Find the best MIDI pad controller for your needs


The best midi pad controller will let you add drum beats and solos to all your recordings and live music performances. DJs can trigger danceable beats and guitar players can add drum solos to their songs. These midi controllers are usually compact, portable, and can add another layer of sound to any musical composition. It is an important piece of gear for anyone that wants to control their own effects and virtual instruments, and finding the right one can be difficult. Before you purchase a midi drum pad, there are a few factors that you should take into consideration. With this in mind, we have put together this buying guide that will help you find the best midi pad controller.

3.2 Akai Professional MPD26 USB-Midi Pad Controller

What to look for in buying a midi pad controller


Intended Use

There are several different types of midi pad controllers, and deciding on how you are going to use it can help narrow down your choices. A midi pad controller that is only used in the studio will be different than one that is designed for live performances. Other considerations include whether you just want to trigger samples, or control other virtual instruments.


Type of Pads

Midi controllers have two types of pads, touch sensitive or resistant. Pads that are touch sensitive will let you create and play drum solos, while the controllers that are less responsive are ideal for triggering samples. The right one for you will depend on your intended use, and personal preference.


Number of Pads

Most midi controllers include 8 or 16 pads that will give you a wide array of different sound combinations.  These controllers also include either 2 or 3 banks which will give you even more creative options. The numbers of pads that the controller has will also determine its size. This is another important factor to take into consideration, especially if you are working with limited space or planning to use the midi controller when you are traveling.



One of the most important features to consider is the interface on the controller. This is where you connect the midi pad controller to your computer and other music equipment. Almost all midi devices will include an interface for USB, and some will also include plugs for more complicated setups. This can include the ability to connect to other midi devices, including keyboards and audio equipment. It is also important to see if the connectors are included or if you have to purchase the adapters separately.

4.2 Akai Professional LPD8 Ultra-Portable USB Pad Controller


Not only do you want the midi pad controller to work with your other devices, you also want to make sure that it is compatible with your favorite software programs. If it is not, then you won’t be able to use it to control your existing musical instruments, or trigger tracks that you’ve already laid down. Some midi pad controllers also include professional music software already loaded, which will enable you to get started using the controller straight out of the box.



Akai Professional MPD 18 Compact Pad Controller

1.1 Akai Professional MPD18 Compact Pad ControllerAccording to midi pad controller reviews this device is designed to be used in the studio, and on stage. There are a total of 16 pads on the controller, that are sensitive to pressure and velocity. The midi controller is ideal for DJs, musicians, sound engineers, and even producers with its ability to give the tracks an expressive feel. It is compact for easy portability, and designed to fit into your existing setup.

The midi pad controller is compatible with almost all music software, and uses a USB interface for a quick connection to your Mac or PC. You get three different banks with the 16 pads, for a total of 48 sounds and effects ready to be triggered. You also get the added bonus of the Q Link controllers which lets you control all of your parameters in real time, along with the fader to use with your favorite settings. The midi pad controller also includes 16 presets, that are open ended so you can map each one to your soft and hardware. This will give you complete control over all aspects of your music from composing to recording.

The compact design is great for traveling, and the included USB cable lets you record anywhere with your computer. It can be used to trigger high hats, synths, drum rolls, and sequences all without having to install a driver. It is an affordable midi pad controller for any aspiring musician who wants to add more dimension to their music.

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Akai Professional MPD 24 USB/MIDI MPC Pad Controller

2.1 Akai Professional MPD 24 USB-Midi MPC Pad ControllerEven though this is not a new midi pad controller in 2018 it still remains one of the best for DJs and musicians. It is an easy to use midi controller that is responsive and expressive. The midi pad controller has 16 sensitive and responsive MPC pads, that can add a human touch to your recorded music. It includes real time capabilities, for complete control during live performances.

There are four different banks for 64 possible sounds that can all be easily triggered with just a touch of a pad. Set your parameters with the Q Link controllers so you don’t have to waste time playing with your computer mouse, and assign your favorites to the included fader. You also get the added bonus of a set of dedicated knobs for transport which gives you instant access to your favorite DAW or sequencing controls. Trigger drum solos and samples, and insert samples in real time with the fully assignable MPD 24 midi pad controller.

The USB interface is plug and play so you can instant connect to your PC or Mac. The midi controller also includes drum studio software, and is compatible with almost all music production programs. What makes this midi pad controller a favorite among DJs and musicians is its ability to connect and control other midi devices. It will work with midi keyboards and audio devices, along with any of your other musical equipment. With 64 possible sounds, 6 faders and 8 knobs that are all assignable, there is no limit to what you can create musically.

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Akai Professional MPD26 USB/Midi Pad Controller

3.1 Akai Professional MPD26 USB-Midi Pad ControllerThis is the best midi pad controller for both beginning and professional musicians. It includes everything that you need to get started, along with all of the features experienced musicians rely on for their recordings and performances. It includes a midi to USB interface to easily connect to your computer, and the pad controller is also compatible with other midi devices. Control your midi keyboard and audio equipment, and the music library and Ableton Lite software are already installed to help you get started.

There are 16 professional MPC pads that are pressure and velocity sensitive so you can trigger and play realistic drum solos in real time. There are four banks with different sounds for a total of 64 possibilities, and the included Q Link controllers let you set all of your parameters. There are six knobs and faders that are assignable, so you don’t have to spend time using your computer’s mouse. With the ability to set all of your favorite samples and effects everything is always right at your fingertips.

The midi pad controller features Note Repeat which lets you set a specified rhythm to be inserted on cue, this is ideal for DJs who are constantly changing the tempo and sound. The transport controls not only support control over other midi devices, it can also stop and play your recordings on command. The controller is compact and will fit in with all of your gear, and also includes a guide to help beginning musicians get started. Since you do not need to download a driver you can use the midi pad controller as soon as it’s connected to your PC or Mac.

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Akai Professional LPD8 Ultra Portable USB Pad Controller

4.1 Akai Professional LPD8 Ultra-Portable USB Pad ControllerMany midi pad controller reviews mention that this device can be easily customized to your specifications. It features a slim and sleek design that is easy to use, and includes everything you need to send midi controls. It is ideal for DJs who want to add more effects to their tracks, and trigger sharper effects during live performances. Since it can be used to control different midi devices, it is a great tool to use in the recording studio.

The eight touch and velocity sensitive MPC pads are framed by LED lights so you can easily find what you want during live shows. The MPC pads are designed to trigger quick samples and fast paced drum solos, while still giving your music more dimension than other technically enhanced compositions. The pads can also be used to switch notes and for quick programming changes. The 8 Q Links give you complete control over your parameters, and will let you save all of your favorites. There are also four memory banks that be used to save changes and programs from your software.

The slim midi pad controller is lightweight and can be used with all of your other gear and midi devices, and connects to your PC or Mac via USB. The included USB cable means that you don’t have to worry about downloading a driver. Since it is powered by USB, you also don’t have to look for an additional power source. The midi pad controller is easy for beginners to use, and includes all of the software to help you get started. Trigger effects and sharp drum beats, while also controlling other virtual instruments and see what you can create with the midi device.

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Steinberg CMC-PD DAW Controller

5.1 Steinberg CMC-PD DAW ControllerOne of the first things that you will notice is that this midi pad controller does not look or feel like other devices. The pads are extremely responsive, and can be used together with all of your other midi devices. It works especially well for sequencing beats and crisp drum solos, and it also can be used to control the different keys on your keyboard. Its professional appearance looks great on stage, and has all of the functions you need when you are recording.

The midi pad controller features LED lights that are colored coded to display the strength of the tap. Not only does this make it easy to see the pads when you are on stage, it also lets you keep track of hard you are hitting the pads. There is a pad that controls the velocity during recording, and it can be set at four different speeds. Move quickly through parts that you don’t want to change, and slow down when you need to listen more closely. The controller is also USB powered, and will work with your favorite DAWs.

The lightweight midi pad controller is easy to carry, and can be used to easily control other midi devices. There are 16 pads that are extremely responsive, and are designed to improve your live performances and studio playing. There are 8 banks that can be customized to your favorite parameters, and seven that are prefixed and set by the manufacturer. You also get one additional bank that is dedicated to Cubase. This lets you control drum solos and sequences to improve all of your musical recordings.

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Whether you choose a new midi pad controller in 2018 or one of the popular and proven older models there are a few factors that you need to consider. Where and how you are planning on using the midi device will be one of the most important things to decide before looking for a midi pad controller. Once you know how it will be used, it will be easier to decide on the number of pedals and extra features you’ll need. It is also important to make sure that the device is compatible with you current software, which is why we are recommending the Akai Professional MPD18 Compact Pad Controller and the Akai Professional MPD 24 USB/Midi MPC Pad Controller as two of the best midi devices for musicians and DJs. To learn more about these midi pad controllers please refer to our comprehensive comparison table.