Best 49 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards For Studios & Gigs

The 49 key MIDI keyboard controller is becoming the standard for studios and also for live shows. The reason why it has become such an awesome tool to have is that it is small and portable, yet it allows you to do more than what a 25 key controller can do.

Note: This guide was updated in 2019 to highlight the absolute best 49 key MIDI keyboards available.

After years of playing these products, my favorite 49 key MIDI controller is the Akai Professional MPK249. You can view this at Amazon and read more reviews at the link above.

These controllers are a good investment if you are looking to upgrade your synth game or if you are looking to dive more into producing. The higher-end products will stay with you throughout your entire musical journey.


Best 49 Key MIDI Keyboards – A Quick Glance

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Our Favorite
Akai Professional MPK249 | 49-Key Semi-Weighted USB MIDI Keyboard Controller Including Core Control...
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49 Keyboard
M-Audio Code 49 Black | 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with X/Y Touch Pad (16 Drum Pads / 9...
Best Budget Pick
Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 Keyboard Controller
Product
Akai MPK249
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49
M-Audio Code 49
Arturia Keylab
Pads
Connectivity
USB 5-pin MIDI input and output
USB
USB 5 pin MIDI input and output
USB 5 pin MIDI input and output
Bundled Software
Weight
6.09 pounds
15.4 pounds
9 pounds
11 pounds
Rating
Our Favorite
Image
Akai Professional MPK249 | 49-Key Semi-Weighted USB MIDI Keyboard Controller Including Core Control...
Product
Akai MPK249
Pads
Connectivity
USB 5-pin MIDI input and output
Bundled Software
Weight
6.09 pounds
Rating
Image
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49 Keyboard
Product
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49
Pads
Connectivity
USB
Bundled Software
Weight
15.4 pounds
Rating
Image
M-Audio Code 49 Black | 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with X/Y Touch Pad (16 Drum Pads / 9...
Product
M-Audio Code 49
Pads
Connectivity
USB 5 pin MIDI input and output
Bundled Software
Weight
9 pounds
Rating
Best Budget Pick
Image
Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 Keyboard Controller
Product
Arturia Keylab
Pads
Connectivity
USB 5 pin MIDI input and output
Bundled Software
Weight
11 pounds
Rating

Picking out the best MIDI keyboard controller can often get confusing due to them being a relatively new standard in the industry and there are so many different options to pick from already.

Without further ado, here are my favorite 49 key controllers.

Best 49 Key MIDI Keyboard Controllers

If you’re liking what you’re reading, I would recommend checking out my comprehensive guide where I spent two weeks playing pretty much every controller possible. You can check this out at my favorite MIDI controllers for all sizes.

Akai Professional MPK249

Akai Professional MPK249 | 49-Key Semi-Weighted USB MIDI Keyboard Controller Including Core Control...
  • 49 semi-weighted, velocity-sensitive full-size keys and a premium piano-style keybed for unprecedented response and natural feel
  • 16 RGB-illuminated MPC-style pads each with 4 banks for 64 pads - the perfect solution for triggering samples, loops, one-shots, melodics and more
  • 24 assignable Q-Link controllers comprising 8 control knobs, 8 faders and 8 backlit buttons engineered for hassle-free mapping and unprecidented DAW, virtual instrument and virtual effect control
  • Take command of your peripheral MIDI equiptment courtesy of an onboard USB-MIDI interface with 5-pin MIDI input & output
  • MPC mainstay controls included - MPC Note Repeat, arpeggiator, MPC Full Level, 16 Level Tap Tempo and Time Division

The MPK series has been at the front line for MIDI keyboards since the beginning and the MPK249 is definitely an example of this. This is just made well all around.

It comes equipped with 49 full size semi-weighted keys and each key is velocity sensitive. The drum pads are a stand out feature on the Akai MPK249 and they set this keyboard apart from others.

Software

The MPK249 comes fully equipped with Ableton live lite, which allows the user to immediately start diving into software sounds. Ableton is one of the most popular DAWS in the music world today and any software that is compatible with it is a good thing.

If you’re in search of a DAW, here are the best free DAW’s that I recently wrote about.

Music Software Bundles from Pluginboutique.com

The Akai MPK249 comes with 16 RGB illuminated pads each with 4 banks making a total of 64 pads that are all touch-sensitive.

Its USB-MIDI is a 5 pin MIDI input & output. The MPK249 is optimized to directly connect to your Mac or PC and start working at the highest level. I have found that the MPK249 doesn’t have serious glitch problems like some of the cheaper MIDI keyboards out there.

  • 16 RGB-illuminated MPC-style pads
  • Comes with VIP3.0
  • 49 full-sized semi-weighted keys
  • USB-MIDI with 5-pin MIDI input & output
  • 24 assignable knobs, faders, and switches
  • Assignable foot-switch jack and 1 expression jack
  • Weight: 12.6 pounds
Overall

I can’t say enough good things about this keyboard from a studio or gigging perspective. Its extremely easy to use, high-quality, and portable.

Nektar Panorama T4

Nektar Panorama T4 Keyboard Controller
  • 49-key MIDI Controller Keyboard with Deep DAW and Virtual Instrument Control
  • Expression and Sustain Pedal Jacks
  • Pitch and Mod Wheels

This is the successor to the Panorama P4. I think Nektar personally did an amazing job with this product and I believe it is truly one of the best on the market right now. I did a full post on the Panorama T4 that you can read about here: Nektar Panorama T4

Overall

The Panorama T4 is a brand new keyboard that, in my opinion, absolutely rocks.

Nektar Panorama P4

Sale
Nektar Panorama P4 49-key MIDI Controller Keyboard
  • Control Bitwig Studio, Logic Pro X, Reason, Cubase, or Nuendo from a single device
  • 49-note weighted (semi-) velocity-sensitive keyboard w/aftertouch
  • 100 mm ALPS motorized fader. 4 keyboard zones programmable with controller filters and program changes
  • 12 pads with velocity and pressure sensitivity
  • 16 encoders, 9 45mm faders, 10 assignable LED buttons, 20 preset locations store all settings including links to keyboard, pad and F-keys maps

The Nektar Panorama P4 is Nektar’s best MIDI keyboard. This keyboard is loaded with features including 12 pads with pressure and velocity sensitivity, 16 encoders, 9 faders, 10 assignable LED buttons. A big feature on this MIDI controller is aftertouch on the semi-weighted keys. The keys on this keyboard really feel good compared to other controllers.

A lot of musicians have mentioned that they are using this with the Logic DAW and that it is really compatible with it. The good thing is that every DAW works really with this MIDI keyboard. Sometimes MIDI controllers can be flunky with certain DAW’s, not this one though.

I really like this product and this is also one of the newer keyboards out there. I do like the newer products because they typically have worked out bugs that other keyboards haven’t yet. One thing about the Panorama is that it is heavier than most at 17 pounds.

  • Aftertouch and semi-weighted keys
  • 16 encoders, 9 faders, 10 assignable LED buttons
  • 12 pads with velocity and pressure sensitivity
  • 17 pounds
  • Mod-wheel and pitch-wheels
Overall

I believe this is a great keyboard, however, I do prefer the T4 over the P4. If you’re really digging the motorized controls, this would be your pick.

Akai Professional Advance 49

Akai Professional Advance 49 | 49-Key Virtual Instrument Production Controller with Full-Color LCD...
  • Integrated 4.3-inch high-resolution full-color screen with dedicated interface buttons
  • Screen provides 1:1, real-time feedback of plugin parameters
  • Includes Virtual Instrument Player software for unprecedented virtual instrument preset management, control mapping and multi patch creation
  • 49 premium, semi-weighted velocity-sensitive keybed with after touch
  • 8 large, endless and continuously variable control knobs

The Akai Professional Advance 49 is a very powerful keyboard for serious players. It has an extremely powerful engine and it comes with a 4.3-inch high-resolution full-color screen with dedicated interface buttons.

This is high-end and the nice thing about Akai, is they come with great software as noted above. This is currently being called the most advanced MIDI keyboard controller on the market and if you’re a serious music producer, we recommend really looking into the Akai Professional Advance 49.

If you’re a musician who is looking for a keyboard for touring, we recommend the Akai Professional MPK249 because it will do everything you need and it won’t be as expensive.

Let’s look at some features below:
  • Integrated 4.3-inch high-resolution full-color screen with dedicated interface buttons
  • The screen provides 1:1, real-time feedback of plugin parameters
  •  8 large, endless and continuously variable control knobs
  • 49 semi-weighted velocity-sensitive key-bed with aftertouch(These keys are a little stiffer and they feel better to the touch than most controllers)
  • Virtual Instrument Player software for unprecedented virtual instrument preset management, control mapping, and multi patch creation
  • 8 velocity – and pressure-sensitive MPC pads with RGB illumination
  • Pad bank for octave, transport control, and performance buttons
  • Pitch and modulation wheels that are rubberized
  • Expression pedal inputs
Overall

I think that the Professional Advance 49 is incredible. With this being said, I don’t know that I really would recommend it over the MPK249.

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49 MK2

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49 Mk2 Keyboard
  • Smart keyboard controller for all your virtual instruments
  • Pro-grade Fatar keybeds with aftertouch - 49 semi-weighted keys
  • Ergonomic pitch and mod wheels, plus touch strip for expression control
  • Pre-mapped control of KOMPLETE instruments and hundreds of Native Kontrol Standard (NKS) instruments from leading manufacturers
  • Full VSTi support

This is extremely powerful and is really a high-end MIDI controller. The quality of the Komplete Kontrol is top notch. As for the key bed, it is a fatar semi-weighted key-bed and it is one of the things that makes this a standout instrument.

This MIDI keyboard controller comes with Komplete 11 select, which has some awesome software synths on it so you can immediately get started diving into sounds. One thing that the Komplete Kontrol doesn’t have, is pads for launching clips or making beats.

This product is a bit more powerful, so it does require a more powerful MacBook or PC to run it. If you’re using a Mac or PC you are going to want at minimum an intel core 2 duo with 6 GB of ram or more.

It has a nice built-in pitch shifter that many users have left really positive reviews on.

There have been some users who have had problems with the controller not syncing with their computers and being buggy. Most of the reports are from people saying that it isn’t working with Pro Tools.

Features:
  • Pitch and mod wheels, plus touch strip for expression control
  • Fatar key-bed with 49 semi-weighted keys
  • Full VSTi support
  • Chord mode(plays chords by playing just one note)
  • Two high-res color screens
  • Weight: 15.4 pounds
  • Aftertouch
Overall

My personal thoughts on this keyboard are that I definitely think it’s great.

M-Audio Code 49

M-Audio Code 49 Black | 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with X/Y Touch Pad (16 Drum Pads / 9...
  • 49 full-size, velocity-sensitive keys with after touch and four assignable zones for splits and layering and LCD provides instant parameter feedback
  • Fully assignable XY pad for HID control and a unique way for controlling multiple parameters in virtual instruments
  • 16 fully assignable velocity-sensitive trigger pads for beat production, clip launching, and more
  • 8 assignable 360 encoders for manipulating your DAW, virtual instruments and plugins
  • Now Includes Pro Tools | First and Eleven Lite for all new and existing customers, as well as Virtual Instrument Player (VIP)

The M-Audio Code 49 comes in black and in white. This instrument has a very cool look and it and it has some serious power. I would say this is easily M-Audios finest product and it competes with some of the best on the market.

The Code 49 comes with 49 full-size velocity-sensitive keys and four assignable zones for layering and keyboard splitting. There are 8 assignable 360 degrees encoders so you can see the VST’s you are using. I like this keyboard for making beats for hip-hop and electronic music.

This comes with Pro Tools and it also comes with 16 velocity-sensitive pads for maximizing beat production. It also has an XY for HID control and it is a unique way for controlling parameters in virtual instruments.

Features:
  • 49 full-size, velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch
  • 8 assignable 360 encoders for easy manipulation of DAW’s, virtual instruments and plugins
  • Comes with Pro Tools
  • Brand new XY pad which provides additional and direct interaction with effects
  • 16 fully assignable velocity-sensitive trigger pads
  • 9 assignable faders let you control your DAW
  • 9 assignable buttons
  • 5 pin MIDI in and out ports
Overall

I’ve noticed that this controller works exceptionally with FL Studio. However, it seems like people have had a lot of problems with other DAW’s. Personally, I think this a great product. However, I wouldn’t choose this over many others on this list.

Novation 49SL MkIII

Novation SL MKIII

The Novation 49SL MKIII is the newest product from Novation and also their most advanced.

This is designed for the studio. It doesn’t mean you can’t use it live, I just recommend it for the studio as it has a lot of features that are meant for the studio.

What I like about this product is it has a sequencer. This is currently one of the newest products on the market, so it has some features that a lot of keyboards don’t yet have.

I was very impressed with this instrument in particular. You can read my full review on this product at Novation SL MKIII review.

Overall

I believe that the SL MKIII is a huge upgrade of the MKII. If you’re a fan of Novation products, you will really like this keyboard. In my opinion, this is Novation’s best product yet.

 

Novation Impulse 49

Novation Impulse 49

The Novation Impulse 49 is loaded with features and one of the things that stick out are the transport controls.

These buttons allow you to control your DAW with play, stop, record, rewind, fast forward and a toggle switch.

A cool feature is the multi-function drum pads. These allow you to warp arpeggios, roll beats, and launch clips in Ableton Live. This comes with Automap 4, which gives you instant mapping to things needing to be controlled. It also comes with expression and sustain pedal inputs.

The Novation Impulse 49 comes with a full DAW/plug-in control surface so you can take instant control of all of the major DAWS right from your keyboard. The only downside we could find on this instrument is the sliders feel on the cheaper end.

Let’s take a look at the specs below:
  • Automap software
  • Expression and sustain pedal inputs
  • Comes with Ableton Live Lite
  • Precision semi-weighted keyboard with aftertouch
  • Weight: 11 pounds
  • 5 pin MIDI in and out ports
  • Power: USB
Overall

I believe the Impulse is still a good option. It’s been around for a while now and there are definitely better choices, however, this is still high-quality.

Arturia Keylab MKII 49

Arturia Keylab MKII

The Arturia Keylab MKII is the new version of the Keylab essential and it making some huge waves in the MIDI department.

The MIDI technology is brand new and it works flawlessly with all of the major DAW’s.

I believe this will surprise a lot of people and become a popular instrument in the coming future.

Features:
  • Included Software: Includes Analog Lab with 6500 different sounds, Ableton Live Light and Piano V
  • Keys: 49 and 61 keys with premium quality key-beds with velocity and aftertouch
  • Drum Pads: 16 RGB back-lit performance pads
  • Control Bank: 9 faders and 9 rotary knobs
  • Modular Equipment Controls: 4 CV/Gate outputs, controlling pitch, gate, and modulation
  • DAW Compatibility: Can be used with all major DAW’s and comes with overlays for most DAW’s
  • Connectivity: Expression, sustain, CV/Gate, MIDI, USB, and 3 assignable auxiliary pedal inputs
  • Colors: Available in black and white
  • Chord Modes: 2 different customizable chord modes
  • Metal Pitch Bend And Mod Wheels
Overall

I believe the Keylab MKII is a solid choice. Arturia keyboards are built like tanks and they are perfect for touring.

Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

This was nice a few years ago because of its durability. However, it is dated seeing how it is a few years old now.

The Keylab 49 comes equipped with Ableton Live Lite and Analog Lab 2. Both of these programs are great and will allow you to start exploring new sounds immediately.

Features:
  • Access to 5000 sounds
  • Top-quality knobs, faders, and pads
  • MIDI In/Out control inputs
  • Includes Analog Lab software
  • Pitch bend and modulation wheels
  • LED screen
  • Transport controls
  • Weight: 8.38 pounds
  • USB powered
Overall

While I do think this was a good controller at one point, I wouldn’t recommend it anymore. I would recommend the upgraded Keylab MKII.

Alesis VX 49

Alesis VX 49

The Alesis VX 49 comes with the software VIP, which is the first and only software that enables you to control your entire VST library from your instrument.

You have the ability to switch patches from all of your VST’s in one place.

The Arpeggiator that is built-in with the V49 is incredible. You can fully edit the pattern that your patch arpeggiates on directly in your MIDI controller.

The VX 49 features a 4.3-inch high-resolution full-color screen that makes it easier for you to control your DAW and VST plugins. For dedicated musicians, this is a great product that will grow with you over the years.

Note: Native Instruments just released a budget controller called the Komplete Kontrol A49. Check out my full review of it here.

This keyboard has the ability to control external hardware because it comes with 5 pin MIDI In/Out ports. Something else that is also nice with this instrument is it is extremely light, coming in at 5 pounds.

If you are a big fan of this MIDI controller or other Alesis products, I highly recommend checking out their keytar. I believe it is one of the better keytars on the market today.

Features:
  • 49 velocity and pressure-sensitive keys
  • Built-in arpeggiator
  • Octaves: 10-octave range with Octave Down/Up buttons
  •  1/4” TRS expression pedal input
  • 5 pin MIDI out port
  • 5 pin MIDI in port
  • 1 power adapter input
  • Sustain pedal input
  • Dimensions: 6” x 12.4” x 5.5”
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • 8 velocity and pressure-sensitive pads, multicolor-backlit
  • Display: 75” x 2.125” full-color LCD
  • Modulation and pitch wheel
  • 8 assignable button pads, blue-backlit
Overall

I personally think this is a nice keyboard. The functionality is great and it has a beautiful interface. I’ve also always had a good experience with Alesis keyboards.

IK Multimedia iRig Keys 

Ik Multimedia Irig 49

The IK Multimedia iRig Keys is a fairly new MIDI keyboard. This was built to be really portable and it works with I-phones, I-pads, Macs, and PCs.

The Irig keyboard isn’t going to give you the firepower that some of the other products will give you, but it is good for being extremely portable.

This keyboard comes with a massive software bundle so you can immediately start playing music with your instrument. It comes with touch controls and this is something that some musician either like or hate.

These touch controls control pitch and modulation. To use the strips you just slide your fingers up and down, bending the pitch.

The iRig can run off batteries and or USB. I like keyboards that have the ability to use batteries just in case I break a USB cable and don’t have the time to buy a new one right away. The battery life on these is actually pretty good as well.

I like that the iRig comes with 8 drums pads for the musician. The drum pads enable the musician to be able to do more.

Features:
  • Fully portable, with an interface
  • Full-size velocity-sensitive keys
  • Comes with over $750 of VST’s
  • Headphone input
Overall

This is a great budget option for people with tablets, iPhones, and Androids. 

ROLI Seaboard RISE 49

Roli Seaboard Rise 49

This instrument is crazy. I played this last year at a guitar center and spent a couple of hours messing around on it.

It doesn’t feel like a MIDI keyboard and the keys definitely take some adjusting to get used to it. It is full Bluetooth compatible, making it unique in the sense that it doesn’t need a USB cable.

I have heard of defect problems with these over time. However, Rise said that this was only on the beginning models and the kinks have been smoothed over.

This is definitely a different approach to a controller, but if you’re wanting something that is different, it’s a fun option. I recently did a review of another Roli product that is similar. You can check it out here: Roli Songmaker Kit

Features
  • Crafted using high-quality materials
  • hardware-software integration
  • Full MIDI compatibility with Bluetooth and USB
  • Comes with Equator, the first multi-dimensional software synthesizer
Overall

I think this good for producers who are looking to shake things up a little bit. There are definitely others on this list that I think there are much more user-friendly, but this has a place as well.

BEHRINGER MOTÖR 49

Behringer MIDI Keyboard

Behringer isn’t known by any means for their amazing keyboards or MIDI products. This was highly anticipated in the music community.

There are some things about it that are good. However, for the price, I would recommend going with one of the other MIDI keyboard controllers mentioned above.

The best thing about this instrument would be the 9 motorized faders.

The biggest downfall on the Behringer Motor 49 is that people are having trouble syncing their pads with their laptops. Also, the key-bed on this plays really funky compared to the others on the market.

Let’s look at some of the specs below:
  • Hardware-based arpeggiator
  • Semi-weighted keys
  • 9 motorized faders
  • 8 back-lit pads
  • Control screen so you can see what you’re controlling
Overall

I wouldn’t recommend this controller just because I think there are a lot of others on this list that are much better.

My Budget Picks

Launchkey 49 MKII – Best Budget MIDI Controller

Launchkey 49 MKII

I found that the very first Novation Launchkey controllers were not very durable. A lot of the faders and the pitch wheels broke off quite easily and the keys themselves were not what I had hoped for.

Novation has come a long way and this is the 49 key keyboard we recommend for budget MIDI controllers.

This is made specifically for Ableton Live, so it will work with that daw right out of the box. The fader knobs on this product have been re-approached and have gotten some positive feedback on them.

The Launchkey 49 comes with 16 assignable and velocity sensitive pads. It also works great with all DAW’s, not just Ableton Live.

This is important because some products have problems with certain DAWS. The Launchkey would be a great instrument for someone just beginning to produce music and for someone who might be new to keyboards.

A Closer Look At the Launchkey 49

Novation has really improved the aesthetic of their controllers as well. The Launchkey 49 II looks sleek with full-color RGB pads to match the color of your clips when using Ableton. This controller comes in at a reasonable price and it is really an improvement for Novation.

There are some musicians who swear by Novation. It’s all about user-friendliness and comfortability. The Launchkey 49 has a lot of different features for also being on the cheaper end.

Let’s take a look at the specs of the Launchkey below:
  • Maximum control with Ableton Live
  • 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, 8 knobs for navigation and control
  • USB powered
  • Comes with software: Ableton Live Lite, Novation bass station, and V station
  • 8 knobs for tweaking your sounds
  • 16 RGB velocity-sensitive pads
  • Weight: 8.6 pounds
Overall

I believe this is a fantastic controller for beginner producers. It’s also good for producers who have a lot of experience as well. If you’re on a budget and looking for something relatively easy to use, this is your pick.

Nektar Impact LX49+

Nektar Impact Controller

The Nektar Impact is going to be a little bit cheaper than some of the other ones listed and it comes with a little bit of a cheaper feel.

However, we like this controller for someone who is just getting into MIDI controllers and not looking to spend a ton of money right away.

This has had some user reviews talking about the faders being on the cheaper side, but when you start to get to the lower price range, you will start to find this.

It comes with 8 assignable pads and the keys are all full size. Some of the cheaper controllers are going to come with smaller keys, so this is a nice feature.

The Alesis V49 is a good entry level MIDI keyboard for music producers. It comes with 49 full-sized keys with adjustability sensitivity. This is a product that has 8 pads, 4 knobs, and a modulation wheel.

The V49 comes with Ableton Live Lite and Xpand2! This controller gives you more than the Keystation 49 II if you’re looking to use it for producing music.

There are octave up and down buttons that allow you to take full advantage of this instrument. It comes with the functionality as the Keystation 49 II, but also has a ton of extra features for a pretty reasonable price.

Features:
  • Weight: 9.5 pounds
  • 49 velocity-sensitive keys
  • 8 velocity-sensitive pads
  • 4 assignable knobs
  • Power: US
  • Built-in arp
Overall

I believe this is a solid choice. All of the pads are functional and it’s pretty durable overall. 

Roland A-49

Roland A-49

The Roland A-49 has a very nice key-bed. The topic of nice key-beds always come up when talking about Roland keyboards. It seems like their key-beds are always quality.

Click here to check out my favorite Roland keyboards in 2019.

Something musicians talk about with this MIDI keyboard is the key-bed action feeling really good.

The Roland A-49 comes with a D-beam controller. This is a Roland staple as it is on most of their keyboards. This is a synthesizer that allows you to play it by putting your hand over the D-beam sensor. It can make some crazy noises and it also looks cool when you’re playing it with your hand in the air.

The Roland A-49 doesn’t come with as many features as some of the other controllers, but as far as getting your basic needs done and being quality, it is good for that.

Features:
  • D-beam
  • Great synth-action keys
  • Transpose, octave, and pitch buttons
  • Very light-weight
Overall

I believe the A-49 is a great choice. It’s definitely on the cheaper end and it’s super functional. I would definitely recommend this as a cheaper option for musicians.

Samson Carbon 49

Samson Carbon 49

The Samson Carbon 49 is a keyboard that is definitely more so on the budget end. This is going to give you the basic features of a controller at a cheaper price.

The keys are velocity-sensitive and it also has a sustain pedal input for sustaining notes. The best thing about this keyboard is that it comes bundled with some Native Instruments software and it’s a cheap MIDI keyboard.

This controller does feel a little bit cheaper and it doesn’t come with any faders or drum pads. It comes with the traditional MIDI out and USB connections.

The feel of this key-bed is something many musicians are not huge fans of. This is mainly because this is meant to be an entry-level MIDI keyboard and not high-end. Entry-level controllers are good for being just that, entry-level.

Let’s look at some of the specs below:
  • 49 velocity-sensitive keys
  • Comes with Native Instrument’s Komplete Essential’s
  • 14 control parameters and  dedicated transpose and volume buttons
  • 8.1 pounds
Overall

This keyboard is as basic as you can get. It’s cheap, it works and it comes with some included software. 

M-Audio Keystation 49 II

The Keystation 49 II is a sleek and slim MIDI keyboard that doesn’t give you a ton of features, but it will provide you with the basics. It comes with 49 full-size synth-action keys that are velocity-sensitive. It doesn’t have any pads, knobs or faders, so if you’re looking for something in that realm, this isn’t going to be your pick.

The Keystation 49 II is built for playing virtual instruments on your PC and Mac. This is extremely light and this is definitely one of the pluses. I would recommend this to people who don’t need a lot of features from a keyboard.

Modulation and pitch bend on the Keystation 49 II give it some excitement and allow the musician to get creative with their playing. Another plus is it comes with Ableton Live Lite for instant music production.

  • Weight: 6 pounds
  • Power: USB
  • Transport buttons
  • Modulation wheel
  • Pitch bend wheel
  • Octave buttons
  • Volume slider
  • 49 full-size velocity-sensitive keys
Overall

Overall, this is a basic controller that is decent. I would recommend others on this list over this one.


Things To Consider When Buying 49 Key MIDI Keyboards

Pads & Knobs
Pads & Knob Layout & Functionality Is Important

The first controller that I owned was the original Launchkey. I actually liked having the 16 pads and 8 knobs right next to each. However, I was unimpressed with the durability and functionality of the knobs. The broke extremely easily and they were to the point that they were changing MIDI values without me even touching them.

One thing you should be aware of is that the knobs on controllers often feel quite cheap. You will want to baby them as much as you possibly can. I know that seems annoying, but they are usually fragile.

Note: I broke my knobs while on tour and it was frustrating to deal with it each night.

Pad functionality will vary greatly from controller to controller. You will want pads that work seamlessly with each DAW if possible. Also, try to stay away from pads that double trigger often as this is the most annoying thing in the world when tracking.

Keyboard Faders

It is important that the faders on your keyboard are functional with different DAW’s and that they are durable. As you can see above, my first controller’s faders were not durable. These faders would also change values on me and parameters while I was performing.

Make sure that if your keyboard has faders, they actually work. There’s no point to having faders that aren’t functional.

Why Would I Want A 49 Key MIDI Controller Opposed To A Different Size?

The 49 key MIDI controller is so popular because it’s not too small and it’s not too big. I own every size and if I’m not just playing piano, I prefer the 49 because it has enough keys to not limit me, yet I can still take it on the road and have it be very convenient.

They make controllers that are extremely small now, the thing is the key-beds can often time feel very cheap.

If you are thinking that 49 keys might just be a little too small for your liking, then I would recommend just jumping the 61 key keyboards and going straight to an 88 key controller as they can give you weighted keys that feel really nice.


Do I Need A Case?

It depends, are your touring? If you are touring, then you will definitely need some sort of case. If you are strictly using your keyboard for recording in a studio, then you don’t really need one. If you are going on the road or gigging frequently we recommend a hard case.

You don’t need a hard case, however, any serious musicians gigging frequently don’t want to be putting their keyboard in a trailer in a soft case.


Touring

When touring, you want to make sure have the proper protection for it. Some of the knobs and faders can come off easily on the cheaper keyboards. I noticed this in the early days of these instruments and this is something that they have greatly improved on.

Be careful with the screens as they can crack, however they are pretty durable. Since these are light, they are rather convenient to tour with and they are pretty durable as well.


49 Keys Vs 88 Keys

The biggest difference between a 49 key MIDI keyboard and an 88 key controller is going to be the potential of weighted keys. 88 key keyboards have the potential of having nicer key-beds. Now, this isn’t always necessary and it always comes down to the needs of the musician.

If you want to read more on the 88 key MIDI controllers, check out the link in which I break down the very best in 2019.

There will be a difference in weight when you go from 49 keys to 88 key keyboards. MIDI keyboards, in general, are lighter than normal digital pianos, but some might still have some decent weight to them.

49 key controllers will still have the same features to them that an 88 key controller will have. A lot of 88 key MIDI instruments don’t actually have drum pads and some might not come with faders either.

Looking or a laptop stand? Here are the best ones for musicians.


49 Keys Vs Mini MIDI Keyboard

Although 49 key MIDI keyboards are portable, the ultimate portable instrument is the mini MIDI controller. These are going to be more portable, but also will feel a bit cheaper. The keys are also smaller on mini controllers than on normal ones.


49 Keys Vs 61

The big difference between 49 key controllers and 61 key keyboards is basically going to be size and weight. These controllers are very similar in the sense of size and features. The good thing about these instruments is that if you like the 25 key controller that a company makes, you’re probably going to like the same product they make in 49, 61 or 88 keys.


Like Your MIDI Controller, But Desire More Keys?

If you really like the features and specs, but you’re thinking you want something that has weighted keys, then the good thing is that most 49 key MIDI controllers are also made in 61 and 88. All of the popular keyboards will come in different sizes with more or fewer keys and it’s up to you as the musician to pick the one you desire.

When you go up in size you’re also going up in price.


49 Keys Vs 25 Keys

25 key MIDI keyboards are going to more portable than a 49 key MIDI keyboard The one thing I will say is that I prefer 49 keys over 25 keys just for live music purposes. Having more keys is important when you’re playing gigs.

25 key instruments typically feel a little bit cheaper and lighter as well.

Do You Need A MIDI Keyboard?

This is totally dependent on what your desired needs are. The easy answer here is, no. If you’re a beginner music producer, there are a couple things that you can be looking at before getting a 49 key MIDI keyboard.

I would recommend investing in the following before getting a MIDI keyboard:

  • Laptop Or PC, you will need one to use a MIDI keyboard
  • A proper DAW(this is your home base basically)
  • Monitors or studio headphones
  • Quality VST’s
  • Audio Interface

Without these, a MIDI controller won’t be of much use. Once you have these figured out, then you can go figure out which MIDI keyboard to go for. While there are free DAW’s, I don’t think that you can truly crush it without a real DAW. You just get so many more features that ultimately allow you to do more on your MIDI controllers.

Main Reasons We Use MIDI Keyboards

We use 49 key MIDI keyboards in order to enter MIDI notes and to better control our DAW’s. It is important to note that this can be done by just using your computer and mouse, however, it can take the fun out of it. As a pianist, sitting and click on MIDI notes on a screen is one of the most life-sucking things that I have done.

All of the notes that you enter in this way will be perfect as you’re drawing them in. When you use a keyboard, you can record and play the notes, which depending on the style of music, could be what you want.

EDM music can be done without MIDI controllers as most, but not all, is quantized and perfect. This is just that style of music, however, I will say that a lot of rocks bands are now making ever note perfect, even if they play it on a controller. It’s just the way of the industry.


Type Of Keys

When deciding on which type of keyboard you want, you will want to decide which type of keys work best for you. There are a few different types of keys-beds that are worth mentioning here.

Synth-Action: Most MIDI keyboards are going to come with synth-action keys. This is one of the cheapest options for keys, but they do have use for MIDI keyboards. The keys are made of plastic and they use springs instead of weights to return the keys to their original position.

Semi-Weighted: These types of keys are mix between weighted keys and synth-action. They combine springs with light weights in order to return the keys to their original position.

Hammer Action Keys: These are on most digital pianos. The keys are designed to emulate a piano as best as they can. These keys are weighted and feel a lot heavier than semi-weighted.

Image Source: dummies.com

Conclusion

The product that really stands out to us is the Akai Professional MPK249. We are factoring in price, quality, and reviews when coming up with our picks. Another thing that sets us apart, is we have played on most of the products we review.

For a budget 49 key MIDI keyboard controller, we recommend the Launchkey 49 MKII.

We are in an exciting time for MIDI keyboards and watching where the MIDI world goes in the next years will be interesting and fun.

We mentioned that wireless is sure to have a big impact as it is already starting to, but I’m also curious to see what kind of new features will come with keyboard controllers.

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