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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!