The best MIDI controller keyboards of the moment
What will you find in this post?
A MIDI keyboard or MIDI controller is a device used to send information via the MIDI protocol to DAW software on computers, to sound modules, or synthesizers and keyboards. Usually these devices do not produce their own sound and are created to control software or sound modules, in which the sound would be emitted. Today we will analyze the best MIDI controller keyboards of the moment and the functionalities that make them a great choice for home studios and concerts.
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Arturia KeyLab MkII
It is the new version of the series of controllers that the brand launched in 2013 and that has put them on the market as one of the great current references in terms of MIDI controllers. The first thing that stands out about this controller are its wood finishes and its aluminum chassis which provides it the necessary hardness to resist travel and the normal work of a keyboardist, this detail is important since the vast majority of MIDI keyboard controllers are built entirely in plastic. It comes in 49- and 61-key versions with velocity sensitivity and aftertouch and is available in white and black.
MIDI control features 16 multipurpose pads with speed sensitivity, 9 sliders, 9 knobs and 9 buttons, plus a Transport section that supports the MCU/HUI protocol for easier control of multiple DAWs.Another important detail where it stands out is in its inputs and outputs, has 4 CV outputs to easily connect to modular systems and a CV input to receive information from this type of systems and has 5 pedal inputs, the classic “Sustain”, “Expression” and 3 more auxiliary pedals that can be assigned to what users want, also with input and output for MIDI of 5 pins and USB connectivity.
This keypad can be configured in 3 modes: “Analog Lab” mode that allows a complete integration with the highly praised Analog Lab software of the Arturia brand where you have access to more than 6,500 high quality presets emulating many types of classic analog and digital synthesizers, electronic pianos and organs.”DAW” mode where thanks to its integration with the Mackie HUI protocol they can handle different functionalities in each DAW, without having to configure or assign any of its controls.”User” mode where custom control settings can be used and saved according to the user’s needs.
Finally, it includes with its purchase, the Analog Lab software in the most recent version, the DAW Ableton Live Lite and the Piano V Software with an excellent acoustic piano sound.
Arturia KeyLab Essential
The Arturia KeyLab Essential series is the economic version of the KeyLab series, reducing some controls but maintaining very similar functionalities and changing the metal chassis for a plastic one, but keeping the wood finishes on the edges.
It is available in 49 and 61 keys with velocity sensitivity, but without aftertouch and comes in two colors, black and white.
One of the most notable cuts is that it has only 8 multipurpose pads versus 16 pads on the KeyLab, but maintains the 9 faders and 9 knobs of the Keylab model.
Your purchase includes the following software: Arturia Analog Lab with more than 6,500 high quality presets emulating many types of classic analog and digital synthesizers, electronic pianos and organs.
The Ableton Live Lite and the UVI Grand Piano. In terms of connectivity only has input for sustain pedal and MIDI output of 5 pins in addition to its USB connectivity.
Roli Seaboard Rise
Several years ago the Roli brand surprised the world by completely revolutionizing the way of playing the piano, with the Seaboard Grand, a 61-key MIDI controller keyboard with the possibility of being played in various dimensions to achieve an expression unmatched until now.After the resounding success of this equipment, the brand presents us the Seaboard Rise series, which presents very similar functionalities with some improvements and greater portability (it is available in 25 and 49 keys) with an XY pad and 3 faders.
To be more portable, it can be powered by battery for 8 hours and communicates with the computer via Bluetooth. Its 5 dimensions are unique and it can be executed by pressing, tapping, hitting, sliding from top to bottom or from right to left and vice versa, managing to control multiple parameters with these movements, and so unique are these dimensions that the brand has created a specialized software to be executed with this keyboard controller, the equator player, a powerful virtual synthesizer with sounds created especially for the 5 dimensions of the Seaboard.
There are also other sound banks from other manufacturers that have already added functionalities compatible with this controller as the Strobe 2 of Fxpansion and various libraries of strings rubbed, among others.Included with the purchase of this driver are: two virtual synthesizers: Equator with hundreds of presets available and Strobe 2 and two DAWs: Tracktion Waveform and Bitwig 8-Track.
Roli Block Seaboard
For the Roli brand it was not enough to present to the market the piano of the future, they continue to surprise every day with their innovations and the most recent thing they have presented is the set of equipment of the Roli Blocks line, a series of wireless controllers of mini size at a much more accessible price with the ability to connect between them to make more powerful controllers, allowing the user to buy only the blocks with the functionalities he needs.
The Seaboard Block is a small keyboard with 25 keys with the same possibilities of execution as for the 5 dimensions of control of its big brothers the Seaboard Rise and the Seaboard Grand, but without pad XY nor faders.
Finally, in terms of software, this driver includes the equator player with more than 100 presets available, as well as the NOISE app for iPhone and iPad and the Dashboard Blocks which is the software that allows the connection between several devices in the Blocks series.
This is one of the most advanced controllers on the market and is the Akai brand’s bet on a control surface that requires as little interaction with the computer as possible during the use of virtual instruments.
The most striking thing about this controller is its 4.3 inch screen where we can see the VIP software, in which we can load all our library of virtual instruments and use them in our favorite DAW or independently as stand-alone, and thanks to this software the controller allows on your screen, the complete library of our presets as well as specific parts of the virtual synthesizer we are using.
This software allows you to create “multis” sounds from up to 8 virtual synthesizers simultaneously, as well as keyboard splits by zones and compatibility with all VSTs.
In terms of physical controls, this keyboard features 8 speed and pressure sensitive luminous pads, Pitch Bend and modulation controls, and 8 assignable knobs.It also includes integration with the most popular DAWs with ready-to-use routings without additional configurations.
Additional MIDI input and output via 5-pin and USB ports and input for sustain and expression pedals.Included with the purchase of this driver is the VIP software and a 16 GB library with over 10,000 sounds from renowned designers such as Air Music Technology, Sonivox and Prime Loops.
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S MKII
This series of controller keyboards is the new version of the Komplete Kontrol S, the perfect controller to accompany the Native Instruments software, Komplete.
In this second version of the series were included 2 high resolution screens in full color that minimizes the interaction with the computer in the use of virtual instruments, allowing the user to see the information of Komplete Kontrol software on their screen without having to look at the computer.
Each screen has 4 knobs underneath it that allow you to modify different parameters of the Komplete Kontrol software.
It should be noted that the Native Instruments brand is very prominent in the development of music software, and has libraries, effects and virtual synthesizers quite powerful and positioned in the music production industry, and this becomes a great advantage in this controller because with its purchase comes included the package Komplete 11 Select containing 11 instruments of the brand and exclusive effects, in addition to the possibility of upgrading to Komplete 11 or Komplete 11 Ultimate libraries containing a large number of musical instruments of the highest quality.
It has Pitch Bend and Modulation wheels and under them an assignable Ribbon control that allows you to get closer to the sensation of an expression pedal.
It also includes integration with the most popular DAWs with ready-to-use routings without additional configurations. On each key there is an RGB led that allows to identify the modifier keys and the keyboard zones when making splits.This keyboard controller is available in 49 and 61 speed and pressure sensitive keys.
The M-Audio Code Series features a group of keyboard controllers at an affordable price with ample controls of different types, 16 speed-sensitive pads, 9 faders, 8 knobs, 9 buttons, an X/Y pad and the classic pitch bend and modulation wheels.
It is available in 25, 49 and 61 speed- and pressure-sensitive keys in black and white. It also has 4 assignable zones for multilayer sounds and divisions.
Your controls can be automatically mapped to the main DAWs to control these programs easily without having to assign any parameters.
In terms of software included with your purchase: the DAW Ableton Live Lite, and virtual synthesizers Hybrid 3.0 and Loom, of the manufacturers Air Music Technology.
Alesis Vortex Wireless 2
An incredible Keytar controller keyboard and also wireless, for all those keyboards that want to steal the live show, with a keyboard that allows them to walk around the stage without cables and with the power in the sound that give the virtual synthesizers.
This controller has 37 speed and pressure sensitive keys and additionally features 8 backlit pads, 8 faders, pitch bend wheel and an assignable ribbon control.
It also includes integration with the most popular DAWs with ready-to-use routings without additional configurations.
It is powered by 4 AA batteries and communicates with the computer via a USB wireless receiver.Your purchase includes the DAW Ableton Live Lite and the virtual synthesizers: Hybrid 3, Loom 2, Vacuum Pro and Xpand!2 from AIR Music Technology and the TimewARP2600 from Sonivox.
Virtual synthesizers are becoming more and more powerful, and as they become more and more powerful, they are becoming an indispensable element for many music producers and keyboards in live and studio environments.
Along with these, grows the importance of MIDI controllers increasingly oriented to the use and control of virtual synthesizers and a sample of that are the keyboard controllers addressed in this list with features of last generation.