5 Best MIDI Keyboards Under $200 You Should Know

The MIDI keyboard market today is flooded with a variety of different options available at every conceivable price range. All of them have different features, making it difficult for anyone, especially beginners, to decide which one is best suited for them.

If you’re frustrated about which one to get, then keep reading because we’ve researched and compiled a list of the best MIDI keyboards under $200 that you could buy right now.

Top Picks: 5 Best MIDI Keyboard Under $200 Reviews

1. Nektar Impact LX61+ Keyboard Controller – Best Overall

“Nektar

Specifications

  • No. Of Keys: 61

  • Key Type: Velocity-Sensitive, Synth-Action
  • Key Size: Full-size
  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac, iOS
  • Connectivity: USB

Nektar is a renowned manufacturer of audio equipment, producing MIDI controllers and keyboards at affordable prices. At the top of this list, the Impact LX61+ is an advanced MIDI keyboard controller that’s designed to give you complete control over your DAW and enhance your playing. It sits nicely between the high-end MIDI keyboard controllers that cost well over 500$ and the low-end budget ones, providing a fantastic balance of power, versatility, and affordability.

The LX61+ features 61 velocity-sensitive, synth-action keys that feel smooth to the fingers and allow precise control while playing. You also have two wheels for pitch-bend and modulation, 9 control faders, 8 control knobs, and 8 assignable performance pads available. It also has a simple LED display at the top that shows the current patch number and settings. The keyboard itself is lightweight, robust, and quite easily portable. According to John Mike (1):

This keyboard offers a ton of control options at a competitive price point

Connectivity-wise, it’s USB-powered, features a MIDI Out port, a foot pedal jack, as well as a 9V DC input just in case USB power isn’t available. It comes pre-equipped with Nektar’s sophisticated DAW integration that works with all the popular DAWs like Logic, Garageband, FL Studio, Sonar, Reaper, Bitwig, Garageband, Studio One, etc. All the controls are pre-mapped and pre-programmed for these DAWs, but can also be custom-assigned as per your need.

If you’re searching for the best MIDI keyboard under $200, then look no further beyond the Nektar Impact LX88+. It ticks all the right boxes in terms of performance, connectivity, and user-friendliness, and it has more than enough features for any musician, whether a beginner or a professional. It’s truly a stage-worthy instrument and works equally well for studios and home practice with its high compatibility.

2. Akai Professional MPK Mini III 25-key Keyboard – Budget Pick

“AKAI

Specifications

  • No. Of Keys: 25

  • Key Type: Velocity-Sensitive
  • Key Size: Mini
  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac
  • Connectivity: USB

Akai Professional is a Japanese brand well-known for making high-end music hardware like electronic instruments and audio equipment. Their latest release, the MPK Mini III 25-key, is a significant upgrade over its predecessor, the MPK Mini II. The Akai MPK series was designed to be a multi-purpose MIDI controller with keys, pads, and rotary knobs in a compact body.

The MPK Mini III comes with 25 velocity-sensitive, mini-sized keys, along with 8 MPC-style pressure-sensitive performance pads and 8 assignable rotary knobs. It also has a 4-way joystick, which allows for dynamic pitch and modulation control. Plus, it has a built-in arpeggiator function, transport controls, octave and tap tempo control buttons, pad controls, as well as a small LED display that shows your current patch settings and other relevant information.

The Akai controller is highly compatible with most of the popular music DAWs, and can easily work with third-party plugins, instruments, and samples as well. The pads can be custom-assigned as needed to trigger loops, samples, etc., and the rotary knobs control parameters and settings within your DAW for a smoother and more natural workflow while mixing and producing. The keyboard is USB powered and remarkably portable due to its small form factor.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive MIDI keyboard that also has MIDI pads in a compact form factor and a tight budget, then the Akai MPK Mini III is one of the best options for you. It’s excellent for musicians looking to create and record ideas on-the-go, but works equally well in the studio. It’s flexible and very customizable, and at such an affordable price, it’s an excellent fit for musicians of all genres.

3. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 Keyboard Controller – Best For NI Komplete Users

“Native

Specifications

  • No. Of Keys: 32

  • Key Type: Velocity-Sensitive
  • Key Size: Mini
  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac
  • Connectivity: USB

Native Instruments is a German brand that’s reputed for producing some of the best software effects, as well as the hardware to go along with them. The Komplete Kontrol M32 is their cheapest offering, a portable MIDI keyboard designed for musicians that are always on the go. It comes with new features like an OLED display for patch browsing, while maintaining a compact form factor for easy portable usage.

The Komplete Kontrol M32 features 32 mini-sized velocity-sensitive keys with 2 touch strips instead of pitch and mod wheels. It has features like Smart Play, arpeggiator mode, transport controls, 8 touch-sensitive knobs that can control various effects parameters, as well as a 4-directional push encoder for easy browsing and DAW transport navigation. The keyboard is powered directly by USB, so there’s no need for any external power outlet. According to Sanjay C (2):

The build quality of the M32 is excellent for its price. And it gives you complete control over Native Instruments’ software

With the M32 keyboard, you get a whole range of Native Instruments’ software like Komplete Start, Kontakt Player, Maschine Essentials, Ableton Live Lite, Monark, Reaktor Prism, and more. The keyboard comes pre-mapped to work with NI software like Komplete Kontrol intuitively, but the knobs can also be reassigned as required. There’s even a sustain pedal input
at the back,

If you use Native Instruments’ Komplete software and are looking for a compact and portable MIDI keyboard, then the Komplete Kontrol M32 is perfect for you. It’s affordable, comes with a great software package, and is more than capable of producing professional music on the go. And for those moments when inspiration strikes, it’s quick and easy to drop a sick beat.

4. Novation Launchkey 37 [MK3] MIDI Keyboard Controller – Best For Ableton Live Users

“Novation

Specifications

  • No. Of Keys: 37

  • Key Type: Velocity-Sensitive
  • Key Size: Full-size
  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac
  • Connectivity: USB

Novation is a British audio electronics company that makes great-quality MIDI controllers that are widely used. The Launchkey series is a hybrid MIDI keyboard that combines performance pads with keys, and their latest update is the Launchkey 37 MK3, a smaller version of the Launchkey 49, and comes with significant improvements and new features.

The Novation Launchkey 37 Mk3 features 37 velocity-sensitive, mini-sized, synth-action keys, with 16 pressure-sensitive back-lit RGB performance pads. It also comes with 8 rotary encoder knobs that let you control your tone’s parameters more accurately, and two wheels for pitch and modulation. You have access to octave transpose tools and transport controls as well.

Similar to the Launchkey 49, this keyboard also comes included with Ableton Live Lite, Softube, Spitfire Express Strings, XLN Addictive Keys, Serato Sample LE, and the Novation Sound Collective. This is particularly great for beginners, giving you a significant headstart on your music-making career with powerful software. It’s USB-powered, and it has a MIDI Out port and an input jack for sustain pedals.

If you’re an Ableton Live Lite user and looking for a compact keyboard equipped with performance pads, then the Novation Launchkey 37 Mk3 is a great option. With the extensive software bundle that comes with it and access to Novation’s own sounds, the Launchkey has more than enough to satisfy any amateur keyboardist. Plus, it’s portable enough to carry anywhere you like too.

5. M-Audio Keystation 61 MK3 MIDI Keyboard Controller

“M-Audio

Specifications

  • No. Of Keys: 61

  • Key Type: Synth-Action
  • Key Size: Full-size
  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac
  • Connectivity: USB

M-Audio is an American brand that manufactures audio electronics equipment like monitors, microphones, audio interfaces, as well as controllers, keyboards, MIDI, etc.. The Keystation series is amongst their budget MIDI keyboards, and the MK3 update brings with it many improvements and features.

The Keystation 61 MK3 features 61 velocity-sensitive, full-sized synth-action keys, along with two smooth wheels to control pitch and modulation. You also have a master volume fader control, octave transpose up and down buttons, as well as a directional keypad for greater control over your DAW. The keys themselves can also be custom-assigned a variety of functions; hence this keyboard provides a lot of flexibility in a compact and robust design.

The M-Audio Keystation is powered directly by USB, and it also has a sustain pedal jack at the back. It’s compatible with iOS devices like iPads and iPhones as well. It comes included with software like Ableton Live Lite, Pro Tools First, AIR Music, Skoove, and Touch Loops.

If you’re looking for a simple, effective, and yet affordable 61-keys keyboard controller, then the M-Audio Keystation 61 MK3 is definitely a great option. It’s a simple but robust keyboard with MIDI that works well due to its high compatibility, range of included software, and effective customizability.

Buying Guide: How To Pick The Best MIDI Keyboard For You

If you’re still confused about which MIDI with keyboard might be best suited for you, then keep reading, as we’ve listed some of the most important specifications that you should keep in consideration:

Number Of Keys, Type, and Size

MIDI controllers come in a range of shapes and sizes with different numbers of keys, from 25 keys (two octaves), up to 88 keys (7 octaves). You should pick a keyboard that’s comfortable for you to use and fits your playing style (3).

All MIDI keyboards have octave transpose buttons, so you can always transpose them up or down to play higher or lower.

The key size matters a lot, as well. Some of the MIDI keyboards on this list have mini-sized keys for extra portability, while some have standard full-sized keys (similar to pianos). Based on your playing style and comfort, you should pick the one that will let you play efficiently. A keyboard with more keys is only necessary if you need access to several octaves simultaneously for more comfortable playing.

Key types vary a lot as well – some of the keyboards come with semi-weighted keys, which have more resistance and feel similar to piano keys, whereas some are incredibly light and easy to press. Some keyboards have aftertouch, so they respond to your fingers even after pressing the key, while others don’t. Pick a keyboard that’s comfortable and expressive according to your playing style.

Compatibility And Connectivity

When buying a MIDI controller, it’s important to note its compatibility to ensure it’ll work with your system. Nearly all keyboards are compatible with both Windows and Mac systems; however, some of them are also compatible with iOS devices in case you wish to use your iPhone or iPad to play on the go.

Most keyboards are powered by USB itself, but some of them may require an external power supply for additional functionality.

Some of the keyboards with MIDI have additional jacks available for sustain pedals, MIDI input and output, DIN Sync, CV, external power supply, etc. Based on your usage scenarios and requirements, you should pick the keyboard that has all the necessary connectivity.

Controls – Pads, Faders, and Knobs

The standard controls available on a MIDI keyboard controller vary greatly – they may have pads, knobs, pitch and modulation wheels, volume sliders/faders, and buttons for transport and other various functions. Some of these may be pre-programmed to carry specific functions, while some are customizable and can be assigned as per your needs.

Depending on your style of play, genre of music, and comfort, you may require a different combination of controls. For Ableton users, DJs, and live performances, pads are very helpful. Volume faders are helpful so pick a controller that suits your playing needs.

FAQs

Yes, you can use a MIDI controller to learn the piano. You can understand the chord shapes and patterns, as well as music notation. However, normal MIDI keyboards won’t feel like a piano, as they are very lightweight. If it has semi-weighted keys, however, it will offer resistance similar to that of piano keys.

The best MIDI keyboard controller for beginners, in our opinion, would be the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32. It offers a great balance between all of the essential features, and comes pre-equipped and pre-programmed to work with a suite of powerful software like DAWs and virtual instruments.

You can do a variety of things with a MIDI controller, from full music production to simple beats and melodies. MIDI for keyboard controllers is designed to be used alongside software like DAWs, virtual instruments like synthesizers and orchestras, as well as sample libraries. They do not create any sound of their own; they are merely hardware controllers designed to work with the software you choose.

The best MIDI keyboard for making beats would be the Novation Launchkey, as it features 8 performance pads along with many other controls that were designed specifically for beat-making, DJ-ing, and electronic music. It provides you with intuitive access to your playing and makes the entire workflow of triggering loops and samples very fluid and natural.

  1. This Is For Control Freaks! |Nektar Impact LX+ Review|. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSNnUl692Ps
  2. Native Instruments M32 REVIEW!. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/Vz1-FSHQsT4
  3. Guide To Buying Your First Keyboard. Retrieved from: https://www.schoolofrock.com/resources/keyboard/buying-guide-how-to-buy-your-first-keyboard
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