If you are starting out with your home recording studio, you will at some point need to get a MIDI Keyboard to start recording sound samples, virtual instruments or effect plugins. A MIDI Keyboard is essentially a simple keyboard with piano keys that allows you to easily record any kind of instrument or sound effect with your DAW software, and many of these MIDI keyboards are compatible with popular DAWs such as FL Studio or Logic Pro X.
Having a MIDI keyboard is definitely much better than recording melodies and harmonies using your mouse, and the good thing is that you can record virtually any instrument such as guitar, bass, sound effects or synths with the keyboard (without actually having to use an actual instrument). In short, you can use a MIDI Keyboard to:
- Record virtual instruments like guitar, piano, bass and more without an actual instrument on your DAW
- Record digital synthesizers and add melodies and harmonies to your mix
- Record drums and beat tracks (for MIDI keyboards with drum pads)
- Automate effect plugins with knobs and faders so that you can customize each track
For beginners, we highly recommend linking up your MIDI Keyboard with Logic Pro X and make use of the Alchemy Synth synthesizer which allows you to create tonnes of melodies and harmonies that you can add to your mix (Logic Pro X comes with a large instrument library by default which allows you to record virtual instruments immediately). In fact, some MIDI keyboards such as the AKAI Professional Mini MK3 also comes with drum pads which makes it easy to add drum beats to your music. If you are just starting out with your home recording studio, please read our guide on getting started.
Here are some of the best MIDI keyboards that we highly recommend for beginners that are very easy to setup and are compatible with popular DAWs.
1. AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3
Hands down one of the best MIDI keyboards for beginners…
The AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 is a compact, USB-powered MIDI controller designed specifically for beginning level music production and beat production. It is equipped with 25 mini MIDI keyboard velocity-sensitive keys, catering to studio production, virtual synthesizer control, and beat production. A really good feature of this controller is its innovative 4-way thumbstick for dynamic pitch and modulation control. Additionally, it includes a built-in arpeggiator with adjustable resolution, range, and modes, enhancing its capability for creating complex musical patterns and effects. This MIDI Keyboard also comes with 8 backlit velocity-sensitivity MPC-style MIDI beat pads with note repeat and full level for programming drums and triggering samples, making it a very versatile MIDI keyboard with both the keyboard and drum pads.
The MPK Mini MK3’s compact size and USB-powered design make it highly portable and convenient for small studio spaces or on-the-go production. This MIDI Keyboard also comes with eight 360-degree knobs which you can assign to all your music studio plugins for mixing, tweaking synth controls and more. We liked that this MIDI Keyboard comes with a complete music production starter kit including MPC beats, 6 virtual instruments and 2GB of sound content for music production.
When compared to other MIDI keyboards like the Novation Launchkey Mini or the Arturia MiniLab MkII, the MPK Mini MK3 stands out with its MPC-style pads and the unique 4-way thumbstick. The Novation Launchkey Mini, for instance, focuses more on integration with Ableton Live, while the Arturia MiniLab MkII offers more knobs and faders but lacks the iconic MPC pads. The MPK Mini MK3’s combination of keys, pads, knobs, and an arpeggiator positions it as a versatile option that makes it compatible with almost all well-known DAWs including Logic Pro X and Ableton Live.
For beginners, the AKAI MPK Mini MK3 comes highly recommended due to its comprehensive feature set and the inclusion of a Complete Music Production Starter Kit. This kit includes MPC Beats, 6 Virtual Instruments, and 2GB of sound content, offering a solid foundation for those starting in music production. Its plug-and-play design and intuitive drum keyboard and drum controls makes it a suitable choice for starting musicians looking to explore various kinds of music production without the need for complex setups or additional hardware.
2. Donner DMK25 Pro MIDI Keyboard
One of the best MIDI keyboards with a tonne of professional features…
The Donner DMK25 Pro MIDI Keyboard Controller is a versatile MIDI Keyboard designed for beginner musicians. This MIDI controller features 25 mini, velocity-sensitive keys, offering an intuitive playing experience for creating melodies and bass lines. It also features an intelligent dynamic scale mode (16-scale tones) which enables seamless switching between various musical genres, making it suitable for diverse musical explorations. Additionally, it includes real-time multi-mode control functions like arpeggiators, note repeats, and chord functions, which enhance creative expression and music production.
One of the key strengths of the DMK25 Pro is its build quality, which is considered durable compared to other mini MIDI controllers. It includes responsive drum pads, lightweight construction, and user-friendly features like plug-and-play compatibility with major DAWs. However, the use of mini keys may not suit all users, and the velocity sensitivity of the keys may not be consistently accurate.
In comparison to other MIDI keyboards like the Akai Mini MK3, Arturia Mini Keylab, and Novation Launchkey Mini, the DMK25 Pro offers unique advantages. For instance, it has transport controls and a transpose button for more advanced mixing and are features not present in the Akai Mini MK3. The build quality of the DMK25 Pro is also superior to that of the Arturia Mini Keylab. While the Novation Launchkey Mini is favored for its 16 pads and bundled software, the DMK25 Pro stands out for its solid build and responsive pads.
Furthermore, the Donner DMK25 is compatible with a wide range of DAW software including Cubase, Live, Logic Pro, Pro Tools, Studio one and more.
The Donner DMK25 Pro is particularly suitable for beginners due to its comprehensive features that facilitate easy learning. It offers 40 free keyboard-teaching courses, making it an ideal choice for those starting from scratch in music arrangement and production. The high-definition OLED can also show specific parameters such as arpeggio, velocity, speed, and other functions in real time to make arranging and creating timbre soundtracks better. However, the limited number of mini keys might not be ideal for advanced players seeking a broader range of notes. Having said that, it is still a great MIDI Keyboard to get for beginners.
3. Novation FLkey 49 MIDI Keyboard
Hands down the best MIDI keyboard for beginners starting with FL Studio…
The Novation FLkey 49 MIDI Keyboard is a great choice for beginners learning FL studio as it is designed to integrate directly with FL Studio. The keyboard features a full-sized keybed with dedicated controls for the mixer and channel rack in FL Studio – it comes with 49 semi-weighted keys, 16 velocity-sensitive pads, nine 45mm faders, and eight customizable pots which provide a tactile music production experience. This MIDI keyboard is specifically designed for controlling various FL Studio parameters, and comes with dedicated controls for the mixer and channel rack, with the ability to control volume and pan.
One of the standout features of the FLkey 49 is its Pattern Pad mode, which maps the keyboard’s pads to FL Studio’s step sequencer for fast and efficient beat programming. This feature along with the Score Log button for retrospective recording makes it very easy to control the music production workflow. The keyboard also includes transport controls, undo/redo, quantize, and a metronome toggle, and is a relatively easy keyboard to learn to use.
In comparison to other MIDI keyboards, the FLkey 49 is particularly tailored for FL Studio users. While it works with all DAWs as a regular MIDI keyboard, its specific design for FL Studio integration may not be as advantageous for users of other DAWs. The pads are noted to be responsive, though I personally prefer them to be larger or more spaced out. It also lacks an arpeggiator which makes synthesizing chords harder.
Overall, the FLkey 49 is highly recommended for beginners learning FL Studio due to its deep integration with the DAW. Its ease of access to controls and the ability to sequence directly from the keyboard streamline the music creation process in FL Studio. The keyboard’s expressive keys and pads, along with the included trial of FL Studio Producer Edition and other bundled DAW software, make it good value for money option.
4. Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 25-Key Keyboard
A highly portable MIDI keyboard for Apple Logic or Ableton Live…
The Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 25-Key Keyboard is a compact and lightweight MIDI keyboard that is designed for beginner musicians. It has 25 mini keys that are velocity-sensitive and 16 RGB backlit pads that are perfect for triggering clips and playing drums. The Launchkey Mini also has eight rotary knobs, pitch and mod touch strips, and a sustain input. The mini keymech is the finest to date, making it easy to play and control your music at the touch of your fingertips.
One of the standout features of the Launchkey Mini is its integration with Ableton Live. The keyboard has deep and intuitive control when paired with Ableton Live, including device macro control, track select, record, capture MIDI, clip and scene launch, stop/mute/solo, volume, pans, and sends. This makes it easy to get hands-on with Ableton Live and have a seamless music-making experience with deep control over your DAW at the touch of a button.
Another great feature of the Launchkey Mini is its arpeggiator. The arpeggiator is easy to use but deeply controllable, allowing you to change rhythm, beat, pattern, octave and gate to add a whole range of diversity to your ideas and musical melodies. This makes it easy to get creative and come up with new and interesting musical ideas while composing on the go in an impromptu setting.
The Launchkey Mini is also great for travelling and jamming on the go. It is bus-powered, which means you can use it anywhere without needing an external power source. You can also send apps and program changes to your hardware synths with MIDI Out, or add keys to your Groovebox directly over MIDI. We also liked the Launchkey Mini’s lightweight and compact design which makes it easy to carry around if you are not composing at home.
Overall, the Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 25-Key Keyboard is an excellent MIDI keyboard for beginners. It has a range of features that make it easy to get hands-on with your music and come up with new and interesting ideas with your music while composing on Ableton Live and adding synths and melodies. When we compared it to other MIDI keyboards, we found that it stood out for its integration with Ableton Live and its arpeggiator. If you are looking for a compact and lightweight MIDI keyboard that is easy to use and packed with features, the Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 25-Key Keyboard is definitely worth considering.
5. M-WAVE 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller
For those looking for a MIDI keyboard with wireless connectivity…
The M-WAVE 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller is a compact and versatile instrument designed for beginner musicians. It features 25 velocity-sensitive keys and provides a responsive playing experience. The keyboard includes 8 backlit drum pads, enhancing its utility for beat-making and sample triggering. Additionally, it comes with 8 assignable rotary encoders and 2 capacitive touch stripes for precise control over studio plugins, tweaking synth controls and more.
One of the standout features of the M-WAVE is its wireless Bluetooth connectivity. This feature allows for a clutter-free setup and greater mobility, especially beneficial for musicians who use laptops, tablets, or smartphones in their workflow. The keyboard’s compact and portable design, combined with a semi-weighted professional dynamic keybed, makes it very easy to setup and power on. This makes it an ideal choice for those who need a portable controller that integrates with Windows, Mac OS and are compatible with all digital audio workstations including Ableton Live, FL Studio and Logic Pro X.
With that said, the M-WAVE does has some limitations. Its 25-key range might be restrictive for advanced pianists or musicians requiring a broader range of octaves for complex compositions. Also, compared to larger MIDI controllers, it may lack some advanced control options such as faders and additional knobs or pads.
Having said that, the M-WAVE is well-suited for music production, live performance, and DJing. Its user-friendly design, including clearly labeled buttons and knobs, makes it very intuitive for beginners to use. The durable build quality ensures it can withstand regular use, making it a reliable option for various musical compositions.
Overall, the M-WAVE 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller is one of the best MIDI keyboards for beginners due to its wide functionality, portability, and ease of use. Its wireless connectivity and compact design make it an appealing choice for musicians and producers who want a tidy workspace without the need for excessive wiring. While it may not satisfy the needs of advanced players seeking a wider key range or more comprehensive controls, it is a strong option for those starting out or needing a compact, versatile MIDI controller.
6. M-Audio Oxygen Pro 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard
A really compact MIDI keyboard with beat pads…
The M-Audio Oxygen Pro 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard is a well-equipped and versatile MIDI controller designed for beginners. It features 25 full-size, semi-weighted keys with aftertouch, offering a responsive and professional-feeling keybed. The keyboard also includes 16 touch-sensitive pads which make it ideal for beat production, clip launching, and sound triggering. Additionally, it is equipped with 8 rotary controllers for tactile control over virtual instruments and DAW parameters. The Oxygen Pro 25 supports USB and traditional 5-pin MIDI out connectivity and includes a sustain pedal input, which is really useful if you want to play virtual piano using this MIDI.
One of the key advantages of the Oxygen Pro 25 is its comprehensive feature set, which includes an arpeggiator with various modes and controls, Smart Chord mode for easy chord playing, and Smart Scale mode to help avoid wrong notes. These features enhance its versatility and usability in music production. However, it lacks faders, which might be a limitation for some users who prefer more physical controls for mixing.
When compared to other MIDI keyboards , the Oxygen Pro 25 stands out for its rich features and MIDI keyboard essentials and beat maker mainstays. For instance, it offers more pads than the Akai Professional MPK Mini MK3 and a more advanced keyboard compared to similarly sized controllers. However, it might not offer as many control options as larger MIDI controllers, which sometimes include more faders and knobs.
On the whole. the M-Audio Oxygen Pro 25 is highly recommended for beginners due to its user-friendly interface, including well-implemented DAW integration and auto-mapping features that simplify the process of controlling DAWs and virtual instruments. The inclusion of a premium software suite, featuring Ableton Live Lite and other music production software, provides beginners with valuable tools to start their music production journey easily straight out of the box with minimal guidance.
7. Arturia MiniLab 3 25 Keys Universal MIDI Controller
A really good universal MIDI keyboard for music production…
The Arturia MiniLab 3 Alpine Universal MIDI Controller is a compact and feature-rich MIDI keyboard, and gives you more control over your music mixes. This controller is equipped with 25 velocity-sensitive slim keys, providing a responsive playing experience. Additionally, it includes 2 banks of 8 high-quality RGB backlit pads that are velocity-sensitive which are ideal for beat production and sound triggering. The MIDI keyboard also features 8 rotary encoders, 4 sliders, and built-in arpeggiator, hold, and chord modes, making it versatile for various musical compositions. For connectivity, it has a USB-C port and MIDI out, catering to both modern and traditional setups.
One of the notable pros of the MiniLab 3 is its portability combined with robust features, making it ideal for mobile musicians and producers. Its integration with major DAWs like Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Reason, Bitwig, and FL Studio enhances its usability in different music production environments. It a great MIDI keyboard designed for both beginners and for pros as it allows you to tweak every aspect for your mix in an instant. It also comes with included software such as the MiniLab 3’s Ableton Live Lite which can help you get started right away.
When compared with other MIDI keyboards such as the Akai Professional MPK Mini MK3, the MiniLab 3 offers a similar range of features but stands out with its inclusion of a MIDI out port and the Analog Lab software, which hosts Arturia’s synth engines and provides a comprehensive preset library. This integration adds significant value to the MiniLab 3, particularly for users looking for a wide variety of sounds and effects to add to their mix.
For beginners, the Arturia MiniLab 3 is an excellent choice due to its user-friendly interface and the inclusion of a comprehensive software package. It comes with notable software like Analog Lab V, Ableton Live Lite, UVI Model D, and NI The Gentleman (for balanced piano tones), providing a solid foundation for those starting in music production. The controller’s design and functionality make it easy for newcomers to learn and experiment with different aspects of music production.
8. Nektar SE25 USB MIDI Controller Keyboard
A really good budget-friendly MIDI keyboard…
The Nektar SE25 USB MIDI Controller Keyboard is a compact and lightweight MIDI controller designed for beginner musicians with only 25 keys. It measures approximately 13.2 x 3.9 x 0.8 inches and weighs about 0.9 pounds, and is one of the most portable MIDI keyboards we have ever tested. The SE25 features 25 mini keys and includes essential controls like octave buttons and a sustain button to add to the mix. This MIDI keyboard also comes with a Micro-USB port for connectivity.
One of the main advantages of the Nektar SE25 is its portability combined with a range of features that are impressive for its size. It also comes with Nektar DAW integration for most popular DAWs such as Pro Tools and FL Studio, and is compatible with both Mac, PC and iOS. However, there are some minor build quality concerns, such as misaligned feet, which might lead to slight movements during use (if you are pushing down on too many keys at the same time).
When compared to other mini MIDI keyboards, such as the Akai Professional MPK Mini MK3 or the Arturia MiniLab, the Nektar SE25 is clearly designed to be more portable and straightforward to use. Unlike the Akai MPK Mini MK3, which includes features like drum pads and knobs, the SE25 focuses on the essentials, making it less complex but also less versatile. In contrast, the Arturia MiniLab offers more extensive controls and integration with Arturia’s software suite, which the SE25 lacks.
The SE25 is particularly suitable for beginners or those needing a simple, effective MIDI controller for basic tasks. Its integration with most major DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) and its straightforward layout make it a user-friendly option for beginners new to music production. The Nektar SE25 includes Bigwig Studio 8-track DAW and sound content package to help beginners get started.
In summary, the Nektar SE25 offers a balance of portability and universal compatibility, and ease of use, making it an appealing choice for beginners or those seeking a simple, travel-friendly MIDI controller. It is a really basic MIDI Keyboard that works straight out of the box and comes with comprehensive MIDI functionality and is compatible with virtually all MIDI software including Pro Tools and Logic Pro X.
9. Vangoa MIDI Keyboard Controller 25 Keys
A portable MIDI Keyboard for beginners with drum pads…
The Vangoa MIDI Keyboard Controller 25 Keys is a compact and feature-rich MIDI controller designed for beginner musicians and home recording studios. This ultra-compact keyboard is USB-powered and offers plug-and-play capability, making it ideal for on-the-go music creation.
The Vangoa MIDI Keyboard includes 25 velocity-sensitive keys, 8 knobs, and 8 sliders, along with 4 memory banks, program, mod, and octave buttons. These elements are within easy reach, allowing for quick adjustments and instant recall of personal control preferences. One of its distinctive features is the 7 RGB color drum pads, which are assignable via an editor, providing rich visual feedback and adding an aesthetic appeal to the music-making process. All you have to do is to map each key to your DAW software and you can concentrate your efforts on music production.
When compared to other MIDI keyboards such as the Akai Professional MPK Mini MK3, the Vangoa MIDI Keyboard offers a similar range of features but stands out with its visual feedback capabilities through the RGB drum pads (the drum pads has 7 RGB colors which are assignable via the editor). However, the Akai MPK Mini MK3 might provide a more intuitive layout and better integration with digital audio workstations (DAWs), making it more suitable for advanced users.
The Vangoa MIDI Keyboard is particularly recommended for beginners due to its intuitive layout, ease of use and mini drum pads. Its portable design, combined with comprehensive control options, makes it an accessible tool for those starting out in music production. We also liked the fact that this MIDI keyboard is somewhat elevated which adds relative comfort for your hands (it has 4 durable silicone pads underneath which offer a stable performance).
Overall, the Vangoa MIDI Keyboard Controller 25 Keys is a practical choice for those seeking a portable, versatile, and user-friendly MIDI keyboard. It is very beginner friendly MIDI keyboard and is essentially plug and play with USB powered input and comes with all the knobs and sliders for you to enhance your audio mix.
10. Arturia MiniLab MKII Inverted MIDI Controller
A versatile MIDI keyboard with a tonne of intuitive controls…
The Arturia MiniLab MKII Inverted MIDI Controller is a compact MIDI keyboard designed for beginner music production. It features a 25-note velocity-sensitive slim keyboard, which provides a responsive and expressive playing experience. The keyboard includes two banks of eight high-quality, velocity and pressure-sensitive pads with RGB backlighting, which are useful for triggering samples and sequencing. Additionally, there are 16 rotary encoders, with two of them being clickable, offering hands-on control for virtual instruments and DAWs. This MIDI Keyboard also has a cool inverted color scheme which gives it an aesthetic appearance.
In terms of connectivity and integration, the MiniLab MKII offers two capacitive touch sensors for pitch bend and modulation, a sustain pedal jack, and octave up and octave down buttons for full range control. The device is USB powered and class compliant, meaning it doesn’t require exterior drivers for installation and is compatible with both Mac and PC. This MIDI keyboard has size of 14 x 8.7 x 2 inches and a weight of 3.3 lbs, making it one of the more portable MIDI keyboards you can find.
Comparatively, the MiniLab MKII stands out for its unique inverted color scheme (which gives it a very unqiue appearance) and the inclusion of high-quality software such as Analog Lab Lite, Ableton Live Lite, and Grand Piano Model D. This software bundle adds significant value, especially for beginners or those looking to expand their virtual instrument library without the need to get additional effect plugins and synths. The MiniLab MKII is suitable for those who prefer a compact, modulation-focused controller, while a more advanced option like the Komplete Kontrol M32 appeals to those needing a wider key range and deeper integration with Native Instruments’ software ecosystem.
For beginners, the MiniLab MKII Inverted is an excellent choice due to its user-friendly interface, compact size, and comprehensive software bundle. It comes with a really nice inverted color scheme which makes it look aesthetic, and also has intuitive controls which allow you to master your DAW, plugins and instruments on the go. The keyboard is somewhat larger and more expressive, and it gives you more control over the mix and effects than you would get with a smaller controller. It also comes with Ableton Live Lite and Grand Piano Model D which you can use to start composing notes and virtual instruments right away for your audio mix.
If you are just starting out with your home recording studio, be sure to check out our guide on how to pick the best audio interfaces and DAW software for beginners – the audio interface will act as the interface between your microphones and DAW, while your MIDI Keyboard will be connected to the computer with the DAW software such as Logic Pro X or FL Studio where you can add sound effects, plugins and synths to create an engaging mix. You may also want to check out our details guides on: