keys but even then you may find 76-keys to be enough. 61-keys models are considered as an all-around choice.  

Keybed Type

If you're a trained piano player you would appreciate a full-weight keybed as it replicates the touch of a real piano. Otherwise, you may choose a semi-weighted keybed as it feels much easier to play.

Additional Controllers

MIDI keyboard can have a bunch of controllers. Pads are used for playing drums and samples and knobs and sliders provide extra control of your instruments and software. Some come with a soundcard to provide you all-in-one studio solution and it’s up to you to decide if you really need it.

Portability

MIDI keyboards are getting easier to carry around. 25-key models fit laptop bags and even 88-key models are built to be road-friendly today. However, portable keyboards exchange build quality for light-weight and that can affect keybed quality and response first. 

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Review of the Best MIDI Keyboards 

Now we are going to move into our review. We have picked some MIDI Keyboards not just based on price range or your level of interest but what software would you use the most as well.

Best Overall:
Midiplus AKM320

midiplus, 32-Key Midi Controller, 32-Key (AKM320)

PROS

  • No driver installation required
  • Lightweight and ideal travel companion
  • Cheapest MIDI Keyboard on the market
  • USB type-B cable handles both power and MIDI connection
  • Probably the best-utilized hardware space given its small form factor
  • Despite small form has standard pitch and mod wheels - even sustain pedal input

CONS

  • Low-quality keybed
  • Keyboard player may not enjoy the small key size 

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers love its instant compatibility with all DAW software on the market and how it works perfectly on both Windows and iOS systems. Having both MIDI connection and power supply in a single USB cable that comes along with this unit makes it ready to use straight out from the box.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is the most affordable MIDI Keyboard in its tier. It offers more physical controls than the rest of the competition while maintaining the lowest price. It is very portable because of its small weight while giving you that extra 7 keys to stretch your playing without pressing extra octave buttons.

Who Will Use This Most

This unit will be ideal for bedroom studio enthusiasts or people who would like to write down instant inspiration while traveling or being outside. It can also be a great investment for those who are thinking about entering the world of music - or a birthday present that every musician will appreciate. 

Bottom Line

Whether you plan to use it indoors or outdoors, you can’t beat the bang for the buck this unit has. It is equipped with everything you would need to write down that great idea that just came across your mind instantly.

IK Multimedia iRig Keys Mini-sized 37-key MIDI Controller for iPhone, iPad, Android and Mac/PC

PROS

  • Incredibly portable and USB powered
  • 37 mini keys with mod & pitch wheels and sustain pedal input included
  • Free software, Android micro-USB, PC/Mac USB and Lightning cables included
  • Compatible with both iOS and Android mobile devices with a dedicated Lightning connector. Handles most third-party apps thanks to Core MIDI support

CONS

  • Poor build quality
  • One of the smallest key size on the market

What Recent Buyers Report

While they are thrilled with iPad/iPhone implementation providing seamless integration, they complain that micro-USB port is very fragile resulting in losing connection to the computer or Android easily. Based on reviews, you shouldn’t rely too much on customer support, unfortunately.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It’s one of the rare MIDI controller designed for mobile devices that works properly. With free software provided with this MIDI keyboard, you can easily have everything you would need to turn your cell phone or tablet into a musical instrument. And lets not forget that it works with other apps as well.

Who Will Use This Most

This MIDI keyboard is aimed towards younger audiences, those who are more interested in exploring things than using it regularly. They would think of it more as a gadget than professional equipment. Yet, touring musicians can cut the travel short as they always carry sound generator for it - the phone.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a plug & play MIDI controller for your iPhone or iPad, you shouldn’t look much further. While you shouldn’t expect some outstanding professional wonders from it, you could have some great time playing with your mobile device everywhere. 

Best for the Money:
M Audio Oxygen 49 IV

M Audio Oxygen 49 IV | 49 Key USB/MIDI Keyboard With 8 Trigger Pads & A Full Consignment of Production/Performance Ready Controls

PROS

  • Ultra-portable given its size
  • Comes with a lot of free DAW software and virtual instruments
  • No extra power supply needed - USB type-B cable handles both power and MIDI connection
  • 49 synth-action keys (full-size) with a lot of physical controllers including 9 faders, 8 knobs, and 8 drum pads

CONS

  • Low-quality synth-action keybed
  • Doesn’t provide seamless integration with DAW software

What Recent Buyers Report

From buyers' experience, it can do the work in a studio, but not as good as some other keyboards from our list because it needs manual integration with modern DAW software. But, watch out for faulty models as buyers also often report to have serious complaints about quality control and faulty products.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The number of controls and keys it offers is very appealing. Having enough pads, faders, and knobs all at the same time allows you to tune this keyboard to all your needs. And having less than 6.5 pounds makes it ridiculously portable especially as it has 49 full-sized keys.

Who Will Use This Most

This item is oriented towards live performers or beginners who don’t care for software integration and are just looking for an affordable set of keys to play with. Live performers will definitely value the number of keys and all the physical controls it offers and its travel-friendly weight.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a simple budget MIDI keyboard that you can take with your laptop to a gig or use occasionally in the studio for basic MIDI recording and editing, this could be the keyboard tailored just for your needs.

Best MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio:
Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3

Akai Professional Fire | Performance Controller for FL Studio With Plug-And-Play USB Connectivity, 4 x 16 Velocity-Sensitive RGB Clip Matrix, OLED Display and FL Studio Fruity Fire Edition Included

PROS

  • 25 mini-keys built with decent quality
  • 16 backlit pads and 8 knobs, USB powered
  • Hardware interface is oriented towards Ableton Live as well
  • Comes with integrated and editable arpeggiator with keyboard 

CONS

  • Typical pitch and mod wheel would be much more appreciated

What Recent Buyer Report

Buyers say it’s an upgrade from the previous version. They used it smoothly even with Ableton Live and loved how the Automap feature works. Keybed surprised some users because they didn’t expect such quality from the mini-keys format, but you shouldn’t expect that it can replace the regular keybed feel.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Having 16 backlit drum pads make it an ideal partner for FL Studio as you can record by playing rather than clicking with your mouse. It is also rare that we see a modern MIDI keyboard equipped with MIDI OUT port. This allows us to link it with other devices than computers.

Who Will Use This Most

Despite the fact that it has mini-keys, this keybed might be acceptable even for traditional players. Additional MIDI OUT port also means that it was definitely aimed towards live performers and advanced professional users. 25 keys form makes it become that portable gear that might come out handy in every situation.

Bottom Line

16 pad layout is a must-have option for a seamless FL Studio workflow. Dedicated MIDI OUT port will broaden the use and with keybed more than just being bearable we can only recommend this Novation for any modern project studio.

Best MIDI Keyboard for Beginners:
Nektar IMPACT LX25+

Nektar Midi Controller (IMPACT LX25+)

PROS

  • Full-size synth-action keys
  • Comes with additional free DAW software
  • Mapping presets provided for software instruments
  • Contains keyboard shortcuts for standard MIDI commands
  • Dedicated transport buttons working with most popular DAW software
  • 8 velocity-sensitive pads with backlight and up to 4 map and 8 programmable knobs and 1 programmable fader

CONS

  • 25 keys may come short
  • Keys may be stiff for some users

What Recent Buyers Report

While buyers appreciate overall build quality, they are especially thrilled with the feel pads provide. They also praise the company support team response time. But, you should try out this unit for yourself first because there are several reports about keys being stiff and noisy.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We praise dedicated transport buttons that work properly with DAW software. Keyboards that provide you with pre-installed presets for software instruments are rare to be found in this price range and this feature can improve your creative workflow, especially for a beginner who doesn’t feel comfortable with assigning MIDI controls yet.

Who Will Use This Most

This unit is ideal for people who want to get a step further into digital music production. Having 8 pads makes it a decent MIDI controller for electronic or hip-hop music and full-size keys with fully programmable controllers and presets make professional keyboard players think about it for live performances. 

Bottom Line

Considering all the features this MIDI keyboard provides and its flexibility to adapt to users' custom preferences and needs, especially in this price range, we can only recommend it to all musicians as the next step towards becoming a professional producer.

Best Mini MIDI Keyboard:
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII

Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII – 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller With 8 Drum Pads, 8 Assignable Q-Link Knobs and Pro Software Suite Included

PROS

  • Travel-friendly - USB powered and lightweight
  • Contains a built-in arpeggiator and drum pattern editor
  • Has 8 programmable knobs and pads and sustain pedal input
  • 25 mini keys that provide a bunch of handy keyboard shortcuts
  • Beautifully designed device - comes in several color variations at the same price

CONS

  • Keybed is not designed for players
  • We would prefer traditional pitch and mod wheel than mini-joystick

What Recent Buyers Report

While the buyers are in love with the aesthetics of this MIDI keyboard many are complaining about the software registration process it comes with. There may be some issues on build quality as well but our impression is that people are just expecting a little bit too much for this category.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It’s very rare to see that a MIDI keyboard in this price range provides a built-in arpeggiator, especially with a dedicated tap tempo button. Providing extra features for drum patterns and alternative bank for pads make the offer even better. And we must also add that its look is just eye-candy.

Who Will Use This Most

Modern music producers that are more thinking about laying out that beat than playing out some demanding key chops. Frequent travelers that are in need of the small-format device. Hobbyists who could find it as a cool gadget on their work desk because of its cool appearance as well.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a professional player or an absolute beginner, Akai did something really good with this product. You may notice that every time you look at it and read the features it has, some hidden GAS (Gear Acquiring Syndrome) will start escalating.

Best MIDI Keyboard for Ableton:
Akai Professional APC Key 25

Akai Professional APC Key 25 | Compact USB Bus-Powered 40-Button Clip Launcher for Ableton Live with 25-Note MIDI Keyboard and 8 Fully-Assignable Q-Link Controls plus VIP 3.0 and Software Package

PROS

  • Very portable and USB-powered
  • Auto-map provided with 4 dedicated buttons 
  • Full supports for Ableton Live Lite and comes with some free software
  • 25 keys, 8 knobs, and 5x8 grid backlit pads with arrow buttons for grid shifting

CONS

  • Keys seems to be stiff
  • Ableton Live Lite could be included

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers enjoy its small-form-factor and it appears to be a decent upgrade from the previous version. Pads have a brighter backlight, and no complaint about working with Ableton was found. The only thing worth mentioning is that this MIDI Keyboard supports  Ableton Live from version 9.1.3

Why it Stands Out to Us

It’s one of the rare MIDI keyboards made in a small-form-factor for specific software in mind. It works perfectly with Ableton Live and adding 25 keys improves this offer further because you can record and edit virtual instruments tracks in the usual way besides usual Ableton Live grid triggering.

Who Will Use This Most

Electronic and hip-hop music producers, composers and live performers that are heavily relying on Ableton Live DAW software. But, because of 25 keys included, any project studio could use it with other DAW software as a MIDI controller for playing and editing virtual instruments tracks and VST effects.

Bottom Line

If you enjoy the Ableton Live environment and use it on a daily basis, this keyboard will be an excellent add-on to your studio gear and it can be also very useful if you plan to perform your projects live.

Best MIDI Keyboard for Logic Pro X:
ROLI Songmaker Kit - GarageBand Edition

ROLI | Songmaker Kit - GarageBand Edition | Seamless Campanion to GarageBand and Logic Pro X | Create Melodies on Seaboard Block and Beats and Effects With Lightpad Block | Case & Software Included

PROS

  • Futuristic look and style
  • Unique playing experience thanks to special type keybed
  • Seamless integration with GarageBand sounds and software
  • Compact, upgradeable and editable in both size and features
  • Allows different and more rich expressiveness than a regular MIDI keyboard

CONS

  • Expensive for most users
  • Dedicated to work fully with Mac OS only

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers say you need some time to adapt to this style of playing and that the software provided is not that intuitive. It requires that you watch additional tutorials to understand it properly. It also seems that their tech support doesn’t keep pace with recent OS Catalina updates for Mac.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It can be said in two words - a unique experience. It provides keyboard players to play with a different approach, force you to think “outside of the box” and expand your performance habits. It gives you more ways to express your sounds and make your playing even more individual and original. 

Who Will Use This Most

Advanced and professional keyboard players will be interested in this unit the most. Other instrument players (guitar or violin e.g.) may be indulged because of almost fretless expressiveness it provides compared to typical MIDI keyboard. People who compose Ambiental music will be delighted to find out about this product.

Bottom Line

This unit won’t be as versatile as your typical MIDI keyboard. You won’t use it that often. But, if you’re searching for something that makes a difference between “great” and “out of this world” for your songs - this could be the one.

Best MIDI Keyboard Under $100:
Akai Professional LPK25

Akai Professional LPK25 | 25 Key Portable USB MIDI Keyboard Controller for Laptops (Mac & PC)

PROS

  • 4 Memory banks provided to make it compatible with different software
  • Provides both MIDI connectivity and power supply with a single USB cable
  • Probably the lightest MIDI Keyboard in 25 mini-keys class (less than a pound)
  • Sustain, Tap Tempo and Arp button with shortcut options on keys for more detailed options

CONS

  • Build quality was traded for portability
  • There was enough space for additional wheel

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers are thrilled with the format and weight of this unit. But it comes with a drawback because it can bounce from your lap while you play. Also, as expected, keys are far from good and are used just for simple notation. We also recommend taking extra care of the micro-USB port.

Why it Stands Out to Us

There is probably no lighter MIDI Keyboard on the market and because of 13 inches long it would fit in every bag. Providing it with an integrated arpeggiator with a dedicated tap tempo button and keyboard shortcuts makes it ideal for improving your creative workflow wherever you may find yourself literally.

Who Will Use This Most

It is instantly aimed towards non-professionals and the younger population. People who travel a lot or those would be delighted to have something to sketch instantly or maybe composers who just need to lay out basic demo tracks without pulling out their regular keyboard gear and save some precious time.

Bottom Line

If you’re spending too much time outside of your studio and you don’t want to miss that sudden inspiration that came to you, this could be a great buy as you can use it even while you’re on a coffee break.

Best MIDI Keyboard Under $200:
Alesis V49

Alesis V49 | 49 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with 8 Backlit Pads, 4 Assignable Knobs and Buttons, Plus a Professional Software Suite with ProTools | First Included

PROS

  • Modern design with good build quality
  • USB powered and USB-MIDI compatible
  • Very decent 49 full-sized synth-action keybed 
  • Comes with some excellent free software (Pro Tools included) and editors
  • 8 fully programmable pads with 4 assignable knobs buttons, all neon-illuminated

CONS

  • Side panel controls could be placed above the keyboards
  • There was enough space to include regular MIDI OUT port

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers are very satisfied with this unit. They have an urge to comment on excellent build quality, which is not very often heard these days and the only concern is that drum pads aren’t up to the task. But overall, they agree that this is an improvement from former Alesis products.

Why it Stands Out to Us

You don’t expect such keybed quality in this price range. Placing all physical controls to the left panel will be appealing to the people who use a MIDI keyboard for playing because of its ergonomic placement. 

And lets not forget there is some great professional free software included in this offer.

Who Will Use This Most

Anyone who has more interest in playing than editing and tweaking. Professional musicians, live performers, music students or any hobbyist who is more into traditional music. But, because it has drum pads and knobs, this unit can be suitable for creating electronic and hip-hop music, too.

Bottom Line

It’s rare these days that the company decides to make a budget MIDI Keyboard for real players. It’s even rarer to do it well. Alesis did a great job and we recommend it to all players out there searching for a budget MIDI keyboard.

MIDI Keyboard vs Keyboard - Comparison Overview

As most MIDI Keyboards and Keyboards seem to look similar considering hardware design, it may be easy to mix them up. So, the biggest difference is that keyboards are able to generate sound on their own and that’s why they come with output jacks and headphones and are mainly oriented for live performance. They were also used as portable studio solutions before because computers weren’t capable to produce everything so easily like today.

If you want to create sound using MIDI Keyboards you would need some external device (computer, sound module, etc.) and that’s why they tend to be less expensive than regular keyboards from the same tier. 

But, MIDI Keyboards are getting seen in live performances more often because they are easier to travel with. And as computers and software are getting more powerful, using traditional keyboards is becoming kinda obsolete because everything can be done on a laptop, especially modern-music related.

That’s why flagship keyboards tend to improve their all-in-one offers so they can keep the pace with virtual instruments taking over the share on the music market. And that’s why we can see an outburst of analog keyboard models that offer outstanding sound quality and advanced sound possibilities.

MIDI Keyboard vs. Keyboard (Source)

Conclusion

MIDI keyboard is a handy tool for every musician whether he’s a keyboard player or not. It's essential for not just recording various types of instruments but optimizing your software and creative workflow as well. That’s why we decided to provide you with the best MIDI keyboard models in 2020.

People Also Ask

World of MIDI keyboards can be hard to cope for beginners. The following FAQ section could help you out to learn more about MIDI, decide what you’re looking for, understand the difference between models on the market, find out what else you can do with your gear and much more!

Are MIDI Keyboards Worth it?

If you’re into blues, jazz or rock, it’s not mandatory although you may enjoy carrying out that adorable piano or powerful organ from your laptop live.

But if you’re into anything electronic related, playing with MIDI values is something you’ll do sooner or later and that’s where MIDI keyboards excel.

How Much Does a MIDI Keyboard Cost?

If we’re talking about a regular MIDI keyboard, the price varies between $35 up to $1.700. It depends on what features and number of keys you are looking for.

Yet, there are also some special MIDI keyboard models with unique features and their price can go up to stunning $7.000!

Why Are MIDI Keyboards so Expensive?

They are expensive only when they offer extra features. If you just need something to play around you can find really cheap models nowadays that will do the trick. But, if you have more professional plans, you will at least appreciate time-saving or all-in-one solutions that more expensive models deliver.

What is the Difference Between a MIDI Controller and a MIDI Keyboard?

Simply put, MIDI Keyboard is a MIDI Controller with a piano-style interface. It can have extra controllers but it’s not mandatory. MIDI controllers format are mostly used like some sort of digital mixer for DAW software. But, there are also alternatives used with DJ software and then they come with virtual turntables instead of keys. 

MIDI Controller vs. MIDI Keyboard, which is the best? (Source)

Can You Use a MIDI Keyboard Without a Computer?

Yes. You can play another keyboard (workstation or synthesizer) with MIDI Keyboard. Think of it as if you got an extra pair of keys. You would need a 5-pin MIDI cable to connect them. In case your MIDI keyboard doesn’t have such a port, there are third-party USB-to-MIDI cables to help you out.

Can I Use a Normal Keyboard as a MIDI Keyboard?

Every keyboard that has a MIDI port can be used as a MIDI keyboard. To make it easier for computer use, USB-MIDI became a standard port for modern keyboards. Some go even further and design a button for a “MIDI keyboard” mode or provide you with seamless integration for different software.

Are All Keyboards Midi?

In short - yes. MIDI became such a mainstream protocol that it’s very rare to find a keyboard without it since the 1990s. 

There are some models that had shallow MIDI implementation (Yamaha DX7 e.g.) or that don’t have MIDI protocol at all though (probably the most famous is Roland Juno 60).

What Does MIDI Do With Keyboards?

Everytime you change a sound patch or press a key it generates MIDI information inside of your keyboard and it responds properly - what note (pressing C4 sends the value of note number 72 to MIDI, e.g.), velocity and so on.

Think of it as a universal language that all keyboards understand.