Budget MIDI Controllers

Best MIDI Keyboards Under $100 – Quality Options

Disclaimer: Links throughout the article may be affiliated. If you click and make a purchase, I get a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

MIDI keyboards have gotten better and better over the years. This is one of the main reasons why I thought it would be great to put together a list of MIDI keyboards under $100.

All of these picks are options that I have played myself and owned as well. With this being said, there a couple of things to keep in mind.

Another thing that I want to be upfront about with these picks is that you are going to be sacrificing size or features in order to get into the under $100 bracket.

I believe this is completely fine though. If you’re on a budget and you’re a beginner, there’s no sense in breaking your bank.

Since you will be sacrificing size, this means that some of the options are going to be mini midi controllers. I, personally, love these as they’re small & portable MIDI controllers, yet still, give you the main features you need.

Top MIDI Keyboard Controllers Under $100

Novation Launchkey MK3 Mini – Best Mini Option Near $100

Best MIDI Keyboard Under $100
Novation Launchkey Mini MK3

The Novation Launchkey MK3 Mini is a great mini MIDI keyboard that has a ton of features and some awesome bundled software.

For those who are looking to work in a studio or work out of their bedroom/basements, this is my top pick. It’s inexpensive, yet perfect to wet your feet.

This is perfect for Ableton Live as it was built specifically for this DAW. It also works with every other major DAW as well, including free DAWs. If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend using a free DAW at first.

One of the main selling points that you hear about this controller is that it fits perfectly into most backpacks. This is true, but it’s not the best selling point in my opinion.

I believe that the 16 pads and 8 knobs are far more important.

The bundled software is also a major win for Novation as you are given a lot of really expensive software for free.

Including Ableton Live Lite, & Addictive Keys. Addictive Keys is an awesome piano VST that is also extremely popular and it is included in my favorite piano plugins list.

Pros

  • Includes great bundled software including Ableton Live Lite, Addictive Keys & more
  • 8 rotary knobs
  • 16 RGB Lit Pads
  • MIDI out (Allows you to control hardware synths)
  • Pitch and Modulation sliders
  • Sustain input
  • USB: Yes
  • Portable & Lightweight (1.55 lbs)

Cons

  • Small Keys

Nektar SE49 – Best Under $100

Nektar SE49

Nektar makes some really great MIDI controllers and the SE49 is their entry-level option. This is a great option for those who are on a budget. The keys are full-sized and surprisingly a selling point with this keyboard as well.

Everything about this keyboard has streamlined down to make a simple quality MIDI keyboard controller for beginners.

One thing that was different on this controller was the wheels. They’re smaller, but they are pretty accurate honestly. I was worried about these as they are much smaller than some options.

The Nektar SE 49 also comes with Bitwig and 50 free VSTs. I’m a big fan of bundled software as it saves you tons of money in the long run.

M-Audio Keystation 49

M-Audio Keystation 49

The M-Audio Keystation 49 is a reliable full-sized key MIDI keyboard for under $100. This is pretty crazy as there are not a lot of 49 key controllers at this price point.

You’re not getting anything crazy with this controller, however, it’s fully functional and it works well with all major DAWs. This is pretty much all you need when starting out.

If you have a piano background, this would be better than the mini options as you can’t play them as well to take advantage of your skills.

This is a newer controller and that is something that appeals to me. Sometimes you can get older options that have really bad MIDI functionality.

Pros

  • 49 Full-Sized Keys
  • Modulation wheel & Pitch-Bend
  • Includes Ableton Live Lite & Skoove
  • Sustain Input
  • Dedicated transport controls

Cons

  • Can’t control hardware synths
  • Lacks Pads

Arturia Microlab

3 controllers under 100

The Micro lab 25 is the cheapest option on this list. It is extremely light and it has some really cool features.

One of the cool things about this controller is that it has a USB cable that is built-in. When it’s not plugged in, it retracts.

View my full review of the Microlab 25 here.

It is available in 3 colors that all have a really cool look to them. The colors are orange, blue, and black.

Weight is a big thing with the Micro Lab 25. It only weighs 1.8 pounds and it can easily fit in a backpack or a small case. This is nice if you’re touring or traveling with it.

Pros

  • Retractable USB
  • Comes with bundled software including UVI Grand Piano
  • Solid build
  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Small Keys
  • Lacks Pads

Akai Professional Fire

Pad Controller

The Akai Professional Fire is currently the best MIDI controller for FL Studio and it is a great one for this price point as well.

This is a controller that is pad-based rather than a keyboard controller. The Fire comes with 64 pads that can launch different loops or be used to launch samples.

This is popular for those making EDM or hip hop music as you can quickly make some really tasty beats.

Pros

Cons

  • No keys

What To Look For In MIDI Keyboards Under $100?

Basic Functionality: In cheap controllers, I think the most important thing to hammer is that it has good and basic functionality. It should work well with all major DAWs so you’re not limited.

It’s not super important to have a ton of features as much as it is to have a device that just works well when starting out.

Keys: Some of the keys will be mini and this is important to note. If you’re a pianist, you might want to aim towards the 49 key options as they have full-sized keys.

Transport Controls: Having basic transport controls on your controller is important for speeding up your workflow. These controls are your play, pause, record, stop, and loop buttons.

Software: Having bundled software is always a major plus. This will save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in the long run.

Pads: Most controllers near this price range are not going to have pads. If it has pads, it makes it convenient to make certain styles of beats as well as triggering loops.

Conclusion

It is now possible to have a MIDI controller that is functional for under $100. I didn’t think I would be saying this 5 years ago.

Years ago, controllers were more expensive and they really weren’t that great. I had many options that I went through that just weren’t fully functional.

I hope this list made it easier for you to decide on what to go with.

Leave a Reply