Having the Best 61 Key Midi Controller is an essential component of any modern studio. They provide the percussive side to recordings and can be used in a live setting as well.
However, controller keyboards come in all shapes, sizes, and types. From synthesizers to pianos and organs, there is something for everyone. Getting the top 61 key midi controller is a definitely great choice for those looking for a variety of sounds while leaving room for creativity.
And they’ve got plenty of features that make them perfect for recording artists or live performers. Below we will tell you everything you need to know about them so that you can make the right decision. And we will even provide information on the Novation, which is a really good Ableton midi controller.
1- 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.
What are midi controllers?
Midi controllers are basically keyboards that send midi signals 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 drum pad, 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.
What to look for when buying a 61 key midi controller?
If you want a really good 61 key midi controller, then 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 are 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.
What are the Best 61 Key Midi Controllers?
Below is a list of the top brand 61 key midi controllers you can find out there.
- M-Audio Keystation 61 II
- Novation Launchkey 61
- Nektar Impact GX61 Controller
- Behringer U-Control UMX610
- Akai Professional MPK261
1. M-Audio Keystation 61 II
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 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 of 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
2. Novation Launchkey 61
The Launchkey 61 from Novation is your 61 controller if you want a keyboard with tons of controls and features. I don’t if you know this, but the Novation Launchkey 61 is probably the best midi controller for Ableton Live.
This fully decked-out 61 key 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 vet.
- Integrates seamlessly with Ableton Live
- 16 backlit velocity-sensitive pads
- 9 slides and 8 knobs
- Additive Keys VST software
3. Nektar Impact GX61 Controller
This is a standard 61 key keyboard with synth-action keys, onboard 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-around built midi controllers out there.
- Synth-action keys
- Free DAW
- Accessible transpose and octave
- Cheap and lightweight
4. Behringer U-Control UMX610
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 a 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 drum pads 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
5. Akai Professional MPK261
This is an 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 is 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 is 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
If you’re a DJ, musician, or producer-in-training, then you’re going to need a key MIDI controller.
And if you’re in the market for one, then you should take a close look at the Akai MPK261. The MPK261 has an intuitive design that is fully customizable. You can assign any of its pads to send out any MIDI command – from volume changes to recording and playback.
You can also customize it so that those commands correspond with your favorite DAW software. This way, every time you touch the pad, you’ll know what’s happening on your computer screen. The MPK261 is also compact and lightweight – so it’s easy to use on stage or in the studio.
If you are looking for the best Ableton midi controller, which is also the best 61 key midi controller, then Novation Launchkey 61 is for you.