If you work with electronic music, you will quickly find out just how important a MIDI keyboard is. These keyboards help make music production easier and they allow you to experiment with your music.Buy your MIDI Keyboard on Amazon
You will have the opportunity to read all about MIDI keyboards on this page. I will go in depth about the instrument, exploring every possible angle there is to find. Finally, I have found the best products on the market that I want to share with you, so you do not have to spend too much of your time finding the right MIDI keyboard for you.
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What is a MIDI keyboard/controller?
When I’m teaching electronic music to my students, I often hear them say, “I think I will buy a MIDI”. The thing is, MIDI is not something you can just buy. It’s not a product. Instead, MIDI is a format, like MP3 or WAV.
This means that you buy products that support the MIDI format. For example, a MIDI keyboard that we are discussing in depth on this page. Almost all keyboards available today support MIDI output and input. That means the following:
- The keyboard can be played from external sources via MIDI signals. For example, a computer program.
- The keyboard can send MIDI signals to other devices that allow you to play “keyboard sounds” on these devices.
It all actually depends on these MIDI signals. MIDI signals are available in many different versions, with the most common signal being a note. Yes, you heard right; an ordinary note that tells which note is to be played, how long the note is, how powerful the note is etc.
In order for these MIDI signals to make a sound, you need a device that has sounds in it. For example, a synthesizer . When you connect your MIDI keyboard to your synthesizer (or other device containing sounds), the synthesizer receives the signals and plays the notes based on the sounds that are on the synthesizer.
Before going any further, I’d like to give you some knowledge about how these MIDI signals are used to make music. If you have experience with electronic music, you probably already know about programs such as Cubase and FL Studio.
When you work with such programs, you often encounter two types of tracks: MIDI and audio.
Audio tracks you use when recording a real audio source live. For example, a guitar or a saxophone.
MIDI tracks, on the other hand, are used to record notes that are then passed on to a synthesizer. The advantage of MIDI is that you can easily move around these elements, which means you edit what you’ve recorded to sound exactly how you want it to.
MIDI keyboard parts and construction
There are different types of the keyboards and controllers, and therefore it is difficult to come up with a description that covers all MIDI keyboards. However, all types are characterized by sending these MIDI signals. The MIDI keyboard itself does not have any sounds in it. It has only the MIDI signals that are passed on to an external device.
The number of keys can vary from 25 to 88 and there are both keyboards with touch sensitive keys and some without. It is also possible to get weighted keys. There are even pads where you press buttons instead of keys – a MIDI pad. The technology behind MIDI keyboards and MIDI pads is the same.
Different types of MIDI keyboards
Overall, we distinguish between two types. How and why it all hangs together, we must look at now.
A MIDI keyboard and a MIDI pad is what you traditionally consider to be one MIDI controller. They stand out by not having any sounds in them. As we also mentioned earlier, it is precisely what characterizes a traditional MIDI keyboard/pad. You therefore need an external audio device, such as a synthesizer.
If we distinguish between a MIDI keyboard and a MIDI pad, the difference is that the MIDI keyboard is equipped with a keyboard. So with a number of keys. And a MIDI pad is equipped with square buttons. On a MIDI pad, you press the buttons to make a sound.
MIDI pads and MIDI keyboards vary greatly in price. You find some ranging from 75-1500. Some have a lot of features and weighted keys, while others have almost none. If you buy a keyboard with nearly no features, be sure to get an external audio device.
If you already have an ordinary keyboard, there is a chance that the keyboard supports MIDI out and MIDI in. The traditional keyboard is characterized by having built-in speakers and many sounds. This type is not designed to work as a MIDI keyboard. For that reason, there will also be some fundamental features that this keyboard does not have in itself. Therefore, if you often need to use the MIDI part of the keyboard. I will always recommend you buy a dedicated MIDI keyboard or a MIDI pad.
MIDI keyboard workstation
The last type of keyboards that support the MIDI format is a workstation. This keyboard does not have built-in speakers that we know from the traditional keyboard but, still, a workstation generates sounds. However, it requires connecting the keyboard to a sound card or a speaker. The workstations that currently exist on the market work great as MIDI keyboards and often they also have a host of other features. For example, you can find workstations with a built in sequencer and synthesizer.
MIDI keyboard buying guide
There are a number of things that you should think about before you finally buy your keyboard. I will review the most important considerations you should make.
The number of keys
This point is, in my opinion, the most important. There are HUGE differences in whether you have 37 or 88 keys to work with. The number of keys can also depend on how much space you have in the studio and whether you plan to play with both hands on the keyboard. If you want the keyboard around, it can be an advantage to have fewer keys. Whatever it is, it’s something you should consider. Overall, MIDI keyboards are available with 25, 49, 61 and 88 keys. I have also seen keyboards with 32, 37, 73 and 76 keys. So the number can vary slightly.
Another factor you need to be aware of is the various “actions” that exist. Action tells something about how long it takes from pressing a key and the keyboard playing the tone. We distinguish between 3 different types of actions: weighted action (responds like a normal piano), semi-weighted action (responding faster than weighted action) and synth action (responding fastest).
Aftertouch is a type of sensor built into the keyboard. Aftertouch means that, by varying the pressure on the key, you can bend the tones. That is, you can make the tone sound higher or lower, depending on how hard or soft you press the key.
There are a host of features and some are more useful than others. Overall, we distinguish between faders, buttons and knobs. These features can make a big difference when you are making music. There is a huge difference in working with the music while playing, in terms of sitting behind the computer and editing.
Last but not least, the price will also be of great importance to most of us. It is clear that the more options you want in your keyboard, the more expensive it will be.
The range of MIDI keyboards is huge. Therefore, the market can be difficult to sort through. One of the problems is that there are many brands that produce some terrible products. Some that should not exist at all. For you not to end up with a miserable keyboard, I will list the brands that produce the best MIDI keyboards on the market. I can recommend these at any time:
Midiplus: Midiplus is a brand under the Taiwanese company, Ta Horng Musical Instrument. The Taiwanese company was established in 1974 and has, since its inception, had a great focus on the production of keyboards. Their MIDI keyboards and pads are always in good quality and are sold at some nice prices.
Novation: Novation is a brand under the English company, Focusrite. Since 1985, Focusrite has sold products for music production. Novation’s products are characterized by being of high quality, and in addition they are sold at favorable prices.
Korg: The Japanese company, Korg, has helped shape the music industry since 1963. Korg has helped to set new standards in special electronic music production. Personally, I think that Korg’s MIDI controllers are among the best in the world. Not only that the quality and the price are super. Korg also always manage to equip their products with a wealth of useful functions.
Native Instruments: if you really need a professional and exclusive MIDI controller, you should definitely consider Native Instruments’ products. The German company only focuses on electronic music production, which means that they always have their finger on the pulse. Their products are revolutionary, high quality and equipped with a host of features.
If you are not yet sure which MIDI controller you should buy, you are more than welcome to comment on this page. You can also catch me on the live chat. If you have complaints/compliments or comments, you are welcome to write here or via e-mail.