Best MIDI Controller for GarageBand: Top Picks for 2023

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GarageBand is a powerful music production software that is popular among musicians and producers.

It offers a wide range of features, including virtual instrument MIDI controllers, audio effects, and a user-friendly interface.

To get the most out of GarageBand, many users choose to use a MIDI controller.

MIDI controllers are devices that allow users to control music software with physical knobs, buttons, and keys.

They can be a great addition to any music production setup, as they provide a more tactile and intuitive way to interact with software instruments and effects.

When it comes to finding the best MIDI controller for GarageBand, there are a few things to consider.

First and foremost, the controller should be compatible with GarageBand and easy to set up.

It should also have enough keys, knobs, and buttons to provide a comprehensive control surface for the software.

In this article, we spent several hours researching and testing various MIDI controllers to identify the ones that work best with GarageBand.

We will discuss the key features of each controller and what makes it stand out, so you can find the perfect one for your music production needs.

Best MIDI Controllers for GarageBand

As music enthusiasts, we understand the importance of having the right tools to create and produce quality music.

One of the essential tools for any music producer is a MIDI controller. A MIDI controller allows you to control and manipulate sounds in your digital audio workstation (DAW) with ease.

In this article, we have compiled a list of the best MIDI controllers for GarageBand, ensuring that you have all the necessary information to make an informed decision.

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

If you’re looking for a compact, versatile, and feature-packed MIDI controller for GarageBand, the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 is an excellent choice.

With its 25 mini keys, 8 backlit drum pads, 8 knobs, and 4-way joystick, it offers total control over your virtual instruments, effects, and DAW.

Pros

  • Compact size makes it easy to carry around and use on the go.
  • Versatile controls allow for creative expression and precise adjustments.
  • Complete Music Production Starter Kit provides everything you need to get started.

Cons

  • Keys may be too small for players with larger hands or more advanced skills.
  • Drum pads may feel less responsive than those on larger or more expensive controllers.
  • Software installation process may be confusing or time-consuming for some users.

Overall, we highly recommend the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 for anyone who wants a powerful and portable MIDI controller for GarageBand.

Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, this controller offers a wide range of features and capabilities that can help you take your music production to the next level.

The MPK Mini MK3 is easy to set up and use, thanks to its plug-and-play USB connectivity and intuitive controls.

The 4-way joystick is especially useful for dynamic pitch and modulation control, while the built-in arpeggiator and MPC-style drum pads offer endless possibilities for rhythm and melody creation.

One of the standout features of the MPK Mini MK3 is the Complete Music Production Starter Kit, which includes MPC Beats software, 6 virtual instruments, and 2GB of sound content.

This kit provides a comprehensive set of tools and resources for creating professional-quality music right out of the box.

Of course, there are some limitations to the MPK Mini MK3, such as the small key size and less responsive drum pads.

However, these issues are minor compared to the overall versatility and functionality of this controller.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a high-quality MIDI controller for GarageBand that is compact, powerful, and easy to use, the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 is an excellent choice.

With its innovative features, versatile controls, and comprehensive software package, it offers everything you need to create hit songs and take your music production to the next level.

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

If you’re looking for a compact and versatile MIDI controller for GarageBand, the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 is a great option to consider.

Pros

  • The 25 mini MIDI keyboard velocity-sensitive keys are perfect for studio production, virtual synthesizer control, and beat production.
  • The innovative 4-way thumbstick provides dynamic pitch and modulation control, and the built-in arpeggiator has adjustable resolution, range, and modes.
  • The 8 backlit velocity-sensitive MPC-style MIDI beat pads with Note Repeat and Full Level are great for programming drums, triggering samples, and controlling virtual synthesizer/DAW controls.

Cons

  • The keys might feel a bit stiff and cheap for some users.
  • The software installation process can be a bit complicated for beginners.
  • The price might be a bit high for some users.

We’ve been using the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 for a while now, and we’re impressed by its features and functionality.

The compact size makes it an ideal travel companion, and the arsenal of beat pads, arpeggiator, MPC Note Repeat & Full Level, 4-way joystick, and MIDI assignable controls let you take complete command of every aspect of your production.

The new Gen 2 enhanced dynamic keybed guarantees your performance is captured with every subtle inflection of your delivery.

The Complete Music Production Starter Kit is a great addition to the package, providing everything you need to create hit songs from the get-go.

The MPC Beats, AIR Hybrid, Mini Grand, Velvet, and assorted MPC Expansion packs are all included, making it a complete music production and beat maker essential.

The AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 is a great choice for both beginners and working professionals.

It’s a complete package with every tool you need to create hit songs from the get-go, and it’s the ultimate musical Swiss Army knife, ready to deliver on any musical task.

If you’re looking for a compact and versatile MIDI controller for GarageBand, the AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 is definitely worth considering.

M-WAVE 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

M-WAVE 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

If you’re looking for a powerful and compact MIDI controller for GarageBand, the M-WAVE 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller is a great option to consider.

We’ve tested it and here’s what we found.

Pros

  • The wireless feature is a game-changer. We were able to connect it to our devices with Bluetooth and enjoy the freedom of movement while playing our music.
  • The smart keyboard feature is very useful. We loved the smart chord and smart sound function which allowed us to quickly choose the right keys during performance and practice.
  • The M-WAVE 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller is compatible with a wide range of digital audio workstations, including Ableton Live, Fl Studio, Cubase, Logic Pro X, Bitwig, Reason, Studio One, and GarageBand (iOS).

Cons

  • The keys are a bit small, which may be an issue for people with larger hands.
  • The backlit pads are not as responsive as we would have liked.
  • The price is a bit steep compared to other MIDI controllers in the market.

Overall, we think the M-WAVE 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller is a solid choice for anyone looking for a versatile and portable MIDI controller for GarageBand.

Its wireless feature, smart keyboard, and compatibility with various digital audio workstations make it a great investment for serious musicians.

In terms of drawbacks, the small keys and less responsive backlit pads may take some getting used to.

However, if you’re willing to overlook these minor issues, the M-WAVE 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller is definitely worth considering.

Alesis Q49 MKII

Alesis Q49 MKII

If you’re looking for a no-nonsense USB MIDI keyboard controller that can help capture your performance with every subtle nuance of your delivery, then the Alesis Q49 MKII is a great option.

With 49 full-size, velocity-sensitive, synth-action keys, it’s perfect for studio production, virtual synthesizer control, and beat production.

Pros

  • The Q49 MKII has all the essential controls to help give your playing character, including Pitch Bend and Modulation wheels, assignable volume knob, and transport controls for tactile DAW and virtual synth control.
  • It is compatible with any music production app that accepts MIDI controllers, including Ableton Live, Cubase, Logic, MPC Beats, and more.
  • The Alesis Q49 MKII comes with a premium software bundle that features world-class tools for composing and recording, including Akai Professional MPC Beats and 60 free MIDI controller lessons from Melodics.

Cons

  • The action of the keys is not great, but it is good enough for the price.
  • The direct MIDI port may not work after several attempts, while the USB port works perfectly fine.
  • The pitch bender may shift after a year of use, which can be frustrating.

Overall, the Alesis Q49 MKII is a great MIDI controller for GarageBand.

Its essential controls, compatibility, and premium software bundle make it a great choice for anyone looking to produce music.

Fesley MIDI Keyboard Controller

Fesley MIDI Keyboard Controller

If you’re looking for a reliable and affordable MIDI controller for GarageBand, the Fesley MIDI Keyboard Controller is definitely worth considering.

Pros

  • The 25 full-size velocity-sensitive keys provide a natural response of pressure and feel that approaches that of a standard keyboard.
  • The built-in arpeggiator allows you to change the rhythm, beat, pattern, octave, and more to add a whole range of diversity to your ideas and melodies.
  • The lightweight and portable design makes it perfect for recording, performing, or improvising with friends, wherever you are!

Cons

  • The keyboard only seems to work when connected to a computer.
  • The pads/buttons may not be as durable as some higher-end MIDI controllers.
  • Some users have reported issues with the keyboard’s compatibility with certain software programs.

We were impressed by the Fesley MIDI Keyboard Controller’s overall performance and functionality.

The keys are responsive and feel natural, making it easy to play and record melodies in GarageBand.

The arpeggiator is a nice touch, allowing you to add some variety to your compositions quickly.

The backlit drum pads are also a great feature, making it easy to trigger samples and loops in real-time.

Overall, we would recommend the Fesley MIDI Keyboard Controller to anyone looking for a reliable and affordable MIDI controller for GarageBand.

It’s a great option for beginners and intermediate users alike who want to create music on-the-go.

Buying Guide

When it comes to choosing the best MIDI controller for GarageBand, there are a few key features to consider.

Here are some factors to keep in mind to help you make an informed decision:

Key Count

The number of keys on a MIDI controller is an important consideration. If you plan to use the controller to play melodies or chords, a larger number of keys may be preferable.

However, if you’re looking for a more compact option or plan to primarily use the controller for drum programming and other non-melodic tasks, a smaller key count may be more suitable.

Pad Quality

If you plan to use your MIDI controller for drum programming or triggering samples, the quality of the pads is an important factor to consider.

Look for controllers with responsive, velocity-sensitive pads that feel comfortable to play.

Connectivity

Make sure the MIDI controller you choose is compatible with your computer and software.

Most controllers connect via USB, but some may also offer additional connectivity options such as MIDI or Bluetooth.

Knobs and Faders

Controllers with knobs and faders can be useful for adjusting parameters in your software. Look for controllers with a sufficient number of knobs and faders to meet your needs.

Portability

Consider how portable you need your MIDI controller to be. If you plan to use it primarily in a studio setting, a larger, more feature-rich controller may be suitable.

However, if you plan to take your controller on the road or use it in live performances, a more compact, portable option may be preferable.

By considering these factors, you can choose a MIDI controller that meets your needs and helps you get the most out of GarageBand.

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.