May 2022

MIDI Controllers: Aggregated Ranking Report

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

At a glance - May 2022 Ranking

Scroll horizontally to browse this ranking table
Rank Change Price MIDI Controller
The Guitar Junky
E-Home Recording Studio
Music Radar
Consordini
Prime Sound
Digital Piano Judge
Music Critic
Keyboard Kraze
Spy
Gearank
1
- $114
Akai MPK Mini MKII 25
1
-
-
1
1
-
7
-
-
-
2
- $119
Akai Pro MPK Mini MK3
-
4
3
-
-
-
-
-
-
2
3
- Check price
Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note
5
-
-
-
2
-
8
-
-
-
4
- $440
Akai Pro MPK249
-
-
-
-
-
1
3
-
-
-
5
- $99
Arturia MiniLab MkII
-
-
-
-
4
-
-
-
-
1
6
- $229
Akai Professional MPD226
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
3
3
-
7
- $499
M-Audio Hammer 88
-
-
-
2
-
4
-
-
-
-
8
- $120
Nektar Impact LX25 Plus
4
-
-
-
3
-
-
-
-
-
9
- $160
Novation Launchkey 25 MK2
-
6
-
-
-
-
-
2
-
-
10
- $695
Native Instruments Maschine Mk3
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
4
2
-
11
- $600
Nektar Panorama P6
-
-
-
-
5
-
-
7
-
-
12
- $999
Arturia Keylab 88 MKII
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
8
-
7
13
- $320
Nektar Impact LX88 Plus
-
-
12
-
-
-
-
9
-
-
14
- $119
M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3
-
-
-
4
-
-
4
-
-
-
15
- $1149
NI Komplete Kontrol S88 MkII
-
-
-
7
-
-
-
-
-
8
16
- Check price
Roli Seaboard Block
-
-
13
10
-
-
-
-
-
-
17
- $190
Novation Launchkey 37 Mk3
-
-
8
-
-
-
-
-
4
-
18
- $449
Arturia KeyLab 49 MkII
-
-
15
-
-
-
-
-
-
5

We ranked Akai MPK Mini MKII 25 #1 in May 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:
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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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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We ranked Akai Pro MPK Mini MK3 #2 in May 2022 because:

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

Best MIDI Keyboard Controller Under $200

Pros
First time MIDI Controller users loved the middle ground between simplicity and features the MPK Mini MK III brings. Users looking for an affordable MIDI controller with pads also made the MPK Mini MK III their first choice. 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. Those looking for great feeling, full size keys didn't like the Mini's smaller keys.

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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 May 2022 ranking

We ranked Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note #3 in May 2022 because:

  • 3 independent experts mentioned it in their “best MIDI Controllers” rankings.
Critic endorsements:
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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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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We ranked Akai Pro MPK249 #4 in May 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:
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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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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We ranked Arturia MiniLab MkII #5 in May 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:
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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Gearank

Best MIDI Keyboard Controller Under $200

Pros
From its stylish appeal, to the feel of its keys, and even on to its robust build, response to the Arturia MiniLab MKII continues to be highly positive. Music Radar confirms what most users say by describing it this way: "Amazing build quality, great keyboard". The quality of the bundled software also got a lot of commendations. And while this keyboard is meant for electronic musicians, even those who are into other musical styles chipped in with their good feedback.

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

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

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

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Spy

Best Budget MIDI Controller

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We ranked M-Audio Hammer 88 #7 in May 2022 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 #8 in May 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 Novation Launchkey 25 MK2 #9 in May 2022 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 Maschine Mk3 #10 in May 2022 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 Nektar Panorama P6 #11 in May 2022 because:

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

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We ranked Arturia Keylab 88 MKII #12 in May 2022 because:

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

Best MIDI Controller For Live Performance

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Gearank

Best MIDI Keyboard Controller Under $1000

Pros
Glowing reviews are all focused on how good the keys feel to the touch. One reviewer noted that the response feels similar to his Steinberg Grand Piano. A lot of the reviewers said they were more than happy with the amount of control they can get with the KeyLab 88.

Cons
While many found the keys to feel great, others found them to be a bit "spongy", particularly for players used to synth-action keys.

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We ranked Nektar Impact LX88 Plus #13 in May 2022 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 M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3 #14 in May 2022 because:

  • 2 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.

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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 NI Komplete Kontrol S88 MkII #15 in May 2022 because:

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

Best MIDI Keyboard Controller Over $1000

Pros
Users that want more dynamic response and touch sensitivity love the Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2's fatar keybed. 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.

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We ranked Roli Seaboard Block #16 in May 2022 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 Novation Launchkey 37 Mk3 #17 in May 2022 because:

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

Best Keyboard MIDI Controller

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We ranked Arturia KeyLab 49 MkII #18 in May 2022 because:

  • 2 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

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Gearank

Best MIDI Keyboard Controller Under $500

Pros
The KeyLab 49 mkII earns much of 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.

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