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Today, we are going to take a look at all of the best MIDI controllers for Reason.
Reason was launched back in 2000 and it is currently one of the major DAWs used by music producers today. I’ve recently been looking at all of the DAWs and putting together lists of my favorite MIDI controllers for each.
There are currently only a couple of MIDI keyboard controllers built specifically for Reason. With this being said, there are still going to be a few different criteria I use to grade each controller.
Note: I have been playing MIDI controllers for over 8 years and I have played basically all of the controllers currently available.
Quick Look At My Top Picks
|Editors Choice||Nektar Panorama T4||
|Runner Up||Arturia Keylab MKII||
|88 Key Option||Nektar LX88+||
|Alternative||Novation Launchkey MK3||
What To Look For In A Controller For Reason
Compatibility: One of the most frustrating things you can do is to buy a controller that isn’t very compatible with your DAW. All of the following options are either specifically geared towards Reason or they just work well with Reason.
Pads or Keyboard Based: Some controllers come with a keyboard whereas others are pad-based. This means that they don’t have keys and they transmit MIDI data when you hit their pads.
Mapping: Having a controller that is pre-mapped with your DAW is a great time saver. Back in the day, I had to figure out how to correctly map my controllers to certain DAWs.
Number Of Keys: If you’re looking for a keyboard controller, you will probably wonder how about the keys. If you’re someone looking to mainly work on creating beats, I would say that you can get away with a smaller amount of keys. The keys range from 25-88 keys.
Price: The less money that you have to spend on your DAW, the more money you can spend on a controller and VST software.
Best MIDI Controllers For Reason
Nektar Panorama T4 – Best Keyboard For Reason
The T4 is one of the most underrated controllers on the market. The key-bed is solid and the DAW integration is superb. Give the T4 a serious look before choosing a different option.
If you use Reason, this is currently the best controller I can possibly recommend. The P4 is built specifically with Reason in mind, even though it works with the other major DAWs as well.
The DAW integration with the T4 is extremely deep and well thought out. This greatly increases my workflow when using this controller and it also lets you get into the nitty-gritty a lot easier.
Overall, the only thing that some controllers can do better than the P4 is surf through presets directly through the controllers.
When it comes to 49 keys, the Panorama is one of the best 49 key MIDI controllers available.
Other than that, you have great sample pads, motorized faders, pitch-bend, modulation wheel, and rotary knobs to control parameters.
- Dedicated transport controls
- Pitch-bend & modulation wheel
- 12 sample pads
- Rotary knobs
- Full-sized keys
- MIDI controller Built For Reason
Akai MPK 225
The MPK 225 is a portable, yet powerful option for beginners. With a solid number of pads and controls, the MPK225 provides producers with everything they need when starting.
The Akai MPK 225 is a durable & portable controller that has been extremely popular for the last couple of years.
It allows you to streamline and browse all of your presets directly through its LCD screen. There are also transport controls on the controller that help speed up the workflow.
The keys are full-sized, though there are only 25. If you’re just looking to throw down some beats for songs and you don’t care about playing it like a piano, this will be a great size for you.
Akai is always known for its bundled software and the MPK 225 delivers here once again.
Aftertouch is on the MPK 225 meaning you can set some gnarly vibratos and really take advantage of the expression capabilities.
This is currently one of the best 25 key MIDI controllers available.
- 8 RGB lit MPC pads
- 12 assignable Q-link controllers
- 5-pin MIDI I/O
- Great transport controls
- Large LCD screen in the center
- VIP 3.0 software download
- Compatible with all major DAWs
- Not the best if you’re looking to play piano with it
M-Audio Keystation 49 -Great Budget Option
The M Audio Keystation MK III is a solid pick from M-Audio. This is a great choice if you're on a tight budget and looking for something extremely simple.
The M-Audio Keystation 61 is definitely a cheaper controller, however, it functions nicely with Reason. It doesn’t have nearly as many features as some of the options, but it also much cheaper and has 61 full-sized keys.
As far as 61 key MIDI keyboards go, this is definitely a solid budget pick. I wouldn’t take it over a few different options, but it has what you need in a controller.
Arturia Keylab 88 MK II
The MK2 is built like a brickhouse. It's not extremely heavy, it gives you a ton of control for both live and studio, and it is the most durable controller I've played to date.
The Arturia Keylab 88 MK II is one of the most durable controllers I have ever played on. It’s a little bit heavier than other controllers, however, it really feels like quality.
The Keylab 88 MK II has 16 drum pads, 9 rotary knobs, and 9 faders. It has a weighted key-bed, which is quite rare in a MIDI controller.
With weighted keys, the Keylab 88 MK II instantly has become one of the best 88 key MIDI controllers.
The screen is a little small on the MK II and that is one negative about this controller.
As far as bundled software goes, the MK II comes with Analog Lab as well as Ableton Live Lite. You are getting 500 new sounds for free at your disposal and that is a big plus.
- Weighted keys
- Pitch-bend & modulation wheel
- 16 RGB backlit pads
- 9 rotary knobs
- 9 faders
- Dedicated transport controls
- MIDI I/O/Thru
- Bundled software
- Deep DAW integration
- Small interface screen
Novation Launchkey Mini MK3
The Novation Mini is specifically built for Ableton. It's small enough to fit in your backpack, yet powerful enough to allow you to create beats on the go.
The Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 is a portable mini MIDI controller that is fully functional with Reason. It’s extremely lightweight and has the most features of any mini controller.
Mini controllers are great for those making hip hop beats as this style doesn’t typically require the full 88 keys.
This isn’t the most durable controller and it is extremely small. Think of this as a beginner’s MIDI controller or a keyboard for travelers.
If you’re looking to control an external hardware synthesizer, you’re in luck with the Launchkey Mini MK3.
You can use this to control any synthesizer you would possibly like to and I find this as a big plus.
- Extremely lightweight
- Bundled software
- Easy to use
- 16 pads
- 8 rotary knobs
- Can control external synthesizers
- Pitch-bend & modulation strips
- Smaller keys
- Not the most durable
When it comes to MIDI keyboards for Reason, there are going to be a ton of different options. I purposely picked all of the options on this list and I have also made sure all of the options are constantly updated.
The best option is currently the Nektar Panorama P4, in my opinion. What is your favorite option? Do you use a keyboard when working on Reason? Let me know below!
I am thinking of buying the Panorama P4 for my Son, he uses Reason 10. Is the Panorama P4 compatible with Reason 10 and 11?
I would recommend going for the Panorama T4 as its newer. I’ve seen a few people saying that they have trouble with the P4 with the newest versions of Reason now!
I will be updating this post to include this!
If i were to choose between the panorama p6 and the arturia keylab mk2, what would make more sense ?
Thanks for the question. I would recommend the Keylab MK2. Nektar also recently came out with the T series and that’s worth a glance at. The P series is a little dated and I will be updating this article as it doesn’t fully work with the newest versions of Reason!
Thanks for the great article. I’m looking for a reason controller keyboard….. but cant get a clear picture on whether the P or T series work with Reason 11.
Have you heard any news on this … or what would you recommend as a safe alternative?
Hi Pete, the T series will work with Reason 11. Also, I would recommend the Novation SL MK III or the Arturia Keylab MK II. The motorized controls of the P series are what doesn’t work with Reason 11 to my knowledge!
I currently use ableton but I am also thinking about getting the Reason Rack Plugin in the near future for more instrument and effect functionality. Which midi keyboard controller would be a great fit for using BOTH Ableton and Reason simultaneously…???
I would go with the Novation SL MK III! It has the right ins and outs to run a setup like that!
I’ve read that the button mapping on the keylab mk II is not set up for Reason. Was it hard to set up and have you been able to get all the transport controls to work?
I need an 88 weighted key controller for reason.
Currently using m audio e61.
I’ve been toying with the Komplete Kontrol s88 mk2 and Arturia keylab.
No mention of the Akai MPK249? I’ve used it for both Reason 10 and 11, and I absolutely LOVE it! Other than that… great article! 🙂
Hi Chris, I’m about to buy Reason 12, what small 25 key midi keyboard would recommend to work best with Reason? many thanks. Matt