Best 49 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards – 2020 Review

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It may happen that your small-format gear limits your workflow or that your main keyboard seriously lacks portability. That’s why we will be talking about the all-around group of keyboards that come with 49 keys, what are the most popular models among them and where do they excel compared to other models.

Comparison Chart of the Best 49 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Works without power cable or drivers
  • Uses ddedicated control buttons
  • Equipped with 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pad
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  • Has an ergonomically-designed pitch
  • Offers easy plug-and-play connection
  • Uses transport and directional buttons
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  • Best for the Money
  • Able to connect with a single USB cable
  • Makes use of unique editor software
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  • Great solution for triggering samples
  • Onboard USB MIDI interface
  • Offers 24 assignable Q Link controllers
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  • Controls can be assigned QWERTY keystroke
  • Offers very detailed mixes
  • Equipped with expressive synth-action keys
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Is a 49 Key MIDI Controller Keyboard Hard to Learn?

While it won’t be easy, you shouldn’t think of it harder than learning any other instrument. Using and understanding hardware interface should become intuitive within a week while playing keyboard may require different time depending on what you would like to learn to play. 

Novation Launchkey 49-Note MK2 Version

The good thing about the 49 Key Controller is that it has enough keys so that you can start learning playing with two hands which is essential if you want to become a professional keyboard player. The bad is that you will find number keys insufficient sooner or later, especially if you would like to play the piano.

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Review of the Best 49 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards

Next, we’re going to talk about the best 49-Key MIDI Controller Keyboards available. 

Novation Launchkey 49 USB Keyboard Controller for Ableton Live, 49-Note MK2 Version

PROS

  • Designed for Ableton Live software
  • Wonderful keybed feel and response, full-size keys
  • Automap feature for seamless integration with your DAW and virtual instruments software
  • 16 RGB velocity responsive pads, 9 sliders and buttons 8 rotary knobs and dedicated transport buttons for complete DAW software control

CONS

  • MIDI OUT port could be included
  • Physical controllers could be a little bit bigger

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers love the keybed this device has. They find RGB backlit for pads to be a very handy feature and improve the workflow. They had a better experience with Novation compared to their former MIDI Keyboards. It is also reported to be compatible with the current OS and all major DAW software as well.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This is a MIDI Keyboard that was made on a budget but nothing important seems to be cut short. Keybed feels nice, keys are full-size and all of the usual controls are there including dedicated transport buttons for DAW software. And having 16 pads is ideal for your Ableton Live and FL Studio work.

Who Will Use This Most

Thanks to its proper build quality and various controllers this device can be of use for both beginners and professionals. It’s one of those devices that can stay with you as you evolve musically and it won’t come short of options so soon. Great keybed will be especially praised by professionals.

Bottom Line

This Novation product has an excellent bang-for-buck ratio. It has enough keys and controllers for most of your needs and its build quality and driver support will make it last a little bit longer than you may expect.

M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3 | Compact Semi Weighted 49 Key MIDI Keyboard Controller with Assignable Controls, Pitch / Modulation Wheels and Software Production Suite included USB Powered

PROS

  • Cheapest 49-keys controller on the market
  • Slim design, as portable as possible for full-size keys model
  • USB port handles both power supply and MIDI connectivity
  • Comes with lite versions of professional software such as Ableton or Pro Tools
  • Dedicated transport and DAW navigation buttons and slider for volume control

CONS

  • Build quality feels very cheap
  • Adding some controllers or making the volume slider and mod wheel editable would be appreciated

What Recent Buyers Report

Users had to comment on a very cheap build quality regardless of its price range. It does what it needs to, but you shouldn’t expect much else. And while being marketed as a plug-and-play device, it appears that it may need a powered USB hub for your Mac OS laptop.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We praise the M-Audio effort to make it as portable as possible while leaving out full-size keys. Transport controls work as it should. You can find the use of the free software it provides. After all, this is one of the most affordable 49 keys on the market at the moment.

Who Will Use This Most

Given its price range, this unit is aiming at beginner-level and non-demanding users. While it can be carried around easily it can be used in a studio because it takes up minimum space. Leaving out all the physical controllers makes this unit available to playing musicians only.

Bottom Line

If you’re very tight on a budget and you need 49 keys MIDI Keyboard for your studio, you may consider this M-Audio product. It may not be ideal, but it will do the work and can be used around as a spare MIDI keyboard.

Korg Keyboard Amplifier, 49-Key (MICROKEY249)

PROS

  • Supports iPhone and iPad devices
  • Comes with additional free software
  • Minimalistically designed hardware for the users on a budget
  • Mini “waterfall” keys make this unit portable while 49 keys make it usable for more than just notation use

CONS

  • Mixed feelings about mini keys feel and response
  • It could come with transpose buttons and some useful shortcuts on the keys 

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers say that it works straight out of the box on all modern OS including the iOS on iPhone and iPad devices. Both keys and wheels seem to have a decent response and there are no complaints on build quality recorded. Its software editor lacks some further customization options, yet.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Its minimalistic design makes it different in the current MIDI Keyboard world. Instead of offering a bunch of controllers you may not need at all, KORG decided to cut the features and apply an interesting waterfall type of keys that’s suitable for playing organs and easier perform glissando technique.

Who Will Use This Most

It was meant for keyboard players who just want to have something portable to carry around and play. The minimalistic design also made it possible to fit in every studio and iPhone and iPad support means you don’t have to bring your laptop with you to generate a sound.

Bottom Line

If you got used to the idea of having a portable keyboard that you can carry around but you felt like you didn’t have enough keys to express yourself properly, you should consider this product from KORG.

Akai Professional MPK249 | 49 Key Semi Weighted USB MIDI Keyboard Controller Including Core Control From The MPC Workstations

PROS

  • Portable in its given tier and USB powered
  • Modernly designed, equipped with full-size keys
  • 16 RGB premium velocity-sensitive pads set in 4 banks
  • Fully compatible with Akai MPC devices including its mainstay controls
  • 24 Q-link editable controllers in the form of knobs, sliders, and buttons

CONS

  • Keybed could be better for this price range
  • Sliders and knobs could be placed on the left side

What Recent Buyers Report

They are satisfied with this purchase in general. It works like expected, playing with pad experience is reported as awesome and it seems that they work with external software perfectly. But, overall build quality is about average and you shouldn’t expect too much from Akai support if you need some quick repairs.

Why it Stands Out to Us

These pads are the best we’ve found on MIDI keyboards so far - very responsive and allow some real professional performance. Q-link controllers are fully customizable and given its price range it’s amazing that it provides complete 5-pin MIDI port connectivity, not just MIDI OUT but MIDI IN as well.

Who Will Use This Most

Akai always excelled with pad quality. That’s why it was irreplaceable in the hip-hop genre since the 1990s. This unit didn’t come short of those pad build quality. It’s excellent for producers and performers who rely heavily on beat making and that’s exactly why Akai provided full backward compatibility with MPC devices.

Bottom Line

If making beats is your first call while you may stab a chord here and there, you should go for Akai product. Full MIDI port interface compatible with external devices and dedicated power supply just add professional topping to this product.

Nektar DAW Controller, white, medium (P4)

PROS

  • 3.5” TFT full-color display screen 
  • Premium model, durable and made for professional use
  • Excellent synth-action keybed with aftertouch and different velocity curve feature
  • Premium 100mm motorized fader included for instant reading from your DAW software tracks
  • Numerous physical controllers, 93 to be precise in the form of pads, knobs, faders, buttons, and wheels

CONS

  • Might be a little bit expensive
  • Additional power supply might be appreciated

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers are amazed by this product. They praise the build quality, functionality this MIDI Keyboard provides, integration with DAW software seems to work perfectly and even the customer support works well. There are reviews that even after a couple of years, this unit works like it did on the first day.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Aftertouch is a feature that comes only with a premium quality keybed. It’s rare to find it in modern MIDI keyboards these days. The same could be said for keys weight or motorized fader.

So, to put it short, Nektar definitely decided to make this model with premium parts included only.

Who Will Use This Most

This model was made for all kinds of professional users. No matter if you’re studio producer, live performer or advanced beatmaker, you will benefit from some part of this MIDI Keyboard. Thanks to MIDI port provided you can use it not just with your laptop, but your external devices as well.

Bottom Line

If you need fully professional MIDI Keyboard gear that could handle some of the most demanding DAW and virtual instrument software or live performance demands and the budget is not a problem, this is the best device you could find on the market

Pros and Cons of 49 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards

Before you go and buy some of the models we reviewed, here are some Pros and Cons that apply to all 49 Key MIDI Keyboard models.

Pros

Below are the main pros.

Two Hands Playing

This model size has enough keys so that you can use both hands while playing, especially if we’re talking about a regular size keybed. While not being ideal it can be used to learn at least basics of how to play with both hands and see if you’re going to need a bigger controller.

Road to Being a Pro

While leaving the “mini size” of the MIDI keyboard world that’s all about portability, there are 49 keys models that don’t trade their advanced features. They offer you full keybed quality, durable design and full-size controls that are built to last.

Live Performance-Ready

With the size given, they are more oriented towards live performance. That’s why you should expect extra features, controls and ports you won’t find on smaller models

Cons

Below are the main cons.

Not Big or Small

While it may appear ideal in size for some users, it also fits in a category where it can lack key range and is considered as too big to carry around without planning in advance.

Separate Power Supply

If you are used to small-format MIDI controllers, please pay attention that more professional MIDI keyboards require a dedicated power supply in order to work at all.

Conclusion 

49 Key MIDI Keyboard hits that sweet spot of the MIDI Keyboard world. It has the ability to handle most studio and live performance tasks while preserving at least some of the travel-friendly format. And at the same time, it provides enough keys so that professional players may think about it.

People Also Ask

The following section will bring you out some of the most frequent questions that were troubling users upon buying 49-keys MIDI Keyboard. Depending on what your main interest is all about, it can help you to decide if this is the key size you’re actually looking for.

Can You Play Most Songs on a 49 Key Keyboard?

You can play most popular songs for sure. You may even perform or at least find a way to adapt some songs with piano parts, but you shouldn’t push it too much into details as you would probably lack the response and depth that 88-keys model can provide you with.

Can You Learn Piano on 49 Keys?

While it’s more thankful than playing on 25-key or 37 Keys it doesn’t provide you with enough of key range. Regardless of synth-action keybed type, you can’t use both hands on it like you would on a regular piano. But, you can learn reading notes and practice hands individually with an ease.