Recommend Me A Midi Keyboard!

Now that I have a decent day job, it’s time for me to think about buying a real midi keyboard!


  • $100 - $1000
  • 60 - 88 keys
  • Weighted, velocity-sensitive keys


  • Polyphonic aftertouch (might be hard to find in my price range)
  • Knobs, x/y pads, faders, etc.
  • Sexy design

I don’t care about on-board synthesis, since it’s just going to a controller. Now, recommend away! :drummer:

I’m sure you can find polyphonic aftertouch for under $1k! How much is that keyboard with the XYZ sensor on each key? Think it might be more $2-3k thinking about it… And I always personally preferred the Eigenharp over it anyway ;)

(Sorry for the really unhelpful reply. For pure keys I really wouldn’t know what to suggest. From your post I assume you want the most natural thing to play, rather than most/best features.)

in my opinion there is only one number one contender (which does lack an x/y-pad though) when it comes to sturdy really good quality midi controller and that is the akai mpk-series. though i would recommend to update the drumpas at

the respons and pressure while playing is really great, most other brands just feel plastic all the way… but will cost you around 400 euro

I have the Akai MPK-61, with upgrade pads from I can’t tell you enough how much I love this keyboard. Semi-weighted keys, drumpads, faders, knobs, arpeggiator, so much goodness. Available at for 377. The stock pads are not terrible, but after using the MPCstuff ones i will never go back. Changeout took me 30ish mins going slow and being careful. If you decide to get the MPK and want to change the pads, hit me up, I will help walk you through it.

The only midi capable poly aftertouch keys that i’ve seen in real life where on a couple different ensoniq boards. These are often fairly affordable but buying a crusty old on-the-verge-of-malfunctioning ensoniq solely as a general purpose midi controller isn’t a good idea at all. It’s a cool feature, but how many softsynths understand polyphonic aftertouch messages anyway?

the akai boards are nice and i wish i had one! maybe you could buy a seperate xy controller if you got to have one and still come in under a grand?

My 2 cents: since you’re willing to spend a considerable chunk of change on this (IMO, $1000 is a big purchase), you best route for a keyboard would be to find a decent, used electric piano with MIDI and supplant that with a cheaper knob-and-fader-only MIDI controller from Korg, or Akai, or whatever. Electric pianos - in contrast to MIDI controllers - tend to be made with pianists in mind rather than general producers, so there’s more attention to keyboard design; the downside (thus, the reason for buying a second non-key controller) is that they lack knobs and faders for RT control.

I use the Akai MPK61 and like it a lot for combining tweaky controls and keys, but if I had space and money I’d be using two controllers and fully weighted keys.

Thanks for the suggestions, guys. $1000 is a pretty huge chunk of cash for me too, I just wanted to put the ceiling high to keep my options open. The Akai MPK series looks like it’s exactly what I’m looking for…I’ll start saving up and see if I can find one to try out next time I make it into the city.

I currently use M-Audio Axiom 25 (there are 49-key and 60-key versions as well). While I’m not an expert on keyboards, my brother who is a pianist says it’s got a really nice feel. The keys are semi-weighted, and they do feel nice. It’s got 8 encoders and one slider (larger ones have +8 sliders), and 8 trigger pads. The pads are good. Encoders are endless rotating ones (what’s the correct term for this?) and they can be a bit hard to use. They change the step depending on how fast you move them, so if you turn them slowly, you can’t go from 0 to 127 in one turn, but if you turn them too quickly, they’ll go right through the roof in quarter of a turn. Once you get used to it, it’s got its uses, though. I don’t know what polyphonic aftertouch is, but this keyboard does have aftertouch. LCD is large and clear, and you can easily program the keyboard from the device itself.

Design is also solid, and it’s rubber footing nicely grabs onto the surface so it doesn’t move a bit while playing. It also has rubber bumpers on the side.

say you’re holding down a c minor chord and you decide the d# needs a bit of vibrato (for instance) to really set things off. you can keep your hand on the chord but just press a bit harder on the d# and only that d# gets vibrato. everything else stays the same. without polyphonic aftertouch, if you do this the same modulation is activated for everything.

polyphonic aftertouch is truly awesome and feels completely natural, actually. but is a sort of rare capability and since most folks rarely worry about applying modulation to individual notes, outside of lead noodling, it is not a highly demanded feature either. quite useful for multitimbral split keys capable instruments though, as well as for very sensitive artists and bling mongers as well.

sorry for digging this up, i think about getting an akai mpk49 :)

does anyone know if i can use the drumpads with a sliced instrument ?
also, is it possible to assign buttons for recording piano sessions in renoise more comfortable ?
i would like to switch modes (esc) and start stop (space) the recording from the keyboad directly :walkman:

Yes you’re just going to have to assign the drumpads to a certain key/note.
You can basically assign any button to the record button inside Renoise, so yes.

I don’t know what you mean with that second question though.

This will be no problem, as vincentvc has already mentioned. The drum pads themselves will probably already be configured to output notes (aka “drum notes” in most controllers), or there will be a template you can use to quickly get started.

After looking at a photo of the MPK49, I see that it has transport control buttons for play, record, stop, etc. You can easily map these to Renoise’s transport controls, absolutely no problem.

mpk 49 user here. great keyboard.

marvelous !

thanks guys ^_^

Thanks again for all the suggestions guys. I decided to go with an MPK61. After using it for a little bit, here are my thoughts:

Seems to have a pretty solid build. I like the controls - it has everything I need, nothing more, nothing less. The control layout is also pretty intuitive. I was able to figure most things without the manual.

The drum pads seem great to me, it’s fun to jam out on them. People on other forums have complained about them not being as good as MPC, but I’ve never used an MPC so who knows.

The keys themselves are good, but the action takes some getting used to. As a pianist the action feels really strange - there’s too much resistance but not enough weight, if that makes any sense. It feels more like pressing on a tight spring than a real key. Because of this it’s hard for me to get a reliable range of velocities. I’m hoping I’ll get better with practice.

Besides the keyboard action though, I’m pretty pleased with it though. I would recommend it as a good multipurpose controller.

Yes, the ivory keys on a piano usually have a lot more mass so you feel more friction if you push them harder.
But you get used to it eventually. On the other hand you also don’t need to sustain too much tension on your fingers for subtle keypresses which is less exhausting in the end.

If I were you, I’d buy something from Novation! I happen to own their ReMOTE SL Compact 25 key MIDI controller. I don’t think you can buy this particular MIDI controller, but they have some new ones that are OUT OF THIS WORLD! Mine has a huge 2 line display that allows me to see both the parameters, and their values! I think I paid maybe $325 to $350 total for it, and I like it. It supports a lot of DAW software like Reason, Ableton Live, Motu Digital Performer, etc, and is very intuitive due to its exclusive “Automap” feature!