Best 88 Key MIDI Controller in 2024

When shopping for the best 88 key MIDI controller, there are a lot of things you need to consider. You want something with weighted keys, great playability, sturdy construction, useful features like knobs and faders, drums pads, and integration with your DAW and VST instruments.

A 88 key MIDI controller allows you to play the MIDI controller with both hands, just like an original piano, where the left hand can play the rhythm and bass part while the right hand plays the melody. when you have a massive 88 Key MIDI controller, you don’t have to rush towards the octave shifter button to play the ninth, eleventh or thirteenth chords.

Whether you’re an aspiring producer looking for a reliable board for your home studio, or a working musician needing a master keyboard controller for live performance and the stage, there’s an option here for you.

So let’s dive into our detailed guide and recommendation list of the best 88 key MIDI controllers that deserve a spot in your creative arsenal for producing music with more professionalism.

Best 88 Key MIDI Controller in 2024

With over 15 years of experience working with MIDI keyboards and controllers, I’ve played my fair share of 88 Keys MIDI controllers – from cheap plastic toys to high-end professional MIDI controllers. This guide is made to provide you with the best 88 Key MIDI keyboards so that you don’t repeat my mistakes.

For a quick look, check out our top 3 recommendations:

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Top Choice
M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro – 88 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller With Piano Style Weighted Hammer Action Keys, Beat Pads, and Software Suite
Best Alternate
Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII 88 Key Weighted USB MIDI Keyboard Controller — Aftertouch, Velocity Sensitive, Hammer-Action, Piano Feel, With 16 Drum Pads, 9 Faders, 9 Knobs and Analog Lab V Software Included
Best Affordable
M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 – 88 Key Semi Weighted MIDI Keyboard Controller for Complete Command of Virtual Synthesizers and DAW parameters,Black
Model
M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro
Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII
M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3
Keys
88 Hammer Action, Aftertouch, Traditional Piano Feel
88 Hammer Action, Aftertouch, Piano Feel, Fatar TP/100LR keybed
88 Semi-Weighted Keys
Velocity Sensitivity
Drum Pads
RGB backlit, Assignable, velocity-sensitive pads with Note Repeat
16 RGB Backlit
Advanced Controls
8 Assignable knobs, 9 assignable Faders
9 Faders, 9 Rotary Knobs
Volume fader, directional buttons, Octave Up & Down buttons
Transport Controls
Pitch Bend & Modulation Wheel
Software Bundle
MPC Beats, Ableton Live Lite, AIR Music Tech’s Velvet, Mini Grand, Hybrid 3, Touch Loops
Analog Lab V, Ableton Live Lite, Piano V, Wurli V, Vox Continental V,
MPC Beats, Ableton Live Lite, Mini Grand, and Velvet
Connectivity
USB-MIDI connection, 5-Pin MIDI Input, Sustain & Expression Pedal
USB, MIDI I/O, CV I/O, Pedal Controls
USB, 5-Pin MIDI, Sustain Pedal Input
Top Choice
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M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro – 88 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller With Piano Style Weighted Hammer Action Keys, Beat Pads, and Software Suite
Model
M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro
Keys
88 Hammer Action, Aftertouch, Traditional Piano Feel
Velocity Sensitivity
Drum Pads
RGB backlit, Assignable, velocity-sensitive pads with Note Repeat
Advanced Controls
8 Assignable knobs, 9 assignable Faders
Transport Controls
Pitch Bend & Modulation Wheel
Software Bundle
MPC Beats, Ableton Live Lite, AIR Music Tech’s Velvet, Mini Grand, Hybrid 3, Touch Loops
Connectivity
USB-MIDI connection, 5-Pin MIDI Input, Sustain & Expression Pedal
Buy Now
Best Alternate
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Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII 88 Key Weighted USB MIDI Keyboard Controller — Aftertouch, Velocity Sensitive, Hammer-Action, Piano Feel, With 16 Drum Pads, 9 Faders, 9 Knobs and Analog Lab V Software Included
Model
Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII
Keys
88 Hammer Action, Aftertouch, Piano Feel, Fatar TP/100LR keybed
Velocity Sensitivity
Drum Pads
16 RGB Backlit
Advanced Controls
9 Faders, 9 Rotary Knobs
Transport Controls
Pitch Bend & Modulation Wheel
Software Bundle
Analog Lab V, Ableton Live Lite, Piano V, Wurli V, Vox Continental V,
Connectivity
USB, MIDI I/O, CV I/O, Pedal Controls
Buy Now
Best Affordable
Image
M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 – 88 Key Semi Weighted MIDI Keyboard Controller for Complete Command of Virtual Synthesizers and DAW parameters,Black
Model
M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3
Keys
88 Semi-Weighted Keys
Velocity Sensitivity
Drum Pads
Advanced Controls
Volume fader, directional buttons, Octave Up & Down buttons
Transport Controls
Pitch Bend & Modulation Wheel
Software Bundle
MPC Beats, Ableton Live Lite, Mini Grand, and Velvet
Connectivity
USB, 5-Pin MIDI, Sustain Pedal Input
Buy Now

1. Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII

Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII

  • 88 Hammer-Action Weighted Keys, Fatar TP/100LR Keybed
  • Aftertouch, Velocity Sensitive
  • 16 RGB Backlit Drum Pads, 9 Faders, 9 Knobs
  • Modulation Wheel, Pitch Bend
  • USB, MIDI I/O, CV I/O, Pedal Controls

Sitting proudly at the top spot on our list is the Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII – a powerhouse MIDI controller that leaves no stone unturned for the hybrid piano player. With 88 velocity and aftertouch hammer-action keys modeled after those on an acoustic grand, it delivers world-class dynamic expression under your fingertips for studio recording or stage performance.

Each keypress just feels super premium just like you are playing on a grand piano. The white color with the wooden finish at the sides looks adorable, giving shine to every type of desk and studio.

best-88-keys-MIDI-controller

I was truly blown away not just by the quality of the TP/100LR keybed, but the sheer wealth of controls for manipulating virtual instruments and DAWs. The intuitive interface features 9 rotary knobs, 9 faders, and a whopping 16 backlit Drum pads allowing for serious programmability and MIDI mapping.

The Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII also integrates effortlessly with all major DAWs like Pro Tools, FL Studio, Ableton LIVE, Bitwig, Logic Pro X, etc for transport functions while intelligently mapping Arturia’s virtual instruments. You also get Arturia Analog Lab software with 7000 synth and keyboard sounds.

All the connectivity options are at the back including USB Type-B, MIDI I/O, CV I/O, 3x AUX for pedals, and a sustain port. In the box, you only get a USB Type-B cable, laptop plate, and musical sheet holder. Here is the different MIDI cables explained.

Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII is a holy grail of 88 Keys MIDI controllers and if your pocket allows, this versatile keyboard is impossible not to love. If you are looking for the best 88 Key MIDI controller with hammer keys, drum pads, Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII

Buy Now: Amazon

2. M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro

M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro

  • 88 Hammer-Action Weighted Keys
  • Aftertouch, Velocity Sensitive
  • 16 RGB Backlit Assignable Drum Pads with Note Repeat
  • 9 Assignable Faders, 9 Assignable Knobs, Built-in OLED display
  • Smart Chord, Smart Scale, Auto Mapping
  • USB, MIDI I/O, Pedal Controls

The Hammer 88 Pro is built around a weighted hammer-action keybed with 88 velocity-sensitive keys that feel fantastic under the fingers. The realistic response reminds me of playing a quality digital piano, which is great for players transitioning from acoustic instruments. The keybed has an aftertouch too for adding expression through pressure changes.

M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro offers a bunch of interesting features that can make music production even easier and more convenient. Starting with the Smart Chord feature that automatically plays the complete chord as soon you play the root note. Another is the Smart Scale which disables the other scales so that you don’t play the wrong note from a different scale.

This 88 Keys MIDI controller from M-Audio also has a small OLED display. The sound selection, DAW selection, and MIDI mapping got a lot easier and you don’t need to stare at the laptop’s screen to select different instruments and select among different DAWs. The software production includes MPC Beats, Ableton Live Lite, AIR Music Tech’s Velvet, Mini Grand, Hybrid 3, and Touch Loops.

best-88-keys-MIDI-controller-keyboard-M-Audio-Hammer-88-Pro

For interacting with DAW and creating different, unique sounds, there are 9 Assignable knobs, faders which can be assigned to desired parameters via the MIDI Control Center software. There is also a set of 16 velocity-sensitive RGB Backlit Drum pads with Note Repeat, ideal for beating out rhythmic drum patterns.

Connectivity-wise, M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro has a USB Type-B port, MIDI input/output, switch pedal input, and expression pedal input. M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro even comes with a 6-month Reasons+ Subscription that includes 39,000 presets, 24 GB of samples of Drum Machine, synths, samplers etc.

Compatible with all the leading DAWs like Ableton LIVE, Logic Pro, Cubase, Pro Tools, Garageband, Studio One, MPC Beats, and M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro is the best 88 Keys MIDI controller you should not be missing.

Buy Now: Amazon

3. M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3

M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3

  • 88 Semi-Weighted Keys
  • Velocity Sensitive
  • Volume Fader, Pitch & Modulation Wheel
  • Includes Ableton Live Lite and MPC Beats Software Suite
  • USB, 5-Pin MIDI, Sustain Pedal Input

Now those who don’t want drum pads, faders, knobs, and hammer action-weighted keys can consider M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3. This is a pretty straightforward, simple & easy to use 88 Key MIDI controller which also came with a cheaper price tag.

M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 offers 88 semi-weighted velocity-sensitive keys that are just perfect for piano players and even to record synths and melodies simultaneously with chords. M-Audio also provides a Premium Virtual instrument suite including MPC Beats, Mini Grand Piano, Velvet, and Ableton LIVE Lite. You also get a 6-month Reasons+ subscription that includes a huge library of presets, drum beats, loops, and much more.

It is definitely missing the faders, knobs and drum pads but we do have a basic volume fader, Pitch and Modulation wheel, directional buttons for changing the sounds in DAW, Octave Up & Down button. The Plug and Play MIDI controller does not require any driver, simply connect it to a Mac or PC and it is good to go.

best-affordable-88-keys-MIDI-controller

M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 supports basic connectivity options like 5-Pin MIDI input, and USB Type-B input and also supports Sustain Pedal input. If you are someone who is looking for a basic MIDI controller without many knobs, faders, and drum pads, M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 is just perfect for you.

If you don’t want to spend much on a MIDI controller for now and looking for something easy to use without any advanced features like faders, knobs and extra buttons, this MIDI controller from M-Audio is just the best 88 Keys MIDI controller for you.

Buy Now: Amazon

4. Alesis Q88 MKII

Alesis Q88 MKII

  • 88 Semi-Weighted Keys
  • Velocity Sensitive
  • Volume Fader, Pitch & Modulation Wheel
  • Includes Melodics and MPC Beats Software Suite
  • USB Type-B, 5-Pin MIDI, Sustain and Expression Pedal Input

For a much cheaper option, one can check out this brilliant 88 key MIDI controller from Alesis. Alesis Q88 MKII shares similar features to M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 but comes with a much cheaper price tag.

It also has the 88 Semi-weighted velocity-sensitive keys that feel pretty good with each key press. The keys definitely feel good but there is noise in the keys if played harder. If you are someone who really smashes the keys while playing piano, you might get the audible noise from the keys. Otherwise, the keys are decent and acceptable for their price.

Q88 MKII also comes with a standard assignable volume fader, Pitch and Modulation wheel, and Octave transpose button. It also comes with a transport and directional button to control the different options on DAW.

If you have just started to play piano and want some Piano lessons or even if you are a seasoned player and looking to learn additional skills, Alesis Q88 MKII has Melodics software for you that lets you learn piano using 60 free lessons. Along with Melodics, you get a Reasons+ 6-month subscription as well. Simply register your MIDI keyboard and get free access. Other than that, it also comes with MPC Beats software bundled with the package.

Alesis Q88 MKII is compatible with all the popular DAWs including Ableton LIVE, Pro Tools, Cubase, Logic Pro, Garageband, FL Studio, and Reason Studios. For connectivity, we have a 1/4” TS sustain pedal and 1/4″ TRS expression pedal inputs, a 5-pin MIDI standalone MIDI output with power supply (cable not included), and USB for PC & Mac.

Alesis Q88 MKII is the best 88 key MIDI controller for those who are looking for an affordable 88 keys MIDI keyboard without any knobs, faders and drum pads.

Unlike M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3, Alesis Q88 MKII also missed out on the Ableton LIVE Lite in the bundled software. This is something you should be aware of.

Buy Now: Amazon

5. Nektar Impact LX88+

Nektar Impact LX88+

  • 88 Semi-Weighted Full Sized Keys
  • Velocity Sensitive
  • Volume Fader, Pitch & Modulation Wheel
  • 8 backlit hyper-sensitive drum pads
  • 8 Knobs, 9 Faders
  • Includes Bitwig Studio 8-track
  • USB Type-B, 5-Pin MIDI, Sustain Pedal Input

Nektar Impact LX88+ is suitable for anyone who is looking for the best 88 Key MIDI controller with Drum Pads, Fader, and Knobs in an affordable price tag. The reason for having a cheaper price tag is its semi-weighted keys instead of hammer action-weighted keys.

Nektar Impact LX88+ boasts 8 Backlit hyper-sensitive drum pads, 8 encoder knobs, 9 faders as well as DAW control buttons. The Nektar Impact LX88+ also has the pitch and modulation wheel. This is the complete package you ever need to produce some really dope music.

best-88-key-midi-controller-weighted

The keyboard is also compatible with every popular DAW available in the market. Ableton LIVE, Logic Pro, Pro Tools, FL Studio and all the other DAWs are compatible with Nektar Impact LX88+.

Nektar also provides a Bitwig Studio 8-track license code with the bundle that includes access to Bigtig Studio 8-track DAW as well as a sound package. Not just that, you also get the full version of 5 Cherry Audio plugins that can be loaded on any DAW. For input and output, there are 1/4” TS jack foot switch input, USB, and MIDI output ports.

For its price, Nektar Impact LX88+ is a brilliant MIDI controller that also comes with Knobs, fader, and Drum Pads which are not available in Alesis Q88 MKII, M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3. If you need faders, knobs and drum pads in an affordable price tag, Nektar Impact LX88+ is probably the best 88 Key MIDI controller option for you.

Buy Now: Amazon

6. Arturia KeyLab Essential 88

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Arturia KeyLab Essential 88

  • 88 Semi-Weighted Full Sized Keys
  • Velocity Sensitive with hybrid synth-piano feel
  • 1 Clickable Encoder, 9 Encoders, 9 Faders, 8 touch and pressure-sensitive pads
  • Volume Fader, Pitch & Modulation Wheel
  • Includes Analog Lab V, Ableton LIVE Lite, UVI Grand Piano model D
  • USB, 5-Pin MIDI, Sustain Pedal Input

Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 is a perfect MIDI controller for those seeking a cheaper option of Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII. With Essential 88, you get the reputation of Arturia without hurting the pocket. But if you are looking for the best 88-key MIDI controller with hammer action keys, this is not for you.

Essential 88 boasts 88 Semi-Weighted velocity-sensitive keys with a hybrid synth-piano feel. It is a gorgeous 88-key MIDI controller that also provides brilliant build quality.

For controlling DAW and the MIDI controller, it comes with 1 clickable knob with 9 other Knobs, 9 faders, 8 RGB backlit pressure-sensitive drum pads, 6 transport switches, 4 command switches as well as Pitch and modulation wheels. Essential 88 also has an LCD screen for easy access to the sound library without bothering to see a monitor or laptop screen.

best-88-key-MIDI-controller-with-weighted-keys

Now that is a complete keyboard that offers a balance of price and features. With Arturia KeyLab Essential 88, there is nothing you have to compromise with. The software suite includes Analog Lab V software with 2000 synth sounds, Ableton LIVE lite and UVI Grand Piano model D.

Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 is an easy recommendation to anyone who wants the best 88 key MIDI controller with Drum pads, knobs, and faders in an affordable price range.

Buy Now: Amazon

7. M-Audio Hammer 88

M-Audio Hammer 88

  • 88 Hammer Action Full Sized Keys
  • Velocity Sensitive
  • Volume Controller, Pitch & Modulation Wheel, Octave Controls
  • Includes MPC Beats, Ableton Live Lite, Eighty Eight Ensemble, AIR Music Tech’s Velvet, Mini Grand, DB33, and Touch Loops
  • USB, 5-Pin MIDI, Sustain Pedal Input

This M-Audio Hammer 88 will attract a particular niche of people who like a simple, straightforward MIDI controller with hammer action keys but without any advanced controls like faders, encoders or even drum pads.

The streamlined M-Audio Hammer 88 offers piano players an elegant, no-frills MIDI keyboard controller to create music digitally and it makes you feel like you are playing an actual piano. Though it comes with simple controls but doesn’t miss the basic features like a volume controller, Pitch bend and modulation wheel and even an octave shifter.

Since M-Audio is targeting piano players here, the software suite includes some piano-oriented sounds like Eighty Eight Ensemble, AIR Music Tech’s Velvet, Mini Grand, DB33, and Touch Loops. Along with that, the software suite also includes MPC Beats and Ableton Live lite.

For beginners and even advanced piano lessons, M-Audio is also offering 3 months free subscription to Skoove with the bundle.

M-Audio Hammer 88 is slightly expensive, considering the features it offers but for feeling the actual piano keys on the MIDI controller, it is completely worth the price. If you are looking for the best 88 keys MIDI controller with hammer action keys, M-Audio Hammer 88 is the way to go.

Buy Now: Amazon

Should You Choose 88 Keys or 61 Keys MIDI Keyboard – A Quick Difference

The 88 Keys MIDI Keyboard is one of the best sizes for those who are looking to play a chord progression and produce professional music. But if you are confused between 88 Keys and 61 Keys, here is a quick difference between both the sizes.

88-key-61-key-difference

1. Weighted keys

Weighted, hammer-action keys feel more realistic and respond like an acoustic piano. If you want to feel that natural key action in your MIDI Keyboard, 88-key keyboards are more likely to have weighted keys. Though some 61-key models have them too but not all. For best weighted hammer action keys experience in MIDI keyboard, 88 Keys should be your preference.

2. Number of Octaves

The number of Octaves also matters from person to person. The 88 keys give you 7 full octaves plus an extra fourth which is good if you want to get the full range of pitch and keys. You may not be able to play certain piano pieces or songs in their original range if you don’t have full 7 Octaves. You can play basslines, chords, melodies, and harmonies comfortably. On the other hand, 61 Keys limits a lot of things especially if you are into playing piano pieces.

3. Portability

From a portability point of view, 61 keys will be lighter and more portable if you want to transport your keyboard. While 88 keys are heavier and more difficult to move.

4. Available Space

This is yet another important thing to look before you pick 88 Key or 61 key MIDI keyboard controller. Do you have enough space to play 88 Key MIDI Keyboard. An 88 Key MIDI Keyboard ranges from 4 to 5 feet which is quite large in size. While 61 Key MIDI Keyboard ranges from 3-4 feet. So, before you pick any of them, make sure your desk has enough space.

5. Budget

How much are you willing to spend on a MIDI Keyboard also matters. The 88 Key with Hammer Action MIDI Keyboard would be much more expensive than 61 Keys Semi-Weighted action keys. It completely depends on the user’s budget and willingness to spend on a MIDI keyboard.

Overall, it depends on your budget, space constraints, music style, and desire for weighted keys. For pianists or those playing complex piano parts, 88 weighted keys are recommended. For portability and space-saving, 61 keys could work well. Try testing keyboards in person to get a feel for the keybed differences before making the final decision.

Best 88 Key MIDI Controller – Conclusion

All the above-mentioned MIDI controllers are the best 88 Key MIDI controllers for their features and price. For an ultimate 88 Keys MIDI controller, Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII is the way to go. It offers Hammer action keys with all the advanced controls like rotary knobs, Faders, RGB Backlit Drums pads, and vast options of connectivity.

M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro is another brilliant option that also comes with an OLED display, Smart Chord, and Smart Scale features. For affordable 88 Keys MIDI controllers with all the advanced controls, Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 is a pretty good option but it missed the hammer action keys.

For a hammer action affordable option, there is nothing better than M-Audio Hammer 88. Each MIDI controller mentioned above has been designed for best-in-class performance and you can pick any of the 88 Key MIDI controllers that fits your budget and requirements.

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