5 best MIDI keyboard controllers for live performance

by Vlad Turiceanu
Vlad Turiceanu
Vlad Turiceanu
Passionate about technology, Windows, and everything that has a power button, he spent most of his time developing new skills and learning more about the tech world. Coming... read more
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MIDI controller

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Whether you are an aspiring musician or a pro, a good MIDI controller can make the difference for your live performances. No matter your music style or performance venue, this versatile tool is an essential gear for the music world of our days. 

The MIDI controller is an interface that enables you to edit and customize a broad variety of sounds and electronic musical instruments.

The market has plenty of offers, so how do you know which one is best for you? We compiled a list of the best MIDI controllers for live performances to help you out. 

Note: Deals are subject to change. Keep in mind that the price tag often varies. We recommend going on the vendor’s website to check the price. Some of the products may be out of stock by the time you’ve made your purchasing decision. So, hurry up and hit the buy button.

Top deals on MIDI keyboard controllers for live performances

AKAI Professional MPD226

  • Free editing and production software bundle
  • Easy to use and connect
  • Fully-Assignable controls
  • Great price for value
  • No feedback on pads

This compact and versatile controller is praised for its flawless build quality, easiness to use, and is an excellent choice for live performances. Music creators focusing on beats or hip hop will be most pleased with this tool.

It does not require any manual mapping, has iOS connectivity, and comes with a comprehensive software suite. This product has an excellent price for value ratio and suits both beginners and advanced users.

Alesis V mini

Very compact
Covers all basics

Pad controls could be improved

Money should never stand in the way of your passion, and that’s why we’ve included this reasonably priced USB-MIDI controller, for sensible budgets.

This compact and neat music gear comes with pitch, modulation and sustains keys, 4 programmable rotary knobs, and a license to download editing software and Xpand 2 of Air music.  

If you need to switch patches or play synth parts as a band member, this could be the controller for you.

Arturia KeyLab MKII

  • Excellent quality and design
  • Seamless software integration
  • Rich in features and functionality
  • Comes with Analog Lab software
  • Unlocking extra instruments requires additional licensing

Coming from Arturia, famous producers of synthesizers and other modern-day analog sounds, this MIDI keyboard justifies its higher price by the broad functionality spectrum.

It has velocity-sensitive keys, 10 encoders, 9 sliders, and 10 assignable switches. With seamless software integration, aluminum casing, and 16 RGB performance pads, this is a top of the line MIDI controller. 

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It is available in 4 versions of key-counts, from Mini 25 to 25, 49, and 61 keys.

Novation Launchkey Mini

  • Beginner-friendly – just plug in your USB and it’s ready to go
  • Comes with Ableton Live Lite and Loopmasters sample pack
  • Very compact, ultra-portable
  • Budget-friendly
  • Smaller keys might take a while to get used to them

This MIDI Controller can bring a great advantage to live performances.

It is compact, has a neat design, can turn your iPod into a performance instrument for Mac or PC, and is specifically designed for Ableton Live. 

However, don’t let the compact size fool you, since with enough skill you can do plenty of musical wonders with it as well.

Roland 61-key MIDI Keyboard Controller

  • Many connectivity options: USB, 5-pin MIDI Connectors, DC In Jack, pedal jacks
  • Bundled Software available: Cakewalk Production Plus Pack
  • Very lightweight for its size
  • 45 assignable controls
  • Not ideal if you prefer weighted keys

Last but not least, we introduce you to Roland’s take on MIDI keyboard controllers.

This MIDI controller looks and feels like a serious piece of musical gear, and is destined to artists that still want to retain the feeling of playing a real musical instrument, but with the power of modern technology on their side. 

The controls offer a vast array of options and features, boasting a total of 45 knobs, buttons, sliders and other assignable components.

This beautiful piece of equipment has 8 Dynamic Pads for finger drum and enables you to control recordings as well.

A truly amazing controller, companion of some of the best live performances of our days.

No matter the level and music genre, MIDI controllers are here to stay, providing every musician out there with a broader range of functions than ever.

The product of your choice will depend on a variety of personal factors: the depth of musical technicality you need to approach, your budget, and of course, your personal feeling.

We hope this list helped you to narrow your search for the one perfectly compatible with you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • As long as the sound quality is good and you know how to use it, then yes. Check out this list of the best MIDI controllers for live performances.

  • It all depends on the model and your skill level. For more help, check out this list of the best MIDI controllers on the market.

  • Yes, a MIDI controller is required, but it also depends on what exactly you need to compose. Check out our top picks for MIDI controllers for Ableton and Cubase.