Best MIDI Controller for Beginners: Top Picks and Buying Guide

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MIDI controllers are essential tools for musicians and producers. They allow you to create music using a computer or other digital device by controlling virtual instruments and software.

If you’re new to music production, finding the right MIDI controller can be a daunting task. There are countless options available, and it can be challenging to know where to start.

When choosing a MIDI controller, there are several factors to consider. The first is the number of keys.

MIDI keyboards come in various sizes, from compact models with 25 keys to full-sized models with 88 keys.

The number of keys you need depends on your musical goals and the type of music you want to create.

Another critical factor is the number of pads and faders. These features allow you to control different parameters of your music, such as volume, pitch, and effects.

After researching and testing several MIDI controllers, we’ve identified the best MIDI controller for beginners.

Our top pick is the Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3. This compact MIDI controller is perfect for those just starting with music production.

It has 25 mini keys, eight rotary knobs, and 16 velocity-sensitive pads. The Launchkey Mini Mk3 is also incredibly portable, making it easy to take with you wherever you go.

Overall, the Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3 is an excellent choice for beginners who want to start creating music with a MIDI controller.

Its compact size, versatile features, and affordable price make it the perfect tool for musicians and producers just starting.

Best MIDI Controllers for Beginners

As music production becomes more accessible, MIDI controllers have become an essential tool for beginners to create high-quality music.

With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one. We have researched and tested various MIDI controllers to bring you the best options for beginners.

Here are our top picks that combine affordability, user-friendliness, and functionality.

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

If you’re looking for a compact and versatile MIDI controller, the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 is a great option for beginners and professionals alike.

Pros

  • The compact size makes it easy to take on-the-go and doesn’t take up much space on your desk.
  • The MPC-style pads and 4-way joystick allow for easy and intuitive control over your virtual instruments and effects.
  • The included software bundle provides everything you need to start producing music right away.

Cons

  • The small keys may take some getting used to if you’re used to a full-sized keyboard.
  • The drum pads lack sensitivity and may require more force than expected to trigger.
  • The 4-way joystick can be a bit finicky and may require some adjustment to get the desired effect.

Overall, the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 is a solid choice for anyone looking for a portable and versatile MIDI controller.

It’s easy to use and comes with all the software you need to start making music right away. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, the MPK Mini MK3 has something to offer.

Vangoa Worlde MIDI Keyboard Controller 25 Key

Vangoa Worlde MIDI Keyboard Controller 25 Key

If you’re looking for a portable and compact MIDI controller, the Vangoa Worlde MIDI Keyboard Controller 25 Key is worth considering.

Pros

  • The compact size and portability of this MIDI controller make it perfect for bedroom/home studio producers, YouTubers, vloggers, and DJs.
  • The 8 knobs, 8 sliders, and 8 memory banks allow for accurate and rapid sound control.
  • The drum pads with RGB colors provide a strong visual appeal, making your rhythm more enjoyable.

Cons

  • The lack of a manual or clear instructions can make setup and use difficult for beginners.
  • The software tool for setup has a few bugs that can be frustrating to navigate.
  • The keyboard’s build quality is not the best, and it may feel flimsy or cheap.

Overall, the Vangoa Worlde MIDI Keyboard Controller 25 Key is a decent option for beginners looking for a portable and compact MIDI controller.

It’s perfect for those who want to take their musical ideas from concept to final performance.

However, the lack of a manual or clear instructions can make setup and use difficult for beginners.

Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3]

Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3]

If you’re a beginner looking for a compact and portable MIDI keyboard controller, the Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3] is a great option.

It has everything you need to start creating music in Ableton Live, including an arpeggiator, fixed chord mode, and tons of sounds in the box.

Pros

  • The Launchkey Mini is very portable and lightweight, making it easy to take with you wherever you go.
  • The arpeggiator is easy to use and allows you to add a whole range of diversity to your ideas and melodies.
  • The fixed chord mode lets you lay down chords for your track quickly with just one finger.

Cons

  • The Launchkey Mini’s pads cannot be used to trigger Logic’s drum machine, which is a big negative for Logic users.
  • The keys are a bit heavy, which may not be ideal for those who are used to lighter keys.
  • The Launchkey Mini’s 25 keys may be limiting for more experienced musicians who require a wider range of notes.

The Launchkey Mini is a great beginner MIDI keyboard controller that offers a lot of features in a compact and portable package.

It’s easy to use and has a lot of functionality straight out of the box.

The arpeggiator and fixed chord mode are especially useful for beginners who may not have a lot of music theory knowledge.

The Launchkey Mini’s portability is a major selling point, as it can easily fit in a bag and be taken with you wherever you go.

The device is also bus-powered, which is great for travelling and jamming on the go.

While the Launchkey Mini is a great beginner MIDI keyboard controller, it may not be the best option for more experienced musicians who require a wider range of notes.

The pads also cannot be used to trigger Logic’s drum machine, which may be a dealbreaker for some Logic users.

Overall, the Novation Launchkey Mini [MK3] is a solid choice for beginners who are looking for a compact and portable MIDI keyboard controller.

With its deep and intuitive Ableton Live control, arpeggiator, fixed chord mode, and MIDI out, it offers a lot of functionality in a small package.

Synido TempoPAD MIDI Pad Controller

Synido TempoPAD MIDI Pad Controller

If you’re a beginner looking for a budget-friendly MIDI controller, the Synido TempoPAD is a great option to consider.

Pros

  • The TempoPAD offers 16 responsive beat pads, 12 buttons, and 4 knobs, all assignable for seamless control, with 3 banks enabling up to 48 pad assignments and 4 levels of velocity sensitivity, catering to music production enthusiasts.
  • The 16 thick soft silicone pads are fully customizable to your specific needs for triggering dynamic drumming, sampling, effects, and more midi commands. Tailor your setup, immerse in full-range color, and let unique lighting inspire your music creation.
  • This USB Midi Controller excels in compatibility, featuring a type C port for fast stable connection, and an additional DC-5V port for reliable power supply, ensuring uninterrupted creativity without battery worries.

Cons

  • The beat pad requires DAW software for sound; it doesn’t create sound on its own.
  • For mobile device connection, an OTG cable/adapter is required(buy separately).
  • The included data cable’s usable length could be longer.

We were impressed by the Synido TempoPAD’s ability to cater to music production enthusiasts with its responsive beat pads, assignable buttons and knobs, and customizable silicone pads.

The RGB beat pad offers a striking visual experience and the compatibility with popular DAW software and external synthesizers make it a versatile tool for all-level creators. The

TempoPAD’s portability is also a plus, with its rubberized bottom offering stability and a comfortable grip.

Overall, if you’re looking for an affordable, easy-to-use MIDI controller with excellent compatibility and portability, the Synido TempoPAD is a great option.

The Synido TempoPAD is a practical and striking MIDI pad controller that offers excellent value for beginners looking for a budget-friendly option.

With its customizable pads, assignable buttons and knobs, and compatibility with popular DAW software and external synthesizers, the TempoPAD is a versatile tool for music production enthusiasts.

The TempoPAD’s easy plug-and-play feature, excellent compatibility, and portability make it a great creative companion for on-the-go musicians and all-level creators.

STARRYPAD MIDI Pad Beat Maker by Donner

STARRYPAD MIDI Pad Beat Maker by Donner

We highly recommend the STARRYPAD MIDI Pad Beat Maker by Donner for beginners who are looking for an affordable and versatile MIDI controller.

Pros

  • The 16 backlit pads are customizable and can trigger drums, samples, effects, and more. The pads are also velocity-sensitive and come with adjustable sensitivity curves.
  • The additional 2 faders, 2 knobs, and 3 buttons provide extra control and can be customized to match your virtual instrument. The Shift Key brings in another layer of customized control.
  • The STARRYPAD is class compliant and works with everything. It comes with a standard USB C power supply and data interface for easy plug and play. The additional MIDI in/out (cable included) allows you to connect to an external synthesizer or other vintage MIDI equipment.

Cons

  • The drum pad velocity sensitivity is not the best, but it is comparable to other MIDI controllers in its price range.
  • The STARRYPAD does not come with recording or arranging software. You will need to purchase a DAW software to use it.
  • The color of the pads can only be set through software.

The STARRYPAD MIDI Pad Beat Maker by Donner is a great choice for beginners who want to boost their rhythm game.

It is lightweight, portable, and compatible with Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows.

The customizable lighting with 7 vibrant colors helps you group your instruments with a visual reference.

The Tap Tempo is directly synchronized with DAW to help you quickly grasp the BPMs of any song and play along. The ultra-low latency of Note Repeat perfectly connects each sample segment without getting stuck or errors.

In conclusion, the STARRYPAD MIDI Pad Beat Maker by Donner is an affordable and versatile option for beginners who want to get into music production.

It offers customizable lighting, additional control, and easy plug and play compatibility with a variety of devices.

Buying Guide

When choosing a MIDI controller, there are several factors to consider. Here are some key features to look for when selecting the best MIDI controller for beginners:

Keyboard

The keyboard is one of the most important features of a MIDI controller.

Beginners should look for a keyboard with at least 49 keys, which will provide enough range for most musical applications.

Weighted keys can also be beneficial for those who want a more realistic piano feel.

Pads

Pads are another essential feature of a MIDI controller. They allow you to trigger samples, loops, and other sounds.

Look for a controller with at least eight pads, which will provide enough options for most beginners.

Velocity sensitivity is also important, as it allows you to control the volume and intensity of your sounds.

Knobs and Faders

Knobs and faders allow you to control various parameters of your software instruments and effects.

Look for a controller with at least four knobs and four faders, which will provide enough control for most beginners.

Assignable knobs and faders are also beneficial, as they allow you to customize your controller to your specific needs.

Compatibility

Make sure your MIDI controller is compatible with your computer and music software.

Most controllers are compatible with both Mac and Windows, but it’s always a good idea to check before making a purchase.

Also, make sure your controller is compatible with your specific music software, such as Ableton Live or Logic Pro.

Portability

If you plan on taking your MIDI controller on the go, look for a controller that is lightweight and compact.

Some controllers even come with a built-in battery, which allows you to use them without being plugged into an outlet.

By considering these factors, you can find the best MIDI controller for your needs as a beginner.

Conclusion

When selecting your first MIDI controller, prioritize versatility, portability, and intuitive controls over advanced features.

Models like the Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3, AKAI MPK Mini Mk3, and Vangoa Worlde 25 Key pack pads, knobs, faders, and keys into compact builds ideal for tabletop productions and travel.

For triggering samples on a budget, the Synido TempoPAD offers custom pads and plug-and-play functionality with popular music software.

And Donner’s STARRYPAD Beat Maker provides backlit pads and additional buttons for shaping rhythms.

While basic, these controllers allow newcomers to explore MIDI’s creative possibilities without breaking the bank or getting overwhelmed.

Focus on the essentials, such as compatibility with your computer, responsive pads, assignable controls, and keys for playing melodies.

As skills progress, upgrade to a more advanced MIDI controller aligned to your goals and workflow.

The right entry-level interface makes the first strides of your musical journey intuitive and enjoyable.

Dominic

Dominic is the chief editor of the Burton Acoustix blog which writes about acoustics and soundproofing to help readers with their queries and questions they might have with regard to improving any sound or noise issues that they faced in their life.