Looking for the best MIDI controller for music production? A MIDI controller is integral for every music production space; choosing the right one is crucial.
For those who are new to MIDI controllers, A MIDI controller is a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) that is used to send digital data to DAW or other audio-based software to trigger sounds from external sources like speakers or headphones. The most popular type of MIDI controller is a keyboard but be prepared for disappointment if you purchase one expecting it to function like a standard keyboard because MIDI controllers can’t make sounds on their own. They are used to trigger sounds from other devices by sending MIDI data.
A MIDI controller is an essential tool for any music producer since it makes it possible to precisely control, sequence, and synchronize hardware and software. The most often used MIDI controller is an electric musical keyboard although other MIDI controllers, wind controllers, and electronic drums are also available.
Thus, investing in the ideal MIDI controller is essential for your music production journey. We’ve compiled a list of top MIDI controllers depending on their performance and affordability which suits every budget, setup, and space.
We’ll also explore some pros and cons of MIDI controllers. So, let’s get into it.
9 Best MIDI Controllers – Top Rated MIDI Controller in 2024
Below are the best MIDI controllers in 2024 for Beginners as well as for professional music producers. All these MIDI controllers can become an integral part of your music production setup.
1. AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 – best Affordable MIDI Controller
- 25 Velocity Sensitive Keys
- 4-Way Thumbstick for Pitch & Modulation
- 8 Backlit Velocity-Sensitive Drum Pads & Endless Knobs
- Built-in OLED Display
- Supports USB Type-B & Sustain Input
The MPK Mini MK3 is the world’s legendary best-selling mini MIDI keyboard controller suitable for beginners as well as professionals. It’s the best MIDI keyboard controller for beatmakers, producers, and songwriters because of its features and compatibility with every DAW out there.
It has every other feature a modern producer could ask for, including a new Gen 2 enhanced dynamic Keybed that ensures every nuance of your delivery is captured and delivers a piano key performance suitable for the world’s finest keyboard players, universal compatibility across all platforms, immediate integration with your preferred DAW, its compact size making it ideal for travel. With its array of drum pads and assignable controls, you can manage all aspects of music production sessions.
MPK Mini MK3 is a perfect blessing for novices and with every tool you can create new songs from the beginning it is considered as the ultimate musical Swiss Army Knife that can perform any given musical assignment. MPK Mini MK3 is provided with 8 velocity-sensitive illuminated drum pads, ideal for fine drumming and melodic sample playback. These Drum Pads also support Note Repeat to record the drum section to its best possible form. You can easily trigger any sampled sound and control the digital synthesizer directly using these drum pads.
MPK Mini MK3 has plenty of other features including 25 mini velocity-sensitive keys that operate on new keyboard technology, and a brilliant OLED display for instantly accessing the sound library without going back and forth to your computer screen.
The 8 endless knobs to tweak your software parameters and 4-way Joystick for pitch and modulation control. It also includes a built-in arpeggiator with adjustable resolution, range, and modes. MPK Mini MK3 is a USB-powered MIDI controller and includes 1500+ sounds that you need for pro production including MPC Beats, 6 virtual instruments, and 2GB of sound content.
However, within several features, the MPK Mini MK3 has a drawback of a limited keys of 25 which may not be sufficient for many players who need a regular keyboard to play chord progression and melody at once. The build quality is also decent. But considering the universal compatibility with every DAW and price, the Akai MPK Mini MK3 is indeed the best MIDI controller one can get in 2024.
- Velocity Sensitive Dynamic Keys
- Endless Knobs are perfect to control digital instruments
- Easy access to Sound Library using OLED display
- Extremely Portable
- Plug-N-Play using USB Type-B cable
- Decent plastic build
- No 5 PIN MIDI output
2. M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49
- 49 Semi Weighted Velocity Sensitive Keys
- 9 Faders & 8 Knobs, Pitch & Modulation Wheel
- 16 RGB Backlit Velocity Sensitive Drum Pads
- USB Type-B, Sustain Pedal Input, 5-Pin MIDI Output
- Smart Scale, Smart Chord, Auto-Mapping
- Built-in OLED Display
The M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 is a best-in-world, 49 semi-weighted, velocity-sensitive MIDI controller with aftertouch and assignable zones for playing virtual synthesizer plugins and virtual sample instruments. With the Oxygen Pro 49, you may compose music more effortlessly with a powerful MIDI controller that runs on USB.
It includes 8 assignable knobs and 9 assignable faders for controlling virtual instruments, plugins, and DAW automatic mapped controls such as transport, faders, channel controls, pan controls, and more which gives you complete control over your music production.
With Oxygen Pro 49, you get 16 RGB backlit assignable velocity-sensitive drum pads with Note Repeat for beat production, soundboard triggering, and clip launching and also a complete software production package that consists of tools for professionals like first M-Audio Edition, MPC beats, Ableton Live Lite, 6 virtual instruments from AIR Music Tech and 7 Akai Professional MPC Expansion packs.
We’ve found that the Oxygen Pro 49 comes with a plethora of features including a USB-MIDI connection and 5-pin MIDI output for controlling external MIDI gear, MIDI software and a complete software package, ergonomically designed pitch and modulation wheels & ¼’’ sustain pedal input.
The Oxygen Pro 49 comprises both smart chord mode and smart scale mode which enable the playing of enharmonic or custom chord voicings and eliminate wrong notes respectively. It also features an arpeggiator with settings for type, octave, gate, and swing controls and an OLED screen for immediate edit controls.
Despite many advancing features, the Oxygen Pro 49 has some shortcomings as well like aftertouch is more difficult to use compared to other keyboards and keyboard occasionally locks up and requires rebooting, DAW control is less sophisticated and there is no onboard parameter labeling which is crucial for good MIDI controller.
- 49 Semi Weighted, Velocity Sensitive Keys
- 16 RGB Backlit Velocity Sensitive Drums Pads with Note Repeat
- Comes with 8 Knobs and 9 Faders for tuning the sound
- Built-in OLED screen is quite helpful
- Dedicated DAW Control button for Auto-Mapping
- Dedicated Pitch & Modulation Wheels
- Not Beginner Friendly
- Not a portable MIDI Controller
3. Novation Launchkey 49 MK3
- 49 Velocity Sensitive Keys
- Chord Mode, Scale Mode, Arpeggiator
- Ableton LIVE Integrated
- 16 RGB backlit velocity sensitive pads
- 8 Knobs, 9 Sliders, Pitch & Modulation Wheels
- 5 PIN MIDI Out, USB Type-B, Sustain Pedal
Novation Launchkey 49 MK3 is suitable for all skilled levels whether you may be a beginner or a professional or a creative enthusiast and has plenty of features including 8 assignable knobs and 9 faders which allow you to take precise control over your virtual instruments, effects, and parameters as well as direct them to your preferred for hands-on modulation and manipulation.
The Launchkey 49 MK3 has a velocity-sensitive, full-sized key bed that gives you an expressive and responsive playing experience, and it has the strength to precisely capture every playing dynamic from delicate pianissimos to powerful fortissimo. The built-in Chord Mode lets you play the chords using 1 finger so that you can engage yourself in triggering other sample sounds and drum pads.
You can do so much with Launchkey 49 MK3 that has 16RGB backlit pads which you can activate just by the touch of your fingertips and they trigger samples, control drum racks, and launch loops. You may compose music like an expert with the help of sophisticated tools like Scale Mode which helps you play in key and build harmonic progression with ease.
Other than USB Type-B and Sustain padel input, Launchkey 49 MK3 also offers 5-pin MIDI output controls which you can customize according to your needs whether working in your preferred DAW or with other MIDI devices. If you want a MIDI controller for Ableton LIVE, to be precise, Novation Launchkey 49 MK3 comes with integrated features of Ableton LIVE making it perfect for that particular DAW.
That doesn’t mean you cannot use it with other DAWs as Novation Launchkey 49 MK3 is still valid and compatible with Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Cubase, Reason, etc., and other DAWs out there.
The Launchkey 49 MK3 excludes the split function on the controller, the USB-A USB-C cable has a tiny screen, and its pads aren’t able to activate Logic sequences like Ableton. For better compatibility with Logic Pro X, here are best MIDI controllers for Logic Pro.
- 16 RGB Backlit Velocity Sensitive Drums Pads
- Comes with 8 Knobs and 9 Sliders
- Chord Mode, Scale Mode, and Arpeggiator
- Comes with Dedicated Navigational, Octave, Fixed Chord, Capture MIDI/quantize & more buttons
- Supports 5 PIN MIDI Out, USB Type-B & Sustain Out
- Ableton LIVE Integrated
- OLED Screen is preferred over Char Screen
- Not the most portable MIDI controller
4. Alesis V49 MKII
- 49 Full-Size Velocity Sensitive, Synth Action Keys
- 8 Velocity Sensitive Backlit Pads With Note Repeat
- 4 MIDI-Assignable Knobs
- Pitch Bend and Modulation Wheels
- 60 Piano Lessons by Melodics
- USB Type-B, 6.35mm Sustain Out
If you’re looking for something with limited drum pads, knobs, then Alesis V49 MKII is just for you. It is a 49-key USB MIDI keyboard and music production controller with 49 velocity-sensitive keys suitable for musicians of all skilled levels. The Alesis V49 MKII has plenty of features, including the keyboard with synth-action keys that are springy and responsive.
On the whole, Alesis V49 MKII is a lightweight and portable design that is ideal for your home studio. Besides other features, Alesis V49 MKII offers 8 velocity-sensitive, LED-backlit pads with full level and note repeat controls which deliver complete control for playing drums and playing back samples. Just 4 Assignable knobs, Transpose, and Octave buttons are present so that you can play the full range of Piano. Pitch bend and Modulation wheels are also provided for that added expression in your music.
With Alesis V49 MKII you get an arpeggiator with 6 modes, tap tempo, time division, gate, and swing control for producing your sound. It has 4 assignable knobs which can map your essential software functions as DAW and other software instruments. Alesis V49 MKII includes an MPC Beats music production bundle with 7 MPC Beats Expansion Packs with a variety of genres to explore different sounds from.
It also comes with 60 Piano lessons from Melodics. If you are specifically looking for the best MIDI Controller for Beginners, the Alesis V49 MKII is a viable option. Here are more Digital Pianos under $1000 for piano enthusiasts.
With Alesis V49 MKII you can easily compose and modify your music using point-and-click MIDI edit software. You may personalize the MIDI messages provided by each control end and adjust the key and pad response to produce music that suits your taste. It has USB Type-B power with plug-and-play connectivity for Mac or PC. You also get a socket to connect the sustain pedal.
Even though the Alesis V49 MKII is a great option on a budget, it also has certain limitations because the USB connector is of moderate quality and some people may experience problems with velocity.
- Full Size 49 Synth Action Keys feels really good
- Easy to access 4 Knobs and 8 Velocity Sensitive drum pads
- Beginner friendly
- Comes with 90 Piano Lessons by Melodics & MPC Beats Software Suite
- Supports USB Type-B & Sustain Out
- No 5-Pin MIDI Socket
5. Novation Launchpad Mini – Best for DJ, Electronic Music Producers
- RGB Backlit 64 Pads & 16 Buttons
- Supports USB Type-C Connectivity
- Ableton LIVE & Logic Pro Ready
- Ableton LIVE Lite Software Included
As of now, we only talked about the MIDI Keyboard controller but if you are into electronic music and looking for something that allows you to interact more with hardware instead of looking at your computer screen, Novation Launchpad Mini is just good to go for you.
Novation Launchpad Mini is a compact 8×8 grid MIDI controller that comes with everything you need to interactively produce music or even perform LIVE. It is just ready for Ableton Live and you can start making music right away. You can even carry the Launchpad mini anywhere you go because of its small size and lightweight.
Launchpad Mini is so easy to use, provided with many tactile controls, plenty of sounds and software in the box, and its step-by-step interactive platform, you can start making electronic music. Launchpad Mini has a 64 RGB pads MIDI controller which gives you the perfect reflection of Ableton live sessions and you can easily see your clips.
With its interactive RGB lighting, you can easily play drums and even Keys on the Launchpad Mini. You just need to select Keys on the Launchpad Mini and it will give you 4 different octaves with different lighting patterns. The same goes for the drums. It seems a bit confusing to see a lot of pads at once but the intuitive interface and different colors guide you and make things easier.
Triggering cells has never been so easy. Press the pad in any order and that clip starts playing right away. On the right side of the Launchpad Mini, you will see a play button that can be used to trigger the whole Arrangement at once. Each cell on Launchpad mini can store Clip, Loop, Automation data, MIDI patterns, etc.
It comes with three custom modes where you can modify mappings using components and control anything from Launchpad Mini. It also features Trigger live loops in Logic Pro which allows you to record your performances and use cells to doodle out arrangement ideas. The overall experience of Launchpad Mini is brilliant but it is appropriate for those who are into Electronic Music more. You can produce music but a MIDI Keyboard controller is still preferred if you want to play piano chords, melodies, etc.
Although Launchpad Mini comes with step-by-step video guides to download all the software, it can be challenging for beginners to use it for an initial few times.
- Intuitive RGB Backlit 64 Pads
- Dedicated button for Solo, Mute & Stop
- Extremely portable design
- Ableton LIVE & Logic Pro ready
- Provides the best interactive music production experience
- Long learning curve
- Not suitable for Piano players
6. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32
- 32 Compact Keys
- Ableton LIVE 11 Lite & Sound Package Included
- Touch Sensetive Pitch & Modulation Strip
- 4 Directional Push Encode
- Built-in OLED Display
- USB Type-B, Sustain Pedal
Native Instruments is renowned for making high-end and quality products and Komplete Kontrol M32 is no different. It is a compact and portable micro-sized MIDI keyboard controller with 32 velocity-sensitive keys, sleek and solid design and you can take it anywhere you like. It is perfect for plug-in and play anywhere keyboard. Due to its compact and lightweight design, the Komplete Kontrol M32 is ideal for your music production studio or use on the move.
The features of Komplete Kontrol M32’s keyboard are 32 compact keys that feel good. These are good-quality keys and also look premium. The dedicated ‘Preset’ buttons on the M32 let you change the sounds and with a built-in OLED display, you can see which sound is playing. There are a couple of other buttons including Arp, Quantasise, Record, Play, Stop, Loop, Metronome, Tempo, etc that make the music production process seamless and intuitive.
Aside from Komplete Kontrol M32’s many features, it comes with a powerful software package that includes synths, effects, drums, and bases with Ableton Live 11 Lite. With Komplete Kontrol M32, you can discover any sound more easily and quickly, thanks to its software that tags and organizes all your instruments and effects into one browser. All of the Komplete and NKS instruments and effects are pre-mapped, you may adjust the key components of your sound with touch-sensitive knobs, and touch-sensitive Pitch, and Modulation strips.
The Komplete Kontrol M32 also features Smart Play which allows novices to play the techniques that you may not have even mastered yet and for more experienced producers, it allows you to step beyond of your comfort zone.
The only limitations Komplete Kontrol M32 has is that it doesn’t have a regular MIDI port for laptop-free jams and also excludes custom MIDI templates.
- Super Compact 32 Keys
- Dedicated buttons to interact with DAW
- High-quality build quality and Sleek Design
- Super Intuitive Pitch & Modulation touch strip
- Comes with Ableton LIVE Lite with Sound Package
- No 5 PIN MIDI output
- Not suitable for Piano players
- Don't have Velocity Sensitive Keys
7. Arturia MiniLab 3 Mini
- 25 Velocity & Pressure Sensitive Keys
- 8 Velocity & Pressure Sensitive Drum Pads with RGB backlighting
- 2 Capacitive Touch Sensors for Pitch Bend and Modulation Wheel
- 5 Users Preset
- 8 Rotary Knobs & 4 Faders
- Mini Display for Real Time Tweaks & Controls
- USB Type-C, Sustain Pedal & 5 PIN MIDI Out
Arturia MiniLab 3 is a supreme choice for not only beginners but also for music professionals. MiniLab 3 provides you with plenty of features including plug-and-play ease of use, adaptable recording software, access to high-quality sounds and samples, and instantaneous mix adjustment. MiniLab 3 is the ideal MIDI controller for making beats because it allows you to control instruments, punch in your pad drums, and tweak faders.
What sets this keyboard apart is that MiniLab 3 is the world’s first environmentally friendly MIDI controller, is made to last longer, and comes with a 5-year warranty. It is built of 50% recycled plastic, produces less waste, and lowers its carbon footprint. MiniLab 3 is a 25-key high-quality velocity-sensitive slim keyboard, with 2 banks of 8 velocity and pressure-sensitive pads with RGB backlighting, 8 rotary encoders, 4 sliders, and 2 capacitive touch sensors for pitch bend and modulation. It also comes with a mini display and a clickable browsing knob.
The MiniLab 3 has some smart features like a built-in arpeggiator, chord mode, semitone transpose, hold function, and octave up and down buttons. It has USB Type-C connectivity to connect with PCs and iPads and 5-pin MIDI output to connect with external instruments and gears. MiniLab 3 includes 1 DAW for automatic integration with any major DAWs and DAW Transport Control with MCU protocol for every other DAWs.
You can effortlessly carry the stylish, compact, and portable MiniLab 3 keyboard with you wherever you go. It is compact enough to fit in your music production studio or your bag, depending on your needs.
The restricted sound manipulation capabilities of MiniLab 3’s Lab Intro make it inadequate for covering several fundamental electronic music production techniques and pad quality might have been improved.
- Compact 25 Velocity Sensitive Keys
- 8 RGB Backlit Drums Velocity Sensitive Pads
- Comes with 8 rotary knobs, 4 faders, and Mini Display
- Environmental friendly build
- Supports USB Type-C, Sustain Pedal & 5 Pin MIDI
- Super Affordable & offers great value for money
- Compatible with All the popular DAWs
- Limited Keys Can be an issue for some
8. M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 – Best for Piano Players
- 88 Semi-Weighted, Velocity Sensitive Keys
- Pitch Bend & Modulation Wheel
- Volume Fader, Octave Up/Down
- 2x Sustain Pedal, USB Type-C, 5-Pin MIDI Out
- MPC Beats, Ableton Live Lite, Mini Grand, and Velvet Included
Keystation 88 MK3 is the world’s best-selling MIDI controller suitable for all expertise levels, whether you are an aspiring producer or an experienced pianist. Keystation 88 MK3 is a lightweight and sturdy 88-key MIDI controller that is perfect for live performances by musicians or producers seeking the best option for their music production studio. If you are inclined toward 88 Keys, do check out our recommendation for the best 88 keys MIDI controller.
The Keystation 88 MK3 is USB-powered supports USB-MIDI connectivity and is class-compliant. It also supports iOS connectivity, so you can use apps on your iPad and other iOS devices to compose and perform. It has 88 full-size velocity-sensitive semi-weighted keys which give a better and more natural piano feel. There are no faders, knobs, or drum pads on Keystation 88 MK3 but it does have basic buttons like Volume fader, transport, Octave Up/Down, and directional buttons for easy DAW control.
To enhance the delivery of your performance expression, modulation wheels, and an ergonomically designed pitch bend wheel are also provided. An advanced function assigns hardware controls to any DAW or plugin parameter. Keystation 88 MK3 also comprises a complete software package, recording software, DAWs, Ableton Live Lite, and MPC Beats Performance. For piano players, we have Velvet and Mini Grand virtual instruments included.
The only problem with Keystation 88 MK3 is that its keyboard is huge and hefty which can cause some issues for certain recording setups as well as for those who like to take their MIDI keyboards here and there for gigs.
- 88 Full-Size Velocity Sensitive, Semi-Weighted Keys
- Comes with Volume Fader, Octave Shifter, and Directional Buttons for DAW Control
- Suitable for Piano Players with real Piano expression
- Supports USB Type-C, 2x Sustain Pedal & 5 Pin MIDI
- Comes with 6 Months Reason+ Subscription and Ableton LIVE Lite
- Not a Portable MIDI Keyboard
- No Drums Pads, Knobs & Faders are provided
9. AKAI Professional APC Key 25 MK2
- 25 Velocity Sensitive Keys
- 40 RGB Backlit Drum Pads
- 8 Endless, 360-Degree Knobs
- Dedicated Buttons to Control DAW
- Instant Plug and Play Connectivity via USB
AKAI Professional APC Key 25 MK2 is a compact and versatile MIDI keyboard controller with 25 velocity-sensitive keys with Gen 2Dynamic Keybed perfect for producing music and delivering a performance anywhere. APC Key 25 MK2 has a 5×8 Pad Grid Matrix including 40 RGB-backlit pads which delivers accurate and high-quality representation of your Ableton Live session clips. It allows you to trigger loops, samples, Ableton Scenes, and melodies for creative music performances.
The APC Key 25 MK2 features Ableton Live Lite music production software for all PCs and Macs. It also features Gen 2 Dynamic Keybed which is more responsive and generates better musical expression. It allows you to play your solos, chords, arpeggios, and soundscapes with flexible keys. For controlling the DAW and the keys, APC Key 25 MK2 includes an Octave up and down button to expand note range, directional buttons, Record, Solo, Stop, Shift, and Scene Launch buttons as well.
With APC Key 25 MK2, you get plenty of features including 8 endless 360-knobs where you can change volume, pan, and insert effect sends for smooth, user-friendly session management. You can use the assignable 360-knob control according to your needs. You can control multiple parameters with one knob and use it to generate unique sounds. Using Transport Control, you can record and instantly listen to your fresh ideas with the help of APC Key 25 MK2.
Additionally, the Sustain button provides seamless note and chordal transitions to add an extra layer to your music. It is USB-powered and enables plug-and-play connectivity. It also has a collection of virtual instruments including Velvet, Mini Grand, and Hybrid 3.
The drawback with APC Key 25 MK2 is that it occasionally has setup issues because it isn’t always configured to start clips automatically.
- Compact & extremely Portable design
- Intuitively trigger loop, melodies, and vocals with 40 RGB Backlit Drum Pads
- 8 Endless 360-degree knobs
- Supports USB Type-B
- Comes with Ableton LIVE Lite, Velvet, Mini Grand
- Super Affordable
- No socket for the Sustain Pedal
- No Modulation and Pitch Bend Wheel
What are the Best MIDI Controllers in 2024: Conclusion
A MIDI controller is an essential tool for any music production studio, regardless of the level of expertise of the producer. And by keeping that in mind, we have mentioned above a list of the best MIDI controllers you need to know about before you buy it, we’ve detailed MIDI controllers in all sizes and shapes even compact keyboard controllers to full-sized keyboard controllers.
All the options listed above are perfectly suitable for musicians of all experience levels and we’ve included all the features of MIDI keyboards that you need to know before you make your decision. So, make sure to read our detailed reviews of these best MIDI controllers and we hope we were able to help you to make up your mind to buy the right fit for you.