July 2021

MIDI Controllers: Aggregated Ranking Report

This report contains an aggregate consensus of MIDI Controller rankings posted by key online experts, as of July 2021.

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 July 2021 ranking

At a glance - July 2021 Ranking

Scroll horizontally to browse this ranking table
Rank Price MIDI Controller
Music Radar
Consordini
Sweetwater
E-Home Recording Studio
Keyboard Kraze
Spy
Gearank
Music Critic
Digital Piano Judge
Prime Sound
1
$114 Akai MPK Mini mkII
-
1
1
-
-
-
-
7
-
1
2
$669 NI Komplete Kontrol S Series MkII
15
4
-
-
5
-
6
-
-
-
3
$119 Akai Pro MPK Mini MK3
2
-
-
4
-
-
2
-
-
-
4
$110 Novation Launchkey Mini MK3
3
-
3
-
-
4
-
-
-
-
5
$88 M-Audio Oxygen 25 IV
-
-
-
3
-
-
-
6
5
-
6
$499 Arturia KeyLab MkII
13
-
-
-
9
-
4
-
-
-
7
$90 M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3
-
7
6
-
-
-
-
4
-
-
8
$429 Akai Pro MPK249
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
3
1
-
9
$119 Arturia MiniLab MkII
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
-
-
4
10
$200 Novation Impulse
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
1
-
7
11
$229 Akai Professional MPD226
-
-
-
-
3
3
-
-
-
-
12
$499 Arturia Keystep Pro
12
-
2
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
13
$499 M-Audio Hammer 88
-
2
-
-
-
-
-
-
4
-
14
$103 Nektar Impact LX25 Plus
-
-
7
-
-
-
-
-
-
3
15
$90 Alesis V25
-
-
8
-
-
-
-
-
2
-
16
$160 Novation Launchkey MK2
-
-
-
6
2
-
-
-
-
-
17
$649 Native Instruments Mk3
-
-
-
-
4
2
-
-
-
-
18
$150 Novation Launchkey Mini Mk2
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
8
-
2
19
$169 Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A Series
7
-
5
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
20
$320 Nektar Impact LX88 Plus
10
-
-
-
10
-
-
-
-
-
21
Check price Roli Seaboard Block
11
8
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
22
$150 PreSonus Atom
-
-
4
-
-
8
-
-
-
-
23
$110 Novation Launchpad Mini MK3
-
-
-
7
-
7
-
-
-
-
24
$650 Nektar Panorama P6
-
-
-
-
8
-
-
-
-
5

We ranked Akai MPK Mini mkII #1 in July 2021 because:

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

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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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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 NI Komplete Kontrol S Series MkII #2 in July 2021 because:

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

A smart MIDI controller for your plugins and DAW

Pros
Tight Komplete and DAW integration
Provides playing assistance
Spend less time with your mouse

Cons
No sliders

Go to ranking

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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Keyboard Kraze

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Gearank

Pros
The recovery time of the keys was noted to be faster than what acoustic pianos tend to have but it works well for many users.
This balance between piano-like feel and synth key recovery time is what makes the Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2 a hit with both piano players and synth players alike.
Full integration with the Native Instruments ecosystem along with the great feel makes for a great performance and compositional tool.

Cons
Some still felt the keys were too "slow" to recover for their faster synth runs.
This is inherent with the design so you may want to look elsewhere if weighted keys affect your playing style.

Go to ranking

We ranked Akai Pro MPK Mini MK3 #3 in July 2021 because:

  • 3 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
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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E-Home Recording Studio

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Gearank

Pros
affordable
Its size was seen as a plus for producers that work with laptops and musicians that want to produce music on the go.

Cons
Many felt the keys to be too small and stiff.

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We ranked Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 #4 in July 2021 because:

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

Ableton-friendly supermini controller gets a sizable update

Pros
Fantastic arpeggiator
MIDI Out
Brilliant integration with Live
Sustain pedal input

Cons
No MIDI adapter included

Go to ranking

Sweetwater

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Spy

Best Keyboard MIDI Controller

Go to ranking

We ranked M-Audio Oxygen 25 IV #5 in July 2021 because:

  • 3 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
E-Home Recording Studio

Go to ranking

Music Critic

Pros
Powered by a USB connection.
49 full-size keys that have a synth-action and are velocity sensitive.
Equipped with 8 trigger pads which are velocity-sensitive.

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Digital Piano Judge

Pros
LCD screen makes it easy to see controls.
Quickly maps to your DAW.
Plug-and-play capabilities.
“Synth action” for a synthesizer feel.

Cons
Velocity-sensitivity is not always 100% accurate.

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We ranked Arturia KeyLab MkII #6 in July 2021 because:

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

Go to ranking

Keyboard Kraze

Best MIDI Controller For Live Performance

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Gearank

Pros
Its praise for the well engineered keybed.
While trickled down from Arturia's upper echelon offerings, it doesn't compromise anything.
The sturdy housing also makes it well-built for touring.

Cons
The LCD screen could be larger to show more information, but this concern only appeared once in the multitude of reviews.

Go to ranking

We ranked M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3 #7 in July 2021 because:

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

Best Beginner Controller

Pros
Low price.
Lightweight.
Transport controls.

Cons
No pads.
Not the most versatile.

Go to ranking

Sweetwater

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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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We ranked Akai Pro MPK249 #8 in July 2021 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 #9 in July 2021 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

Pros
Amazing build quality
The quality of the bundled software also got a lot of commendations.
good feedback.

Cons
There are a few who felt that the bundled software is a bit lacking

Go to ranking

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 Impulse #10 in July 2021 because:

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

Pros
Equipped with a semi-weighted action that is ultra-responsive.
Good software control.
Multifunction drum pads.

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Prime Sound

Best Semi-Weighted Keys

Pros
Full-sized keys
Comes with bundled software
USB connectivity

Cons
Poor LCD screen
Complex DAW setup instructions

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We ranked Akai Professional MPD226 #11 in July 2021 because:

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

Go to ranking

Spy

Best Budget MIDI Controller

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We ranked Arturia Keystep Pro #12 in July 2021 because:

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

A great all-rounder that fulfils your sequencing and I/O needs

Pros
Handy mix of analogue and digital I/O
Lots of creative sequencing tools
Arp and drum modes are lots of fun

Cons
Mini keys unlikely to appeal to serious players
Mod and pitch touch strips are a little small

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Sweetwater

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We ranked M-Audio Hammer 88 #13 in July 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
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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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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We ranked Nektar Impact LX25 Plus #14 in July 2021 because:

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

Go to ranking

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 Alesis V25 #15 in July 2021 because:

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

Go to ranking

Digital Piano Judge

Pros
Good value for money.
Lots of music tech software included, which links seamlessly.
Available in different sizes.
Includes backlit pads and knobs.

Cons
No weighted functionality.
Can be hard to link to software like FL Studio.

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We ranked Novation Launchkey MK2 #16 in July 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
E-Home Recording Studio

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Keyboard Kraze

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We ranked Native Instruments Mk3 #17 in July 2021 because:

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

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Spy

Runner Up

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We ranked Novation Launchkey Mini Mk2 #18 in July 2021 because:

  • 2 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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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 Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A Series #19 in July 2021 because:

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

The Komplete Kontrol experience at a great price

Pros
Top-notch build quality and keybed
Works great with Komplete Kontrol
Decent software bundle

Cons
Comparatively bulky

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Sweetwater

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We ranked Nektar Impact LX88 Plus #20 in July 2021 because:

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

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We ranked Roli Seaboard Block #21 in July 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
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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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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We ranked PreSonus Atom #22 in July 2021 because:

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

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Spy

Also Consider

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We ranked Novation Launchpad Mini MK3 #23 in July 2021 because:

  • 2 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
E-Home Recording Studio

Go to ranking

Spy

Best Portable MIDI Controller

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We ranked Nektar Panorama P6 #24 in July 2021 because:

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

Go to ranking

Prime Sound

Best Weighted Keys Contollers

Pros
Great build quality
Nice semi-weighted keyboards
Extensive integration with several software

Cons
Noisy keys
Only 12 physical pads

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