MIDI keyboard controller recommendations?

Considering picking up a MIDI keyboard controller. Wow there’s a lot of them.

What I would be looking for:

  • Compact but with full size keys
  • Just a midi controller, no onboard synth required
  • Two octaves
  • MIDI is fine, does not need to be USB (won’t hurt though)
  • Inexpensive

Having trouble finding the combo of compact, full size keys, and inexpensive :slight_smile:


As an example the closest I have found is something like the M-Audio Keystation 49 which is relatively cheap, but is 3 octaves and larger than I wanted. Chopping an octave off that thing at a $40-50 price point would be pretty close to what I want.

I figured someone here would probably have a direct recommendation so I thought I’d just ask :slight_smile:

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I don’t have a recc of something I’ve actually used (my MIDI keyboard is verrryyyy ooollllllddddd), but this looks like it would meet your requirements?

And there are quite a few other options a hair more expensive than that, I see some Alesis Arturia and Akai stuff popping up on Sweetwater


That one is so close! But, mini keys. That’s the problem, all the cheap ones I am seeing with two octaves have mini keys.

Then there’s ones like this that are perfect, except they have more stuff than I need and bump the price way up.


Thanks though! I’ll keep looking. Not urgent at all but more long term.


Aah, I see. Yeah, mini keys doesn’t sound fun to me either.

I think you’re gonna have a hard time finding what you want for less than $80-100, in that case.

Plus, you can use those trigger pads to hit vocal samples of useful phrases you might need while practicing:
“I’m busy right now, can I talk to you in ten minutes?”
“I’m sorry [insert family member], I’ll turn down my amp”
“Yes, I’ll come to dinner soon”



Hmm now that you mention it that is kind of a useful feature :slight_smile:


@howard I am in the same boat looking for the appropriate Midi keyboard.

Although this is two years later the M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3 is a 4 octave Midi controller and looks like the best bang for the buck.
I would appreciate any input, or suggestions, from the forum before I make the purchase.

@howard Did you ever purchaase a Midi keyboard? If so, which one and your thoughts.


I went with an Alesis V49. Very happy.


Thank you for the reply.

@howard Any thoughts on the M-Audio Oxygen 49 (MKV)

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M-Audio has a good reputation for lower priced gear, and I love the control options on that one (much better than my V49). Full size keys too. Looks like a winner, but I have no experience with them so can’t say for sure - that’s going on features alone and M-Audio being generally well regarded for entry level gear.


Thank you for the input?

Initially I noticed you were considering the M-Audio Keystation 49. What changed your mind?


One turned up used at a good price, and I like Alesis as a brand. So checked the reviews, they were good, and it ticked all my boxes, so made the choice.


I understand.
Thank you, again.


I have an Akai Mini MKIII and I have no complaints. If I was gonna buy a full-sized controller tomorrow, though, that Alesis would be on my list. Sweet.


I personally prefer Novation and Akai controllers. Novation because of ridiculously tight integration with Ableton and Akai key beds were always a bit better than their competitors in their price range. I used to have M-Audio Oxygen and the keys on that thing were like a jelly. :X


If money were no object there’s always Arturia KeyLab :slight_smile:


Yeah, the triumvirate of NI, Novation and Arturia made my head hurt when deciding for a new master keyboard a few months back.

Kontrol by NI is neat for Komplete nerds. I have only the Standard edition and tbh. I am not using it outside of Maschine anyways. But for NI maniac without Maschine? And Fatar keybeds are awesome!

Arturia is the most universal and as always Arturia delivers well built controller with a huge array of DAWs supported. The Analog Lab soft alone is worth a purchase of cheaper Arturia controller.

Novation SL MK3. Definitely the worst keybed. Tight Ableton integration. And onboard poly sequencer, arp etc. . Available only in max 61 keys version. But it’s possible to sequence a whole track without a pc even connected. My winner.

… And IMHO this is how a person should decide on a controller. There’s a decent standard of functions available on every controller nowadays. Just sum up your needs and desires and then pick one that is acceptable for your wallet. Alesis, M-Audio, Arturia … controllers are one of those things where paying more is absolutely intertwined with the amount of nonsense one comes with when thinking about his future controller.


Thank you to all for the input

I was offered the M-Audio Oxygen 49Key MKV with M-Audio sustain pedal for $100 new, which is about 1/2 price, so I decided to pull the trigger on that.

This is my only cost to date and the only other thing I may do is update MuseScore to Crescendo for the software once I know what the additional advantages over MuseScore are.

I just pray this is not a rabbit hole I am going down with transcribing :slightly_smiling_face: :slightly_smiling_face:


I don’t do MIDI, traditionally.

I have an Yamaha electronic sax (for hotel work travel practice) which is essentially a MIDI controller.
I have a 6-switch MIDI foot switch which I use to control Stop/Play/Record in Abelton when standing across the room.
I have a 2-switch MIDI foot switch that sends commands to my C4 Synth to cycle through the 128 onboard memory slots of synth patches.

Hmm, I guess I fell in the MIDI rabbit hole after all……crap.

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Quite a bizarre statement really, equivalent to saying “I have no interest in using a large class of instruments.” There’s a whole lot of virtual instruments out there, and they are all controlled by MIDI :slight_smile:

MIDI is just a protocol. It would be kind of like saying “I don’t do TCP/IP, traditionally.”

Good :slight_smile: