September 2022

MIDI Controllers: Meta Ranking Report

This report contains an aggregate consensus of MIDI Controller rankings posted by key online experts, as of September 2022.

Summary

As of 10 Sep 2022, Akai MPK Mini MKII 25 takes the cake as the most critically-acclaimed midi controller with 4 expert endorsements. 3 experts out of 4 recommended it as the '#1 midi controller' this month. It is followed by Akai Pro MPK Mini MK3 and Akai Pro MPK249 , with 3 and 2 expert endorsements respectively.

At a glance - September 2022 Ranking

Scroll horizontally to browse this ranking table
Rank Change Price MIDI Controller
Music Critic
Spy
Gearank
Digital Piano Judge
E-Home Recording Studio
The Guitar Junky
Consordini
Prime Sound
Keyboard Kraze
Music Radar
1
- $109
Akai MPK Mini MKII 25
7
-
-
-
-
1
1
1
-
-
2
- $119
Akai Pro MPK Mini MK3
-
-
2
-
4
-
-
-
-
3
3
- $463
Akai Pro MPK249
3
-
-
1
-
-
-
-
-
-
4
- $78
Arturia MiniLab MkII
-
-
1
-
-
-
-
4
-
-
5
- $100
Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note
8
-
-
-
-
5
-
2
-
-
6
- $169
Akai Professional MPD226
-
3
-
-
-
-
-
-
3
-
7
- $250
Native Instruments Maschine Mk3
-
2
-
-
-
-
-
-
4
-
8
- $499
M-Audio Hammer 88
-
-
-
4
-
-
2
-
-
-
9
- $100
Nektar Impact LX25 Plus
-
-
-
-
-
4
-
3
-
-
15
- $119
M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3
4
-
-
-
-
-
4
-
-
-
16
- $200
Novation Launchkey 37 Mk3
-
4
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
8
17
- $1199
NI Komplete Kontrol S88 MkII
-
-
8
-
-
-
7
-
-
-
18
- $989
Arturia Keylab 88 MKII
-
-
7
-
-
-
-
-
9
-
19
- $448
Arturia KeyLab 49 MkII
-
-
5
-
-
-
-
-
-
15
20
- $320
Nektar Impact LX88 Plus
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
10
12
21
- Check price
Roli Seaboard Block
-
-
-
-
-
-
10
-
-
13

We ranked Akai MPK Mini MKII 25 #1 in September 2022 because:

  • 4 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
  • Out of those, 3 experts ranked Akai MPK Mini MKII 25 as #1.
Critic endorsements:
Music Critic

Pros
Can easily fit into backpacks and on a production desk.
8 rubber drum pads that are velocity sensitive.

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The Guitar Junky

Editor's Choice

Pros
Has the learning curve to progress as you go
Fun to use and beginners won't have trouble understanding
Budget-friendly and with the sleek look

Cons
Software seems a bit intimidating at first
Some complaints of flimsy keys

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Consordini

A Personal Favorite

Pros
Authentic MPC pads.
Intuitive thumbstick.
Arpeggiator.
Note repeat.
Fantastic software bundle.
8 assignable knobs.
Sustain pedal input.

Cons
Small keys take some practice.

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Prime Sound

Editor's Choice

Pros
Portable
Plenty of bundled software
Excellent value for money
Impressive pad quality

Cons
Comes with just eight pads
Knobs lack a satisfying click and feel lightweight

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We ranked Akai Pro MPK Mini MK3 #2 in September 2022 because:

  • 3 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Gearank

Best MIDI Keyboard Controller Under $200

Pros
Solid, durable build
The pads are nice and big
Great as a portable controller to use with a laptop

Cons
The small keys are a put-off if you're used to full-size keys

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E-Home Recording Studio

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Music Radar

One of the best value MIDI keyboards

Pros
Loads of control
Great bundled software

Cons
Mini keys are certainly mini

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Methodology: combine opinions of key experts

Identify Experts

We identify key publishers and experts that consistently review and recommend MIDI Controllers.

Capture Rankings

For each publisher we find a currently recommended "top 10" list of MIDI Controllers, it must be updated in the last 9 months.

Aggregate Rankings

We put all those lists together and aggregate them. The more frequently a product is recommended, the higher it is in our ranking

Experts chosen for September 2022 ranking

We ranked Akai Pro MPK249 #3 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
  • Out of those, 1 expert ranked Akai Pro MPK249 as #1.
Critic endorsements:
Music Critic

Pros
Has an all-in-one controller with keyboard and trigger pads.
Comes with 8 control knobs, 8 faders, and 8 switches.
Semi-weighted action with 49 full-size keys that are pressure sensitive.

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Digital Piano Judge

Pros
Assignable knobs and faders give a full performance workspace.
Easy to set up.
Arpeggiator, note repeat and other inbuilt effects.
Lights up, so you can see what you are doing on stage.
Semi-weighted keys for a piano feel.

Cons
Expensive

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We ranked Arturia MiniLab MkII #4 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
  • Out of those, 1 expert ranked Arturia MiniLab MkII as #1.
Critic endorsements:
Gearank

Best MIDI Keyboard Controller Under $200

Pros
Great value for money
Lots of encoders and pads
Synth action keys feel great

Cons
Knobs feel cheap
Touch strips feel like a compromise
Pads a bit small

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Prime Sound

Best Slim Keys Controller

Pros
Impressive portability
16 rotary controllers
Seamlessly integrates with Analog Lab Litem Ableton Live Lite, and other software

Cons
Some might not fancy the touch strip controllers

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We ranked Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note #5 in September 2022 because:

  • 3 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Music Critic

Pros
Designed for Ableton Live.
Comes in equipped with 16 velocity sensitive multi-color pads.
8 knobs, control buttons, and dedicated navigation.

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The Guitar Junky

Pros
Many options and controls for more ways to create music
Small and compact
Easy to bring around
Solid build and looks like it's made to last

Cons
Keys may not be the most responsive
Takes a lot of time to set up and learn from

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Prime Sound

Budget Pick

Pros
USB-Powered
Portable and compact design
Comes with Ableton Live Lite 9 software
25 synth-style mini keys

Cons
Lacks a thumb joystick

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We ranked Akai Professional MPD226 #6 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Spy

Best Budget MIDI Controller

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Keyboard Kraze

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We ranked Native Instruments Maschine Mk3 #7 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Spy

Runner Up

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Keyboard Kraze

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We ranked M-Audio Hammer 88 #8 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Digital Piano Judge

Pros
Great for learning to play the piano.
Comes with software included.
Hammer action gives more expression and velocity sensitivity.

Cons
Big and bulky model.
The keys are not the best quality.
No pads or sliders.

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Consordini

Best Weighted Keys

Pros
Incredibly realistic/responsive feel.
88-keys.
Pitch bend and modulation wheels.
Three pedal inputs.
Assignable fader and wheels.

Cons
Limited functionality.
No drum pads.

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We ranked Nektar Impact LX25 Plus #9 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
The Guitar Junky

Pros
Lightweight and can be brought around easily
Can control and map DAW effortlessly
Cool design that lights up when played

Cons
Keys create a dull thud sound when pressed
Not suitable for continued use as you progress

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Prime Sound

Best Value

Pros
Eight velocity-sensitive drum pads are excellent for tapping drum beats
Works seamlessly with most DAWS
Excellent value for price

Cons
Relatively bulky
No semi-weighted keys

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We ranked M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3 #10 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Music Critic

Pros
49 full-size, semi-weighted velocity sensitive keys with 1/4-inch sustain pedal input.
Comes equipped with octave range buttons, transport controls, pitch bend and modulation wheels.
USB connection.

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Consordini

Best Beginner Controller

Pros
Low price.
Lightweight.
Transport controls.

Cons
No pads.
Not the most versatile.

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We ranked Novation Launchkey 37 Mk3 #11 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Spy

Best Keyboard MIDI Controller

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Music Radar

A great choice for Ableton Live users

Pros
Tight control of Ableton Live
Decent compatibility with Logic Pro X
Nice compromise between size and functionality
MIDI output, custom modes allow use with external hardware

Cons
You might not like the pitch and mod wheels above the keyboard

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We ranked NI Komplete Kontrol S88 MkII #12 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Gearank

Best MIDI Keyboard Controller Over $1000

Pros
Best for integration with NI Komplete Software
The Fater keybed strikes a good balance between piano-like hammer action and synth action feel
KOMPLETE SELECT is included free

Cons
Those who play hammond style organs will find its piano action isn't the best for organ slides

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Consordini

Best All-Rounder (Runner-Up)

Pros
Very good hammer-action keys.
Aftertouch.
Touch strip, pitch bend, and modulation wheel.
RGB color indicators.
Pre-mapped integration with all Complete instruments.
Two high-res colour screens.
Komplete Kontrol and Komplete 12 Select included.

Cons
No drum/sample pads.

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We ranked Arturia Keylab 88 MKII #13 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Gearank

Best MIDI Keyboard Controller Under $1000

Pros
The Fatar keybed is one of the best in this price range
CV/Gate lets you control old analog synth hardware
Has both 5-Pin and USB MIDI
Solid metal build

Cons
Keys feel slightly spongy compared to the more expensive Kawai VPC1

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Keyboard Kraze

Best MIDI Controller For Live Performance

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We ranked Arturia KeyLab 49 MkII #14 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Gearank

Best MIDI Keyboard Controller Under $500

Pros
The semi-weighted keys have a nice feel to them
Solid, roadworthy piece of gear
Analog Lab comes bundled free

Cons
It's not cheap so I would have liked to see a bigger screen at this price

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Music Radar

A premium keyboard that works with your PC and beyond

Pros
Three well-executed operational modes
Tight integration with Analog Lab

Cons
Pricey

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We ranked Nektar Impact LX88 Plus #15 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Keyboard Kraze

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Music Radar

A piano-sized controller at a great price

Pros
A full-size keyboard
Solid but portable
Great value

Cons
Keys aren't hammer-action

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We ranked Roli Seaboard Block #16 in September 2022 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
Consordini

Best Alternative Choice

Pros
5D touch.
Versatile and expressive.
Equator software.
It’s expandable.

Cons
Learning curve.
Not as well suited to piano/keys sounds.

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Music Radar

A different kind of MIDI controller keyboard

Pros
A unique playing experience
Good build quality

Cons
Takes time to adapt your playing
Expensive for a two-octave keyboard

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