M-Audio Keystation 61 II
The M-Audio Keystation 61 II is the best 61 key midi controller if you want a lightweight and compact keyboard with full sized velocity sensitive keys. It also has pitch and modulation wheels and octave controls.View on Amazon
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Midi controllers are basically keyboards that send midi signal to some sort of midi compatible sound module. This sound module then produces sound by amplifying the signal through a speaker. The midi controller doesn’t actually create musical sounds itself but itself sends signals out to be processed and then played. While anything can be a midi controller, including a drumpad, most people refer to midi controllers as midi keyboards because they are the most common.
Typically, midi keyboards range from as low as 25 keys all the way up to 88 keys. The 61 key midi controller is what we will be focusing on in this article. For those who are into recording music, you are better off with more keys because you need the range. This is quite important in genres such as jazz, blues, and classical music where you need the extra room.
With the best 61 key midi controller, you should look for keyboards with weighted keys or velocity sensitive options. This makes it more pleasant to play with your fingers and helps you control the attack envelopes of the notes. The feel and spacing of the keys is important as well in terms of how you play. While this is not as important when you are producing music, it is quite important if you are trying to record live.
You should also look at features that will make you use your controller more efficiently. With 61 key midi controllers, there can be transport controls that allow you to play and rewind your music. There can be functions to add various effects and drumbeats. Also, you should look for the number of connections and the software compatibility. Ideally, you want to be able to connect your 61 key midi controller to a computer.
Best 61 Key Midi Controller
- M-Audio Keystation 61 II
- Novation Launchkey 61
- Nektar Impact GX61 Controller
- Behringer U-Control UMX610
- Akai Professional MPK261
M-Audio Keystation 61 II
We think the M-Audio Keystation 61 II is the best key midi controller for those who want velocity sensitive keys with a lightweight and compact unit. M-Audio is a very trustworthy manufacturer of midi equipment and we vouch for all M-Audio equipment in terms of reliability.
The Keystation 61 II is very smooth and allows you to fully express emotion when attacking the keys. The velocity sensitive keys are very well programmed and have semi weighted action, which makes them feel like playing an actual piano.
Additionally, you have a nice slew of basic features and controls to modify the MIDI signals. You have pitch and modulation wheels, octave range buttons, a volume slider, and a stop, play, and record buttons. The M-Audio Keystation 61 II is powered by USB to your computer. It also includes some virtual instrument software for free.
All in all, we like the lightweight design on this 61 key midi controller. It is very easy to play on and features full sized velocity sensitive keys. Although there are not crazy amounts of controls, the feel of the keyboard makes up for it.
– Lightweight and compact
– Pitch and modulation wheels
– Octave controls
– 61 Full sized velocity sensitive keys
Novation Launchkey 61
The Launchkey 61 is the best 61 key midi controller if you want a keyboard with tons of controls and features. The Novation Launchkey 61 is made to be played with Abelton live. This fully decked out 61 key midi controller is more suitable for live performance than recording.
It features 16 backlit velocity sensitive RGB pads, which can be programmed to trigger any sound clip or effect. The keys are also velocity sensitive, allowing you to play with feeling. Perhaps the most convenient feature is that it integrates seamlessly with Ableton Live, which allows you to easily produce and perform.
Additionally, you have 9 sliders and 8 knobs that can be programmed to whatever you want. And to put some more icing on the cake, you have 2 octave and transpose buttons, 8 mute solo buttons, and a toggle button. This setup allows you to fully control all of your ableton live setup directly on the Launchkey 61.
Finally, we love the fact that you get the Addictive Keys virtual instrument from XLN audio free, which is a great piano vst.
– Integrates seamlessly with Ableton Live
– 16 backlit velocity sensitive pads
– 9 slides and 8 knobs
– Additive Keys VST software
Nektar Impact GX61 Controller
If you are looking for the best 61 key midi controller that is budget friendly, there is no better choice than the Nektar Impact GX61. This is a standard 61 key keyboard with synth action keys, on board pitch bend, and modulation wheels. This keyboard also comes with a DAW called Bitwig 8 track that lets you produce and design sounds with all sorts of VSTs built in.
In terms of feel, we definitely think the Nektar Impact feels better than most midi controllers in the price range. Unfortunately, the keys are light and non weighted, so if you want something more premium, you will have to pay up. We also like the accessible transpose and octave buttons, which change colors based on octaves transposed. This is actually quite useful.
All in all, the Nektar Impact GX series gives you a cheap, lightweight 61 key midi controller that has all of the basics. Unfortunately, it does not have a drum pad or more programmable keys. However, at its price range, it is one of the solid all round built midi controllers out there.
– Synth action keys
– Free DAW
– Accessible transpose and octave
– Cheap and lightweight
Behringer U-Control UMX610
The Behringer U-Control UMX610 is the best 61 key midi controller if you need a mid tier product with lots of features. This device features 8 real time controllers, a pitch wheel, a modulation wheel, and 10 switches that can be mapped to any function. With the octave shift function with multi purpose LED indicator, you have access to a full 128 tone range.
These are full sized high quality keys that are velocity sensitive. They feel nice and sturdy and close to what it feels when striking a real piano. We like that the keys are weighted and individually spring loaded. They don’t really feel that plastic or cheap, unlike many of its competitors. For us, this is quite important when deciding on a midi keyboard.
Additionally, you get free audio recording and editing software with free instruments and effects. Overall, this is a great little midi controller that will cover most of your needs. It doesn’t have drumpads, or a crazy amount of controls, but it does look nice and is well built.
– Sturdy and durable
– Full sized keys
– Keys are weighted and spring loaded
– Looks cool
Akai Professional MPK261
For those looking for a pro midi keyboard, the Akai Professional MPL26t1 is the best 61 key midi keyboard for you. This is a all in one controller, keyboard, and trigger pad great for live performances and recording. It comes fully loaded with features and controls, but also comes with a very hefty price tag.
Let’s get some of the key controls out of the way first. With the Akai Pro MPK261, you get 16 RGB illuminated pads to trigger samples, so a total of 64 assignable. Then there are 8 control knobs, 8 faders, 8 switches for a total of 24 assignable functions. You also get the VIP 3.0 music software, which features plenty of virtual instruments as VSTs. Finally, you have a 61 full sized keyboard with semi weighted pressure sensitive keys.
We can say without a doubt that the standout feature is the quality and durability of the keyboard. It is just flawlessly designed and every button and knob made of premier construction and craftsmanship. The keys feel so premium that we feel you can almost sell them individually for the price of the unit. This premium midi controller hooks up via USB to any DAW and can easily control all stages of music production and live performances.
– Fully loaded with features
– 16 RGB drum pad
– 8 control knobs, 8 faders, 8 switches
– Semi weight full sized pressure sensitive keys
– Premium quality