Best DJ MIDI Keyboard Controller

By | June 16, 2016

MIDI keyboard controllers are popping up more and more in todays market. Keyboards are cost effective and are very handy in the studio as they double as virtual instruments. This creates tons of possibilities and lets you get really creative. We will review the top 10 best MIDI Keyboard Controllers on the market.

What to look for in a MIDI Keyboard Controller

Things to keep in mind when buying a keyboard are:

  • Budget
  • Portability
  • Number of keys
  • MIDI Pads
  • Specific Features
  • Software
  • Brand

Top 10 Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers

MIDI Keyboards are a great addition to anyones studio. Below is our list of the Best keyboards for producing music on the market. Most come in different key counts, give various functions, include pads and software bundles.

Novation Impulse

Best DJ MIDI Keyboard Novation Impulse

The Impulse brings you a high quality build, great functionality and the inclusion of pads, at half the price of its competition. We think the Impulse is the best keyboard on the market today because of this reason. The only con is it lacks software bundles. The Impulse comes with Ableton Live Lite and two VST’s.

Key Counts: 25-key, 49-key, 61-key

Main features:

  • Ultra-responsive semi-weighted keys
  • Keys include aftertouch
  • Assignable options: 8 knobs, 9 faders, 9 buttons (25-key has less)
  • Automap software for easy MIDI control with major DAWs
  • USB powered
  • Expression and sustain pedal inputs
  • MIDI in and out ports
  • Comes with Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station synth and Loopmasters sample pack

Akai MPK2

Best DJ MIDI Keyboard Akai MPK2

Akai is no stranger to the market, they have become a crowd favorite in the DJ world. The MPK2 is a great upgrade to the Akai lineup and offers great functionality and great software capabilities. All models of the MPK2 except for the mini come with Ableton Live lite, Hybrid 3.0 virtual synth, SONiVOX twist 2.0, and MPC essentials software. The quality of their keys are some of the most solid I have used and the drum pads are RGB backlit and velocity- sensitive.

Their are options for key count and price, varying from a 25-key to a 61 key. Its a bit more pricier than the novation keyboard but its overall a better package.

Key Counts: Mini 25, 25-key, 49-key, 61-key

Main features:

  • Full-size, semi-weighted keys with aftertouch (all except mini)
  • 16 RGB lit, velocity-sensitive drum pads (4 possible banks for a total of 64 combinations)
  • High-resolution LCD screen
  • 8 assignable faders, buttons and control knobs
  • Octave controls
  • Pitch bend and mod wheels
  • Relatively solid software bundle

M-Audio Keystation

Best DJ MIDI Keyboard M Audio Keystation

The keystation sits at a lower price point for those who are starting out or are on a budget. Its great if you dont need drum pads, its simple and does the job with on keys and a pitch and mod wheel and a couple of other cool functions. Its a bare bones unit at a good price. Keys are solid for the price point and is synth-action and comes with nice orchestra-type of VST. Great keyboard if you dont need all the bells and whistles

Key counts: Mini 32 | 49-key | 61-key | 88-key

Main features:

  • Full-size (except the mini), synth-action keys
  • Velocity-sensitive keys
  • Pitch bend and mod wheels
  • Transport controls
  • Sustain pedal input
  • Comes with SONiVOX Eighty-Eight Ensemble

Alesis VI

Best DJ MIDI Keyboard Alesis Vi

The VI series is an upgrade frm Alesis’ line up. It features 16 RGB backlit velocity-sensitive pads, semi-weighted full sized keys with aftertouch. It doesnt come in a mini size though, but does come in a 25 key version which is not bad for the price. No faders but it has the standard assignable buttons. Its a great alternative for those who are on a budget that cant go with the Akai’s.

Key counts:  24-key | 49-key | 61-key

Main features:

  • Full-sized, square-front keys
  • Semi-weighted with aftertouch
  • 16 backlit pads (multi-color RGB)
  • Assignable: 12 knobs, 36 buttons
  • Mod and pitch bend wheels
  • USB-powered

M-Audio Oxygen

 

Best DJ MIDI Keyboard M Audio Oxygen

The Oxygen is a budget MIDI keyboard controller that has some good functionality. It includes pads, faders, encorders and other assignable functions. The keys are full size, velocity sensitive, have synth action, and they are built well. Transport controls work great with and DAW out there and it comes packed with Ableton Live Lite and SONiVOX Twist. If you want a controller that feels good and a good price than pick this up.

Key counts: 25-key | 49-key | 61-key

Main features:

  • Keys: full-size, synth-action and velocity-sensitive
  • 8 trigger pads (velocity sensitive as well)
  • 8 assignable knobs
  • 9 assignable faders
  • Transport controls
  • Built-in mapping with popular DAWs
  • Comes with Ableton Live Lite and SONiVOX Twist

Novation Launchkey

Best DJ MIDI Keyboard Novation Launchkey

The launchkey is one of the best keyboards on this list, it is just below the Impulse I think. It has drum pads, faders and buttons. The pads are a bit smaller than some other keyboards and it doesnt have any knobs, as well as a pitch bender and mod wheels. The quality of the build is good but doesnt compare to the likes of Akai controllers. It comes with Novation V-Station and Bass Station VST.

Key counts: Mini 25 | 25-key | 49-key | 61-key

Main features:

  • 16 velocity-sensitive multi-color ‘Launch Pads’ aka trigger pads
  • InControl technology for DAW mapping
  • Synth-styled keys
  • Suite of software included
  • 8 assignable faders
  • 8 assignable buttons
  • 8 assignable knobs
  • Transport controls
  • Octave up/down controls
  • Pitch and mod wheels

Behringer U-Control UMX

Best DJ MIDI Keyboard behringer uncontrol uxm

The U-Control UMX is a great keyboard with 100 virtual instrument sounds and 50 different VST FXs. The keys are nice and feel nicely built, they’re velocity sensitive and are full sized. It comes with its own audio interface as well. For the price you pay, it is absolutely worth it. If you want a full szied 61 key keyboard its probably one of the cheapest I have seen on the market.

Key counts: 25-key | 49-key | 61-key

Main features:

  • Full-size, velocity-sensitive keys
  • Comes with it’s own USB interface (Mac and PC)
  • NI KorePlayer sound module included
  • 8 real-time rotary controls
  • 10 assignable switches
  • 128 tone range octave shift function
  • MIDI out and runs via USB (no power adapter)

Korg MicroKEY

Best DJ MIDI Keyboard Korg Microkey

The MicroKey is a very simple keyboard, at an affordable cost and a rare 37 key setup its a nice unit to have. Its light and portable, keys are velocity sensitive and feel good . It is powered through USB adding to its portability. It comes with Korgn Kontrol Editor. If you are looking for something simple and portable pick it up.

Key counts: Micro 25 | 37-key | 61-key

Main features:

  • Velocity-sensitive mini keys
  • Perfect for portability
  • Natural touch keyboard
  • Octave shift\key transpose
  • Pitch bend and modulation wheels
  • USB powered

M-Audio Axiom AIR

Best DJ MIDI Keyboard M Audio Axium Air

Axiom AIR is a higher end keyboard. It has 12 pads, 8 knobs, 9 faders and 3 banks for all assignable functions. The keys are synth action and have after touch. You are also able to create velocity curves for the keys. Ships with Ignite by AIR.

Key counts: Mini 32 | 25-key | 49-key | 61-key

Main features:

  • Synth-action keys with aftertouch
  • 12 trigger pads that are pressure and velocity sensitive
  • Roll buttons
  • 8 encoders, 9 faders (70mm) (3 banks each)
  • Velocity curves for custom style
  • Pitch bend and mod wheels
  • Comes with Pro Tools Express and Ignite by AIR (275+ instrument sounds)
  • HyperControl software for mapping with DAWs
  • Mac and PC compatible

Arturia KeyLab

Best DJ MIDI Keyboard Artuira Keylab

The KeyLab puts a little twist on keyboards, it comes packed with Analog Lab software which has 5000 synth sounds on it. If you want a keyboard that has great synth sounds this is it. It also has 10 encoders, 9 sliders and 10 switches that are assignable. Keys feel great, they are semi-weighted, velocity sensitive and have aftertouch. It does have pads as well.

Key counts: Mini 25 | 25-key | 49-key | 61-key

Main features:

  • Includes Analog Lab software with 5,000 synth sounds
  • Preset sorting by type, instrument or characteristic
  • Preset editing
  • Semi-weighted keys with velocity-sensitive and after touch (except the mini)
  • 2 clickable encoders
  • 6 transport switches
  • Mod and pitch bend wheel
  • 16 velocity-sensitive backlit pads
  • 10 encoders, 9 sliders, 10 switches (2 banks available)

So thats its for our list of the Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers. Let us know what you think. Check out our guide for the best DJ MIDI drum controller