The world of music is full of amazing possibilities regarding creativity. Interestingly, music is something which is loved by everyone. Creating and composing this music does take a lot of work and thought. Several devices are involved in the creation of a single soundtrack. One of which is the MIDI controller that lets you control and compose music like a professional.
A MIDI controller looks like a piano, only with a lot more controls than a plain piano. It doesn’t necessarily produce sound when keys are pressed, but it acts as a controller for all your other devices such as the synthesizers or even the computer software. They are available in all sizes and can be used by music professionals and newbies for music creation and control.
What is a MIDI Controller?
MIDI is Musical Instrument Digital Interface which is essentially a data which can be perceived as an electric signal that is sent out by a device known as MIDI controller. The MIDI controller doesn’t produce a sound of its own, but it is used in collaboration with other musical instruments in order to control them collectively.
It is comprised of various controls such as knobs and sliders. It sends data signal information to the software, a synthesizer or hardware and hence controls the functioning. For producing a sound, the signals from the MIDI controller are used to trigger sounds from a corresponding musical instrument such as a synthesizer. These are available in small portable simple designs as well as the big bulky complex designs.
Top five reasons why you must buy a MIDI Controller
Though some people may have second thoughts about buying a keyboard with no sounds on it, they might think why not go for a synthesizer instead. Interestingly enough, a MIDI controller has a lot more scope of control to offer for your music production. All the hardcore music professional use it and MIDI signal generation is quite an important thing in music production.
So, here are the top five reasons that explain why you must buy a MIDI controller if call yourself a music lover or a music producer.
- Unparalleled control over DAW: Controlling a DAW music program through computer software can be a little hard. A MIDI controller, however, makes it easy by providing awesome and easy controls over the program. The knobs, sliders and the keys can be easily used to control the DAW, thanks to its compatibility to such kinds of music software and almost any music hardware devices.
- Easy recording and corrections: A MIDI controller does allow the recording of your sounds or even complete band performances. It is stored as the MIDI data. The best thing about this is that this MIDI data is editable. So, you can out the imperfections and edit the MIDI data and hence your music file. A MIDI controller does prove to be great in such a case.
- Can be used as any instrument: The best advantage of having a MIDI controller is that you do not limit yourself to the playing of just one instrument. Instead, a MIDI controller can be used to control and play many different instruments such as a piano, keyboard, wind, drum or a guitar. It doesn’t depend upon the type of MIDI controller you choose, it can sound like any instrument you like.
- Creating personal arrangements and orchestrations: Creating your own music arrangements is very easy with the MIDI controller. Most MIDI controllers come with almost every type of MIDI file for every kind of music. You can create your own orchestrations by adding in your own music section, adding a chorus or verse or changing the instrumentation. A MIDI controller lets you do all of that easily.
- Music sheet printing: The arrangements and music pieces created on the MIDI controller can be converted to music notations and be printed on the sheet. The MIDI signals are used to print the music notations on paper and store them for future use and references.
Factors to consider before buying a MIDI Controller
To choose the best MIDI controller for you from so many types of available models, you need to keep in mind some of the basic points that have been mentioned below.
- Controller Size: The MIDI controllers are available in small, compact and portable designs and also in large bulky shapes that offer a larger area of complex controls. Designs that lie in between the two are also available in plenty. Depending on the amount of area you have to spare for it, you will have to decide on what size would be suitable for you.
- Portability: If you have a small space, or if you are going to play and use it single-handed, or if you are a traveling musician, then you will need to take into account the portability factor too. Look for a design that is less bulky and is effectively small to carry around. There are many designs to choose from available from this category.
- A number of controls: Obviously, it’s a MIDI Controller, that shouts out loud for the presence of a large number of controls to control your software synthesizers or the DAW. Watch out for how much scope for control your MIDI control has to provide. Knobs, keys, sliders, faders, buttons, finger drums, etc. are some of the basic and you can keep looking according to your own requirements for the same.
- The quality of the drivers: A MIDI controller must be thoroughly checked for the driver quality before making the final purchase. It sometimes occurs that the controller seems all fine and durable on the outside but is composed of ill-standard drivers that result in the software crashes and time disturbances. To make sure that doesn’t happen, look out for a MIDI controller with quality drivers installed in them.
- Software Integration: Basically, a MIDI controller works with a software program such as a DAW in a computer or a separate hardware device such as a Synthesizer. However, it is important that your MIDI controller provides smooth software integration since that is the area it will be used the maximum. So, this feature must essentially be supported by your controller.
Top 4 Best MIDI Controller Reviews of 2020
1. Akai Professional LPK25
This is a powerful MIDI keyboard controller that executes great performance with a computer-based DAW or a sequencer and more. The key features of this MIDI controller are as follows.
- It is a 25-key USB MIDI controller.
- It has a portable design.
- It can be used for writing sessions, capturing ideas and studio use and is compatible with almost all kinds of music creation software.
- It comes with a built-in arpeggiator which is responsible for providing melodic inspiration and versatile patterns for modern music production.
- It enables a plug-and-play USB connection for Mac and PC.
- It doesn’t require any driver installation.
- It is perfect for Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, Studio One, Reaper, Digital Performer, Ableton, etc.
- This keyboard is USB-powered and hence no additional power cable is needed for this.
- It bears the sustain button, octave up and down, and tap tempo controls that effectively helps you bring your ideas directly to the hardware.
- It also includes editing software for Mac and PC.
- The keyboard’s MIDI commands can easily be customized to fit your workflow.
- It has total of 4 preset levels.
- The MIDI output channels over USB is 16.
- It operates on a power less than 100 mA, 5V DC via USB.
- The overall dimensions of this MIDI controller are 13.3 x 3.8 x 1.3 inches.
- The total weight of this MIDI controller is 1.41oz.
- It comes with a software CD, a USB cable and safety instructions and warranty information.
2. Alesis V49
It is a MIDI Controller by Alesis that is a perfect building block for music producers and great for control plug-ins and virtual instruments. The key features of this MIDI controller are as follows.
- It offers seamless performance with visual feedback via illuminated buttons and knobs.
- It operates on USB power and enables USB-MIDI connectivity for Mac and PC.
- It has 49 full sized keys.
- It comes with 4 assignable knobs and buttons for manipulating effect plugins and virtual instruments.
- It is composed of 8 impact-sensitive backlit pads that allow you to launch clips or finger drum.
- It doesn’t require the installation of any additional drivers.
- It is compatible with a PC or Mac (OS 10.7, 10.8, or 10.9).
- It is compatible with a PC with Windows 7 or Windows 8, Multicore Processor and 2GB RAM.
- It has octave Up and Down buttons that let you access the full keyboard range.
- The pitch and modulation wheels on the controller deliver an expressive and creative control.
- The overall dimensions of this MIDI controller are 37.6 x 9.6 x 4.53 inches.
- The total weight of this MIDI controller is 8.4 pounds.
- It comes with a USB Cable, Ableton Live Lite (Download), Xpand!2 by AIR Music Tech (Download), a user guide and a safety and warranty manual.
3. M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV
It is a portable MIDI controller by M-Audio that offers larger software and hardware integration. It can be used to make music on the go or even implementing into any burgeoning studio. The key features of this MIDI controller are as follows.
- It has 49 full-size keys that are synth-action velocity-sensitive keys.
- It also has 8 velocity-sensitive trigger pads for beat production, clip launching, etc.
- It has total of 8 assignable knobs for manipulating virtual instruments and plugins.
- It has built-in 9 assignable faders that help you to mix with ease.
- It is composed of transport buttons that let you control your DAW without reaching for the mouse.
- The DirectLink automatically maps controls to popular DAWs such as Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase, etc.
- The also has an LCD screen that provides instant parameter feedback at every point.
- It also has a sustain pedal input for further creative control.
- It comes with Ableton Live Lite, SONiVOX Twist, AIR Music Tech’s Xpand!2, a USB cable, a quick-start guide, and the safety instructions and warranty information.
4. Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII
This is an ultra-compact MIDI keyboard controller by Akai that easily fits into a backpack or a studio workstation. The key features of this MIDI controller are as follows.
- It is composed of 25 synth-action mini keys.
- It has a 4-way thumbstick for dynamic pitch and modulation control.
- It features 8 backlit velocity-sensitive MPC-style pads with Note Repeat & Full Level.
- It also has 8 assignable Q-link control knobs for mixing, tweaking plug-ins, etc.
- It comes with a built-in arpeggiator with adjustable resolution, range, and modes.
- It is a USB-powered device directly from a computer and thus no power adapter is required.
- It comes with a full-sized sustain pedal input jack.
- It comes with an included software for download, MPC Essentials, SONiVOX Wobble, AIR Hybrid 3, a USB cable, a printed QuickStart guide, and printed safety instructions and warranty information.
- The overall dimensions of this MIDI controller are 12.36 x 7.08 x 1.8 inches.
- The total weight of this MIDI controller is 1.63 lbs.
The MIDI controllers have a large and an extended scope for control in the field of music creation and control. The controls available on this device are effective in helping you getting to the creation of your music through a DAW or any other device that you wish. Depending on which of the features suits you the best, you can go for the appropriate MIDI controller for your home or studio.