As a musician in today’s world, it is imperative to embrace technology and allow it to give you an edge over the competition. Technology is capable of enhancing your music, while allowing you to record it much easier.
Of course, there are numerous technological improvements, which can give you an edge. One of these is undoubtedly the MIDI keyboard controller.
If you wish to record those beautiful keyboard melodies, you will need one of these devices. Within this guide, you will learn all there is to know about this item, so you can make the right decision for your money!
What Is A MIDI Controller?
In basic terms, a MIDI controller is a type of hardware or software, which creates and transmits MIDI information to compatible devices. Of course, the modern controllers are much more versatile than that.
They’re capable of providing the musician with the necessary functions to control various parameters of their performance and music. The controller can be equipped with a handful of different knobs, buttons and sliders.
A piano-keyboard may also be provided, but this isn’t always the case. So, what is the best keyboard controller?
Further reading on choosing the right midi controller can be found here You will be able to find breakdowns for some of the best below!
In a hurry? Here are our top picks for the best midi keyboards controller
Editors Pick -Novation Impulse USB Midi Controller Keyboard
Best Budget - Korg microKEY-25 USB MIDI Controller
Best Midi Keyboards for USB - Akai APC40 MKII
Best USB 25 key Mic- Behringer UMX250 U-Control
Best Professional USB Mic - M-Audio Oxygen 49 IV
How to Choose Your Midi Keyboard
These keyboards are great for any musician, whether you are an experienced pro, or you just want to start learning how to mix your sounds. There are quite a few extras and features that come with
them, though, which means you should be looking out for some key features.
You’ll find all of them below, but there is one thing you should remember. Your keyboard needs to be one that you feel
comfortable using. Playing, operating, fiddling with, all of it needs to be what you want; not what you’re expected to have.
Number of Keys
There are a number of different sizes for these keyboards, and the number of keys dictates the size. That’s why when you are deciding on the number of keys; you also need to consider both your
budget and the size of the space you have available. Usually, they come in the following key numbers:
The less keys, the smaller the keyboard, and you also need to think about your experience. If you are just starting out, 25 keys are going to be perfect for the situation. If you are a professional, however,
you likely won’t be satisfied with anything less than 49 keys. However, if you are composing sequences, key numbers won’t really matter; it will be about the sliders, knobs, and additional
This is an important quality for any keyboard, as it is the manner in which it responds to playing. It’s about you feeling comfortable, enjoying the sound being created, and making the music you want.
Generally, the action you want is based on the way you are used to playing, and that is why you will likely be drawn more to one of the below options.
Weighted Hammer Action
This controller type has 88 notes and is able to replicate the mechanical actions of a classic piano. It’s a difficult thing to achieve because the keyboard is designed so differently to a piano, and so it uses a series of weights and springs in order to do so. The semi weighted hammer action is exceptionally good at recreating the sound and feel of a traditional piano.
Semi Weighted Action
This is very similar to the weighted hammer models, but there is a lot less resistance. The release has a little more spring to it, and the sound remains very pleasant. The piano sound is not as accurate,
but it is also a very popular option among those with Midi keyboards.
These are a lot like an electric organ in terms of sound and feel. It has spring-loaded keys that are incredibly light and can be moved with great speed. Additionally, they return to their resting place
much faster for more versatility while playing.
This is a huge advantage when you need to play quick sections of music, and it is also a great help to those who are not keyboard players naturally but perhaps play guitar as a main instrument.
People often ask if this is something they need. I always say yes, because it makes playing a lot more versatile and lets you be more creative.
The aftertouch adds expression to your music, and it saves
you needing to use your spare hand to fiddle with various controls. You have to spend a little more, but it is so worth it. It’s something you don’t realise you need until you try it out for the first time.
Inputs and Outputs
As a standard, you will find that Midi keyboards have the standard USB setups. It’s the way they transmit MDI, and you generally don’t need to worry about anything else. However, there are some
models that include other types of jack. They can make your life easier and are as follows:
- 5-pin MIDI DIN. This one lets you connect external Midi instruments, like hardware synths,
so you can mix things up a little.
- CV and Gate. These outputs will let you modulate vintage synth gear for a more diverse
This is all down to the way you like to play. If you are into traditional keys, this probably isn’t for you. The performance pads are comfortable, and sense velocity, and many keyboards can support at least eight of them.
You can use them to play drums and trigger loops, or even use them to sense an aftertouch. However, you should remember that a bank of pads will make your keyboard a lot heavier to carry and handle; despite the great additions.
Knobs, faders, and Buttons
It’s not just for playing tunes; there is a lot more you can do with a Midi keyboard. Knobs, faders, and various buttons can make the experience a more exciting one, as well as add flexibility to your
The exciting thing is that you can actually buy separate control panels (as well as multiples) that connect to your keyboard; keeping things creative as well as customisable.
Auto Mapping and Integration
I quite like this feature, and it goes nicely with all of the knobs and faders. The way it works is that you set it up in such a way that it corresponds with your specific software applications. It saves you a
lot of work and time, so that you can focus more on being creative and letting the music flow as opposed to playing with all the settings.
These allow you to layer your sounds, which means you can mix things up and create more intense music that you want to listen to. You can define their channels, octaves, key ranges; the whole lot.
Many basic boards will have two zones, but four is a good number if you want to get really creative. For the professionals, there are even more available, and it can depend on the number of keys as well. They overlap with each other, and it just provides more flexibility, which many artists need.
These keyboards need a power supply. There are many keyboards that can be powered with a USB port, but the Midi is not one of them. You will need a separate mains power supply, which usually
comes with the keyboard so that you can get started right away.
This also means that you get more work and power out of it, so there is a greater range with a Midi keyboard than others on the
All in all, there are many musicians out there that would like to be able to enhance their music. Equipping yourself with the top MIDI keyboard controller is a necessity and will give you added control and convenience.
Of course, finding the best one is thoroughly complicated and traveling down this road alone is unrealistic.
This is why you will want to read the information above and allow it to guide you towards the best midi controller for your individualistic needs and desires!