April 16

16 Best MIDI Keyboards for Beginners 2024

MIDI keyboards are a must-have for any musician or producer. We use MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) technology to control software instruments in digital audio workstations (DAWs), making it easy to create and record music. If you're just starting out, finding the best MIDI keyboard for beginners is key. It can really make learning music production more accessible and enjoyable, something you just can't get from software alone.

We get how important it is to find the right MIDI keyboard. That's why we've put together this guide to help you choose the best one for your needs. We'll go through reviews and comparisons, and share some tips on what to look for when buying your first MIDI keyboard. Think about what you need and what features are important to you as you check out our suggestions. The right MIDI keyboard can help you start making awesome music in no time.

So, let's dive into the world of MIDI keyboards for beginners and help you find the perfect one for you!

Best Midi Keyboards for Beginners

We've picked out some of the best MIDI keyboards for you. Check out the list below.

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

This compact MIDI keyboard controller is perfect for beginners and those on-the-go.

Pros

Cons

  • Might be small for some users
  • Limited software bundle
  • Possible difficulty with software registration

We like the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 for its portability and easy-to-use design. It comes with 25 mini, velocity-sensitive keys and 8 backlit MPC-style pads that are great for pumping out beats and melodies. It’s super handy for beginners and also easy to take along if you’re always on the move.

Its innovative 4-way thumbstick allows dynamic pitch and modulation control. Additionally, the built-in arpeggiator has adjustable resolution, range, and modes that can step up your music game. And with 8 360-degree knobs, you’ve got full control over your instruments and effects.

The MPK Mini MK3 comes with a Complete Music Production Starter Kit, including MPC Beats, AIR Hybrid, Mini Grand, Velvet, and assorted MPC Expansion packs. But a heads-up, you might run into some snags when setting up the software. Despite being a great controller, the software suite might give some users trouble.

In conclusion, the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 offers a compact and feature-rich MIDI keyboard controller ideal for beginners and experienced producers alike. Just keep in mind its limitations and software bundle issues.

Arturia MiniLab MkII

Arturia - MiniLab MkII - Portable MIDI Controller
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A perfect choice for beginners seeking versatile controls and professional recording software!

Pros

  • Compact and portable
  • Quality build and design
  • Bundled with excellent software

Cons

  • Knobs may feel less premium
  • Pads' sensitivity could be better
  • No sustain pedal input

We've found this amazing MIDI keyboard from Arturia that you'll absolutely love. The MiniLab MkII is not just compact and portable, but it's also built with impressive quality and thoughtful design.

You'll appreciate the responsive mini keys and tactile performance pads, all housed in a tough, ergonomic casing. Plus, you can power it up with just a USB cable, making it perfect for making music wherever you go.

What's even better is the software this keyboard comes with. You'll get the essentials like Analog Lab Lite for legendary synth sounds, Ableton Live Lite for creating polished tracks, and UVI Grand for enjoying the famous Steinway Model D piano.

We can't rave enough about the MiniLab MkII – it has everything you need to get started with your music production. Just keep in mind that some users have reported less premium-feeling knobs, and the pads' sensitivity could be improved. But overall, we highly recommend this MIDI keyboard for anyone starting their music production or performance endeavors.

Alesis V49 MKII MIDI Keyboard

Alesis V49 MKII – USB MIDI Keyboard Controller
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This keyboard is an excellent choice for beginners looking to dive into music production.

Pros

  • USB powered and versatile
  • 49 full-size, velocity-sensitive keys
  • Comes with software and lessons

Cons

  • Limited advanced features
  • Potential setup challenges
  • Requires adapter for iOS devices

Starting your music production journey is exciting, and the Alesis V49 MKII has got your back. From its 49 full-size and velocity-sensitive keys to 8 backlit beat pads, we're confident this MIDI keyboard controller will boost your creativity.

What really sets this keyboard apart is its MIDI-assignable knobs. They allow you to control virtual instruments and your DAW effortlessly. Plus, the pitch bend and modulation wheels add extra expression to your music.

We can't ignore the fact that setting up might be a bit tricky for some, but don't worry. With a little patience and determination, you'll have your Alesis V49 MKII up and running in no time. And if you get stuck, there’s helpful software included, like the MPC Beats suite and 60 Melodics piano lessons, to get you back on track.

If you're an IOS user, keep in mind that you'll need to buy an Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter separately.

All in all, if you're a beginner looking for an affordable and user-friendly MIDI keyboard, we highly recommend the Alesis V49 MKII. It offers a solid foundation for your music production journey, without breaking the bank.

Nektar SE25 USB MIDI Controller

Nektar SE25 | USB MIDI Controller Keyboard
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 This compact MIDI keyboard is perfect for on-the-go music-making and beginners alike.

Pros

  • Compact and portable
  • Nektar DAW integration
  • Mac, PC, and iOS compatible

Cons

  • Mini keys
  • Limited controls
  • No sustain pedal input

The Nektar SE25 is built for musicians who need a portable solution without sacrificing functionality. It’s got 25 mini keys, so it’s small enough to toss in your backpack and use with all sorts of devices, from laptops to iPads.

Although small in size, the SE25 boasts impressive features like Nektar DAW integration, which streamlines your workflow with popular DAWs. Despite having limited controls, its six buttons offer octave and transposition functions, making it suitable for newbies.

On the flip side, the mini keys may not be ideal for those with larger fingers and the lack of a sustain pedal input might limit your expressive capabilities. But for beginners or on-the-move producers, the Nektar SE25 is a reliable and affordable choice that won't weigh you down.

Arturia MiniLab 3 Alpine White

Arturia - MiniLab 3 Alpine - Universal MIDI Controller
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You should buy this keyboard for its versatility, portability, and ease of use.

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Great software package included
  • Velocity-sensitive keys

Cons

  • Some keys may be less responsive
  • May not work optimally with Pro Tools
  • Potentially flimsy construction

The Arturia MiniLab 3 is an absolute game-changer for beginners. It's so easy to use, plug it in and you're ready to create!

Recording and performing on the go becomes a breeze with this ultra-portable MIDI keyboard. It's lightweight, and its USB connectivity allows for seamless connection to your computer. The Alpine White color adds a unique touch too!

We were impressed by the software package that comes with the MiniLab 3. It offers a variety of excellent presets and instruments to use. This software gives you the chance to create your own unique sound while enjoying a professional-quality music production experience.

Despite its benefits, some users have reported issues regarding the responsiveness of certain keys. It's important to keep this in mind, especially if you prefer a more consistent feel when playing. Additionally, there might be some compatibility concerns with the popular DAW, Pro Tools.

Overall, the Arturia MiniLab 3 is a fantastic choice for beginners in the music production world. It's versatile, user-friendly, and highly portable, making it the go-to MIDI keyboard for on-the-go and aspiring musicians.

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32

The M32 is a well-rounded, compact option for beginners who want quality and versatility.

Pros

  • Compact and portable design
  • Seamless software integration
  • Durable and sleek build

Cons

  • Limited to 32 keys
  • Customization for other DAWs may be tricky
  • Spring noise on keys for some users

We recently got our hands on the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32, and we're loving its compact size and easy integration. Those 32 keys are perfect for expressing creativity without taking up too much space. It's a great starter option for beginner producers and musicians.

One of the best features of this MIDI keyboard is its seamless integration with various software and instruments. The OLED display and touch-sensitive knobs allow for easy tweaking of sound parameters in real-time. It also comes with a powerful software package, including synths, basses, drums, effects, and even Ableton Live 10 Lite.

On the downside, some users have reported that the keys can be a bit noisy because of the springs. Also, if you need more than 32 keys, this might not be the ideal choice for you. However, if you're just starting out and looking for a compact, versatile MIDI keyboard, the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 is definitely worth considering.

Give it a go and see how it transforms your music-making experience.

M-Audio Oxygen Pro Mini

We highly recommend this MIDI keyboard for beginners due to its versatility and affordability.

Pros

  • 32 semi-weighted keys
  • Built-in arpeggiator and 8 RGB pads
  • Comes with a premium software suite

Cons

  • Mini keys might not suit everyone
  • Can be a bit complex for absolute beginners
  • Some included software may not work

As beginners, you will appreciate the M-Audio Oxygen Pro Mini for its highly responsive 32 semi-weighted keys. The built-in arpeggiator and 8 RGB backlit drum pads make it easy for you to experiment with beats and rhythms.

The Oxygen Pro Mini has a user-friendly OLED screen and effortless auto-mapping capabilities for DAW controls and plugin parameters. Plus, Smart Chord and Smart Scale features eliminate any barriers to your production.

This MIDI keyboard comes with a premium software suite that includes MPC Beats, Ableton Live Lite, and virtual instruments from AIR Music Tech and Akai Professional MPC Expansion packs. However, some of the software may not work, so keep that in mind while purchasing.

Overall, the M-Audio Oxygen Pro Mini is an excellent choice for beginners who want a versatile, affordable, and feature-packed MIDI keyboard controller for their music production journey.

Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3]

A perfect first MIDI keyboard for beginners with handy features and portability.

Pros

  • Compact and portable
  • Easy-to-use arpeggiator
  • Deep Ableton Live integration

Cons

  • Not ideal for advanced users
  • Small key size
  • Limited to 25 keys

We've recently jammed with the Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3], and it sure packs a punch despite its compact size. Aimed at aspiring musicians and producers, this portable 25-key MIDI keyboard controller is perfect for beginners looking for an easy-to-use yet powerful tool.

First off, the size is a great advantage. It easily fits in your bag, making it ideal for on-the-go music creation. The keys are smaller than a standard keyboard, so it might take some getting used to, but we found the overall experience enjoyable and responsive.

One standout feature is the deep Ableton Live integration, providing seamless control and an intuitive workflow. The arpeggiator offers a wide range of creative possibilities, and the fixed chord mode makes it simple to lay down chords with just one finger.

Now, the Launchkey Mini might not be suitable for more advanced users who need extra keys or more robust features. However, for beginners starting their music journey, this keyboard offers excellent value and performance.

We highly recommend the Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3] for anyone taking their first steps into the world of MIDI and music production. It's well worth the investment, and you'll have a blast exploring its creative potential.

IK Multimedia iRig Keys 2 Mini

This versatile, portable keyboard is perfect for beginners starting their musical journey.

Pros

  • Small, portable size
  • Compatible with various devices
  • Headphone output

Cons

  • Mini-keys may not suit everyone
  • No standalone mode
  • Limited controls

We found the IK Multimedia iRig Keys 2 Mini to be a solid choice for beginner musicians. Its compact size and compatibility with a wide range of devices make it convenient for practicing and composing on the go. With 25 velocity-sensitive mini keys and a headphone output, you can play and listen to your creations easily.

However, not everyone will appreciate the mini-keys, especially if you're used to full-sized keys on a keyboard. The iRig Keys 2 Mini also lacks a standalone mode, meaning you'll need to connect it to a device to make the most of it. Additionally, the controls on the keyboard are somewhat limited, so it may not suit those looking for more advanced features.

Overall, the IK Multimedia iRig Keys 2 Mini is a great option for beginners in need of a portable, user-friendly keyboard. Its compatibility with multiple devices and its headphone output make it a convenient choice for aspiring musicians, artists, producers, and singer-songwriters.

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25 Controller Keyboard

You'll appreciate this beginner-friendly keyboard due to its versatility and value.

Pros

  • Custom semi-weighted keybed
  • Informative OLED display
  • Excellent native instruments integration

Cons

  • Only 25 keys
  • USB 2.0 bus powered
  • Limited standalone capabilities

If you're just starting out with making music, the Komplete Kontrol A25 is an excellent starting point. In our experience, this MIDI keyboard from Native Instruments is perfect for beginners. Don't let its compact size fool you – it packs a punch.

As we tried this keyboard, we were impressed by its semi-weighted custom NI keybed. It's got just the right amount of resistance for a smooth playing experience. Plus, you won’t get lost trying to navigate through options, as the informative OLED display keeps you organized.

What really sets this controller apart is its seamless integration with Native Instruments' virtual synths and effects. We easily hopped between sounds and settings with its eight touch-sensitive control knobs.

There are a few downsides, though. With only 25 keys, this keyboard might feel limiting for more advanced players. The USB 2.0 power could also be an inconvenience for some. And keep in mind that the A25 doesn't have as many standalone features as the more expensive models in the S Series.

Let's sum it up. For beginners dipping their toes in the world of music production, the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25 Controller Keyboard is a worthy investment. With a great keybed, a useful display, and native integrations, this compact keyboard offers a lot for its price.

M-Audio Oxygen 49 (MKV)

Definitely worth the buy for beginners looking to level up their music production.

Pros

  • 49 velocity-sensitive keys
  • Beat pads and smart modes
  • Comprehensive software suite

Cons

  • Bit bulky and heavy
  • Limited instructions for setup
  • Not suitable for small spaces

We trust the M-Audio Oxygen 49 (MKV) for music production beginners, as it hits the sweet spot with 49 full-sized keys. This MIDI keyboard feels solid, and its weight ensures it stays put while you play.

This model provides you with loads of features to play with. Eight backlit beat pads, Smart Chord, and Smart Scale modes, plus an Arpeggiator function give you everything you need to advance your music production skills.

Though the Oxygen 49 (MKV) can be a bit bulky, its feature-packed design makes it an ideal investment for your music studio. Small spaces might feel cramped, but strategic setup and organization should do the trick.

Configuring this MIDI keyboard with your DAW couldn't be more straightforward. Thanks to its auto-mapping capabilities, using it in your studio or on stage becomes second nature quickly.

Bear in mind that some users have reported difficulty in finding instructions for this product online. Nevertheless, with some persistence and a little help from forums or tutorial videos, you'll quickly get the hang of it.

Novation Launchkey 37 MK3

Novation Launchkey 37 [MK3] MIDI Keyboard Controller
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We highly recommend this MIDI keyboard for beginners due to its seamless Ableton Live integration and user-friendly features.

Pros

  • Seamless Ableton Live integration
  • Expressive, velocity-sensitive keys and pads
  • Chord mode, scale mode, and arpeggiator

Cons

  • Limited to 37 keys
  • May require configuration for other DAWs
  • Not the most portable option

The Novation Launchkey 37 MK3 is a fantastic MIDI keyboard controller, especially for those who are starting out. What sets it apart is its seamless integration with Ableton Live, giving you an unparalleled music-making experience. From deep device macro control to one-touch access to Ableton Live's Capture MIDI feature, you'll never miss an idea during your creative process.

Additionally, the MIDI controller's expressive velocity-sensitive keys and pads allow for dynamic performances. With chord mode, scale mode, and arpeggiator, playing chords and melodies is easy and enjoyable. You can say goodbye to music theory frustration and focus on being creative.

However, keep in mind that the Launchkey 37 MK3 has only 37 keys. While it's perfect for beginners, you might want to consider a MIDI controller with more keys as you progress in your music-making journey. Also, although it's designed for Ableton Live, it's compatible with other DAWs, but further configuration might be needed. Lastly, if portability is essential, there might be better options out there.

Nektar Impact LX88+ 88-Key MIDI Keyboard

The Nektar Impact LX88+ is a fantastic choice for beginners due to its user-friendly features and affordable price.

Pros

Cons

  • No built-in sounds
  • Pitch issues after long-term use
  • Not as portable due to size

As a beginner, you'll appreciate the 88 semi-weighted keys on the Nektar Impact LX88+. These keys provide a dynamic and even response, catering to varied playing styles. The medium-tension action is perfect for those starting their journey in music production.

The Nektar Impact LX88+ stands out for its seamless integration with popular DAWs. Forget about complex setups - the installation process is straightforward, and you'll be making music in no time. With nine faders, MIDI buttons, and encoders, this keyboard becomes a powerful control center for your creative process.

We also love the velocity-sensitive pads on this keyboard. Finger drumming is a breeze, giving you the flexibility to create beats with ease. Additionally, the dedicated transport buttons make navigation a snap during recording and playback.

However, a few downsides exist. The Nektar Impact LX88+ doesn't have built-in sounds, requiring additional software and devices for audio output. Some users have reported pitch issues after extensive use. Due to its 88 keys, this keyboard is not as portable as smaller models.

Overall, the Nektar Impact LX88+ 88-Key MIDI Keyboard strikes a balance between functionality and affordability, making it a fantastic pick for aspiring musicians and producers.

IK Multimedia iRig Keys I/O 49

Get this all-in-one portable MIDI keyboard perfect for beginners!

Pros

  • Highly portable and lightweight
  • Velocity-sensitive keys
  • Comprehensive controls

Cons

  • Latency issues on PC
  • Not very robust keys
  • Requires iOS 12 or later for some devices

We recently tried out the IK Multimedia iRig Keys I/O 49, and we were quite impressed by its portability. With a compact design, you can easily take it with you to jam sessions or on the go. It works with a range of devices, including iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, and PC.

The 49 full-size keys are velocity-sensitive, allowing you to play expressively and immerse yourself in your music. Its comprehensive controls include two slider strips for pitch and modulation, octave, program change, and transport controls - giving you complete command over your music creation process.

However, we did notice some latency issues when using it with a PC, so it might not be suitable for everyone. Additionally, the keys don't feel very robust and may not withstand harsh playing conditions or heavy use. Lastly, for iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPad 9.7-inch (6th generation 2018), iOS 12 or later is required.

In conclusion, the IK Multimedia iRig Keys I/O 49 is an excellent choice for beginners who need a portable and user-friendly MIDI keyboard with versatile controls. Just be aware of the potential latency issues on a PC and the need for iOS 12 or later on certain devices.

Arturia KeyLab 49 MkII

The Arturia KeyLab 49 MkII is a fantastic choice for beginners seeking a quality MIDI keyboard.

Pros

  • Impressive build quality
  • Expressive and inspiring features
  • Wide software compatibility

Cons

  • Slightly pricey option
  • Keybed may not suit all tastes
  • Drumpads might feel lackluster

We've checked out the Arturia KeyLab 49 MkII and absolutely love it for its great build quality and inspiring features. This MIDI keyboard is made from an aluminum chassis with wood panels and has machined pitch bend and mod wheels. It feels sturdy and comfortable to play on.

But the KeyLab 49 MkII isn't just about looks. It's packed with features to help you unleash your creativity. The aftertouch-enabled keybed is perfect for synth players and offers a high level of expression. Moreover, the 9 faders allow for versatile control over various aspects of your music. The performance pads can even store custom chords for unique live triggering.

What sets this controller apart is its compatibility with lots of different software. It has access to over 6000 synth and keyboard presets from Arturia's V Collection (Analog Lab 3), as well as Arturia Piano V and Ableton Live Lite. The KeyLab 49 MkII has all the tools you need to start creating amazing music.

However, the KeyLab 49 MkII is a bit pricey compared to other beginner keyboards. Also, while we enjoyed the keybed, it may not be to everyone's taste. Lastly, the drumpads might feel lackluster for some users, but this is a minor issue compared to the overall package.

All in all, if you're a beginner and you're looking for a quality keyboard with inspiring features, the Arturia KeyLab 49 MkII is definitely worth checking out. Give it a try, and we're sure you'll have a great time making music with this excellent MIDI keyboard.

Novation 49SL MkIII

Novation 49SL MkIII, 49-Key Midi Controller
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This MIDI keyboard is an excellent choice for beginners due to its ease of use and top features.

Pros

  • Seamless integration with Ableton Live
  • 49-key range great for learning
  • Built-in 8-track sequencer

Cons

  • Some keys may make popping sounds
  • No NKS and light guide integration
  • Learning curve for all functions

We’ve had a good look at the Novation 49SL MkIII, and we’re pretty impressed with how well it works with our favorite DAW software, especially Ableton Live. The 49-key range is great for trying out different melodies and chords as you get into making music.

One of the standout features of this MIDI keyboard is its built-in 8-track sequencer. This allows you to build up your musical masterpiece one layer at a time, making it suitable for beginners and seasoned musicians alike.

That said, you might encounter a bit of a popping sound on some keys when they’re pressed and released. Also, it doesn’t have NKS and light guide integration, which might be a dealbreaker for some. And it’s worth mentioning that getting the hang of all its features can take a while. But with all that it offers, it’s definitely worth the effort.

In conclusion, the Novation 49SL MkIII is a solid choice for beginners looking to invest in a MIDI keyboard. Its seamless integration with Ableton Live, 49-key range, and built-in sequencer make it a fantastic tool for anyone looking to get serious about music, despite a few downsides.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Beginner MIDI Keyboard

Number of Keys

When choosing a MIDI keyboard, consider the number of keys first. As beginners, you might start with:

  • 25 keys: small and portable
  • 49 keys: a good balance, more versatile
  • 61 keys: even more flexibility

Remember, you can always upgrade later.

Keybed Type

Keybed type is crucial for your playing experience. There are two main types:

  • Synth-action: light and easy to play, perfect for beginners
  • Weighted: mimics a real piano, better for advanced players

We recommend synth-action keybeds for beginners.

Connectivity

Your MIDI keyboard must connect to your computer and other devices. Check for these ports:

  1. USB: connects to your computer
  2. MIDI: traditional MIDI connection, useful for older gear
  3. Sustain pedal: allows for piano-like sustain

Make sure it’s compatible with your setup.

Additional Features

Extra features in a MIDI keyboard can boost your creativity:

  • Pads: great for beat-making and triggering samples
  • Knobs and faders: control your software with ease
  • Pitch and modulation wheels: add expression to your playing

Choose the features that match your musical goals.

Final Thoughts

In this post, we’ve dived into MIDI keyboards and why they’re a game-changer for beginners. We’ve talked about the key features to look for and highlighted some of our favorite models. Choosing the right keyboard enhances your learning and opens up your creative potential. Don’t worry, there’s a keyboard out there for everyone, no matter your needs or budget. Even starting with a simple one can make a world of difference.

We believe in the importance of community, so we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to ask questions, share your experiences, or tell us which MIDI keyboard you’re considering. Don’t forget to subscribe or follow us on social media for more music-related content.

Keep an eye out for more exciting content coming soon! We’ll be covering reviews, advanced tutorials, and guides on must-have accessories and software. Making music can be a thrilling journey, and we’re excited to be part of yours.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a MIDI keyboard and how does it work?

A MIDI keyboard is a tool we use to play and record music. It sends MIDI data to our computer, making it easy for us to edit and manipulate the sound. With a MIDI keyboard, we can tap into a vast array of virtual instruments and create a wide variety of soundscapes.

What is the difference between a MIDI controller and a MIDI keyboard?

A MIDI keyboard lets us play and compose music, while a MIDI controller helps us control the music production software. MIDI controllers come in different forms like knobs, buttons, and faders. In some cases, a MIDI keyboard might include MIDI controller features.

Are weighted keys important for beginners?

Weighted keys give a more realistic piano-like feel to the keyboard. It’s helpful for beginners to learn piano techniques with weighted keys. However, if your main focus is on producing electronic music and beats, weighted keys might not be as essential.

What is a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and why do I need it with a MIDI keyboard?

A DAW is software that helps us record, edit, and produce music. Combining a MIDI keyboard with a DAW allows us to access virtual instruments, record our performances, and refine our creations. Some popular DAW options include Ableton Live, FL Studio, and Logic Pro.

Do I need a MIDI keyboard if I have a piano?

A MIDI keyboard offers advantages over an acoustic piano. It lets us access a vast variety of virtual instruments, create complex arrangements, and have greater control over the sound. If you’re serious about music production and composition, a MIDI keyboard is a valuable tool to have by your side.


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