Last updated: August 8, 2021

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Midi keyboards are not to be compared with conventional keyboards. They are much more suitable for music production, as they can be used to transfer notes and melodies to the computer, where they can be further processed. You can use them to produce your own electronic music.

Our big Midi keyboard test 2021 should help you to find the best Midi keyboard for you. With this in mind, we have compared the classic Midi keyboard as well as Midi keyboards with pads and clip launchers and listed the respective advantages and disadvantages. This should make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • A midi keyboard is the right choice for you if you are looking for a keyboard instrument that is specialised in music production.
  • One of the strengths of professional keyboards is the ability to control other midi devices.
  • Inexpensive midi keyboards are available for less than €50. For exclusive top-class keyboards, you usually have to reckon with a higher three-digit sum.

The Best Midi Keyboard: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a midi keyboard

What does Midi actually mean?

In summary: Midi is the name of a standard for digital signals that enable the exchange of musical control information between musical instruments and computers.

Since the Midi protocol was introduced, completely new possibilities have been created for music production. It is derived from the English and means "digital interface for musical instruments".

It is important to note that this does not mean audio data, which Midi contains. It is only about control data for a sound generator.

When you play a key on the keyboard, the information about e.g. the tone duration and velocity is output as digital signals at the MIDI output (MIDI OUT socket) of the keyboard. These can then be transmitted to a MIDI input (MIDI IN socket), such as the computer. This information is then stored there and played back at last. The great advantage is that the data is very small and faster digital transport is possible.

A midi keyboard is a professional music production alternative to standard keyboards. (Image source: pixabay.com / jeffjuit)

What is a Midi Keyboard?

A midi keyboard allows you to control other midi devices and instruments. With the help of the keyboard, melodies and tones can be played.

The data received can then be edited, changed and saved on the computer.

In contrast to standard keyboards, these models are a professional alternative in the field of music production. The built-in controller makes it possible to connect the keyboard to other instruments or music devices in order to offer the greatest possible variety.

For whom is a Midi Keyboard the right choice?

The Midi Master Keyboard cannot be compared to a conventional keyboard in terms of use.

Rather, this product is aimed at musicians, music producers and those interested in the Midi world.

It gives you the opportunity to build your own simple and practical music production system.

How much does a Midi keyboard cost?

You have to reckon with a price range of about 39 € to 900 €.

You can get a simple midi keyboard for less than €50. These models have a smaller keyboard range. Often, even the low-priced versions have an impressive range of functions, which is more than enough to make a first impression. Compact and easy to use!

Basically, the value of the workmanship and the quality of the midi keyboard increases with the price. In addition, there are high-quality features and many control elements. In return, you should be able to expect a proud price in the higher three-digit range.

Where can I use a midi keyboard?

Basically everywhere you need the MIDI keyboard.

If the sound is generated on the computer, you will of course need a PC, which may make transport difficult.

If, on the other hand, the sound is generated on the keyboard, the problem is solved.

Master keyboards are often used in recording studios or when working with software for music equipment.

Nevertheless, special attention should be paid to the keyboard range. You can find more about this under the aspect "keyboard range" in the buying criteria listed below.

Is there a difference between a midi keyboard and a master keyboard?

In certain respects, a midi keyboard is the same as a master keyboard. The subtle difference lies in the availability of sound generation.

Master keyboards have no internal sound generation themselves, as they are primarily intended for remote control of other devices (e.g. software instruments). In contrast, the sound generation is integrated in the Midi Keyboard. It is possible to add the missing equipment to the master keyboard.

Decision: What types of midi keyboards are there and which is the right one for you?

Basically, you can distinguish between three types of midi keyboards:

  • Classic Midi Keyboard
  • Midi keyboard with pads
  • Midi Keyboard with Clip Launcher

Nowadays, a home studio is a job. With ever-improving technology, you can record almost anything yourself with virtual instruments and the right software. Where you used to need a whole team, you can now work alone. You have the opportunity to build your own simple and practical music production system.

Midi keyboards are especially suitable for musicians, music producers and those interested in the midi world. To make it easier for you to choose the best type of midi keyboard for your purposes, we present the respective advantages and disadvantages below.

How does a classic midi keyboard work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A classic midi keyboard looks like an ordinary keyboard, but offers a keyboard with a different number of octaves, depending on the model. However, the benefits are different: With a midi keyboard, midi files can be sent and received by connecting several midi devices and then subsequently edited on the computer.

Advantages
  • Expandable with additional devices
  • For simple home studios
  • Easy to use
Disadvantages
  • Limited possibilities

The classic midi keyboard is mainly for you if you want something small, versatile, easy to use and relatively versatile for a simple home studio. The possibilities are somewhat limited, but you can always add additional devices to your Midi Keyboard later, such as percussion pads or clip launchers.

How does a Midi keyboard with pads work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A midi keyboard with pads has additional pads integrated in addition to the functions of a classic midi keyboard. The pads are virtual percussion instruments, so to speak, whose sounds can be combined with those of the regular keyboard. Most of the pads are designed to play two-handed rhythms.

Advantages
  • Combination of pads and midi keyboard
  • Space-saving because integrated in one unit
Disadvantages
  • Limited number of percussion pads

Many people today use "hybrid designs" because they combine the functions of a classic midi keyboard and those of pads in one device. A midi keyboard with pads is the right choice for you if you are looking for a midi keyboard that has additional functions integrated in the form of percussion pads. If you know that you will be using these features regularly, it is a good idea to buy one.

Because everything is combined in one unit, the Midi Keyboard with Pads is more space-saving than having two separate units. However, a combined device offers a smaller number of pads than buying an extra pad controller.

How does a Midi Keyboard with Clip Launcher work and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A midi keyboard with clip launcher has additional launch pads in addition to the functions of a classic midi keyboard. However, these differ from the percussion pads. The launch pads can be used to launch clips, play virtual instruments, control plug-ins or arrange entire songs. Most of the time, the pads offer a multi-coloured illumination as visual feedback that indicates the current clip status.

Advantages
  • Combination of clip launcher and midi keyboard
  • Space-saving because integrated in one device
  • Multifunctionality
Disadvantages
  • Limited number of launch pads

A Midi Keyboard with Clip Launcher is the right choice for you if you are looking for a Midi Keyboard that has additional functions integrated in the form of launch pads. This version scores with the multifunctionality of the buttons, with which loops can be triggered, presets called up, clips manipulated or mixed

Since everything is combined in one device, the Midi Keyboard with Clip Launcher is more space-saving than having two individual devices. However, a combined device also offers a smaller number of launch pads than buying an extra Clip Launcher.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate midi keyboards

In the following, we will show you which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate midi keyboards. This will make it easier for you to get an overview and decide on a suitable and effective device.

In summary, these are the following criteria:

  • Compatibility & Connections
  • Features
  • Range of functions & controls
  • Keyboard range
  • Keystroke dynamics & type of keyboard
  • Quality
  • Purpose

Below you can read about the respective criteria and find out why it makes sense for you to purchase a device with this function or not.

Compatibility and Connections

No less important is compatibility, as there may still be problems, for example, with the connection between tablets and the MIDI keyboard.

Midi keyboards are produced for use on a PC via USB. When using the computer, you should also check your connection options for the midi output to be on the safe side.

Features

Midi keyboards in particular have the variety of different product functions and the enormous equipment in common.

Typical midi keyboards in the lower price segment have a lower range of performance and functions than the higher-quality models.

Range of functions and controls

You will probably have expectations of your future midi keyboard, which are connected with wishes and demands.

Therefore, you should be aware of which and how many controls and functions you need. If you want to work with beats, for example, a drum pad is recommended in addition to the regular keyboard.

The most important functions include, for example:

  • Software package
  • Sustain pedal input
  • Volume control
  • Headphone output
  • Presets (default settings)
  • Arpeggiator (fingered chord is played as a chord progression)
  • available display

These functions increase flexibility during work and ensure creative work with the device.

If you plan to work outside the box, it's worth looking at the availability of built-in functions such as aftertouch, split, layer and transpose.

Keyboard range

Midi keyboards are available in different sizes.

Simple models in the lower price range usually have two, four or even five octaves. This corresponds to a range of 25 to 61 keys. If you want to use the midi keyboard on holiday, travel a lot or have limited space, it makes sense to choose a smaller number of keys.

The main advantage is that they are much lighter than a higher-quality product with 88 keys. The latter model is also popular in the studio. But even if you want the playing feel of a real piano, you should choose a keyboard with 88 keys plus a built-in hammer action.

Touch response & type of keyboard

The main priority should also be the choice of keyboard. It makes a lot of difference whether you have touch response or not.

When the keys are struck, this provides more information about the velocity. A distinction should be made between fully weighted and half-weighted keys. Depending on your personal preferences, you can determine the feel of the keyboard.

Keyboards with velocity and hammer action offer a better feel, but are more expensive to buy.

If you choose a midi keyboard with hammer action, you will literally feel the difference. Pressure-sensitive sensors play a major role here, providing a more pleasant playing experience. This mechanism, which imitates the piano, is more common in the larger and more expensive models.

The piano keyboard is a must for developing a good playing technique and for musicians who already have some experience playing the piano.

To get a better idea of exactly how the differences in keyboards can be defined, you should visit a specialist shop and get comprehensive advice tailored to your needs.

In the following table, we would like to give you a general insight:

Unweighted Semi-weighted Fully weighted
Functionality With spring With spring and weight With weight
Feel Unrealistic Somewhat more realistic Very realistic
Price Cheap Somewhat more expensive Expensive

Quality

In principle, you can assume that the quality increases proportionally with the price.

Always pay attention to the quality of the overall package. This includes, above all, a good playable keyboard. Keyboards in particular are susceptible to repairs. In the worst case, the complete midi keyboard has to be sent in.

Purpose

It is very important to know what you want from your Midi Master Keyboard.

The extent of the entire equipment always depends on your needs.

A midi keyboard with a large keyboard and hammer action for the studio will cost considerably more than one with 25 keys for occasional use. Therefore, you should also pay attention to your budget.

Image source: unsplash.com / James Baldwin

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