A MIDI keyboard controller is an essential piece of music gear in today’s home studio.
A piano melody here, a beat there… Having both the physical touch of a keyboard and the editing freedom of MIDI is a blessing in music production.
Getting the best MIDI controller for your creative needs will take your DAW software to new heights. Playing a soft synth with a MIDI keyboard is pretty much like playing the real thing – for a fraction of the price.
What is a MIDI keyboard controller?
A MIDI keyboard controller is a physical interface that allows you to control sounds or functions from devices that work with MIDI. Those include your DAW, VST plugins, and other synths.
MIDI is the language that allows electronic music instruments and computers to communicate and connect. It sends information about what notes you play and how you play them.
Budget all-in-one MIDI controllers
These controllers have a mix of keys, knobs, faders and pads. Plus they won’t hurt your wallet. Are you choosing your first MIDI keyboard controller? Or you don’t wanna spend too much and still get a complete controller? This section is for you.
Here are the best MIDI keyboards under $200 USD:
Price: $90 USD
This functional and effective controller has a sleek design and a lot of great features. It’s compact and inexpensive too!
Why we love it: Straightforward and easy to use yet still powerful.
- 25 Keys (Synth-Action)
- 8 Backlit Pads
- 4 Assignable Knobs
- 4 Assignable Buttons
- 2 Wheels (Pitch Bend, Modulation)
- 1 Pedal Input
- Software or DAW included: Xpand!2 and Ableton Live Lite
- DAW Integration: all the major ones
ROLI Seaboard RISE 49
Price: $1200 USD
ROLI’s futuristic looking keyboard brings innovation to the table. Key feature: the keyboard detects ‘Five Dimensions of Touch’: strike, press, glide, slide, and lift. This allows for very expressive playing and sound modulation based on how you touch the keys. It can connect wirelessly with Bluetooth. It comes with ROLI’s custom MIDI keyboard software Equator.
Why we love it: It looks stunning and has cutting-edge touch sensing technology.
- 49 Keys (‘Keywaves’ with Polyphonic Pitch Bend and Aftertouch)
- 1 Pedal Input
- Software it comes with: Bitwig 8-Track DAW, Equator (ROLI’s custom-built software synthesizer)
- DAW Integration: all major DAWs