First MIDI keyboard


I have recently purchased Renoise after using the demo for a few weeks. Music production is very new to me. I purchased Renoise because it seems a powerful DAW for making drum & bass, and I’m having a blast so far.

I am looking at purchasing a small MIDI keyboard as i think it will be more intuitive instead of the computer keyboard. I would like to trigger notes in the sequencer (& chords), and use the keyboard to place slices of samples, (if possible).

As i have never done this before, i can foresee myself having difficulty if i chose the wrong product.
I have a few options I’m looking at, and would appreciate any feedback on if they are a good fit for the Renoise software and what i would use it for. they are…

Arturia Keystep - 32 key

Arturia Minilab mk11 - 25 key

Akai MPK Mini mk11 - 25 key

The Keystep initially appeals to me the most as it has 32 keys, slim profile. but i like the drum pads on the other 2 models, would they work easily in Renoise? but i also think a keyboard would work well for triggering drum sounds? Is there one particular model that i could ‘grow in to’ so would be a better investment?

Anyway, any advice from you guys that have seen it all would be appreciated.


I use OIS operating system.

1 Like

Welcome friend. Since you are a beginner i must point you to the right direction.Go for a 49 key midi controller and start learning how chords and scales work,YouTube is your friend.Now for the midi above i would go with the keystep but i hate mini keys.Believe me learning how music works with a full sized midi keyboard is the right way to go and its not that hard.Practice every day,like one hour a day and you will do wonders very soon,but do it every day.Also watch. tutorials on youtube about music arranging/composing.

1 Like

Seconded, go with full size keys. 49 will do you well… if you can find a 61 within your budget it will be worth it though, if you plan is also to learn other pieces/grow your key skills overall. I’ve had to switch octaves often when I had a 49, it can be quite frustrating

I have an Akai MPK Mini mk11; really like it. I like the size, and the assortment of keys + controls.

Don’t worry about learning to play a keyboard unless it seems important to the music you want to create.

Pick something that you will use, and help you get to the music you want.

Music works in a variety of ways; piano-style playing is hardly needed, especially if you are interested in D’n’B.

I’m not against learning music theory or learning to play a piano-style keyboard in the manner of traditional European "serious"music. But larger, more traditional keyboards take up more space, making them (for me) less likely to grab and use to make stuff.

A nice thing about DAWs and trackers is you can learn all about chords and counterpoint and stuff without having to be able to play it all live. Record in sections, play with the notes you record, experiment.


You raise a good point regarding keyboard playing not being quintessential to drum and bass production for the most part, but I disagree with this sentiment personally… I think so long as your battle station provides convenient and easily accessible placement for whatever keyboard you own, regardless of its size, a couple of feet in length isn’t going to discourage anyone from tinkering around.

If anything, even with drum and bass producing, I’d find it more of a slight nuisance to have to change the octave down on the controller or within the patch in order to reach the bass range as opposed to just already having that bass range available in front of you on a larger keyboard. That’s my lazy opinion, though

As much as I’d love a 49 plus size keyboard, I don’t ever see myself as Elton John, I really want it just for programming into the sequencer and hearing what chords sound like etc. I would rather go for a smaller option first and if I get to a stage where I feel I need a bigger and better unit then maybe I would invest.

I’ve seen a few comments from James in other areas praising the Akai mini, so maybe that’s where I’ll end up (for now). As I’ve never connected a midi device before I’m just concerned it will give me a headache.

Thank you all for your input, it’s given me more to think about.

Not being Elton John either, I still prefer minimum of 49 keys, because then you can smoothly “play” a bass + chords, or chords and melody. Starts to be hard from 37 keys and lower, at least if you are not Elton John.

1 Like

It will and has discouraged me. And I believe it will discourage at least a few other people.

I just don’t have the space. My work area has two monitors, a tape machine, a few USB audio things, and some room for a few synths and keyboards.

I agree that it’s terrific to have several octaves of room to move about in, and suspect that one will tend to create music that reflects the available tools. But in practice, for me, it’s just never been a problem because of how I work/compose. But, again, the tools I use may be driving various aspects of the music I make.

About two months ago I bought an Alesis Recital 88-key digital piano precisely because I wanted to improve my keyboard skills and create certain types of music. But I have rarely used it because I have to clear all sorts of space first, and I’ve been tending instead to grab a nearby smaller controller and run Renoise through a few different synths.

Perhaps one day I’ll have the space to just leave more equipment out and connected and ready to play. But right now there’s a lot of space-swapping going on.

Anyways, just more anecdotal data points.

1 Like

One of the tough things is that it’s hard to know what you’ll want or like until you’ve spend some time with a few things.

I like the Akai, but after using a digital piano with semi-weighted keys, I can see now how nice they are.

But in practice the key motion of the Akai wasn’t a real issue. (At least for my style of play.)


I have two Roli Blocks – the LightPad and the SeaBoard – and they get a lot more use than the 49 key Korg Triton Taktile in the closet. The SeaBoard has buttons to quickly change octaves if you’re into that, but I’ll often just pause, change octaves, restart the loop, and keep going. The LightPad is arguably more useful because it can switch from an Akai-style pad for drums & notes, then to a mixer with touch sensitive faders for when I need to fade tracks in and out.
If you have an iOS device, you can even use these controllers on your phone or tablet. Lotsa bang for the buck!

Hi, first post here.

Prior to signing up have read many posts on the forum about midi keyboards but this is a recent thread to bump and I think i’m in similar position to OP - new to Renoise and music production in general and am looking for midi keyboard for jungle/dnb. I’m also no Elton John!

I’ve been considering Novation Launchkey 37 Mk3 and Arturia Keystep 37. Wondering if anyone had any advice/recommendations. Do these both work ‘out of the box’ with Renoise? As a completely new user I quite like the idea of keys to play around with and the Launchkey has full size keys as opposed to mini ones on Keystep. So am leaning towards Launchkey.

However, I have found some 5+ year old threads on here about Launchkey Mk2 possibly not being compatible and using Duplex. Duplex doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2017. Any ideas on Mk3?

Also, the main takeaway i’ve got from reading up is to go for above 25 keys and at least 49 - however, not much discussion on 37. On Thomann the 37 is €169 (apparently reduced from €199) whereas the 49 is €219. Is the 49 really worth €50 more?

Any advice appreciated.

If you can afford it: Arturia Keystep Pro. It can act as an additional sequencer, which could be quite handy for DnB. You can even fix the velocity value, which is very important, when you`re not Elton John.

Thanks. I could possibly stretch to that but would be more than I had wanted to spend… Looking at the Keystep 37 again and it also has a 64 step sequencer. How would this sequencer compare to the Pro’s? (I’m a complete novice). I assume both Keystep 37 or Pro have full functionality with Renoise?

Nope. Everything the keyboard has as additional features you have to configure yourself for the usage of Renoise. Everything Midi related shouldn’t be the problem, though (it’s only data transfer). I don’t own a Keystep Pro, but a friend of mine does - as well as the Beat Step Pro. He’s a skilled musician. I’m always impressed, when he just uses those two controllers for jamming with a lot of soft synths and his Korg MS-20 Mini.
The CV and Gate options are unfortunately not compatible with Renoise.
You can use them for hardware synths or with Reason or other apps who support CV/Gate controls. However, you can have a lot of fun with those limited editions, too. Probably there will be firmware hacks, which may provide more features. If you just want to put in some notes, this sort of controller keyboards is surely too much overload. :wink: The best thing is, that for a smart range of plug-ins the midi settings of the selected plug-in will directly be loaded for further editing in the controller, which makes things a lot easier.

OK thanks. I think the keystep Pro is too much for me but leaning toward keystep 37.

Any other cheapish hardware ( <€100) worth getting to go alongside?

1 Like

I have a 49 key MIDI keyboard and i almost never use it as i don’t have the space for it and it gets in the way of my mouse and keyboard which is way more important to me. If i had a smaller one i could easily put it aside without it getting in the way, so for me that would have been a better choice.

I bought the keystep 37 recently and i can tell you its a good buy but in the long run if you stick and learn Renoise you will realize that the pc keyboard and mouse is unbeatable if you learn the shortcuts.Since you are a beginner start the right way and learn some music theory ,also i would highly recommend a bigger keyboard with 61 keys so you can start playing your favorite songs and in the process you will learn how songs are made which will make your music better.Youtube is your friend make the best of it


I have the Arturia Mini Lab MkII. This keyboard is great for the price. All 25 keys have a front spring spring and work quite well. All 8 pads are pretty good (although Arturia ridiculously only offers 7 RGB colors). In addition, the 16 wheels are 360º.
The worst thing about the keyboard are 2 things:

  • The potentiometers of each knob. You can tell that they are cheap and of poor quality. When you use the keyboard for several months, some wheels will work looser than others (bad use experience) and will end up failing due to dirt (when turning a wheel you can send wrong values, such as hitting jumps). You must take good care of your wheels. This is quite common on many MIDI controllers.
  • The heads of the keys. They are not circular but polygonal (it is better if they are circular). In addition, they come with a slightly rubberized coating. The best thing is that the finish is pure good quality plastic.

My advice. Avoid limited turning knobs. Avoid knobs that are not circular. Avoid finishes with a rubberized coat. It is better if it is high quality plastic.
What you will use the most are the keys. But I agree 100% with @Stoiximan. With a small MIDI keyboard, you won’t be able to play complex melodies, or use both hands extensively. With a keyboard of 37 or 49 keys later you will work very fair. Minimum of 61 keys. It is not a bad idea to buy little by little and improve the equipment.

The problem with buying cheap 61-key keyboards is that they are all shoddy. In general, you can find higher quality in well-equipped 49-key keyboards.

Lastly, don’t look at the markings. Look at the specific model. Most brands have good and bad products.

Don’t underestimate the second-hand market. Many users buy products and after a few months they sell them at half price or 40% cheaper. Some may be practically new.

Don’t forget the associated software… I mean the program itself to configure the MIDI controller.

1 Like

Thanks for advice. Yeah I think 37 would be good size for me to start off.

Unfortunately due to covid lockdown can’t try any out in a shop before buying to look at quality