MIDI Keyboard Controllers Under $200

Best MIDI Keyboards Under $200

When it comes to producing music, a MIDI keyboard is one of the most important things that you can purchase. With this being said, there is a lot of false information as to what you truly need when starting out. The best MIDI keyboards for under $200 are often minimalistic and easy to use.

I think that having a functional MIDI keyboard that doesn’t have a ton of additional features is more than okay, and probably better to for a beginner.

If you’re trying to keep your budget down, focusing on something that is simple to use and efficient is exactly what I recommend.

The amount of number one hit songs that have been written with cheap MIDI controllers is staggering. It comes down to what you do with your tools, rather than what you have.

Note: Keep in mind, a MIDI keyboard’s main purpose is to send MIDI messages from your controller to your DAW. While there are a ton of different things to look for, I have broken down the criteria in which I find to be the most important below.

How I Grade Each Controller

Features On Controllers

Experience: I’ve played on pretty much every single MIDI controller available. I also used them on tour for the last 6 years night after night.

Functionality: Some keyboards function better than others, especially with certain DAWs. I’ve noticed throughout the years that some controllers bug out and don’t map as easily as others.

Pads: Some controllers have pads that you can use to trigger samples and to make beats with. I think this is a great bonus to have for your keyboard.

Software: A few of these options include bundled software that includes VSTs and free DAWs to test out.

Durability: The build quality on these types of keyboards, especially for under $200 is not going to be the greatest. With this being said, the keys may feel a little cheap and you will want to play them a little more conservatively.

Keys: The number of keys range from 25,32,37,49,61, & 88. It’s not necessarily, the more keys the better, however, it doesn’t hurt to have extra keys provided that they’re quality.

Transport Controls: Transport controls are features such as play, record, stop, pause & hold. Having these on controllers is great because it makes for less downtime.

MIDI Controller Transport Controls

Best MIDI Keyboards Under $200

Novation Launchkey 49

Launchkey Keyboard

The Novation Launchkey 49 has really stood the test of time. This is now under $200 and it is a fantastic option for those who want more than just 25 keys.

This was built specifically for the DAW Ableton Live. With this being said, it works really well with all major DAWs. The main reason why its price is lower is that Novation just dropped the Novation SL MK III.

Novation controllers, in general, are great for touring as well as for the studio. I actually used the original Launchkey for touring for a couple of years myself.

My favorite thing about this controller is the fact that it has 16 RGB lit velocity-sensitive pads. This is a great feature, and it’s hard to believe it’s price-point.

There is bundled software included with the Launchkey 49 is as followed:

  • 4 GB of Loopmaster samples
  • Ableton Live Lite, Bass Station VST, V Station VST, XLN Addictive Keys Instrument

The Ableton Live Lite is and the Loopmaster samples are some great additions to the controller. These will allow you to really explore music production, especially if you watch some videos on the controller and Ableton.

Pros

  • 16 RGB Lit Pads
  • 9 Faders
  • 8 Rotary Knobs
  • Transport Controls
  • Octave Buttons
  • Pitch-bend and mod wheel
  • 49 full-size keys
  • Great bundled software

Cons

  • Build quality isn’t the best compared to more expensive options

Arturia Keystep Controller & Sequencer

Keystep Pro Controller

The Keystep is one of Arturia’s most sought after controllers. One thing to note here is that Arturia also just launched the Keystep Pro. This is one of the reasons why this controller is more affordable.

This is not only a MIDI controller but also a 64 step sequencer. This controller can do some incredible things and it is one of the more fun controllers I’ve played with.

Instead of smaller keys, the Keystep has 32 slim sized keys. You will find that a lot of the keys on keyboards under $200 will be smaller.

Arturia is one of the biggest names in controllers and I believe they have the most durable products available.

Pros

  • Onboard Sequencer
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight (3 lbs)
  • USB: Micro USB
  • Pitchbend and mod wheel strips
  • Portable

Cons

  • Lacks Pads
  • Lacks Faders

Akai MPK Mini MK2

Mini MK2

The Akai MPK Mini MK2 is one of the most popular mini MIDI controllers on the market. It has 8 pads, 8 rotary knobs, and also a pitch-bend.

One of the main reasons why musicians dig this option so much is that the pads are actually quite large for a mini controller.

Since this is a mini MIDI controller, keep in mind that it is not extremely durable and that it has tiny keys.

This will not play like a real piano because of its keys. With this being said, it’s great for writing melodies and making beats.

Pros

  • 8 backlit pads
  • 8 rotary knobs
  • USB
  • Only weighs 1.65 lbs
  • Pitch-bend/mod-stick
  • Built-in sustain input
  • Includes bundled software

Cons

  • Small Keys

M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3 

M-Audio Keystation MK3

M-Audio is known for making keyboards that are on the cheaper side. With this being said, the Keystation 49 MK3 is actually a solid pick. It’s extremely affordable and it is fully functional.

There aren’t a ton of special features with this keyboard, but it does your basics well.

This keyboard is equipped with 49 full-sized keys and for under $200 this is another surprise to me.

If you’re a beginner, you will like that this comes with a ton of bundled software.

Pros

  • 49 Full-Size keys
  • 8 Included software including Ableton Live Lite & Skoove
  • Transport Controls
  • Pitch-bend mod-wheel

Cons

  • Lacks Pads
  • Lacks Faders

Nektar Impact GX61 

Impact GX61

The Nektar Impact GX61 has 61 full-sized keys and comes in under $200. This is a great option for those who know how to play the piano as you will have more octaves.

The GX61 is one of the most affordable 61 key MIDI keyboards that you can currently purchase. With this being said, this would be the cheapest option for 61 key controllers I would recommend.

There aren’t a ton of features with this controller, but it does have your basic transport controls to speed up the process of recording.

Since you have 61 keys, I would recommend checking out some piano VSTs as you can find some realistic sounding options.

Pros

  • 61 Full-Sized keys
  • Transport Controls
  • Sustain Pedal Input
  • Only 6 lbs
  • Pitch-bend/ mod-wheel
  • Includes DAW software (Bitwig)

Cons

  • Lacks Pads
  • No Faders

Conclusion

I specifically compiled this list together trying to keep in mind different sized keyboards.

Finding decent MIDI keyboards under $200 is not easy as there are a lot of options that just aren’t great.

If you’re wanting to go with an option that has a lot of different features and works extremely well with all major DAWs, go with the Novation Launchkey 49.

I hope you found this list helpful if so, let me know in the comments below!

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