Everything is primarily software-based these days, yes! But, since music is an emotion-based art-form, you still need a tool capable of delivering the dynamic nuances of rhythm and melody into their eventual audio format! Made for the dreamy-eyed music-making aspirant, for your home studio setup, we give you a list of 5 affordable MIDI keyboards.
In a world that’s slowly heading toward the technological advancements we see in suave sci-fi movies, the music creation process has also advanced to being compact and small enough to take complete advantage of even from the depths of your bedroom. The MIDI Keyboard, a more musically oriented MIDI Controller, is the ideal piece of equipment to translate and lay down the melodies playing in your head into digital physical form.
MIDI controllers are hardware devices that can help you create music and control parameters of whatever software you are working with. Most of the controllers being produced in the last 10 years (at least) connect to your laptop or computer via USB. For someone who is starting their exploration into the world of digital music making, we’ve selected 5 MIDI Keyboards for you to choose from; in no order of priority, on the basis of utility, brand reputation and value-for-money.
Arturia MiniLab MkII
Sleek, light and compact in its design, but completely packed and heavy with features and neatly rugged construction, Arturia’s MiniLab MkII is a smart buy for someone who is starting their journey as a music producer.
Apart from its portability, another feature that makes the MiniLab MkII attractive is its Control mode, with which you can control various parameters in your DAW with the knobs and encoders on the keyboard. And speaking of software, Arturia throws in Analog Lab Intro, Ableton Live Lite and _Uvi Grand Piano free with the MiniLab MkII.
Price (Approx.): $120
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKIII
One of the world’s top selling introduction-to-production MIDI Keyboards, Akai Professional’s MPK Mini MKIII, is the third revision of the same legendary product, with a bunch of operational improvements. This new version boasts their new Gen 2 enhanced dynamic key-bed, which ensures to capture more elaborately the feel in your fingers, a great feature for live performances and recordings.
Just like other controllers in its class, it offers a sweet hamper of free software and audio for music production such as MPC Beats, AIR Hybrid, Mini Grand, Velvet and a bunch of assorted sample packs.
Price (Approx.): $120
Novation Launchkey Mini MK3
Made ready for integration with Ableton Live, but seamlessly connectable to any other DAW as well, the Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 is another option if you want a versatile product to save space in a home studio setup and/or take on tour with you for live performances.
Going into Santa Claus mode with the freebies, Novation offers sounds, software, virtual instruments and effects by companies such as AAS (Applied Acoustics Systems), Softube, XLN Audio, Spitfire Audio and Klevgrand, along with a membership of their community hub – Sound Collective, on which members get great discounts on high-end plugins and free software from time-to-time.
Price (Approx.): $110
Nektar Impact LX25+
With a host of controlling capabilities, Nektar Tech offers a smartly designed option for production and live performance in the Impact LX25+. This velocity-sensitive keyboard comes with full-size piano keys for the optimum playing experience. Each of the various control options of the Nektar Impact LX25+ are programmable and can give you flexible customized DAW control, also having the ability to save 5 user presets for a set of specific functions which can be recalled at any time.
Apart for smooth playability, the intuitive controls give you better control of the DAW, so you don’t need to touch that mouse very often.
Price (Approx.): $120
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 Micro
The smallest MIDI keyboard they have designed, but not as compact as others in its category, Native Instruments‘ Komplete Kontrol M32 Micro is a 32-key well-integrated option that has a lot of supporting features to make it a great first choice for a jump into music production and composing. You can scroll through the various presets and sounds provided in the Komplete Kontrol software that acts as a DAW in itself, or use it as a plugin in any other DAW.
Native Instruments throws in a lot of free high quality virtual instruments and software for free which include Ableton Live 11 Lite, Maschine Essentials, Monark, Reaktor Prism, Komplete Start, and free access to a portal of samples, loops and sounds from top creators and artists on Sounds.com.
Price (Approx.): $140
For the most part, MIDI Keyboards are widely used by musicians to compose and produce music, since they are piano-key oriented. There are those with weighted touch-sensitive piano keys, especially for those who have experience in playing piano, so that the dynamics within parts are accurately captured, and others with regular electronic keyboard style keys too, which are not focused on the dynamics too much.
It’s absolutely up to you to decide which type you need. Go forth, and like a certain Mr. Lamar said – “The funk shall be within you!”
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All product images from Amazon.com.