Anybody can get a cheap midi keyboard, but the real challenge lies in being able to get the best one on a budget. Integrating a midi keyboard into your computer-based music making set up allows you to make DAW tweaks or odd plug-ins. A product has to incorporate some elements to give the best value for money.
How to choose the best midi keyboard for your needs
Midi Keyboard Size/Number of Keys
Make sure that you have enough space to accommodate your favorite cheap midi keyboard controller in 2017. Small soundless MIDI keyboard controllers have from 25 to 37 to 49 keys. Those with 88, 73 or 61 keys are categorized as large models. There are some models that have half-sized keys, and that are classifiable as mini keyboards.
Some expensive controllers have just 49 keys but the full-sized synth makes them look bigger than their actual key configuration. A midi keyboard controller will not produce sound, but it is effective at changing the impact of produced sounds from musical and sound-creating instruments.
A compact cheap midi keyboard controller does not have fully weighted keys, which an 88-key controller can have. The keys themselves are endowed with “weight”, and so are the key travel mechanisms. This enables them to respond in the manner that a real piano’s heavy keys would. But for the application that MIDI keyboards are designed for, weighted key action does not promote fast playing.
Little resistance is offered by an unweighted keyboard. In this configuration, the keys are springy and feel extremely light. Compact controllers are often semi-weighted, offering a bit more consistency and resistance, something that plenty of people like.
Velocity Sensitivity and Aftertouch
With velocity sensitivity transmission in a midi keyboard, you enjoy powerful and inspired playing. This element ensures that you can control the timbre and loudness of every note. Playing gets increased expression. Do check out products that offer velocity sensitivity.
Pressing the keys down after the initial strike activates the Aftertouch feature of the midi keyboard controller. Although most software synths do not incorporate this element, there are good ones that do. Two basic kinds of Aftertouch are in existence. Channel pressure or mono Aftertouch consists of a single data stream generated that affects every key on your midi channel.
Polyphonic is less common than mono. This type configures each key to send 127 values simultaneously to generate tons of MIDI data for higher range of produced sounds.
This ultra-compact keyboard controller is engineered for the desktop producer or traveling music artist. It is built with an array of hardware controls to enable recording, composing and performances using virtual instruments, Digital Audio Workstations and effect plug-ins, giving wider range of expressions in created sound and music, for inspired playing.
The midi keyboard boasts of 25 velocity keys with synth action, plus a four-way thumb stick to provide modulation manipulation and dynamic pitch. There are also eight back-lit velocity-sensitive MPC-style pads working with eight assignable Q-Link knobs for total sound enhancement. Two banks broaden the number of MPC-style pads to sixteen, enabling you to explore extended creative capabilities.
This device comes with all the essential components that can help you put forth your musical ideas and raise them to a much higher level. It comes bundled with virtual instruments and professional production software to enable instant music creation. AIR Music Tech’s Hybrid 3 can create anything from robust, retro synth sounds to avant-garde contemporary leads, plus everything in between. With MPC Essentials, musicians and producers can integrate genuine MPC workflow into their favorite DAW, effectively expanding the capability of the keyboard controller.
You can even start making music without a DAW, thanks to MPC Essentials.
A masterful hybrid mini keyboard is how music creators, producers and artists consider the Arturia MiniLab controller. The hardware keyboard is just half of what it is, as the MiniLab comes with a tremendous revolutionary software package. This opens huge possibilities for creating music and sounds. The MiniLab comes with a two-octave mini-key keyboard, plus no less than 16 dials and 8 pads on top to complete the main control set.
In addition, there are 4 function buttons plus 2 control strips to serve as modulation and pitch bend wheels, offering an interesting prospect of incredible capability. When you download Asturia’s exclusive Analog Lab software, you gain access to 5000 sounds sourced from its initial soft synths. These include MiniMoog V, a virtual MiniMoog that imitates the physical design of the MiniMoog Five and perfectly duplicates its sound. Prophet V is a soft synth maker for unique vintage sound.
The sounds of the Asturia MiniLab are outstanding and virtually stunning. They’re organized into a single database, so searching for sounds is always fuss-free whether based on a particular synth, genre or instrument type. This significantly improves your work pace. Sound quality is driven from the keyboard surface, and the listed parameters for each patch are perfect for any purpose.
Still don’t know where to find a good and cheap midi keyboard? Meet the M-Audio Oxygen 25 USB Pad/Keyboard MIDI Controller. It offers an array of assignable pads, knobs plus a fader to provide you with total software control. This allows you to stay within the creative flow of mixing and recording music without touching your mouse. The device has 25 velocity-sensitive keys that you can optimize to play bass lines, chords and melodies.
Tweak effect plugins and virtual instruments using the 8 assignable knobs. Activate samples and finger drumming using the 8 velocity-sensitive pads. Control master output or mix tracks using the assignable fader. The midi keyboard controller features dedicated transport controls plus track up and track down buttons that enable initiation of play, record and stop in a DAW setting via the keyboard controller.
Offering out-of-the-box integration, the Oxygen 25 goes well with widely-used digital audio workstations including Cubase, Logic, Pro Tools and Ableton Live. With DirectLink, the controls of the Oxygen 25 can instantly map to key parameters in your choice of DAW, which empowers you to tweak the transport windows, editors and mixers.
Do more with just a little. Use the Oxygen 25 for your next music production task or performance.
Oftentimes, size is not equivalent to performance. This holds true with midi keyboard controllers. There are plenty of compact models that offer so much in the way of potentials for music and sound production that they readily rival the music and sound creation capability of their larger counterparts. The best thing is they won’t break the bank to acquire.
Take the Akai Professional MPK MINI MKII Ultra-Portable USB MIDI Keyboard, with its 25 velocity-sensitive keys that unload tons of possibilities. Or the Arturia MiniLab 230401 MIDI Controller, a cheap midi keyboard with weighted keys that is packaged with a huge software package.
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