Best Keyboard to Make Beats | 2022 Comparison

“What is the best keyboard to make beats?”

For most producers, MIDI keyboards are an essential part of creating music. Whether it’s simple drum patterns or complex piano melodies, using a MIDI keyboard allows you to get very creative, all with one simple piece of hardware.

There are a huge variety of MIDI keyboards on the market. From tiny, compact, 25-key devices to huge, all encompassing keyboards, the options are endless.

Many MIDI keyboards also have additional controls, knobs and sliders that allow you to control various parameters within your DAW.

Sound complicated? It really doesn’t have to be.

The best keyboard to make beats

If you’re an avid beatmaker, or looking to begin making beats, a MIDI keyboard or controller is incredibly important.

Whether you’re looking to make lofi hip hop beats, or thumping bass house, programming MIDI sequences will be a fundamental part of your production.

But what really is the best keyboard to make beats?

To simplify the range of MIDI keyboards available, we’ve compiled this list of the 5 best keyboards to make beats. We’ll also highlight the main benefits and downsides of each device to help you decide.

The Best MIDI Keyboard to make beats (2022)

best midi keyboard novation: to make beats

1. Novation Launchkey 49 Mk2

Novation’s Launchkey range have been among our favourite MIDI keyboards for quite some time, and for good reason.

They offer a comprehensive range of control options, and come packaged in a sleek, intuitive design.

For an inexpensive controller with several additional functions (16 colored, back-lit, velocity-sensitive drum pads, 9 faders, a pitch bend/modulation wheel and more), you get a lot of bang for your buck. The keys have a great, velocity sensitive feeling, and the back-lit pads feel sturdy and highly responsive.

The large range of assignable control options is perfect for beatmaking, as it allows you to take a hardware-based approach to editing parameters and automation.

This MIDI keyboard comes with a “Lite” version of the Ableton product, allowing you to test the superb connectivity between this device and Ableton, right down to the colour-coded touch pads. However, for other DAW users, do not let this put you off, the launchkey Mk2 functions extremely well with other programs.

This keyboard is also available in 25 or 61 key models.

Not sure if Ableton is right for you? Click here for our guide on choosing a DAW.

➭ DAW Integration: The additional features integrate well will all DAWs (particularly Ableton)➭ Not as durable as some of the more expensive options
➭ Affordable: Great price considering the amount of features➭ To plug into an iPad, a powered USB hub is required
➭ Several additional features: 16 soft pads, 9 faders, pitch-bend wheel etc➭ Lacks aftertouch
➭ Included software: Ableton Live, Novation Bass Station, Addictive Keys

Compatibility: PC/Mac | Power: USB | Keys: 49 | Key size: Standard | Additional Controls:  16 colored back-lit velocity-sensitive drum pads, 6 transport controls, 9 faders, Pitch-bend/ modulation wheel, 2-octave buttons | Included software: Ableton Live, Novation Bass Station Vst, Addictive Keys Dimensions (cm): 77.5 x 8.9 x 27 | Weight (kg): 3.7

best midi keyboard akai 1: to make beats

2. Akai MPK Mini Mk2

Akai’s “MPK Mini Mk2” ranks among the best and most popular MIDI keyboards on the market, mainly due to it’s small, compact size and low price tag.

We have been fanboys of Akai for many years, and their MPK series are fantastic for simple, intuitive beatmaking. This device is a great example of an affordable, entry-level keyboard that is easy to use and great quality.

It has 25 mini keys, 8 velocity sensitive touchpads, and a small joystick for controlling pitch, modulation or expression.

One of the features of this MIDI keyboard that may be polarising to producers is the smaller sized keys, so for those looking to play complex sequences and patterns may find playing this keyboard a little difficult.

➭ Portable: Can easily fit in a standard laptop bag➭ Mini keys may be an obstacle for certain producers
➭ Affordable: One of the cheapest Mini keyboards on the market at around $100➭ Knobs are fairly small to fit within the small layout of the device
➭ Several additional features: 8 soft pads, 8 knobs, 4-way joystick controller➭ Not suitable for live performances, controller is too small with no live editors
➭ Included software: VIP 3.0 and MPC Essentials➭ Been out on the market for a while now (if that’s even a downside!)

Compatibility: PC/Mac | Power: USB | Keys: 25 | Key size: Mini | Additional Controls: 4-Way modulation/ pitch bend joystick controller, 8 soft touch pads with note repeat + 8 assignable rotary encoders | Included software: Hybrid 3, SONiVOX Wobble and Akai Pro MPC Essentials | Dimensions (mm): 317 x 181 x 44 | Weight (kg): 0.75

best midi keyboard arturia

3. Arturia KeyLab 49 Mk2

For beatmakers looking for an all-encompassing, immersive MIDI controller that will allow them to create beats intuitively and creatively, we can’t think of a better example than the Arturia KeyLab 49 Mk2.

The Arturia Keylab is easily one of the most visually stylish, feature-packed, impressive looking MIDI keyboards you’ll find on the market. For a beginner beatmaker, the various on-board features may seem overwhelming at first. However, the usability of this keyboard is incredible and it’s surprisingly easy to use, despite the amount of controls and features.

The keyboard has 49 full sized, velocity sensitive keys, which are extremely responsive, capturing every nuance of your performance. There are also 16 velocity sensitive touch pads which also double up as navigation buttons.

In terms of the construction quality, this is genuinely one of the sexiest keyboards we’ve ever seen. The keyboards body feels robust and durable, and the feel and construction of the keys and additional features is hypnotic.

As expected, it’s an expensive piece of equipment, but with it’s beautiful build quality, the amount of assignable features and the spectacular “Analog Lab” VST, it’s hard not to justify the price tag.

The MIDI keyboard also comes bundles with software: Analog Lab (including 6500 different sounds), Ableton Live Lite and Piano V.

All this definitely makes this device one of the best keyboards to make beats on the market.

➭ Quality: Highly durable, professional quality➭ Expensive
➭ Huge amount of features: 16 touch pads, 9 assignable faders and knobs, ten dedicated DAW Commands switches with magnetic overlays, small LCD screen etc
➭ Integration: Works well with almost any DAW
➭ Included software: Analog Lab w/ 6500 different sounds, Ableton Live Lite and Piano V
➭ Excellent hardware integration with Analog Lab
➭ Has aftertouch

Compatibility: PC/Mac | Power: USB | Keys: 49 | Key size: Standard | Additional Controls:  16 RGB backlit, multi-function performance pads, 9 assignable faders and rotary knobs, 10 dedicated DAW Commands switches, 6 universal transport controls, Control center with LCD screen and clickable wheel| Included software: Analog Lab, Ableton Live Light and Piano V. | Dimensions (cm): 79.3 x 29.7 x 5.3| Weight (kg): 7

best midi keyboard komplete

4. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49

This MIDI keyboard from Native Instruments is an extremely popular device for beatmakers that blurs the lines between software and hardware.

It is no secret that we have been fanboys of Kontakt for many years, and have used their plugins religiously. In our opinion, their products are the gold standard when it comes to VST instruments and plugins. If you haven’t come across Kontakt before, they have a fantastic FREE bundle of plugins to get you started.

The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49 allows you to use and manipulate this plugins creatively and intuitively. The on-board keyboard controls are pre-mapped to Native Instruments plugin controls. Additionally, the keyboard has a small LCD screen that allows you to quickly browse and select sounds stored within the various plugins.

This keyboard is a perfect entry-level device for beginners looking to break down the barriers between the plugins within your DAW and your keyboard.

Don’t know anything about plugins? Click here for our guide to the best plugins for beginners.

➭ Integration: Links perfectly with Native Instrument plugins➭ Quite a bulky keyboard: not ideal for travelling.
➭ Affordable: Much cheaper than their flagship S-Series.➭ No touch pads.
➭ Mini LCD screen to scroll through presets.➭ Lacks aftertouch.
➭ Kontakt software: Huge collection of Native Instruments plugins.➭ A lot of features redundant for producers looking to stay within the DAW

Compatibility: PC/Mac | Power: USB | Keys: 49 | Key size: Standard | Additional Controls:  LCD screen, 8 touch-sensitive knobs, Push Encoder, Mod and Pitch Wheels | Included software: Maschine Essentials, Monark, The Gentleman, Reaktor Prism, Scarbee Mark I, and more | Dimensions (cm):  88.9 x 30.5 x 15.2 | Weight (kg): 4

best midi keyboard maudio: best keyboard to make beats

5. M-Audio Oxygen 25 Mk4

The last entry on our list is the sleek, ever-popular M-Audio Oxygen 25 Mk4.

This MIDI keyboard is another example of a 25-key controller ideal for those travelling or looking to make beats on the road. However, the main difference between this keyboard and other portable examples such as the Akai MPK Mini Mk2 is the large, comfortable, standard-sized keys, allowing for much more precision when playing.

It also has similar additional features such as 8 highly sensitive drum pads, 8 assignable knobs, but also a pitch and modulation wheel, something the Akai lacks.

The M-Audio Oxygen is an extremely professional and versatile device, and despite this it remains relatively cheap, and is therefore perfect for producers on a budget. For such a cheap keyboard, it doesn’t feel cheap or plastic-y, and like the Novation Launchkey, comes with Ableton Live Lite, although the the device is still configured to fit perfectly with almost any DAW.

This is definitely the best keyboard to make beats if you’re looking for a lightweight, compact device with full sized keys.

➭ Portable: Can easily fit in a standard laptop bag➭ Larger and heavier than some 25-key controllers
➭ Affordable: One of the cheapest Mini keyboards on the market➭ Knobs don’t have a lot of resistance so accuracy is slightly more difficult
➭ Several additional features: 8 soft pads, 8 knobs, 4-way joystick controller , pitch/modulation wheel➭ No simple way to shift the drum pads and reassign them individually
➭ Includes software: Ableton Live Lite and Sonivox Twist
➭ Large, comfortable, full-sized, semi-weighted keys

Compatibility: PC/Mac | Power: USB | Keys: 25 | Key size: Standard | Additional Controls:  8 Velocity trigger pads, 8 Assignable rotating control knobs, LCD display, 1 Assignable fader, Mod and Pitch Wheels | Included software: Ableton Live Lite and Sonivox Twist | Dimensions (cm):  49.2 x 24.3 x 9.4 | Weight (kg): 1.8