Now that we are well in to 2017, we thought it was a good time to re-assess the MIDI keyboard situation for Mac users. We have some new contenders on the block that have pushed some old favorites to the side, while AKAI, Native Instruments and more continue to bring some of the best and most affordable controllers to market.
Head below for our 2017 picks of the best MIDI keyboards for Mac users:
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Native Instruments Komplete MIDI Keyboards:
Native Instruments has remained a dominant force in the virtual instrument/effects space for as many years as I can remember now, and it is slowly taking over the hardware controller world too. Its Maschine and Komplete Kontrol MIDI keyboards have an integrated collection of sounds and instruments unlike any other platform there is. And they play perfectly well with Logic Pro X and other major DAWs.
In our hands-on review of the Komplete Kontrol keyboards we found them to be a fantastic investment for anyone already using NI’s incredible suite of virtual gear. A solid build and extremely tight hardware control over the software side of things make these one of the best options in the price range.
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol Keyboards come in 4 size variations:
- Komplete Kontrol S25 25-Key $399
- Komplete Kontrol S49 49-Key $599
- Komplete Kontrol S61 61-Key $699
- Komplete Kontrol S88 88-Key $999
The Arturia KeyLab products, like the Complete Kontrol, line are tightly connected with Arturia’s Analog Lab software. However, not only do you get a solid USB/MIDI keyboard controller, but over 5,000 synths from inside the software included for the price. Recently the line was updated with “Essential” models and even more sounds packed in. Whether you go with the KeyLab (25, 49, 61 or 88) or the new Essential model, you’ll be getting a solid keyboard that works with your Mac right out of the box.
The Arturia Keylab starts at $189 and the Essential line will begin shipping in June with preorders coming in at $199 for the 49-key and $249 for the 61-key variant.
Arturia has been doing some fantastic things as of late, even its KeyStep keyboard offers up great value for a mini MIDI keyboard along with full CV control for modular synth users. I happen to be a big fan of the Beat Step Pro sequencer, which recently released with a special black colorway.
- Arturia KeyStep 32-Key USB/CV/MIDI Keyboard $119
- Arturia KeyLab 25 Hybrid USB/MIDI Keyboard Controller $189
- Arturia KeyLab 49 Hybrid USB/MIDI Keyboard Controller $349
- Arturia KeyLab 88 Hybrid USB/MIDI Keyboard Controller $799
AKAI MPK Mini MKII 25-Key USB MIDI Controller:
When it comes to the $100 range or so, we are still loving AKAI’s MPK Mini MKII 25-Key USB MIDI Controller. It is an Amazon best-seller for a reason. AKAI makes really good quality gear (especially the MPK line, I have been using it for years). So to be able to bring one of its pro controllers home for under $100, its major win for anyone looking to get a good quality controller without breaking the bank. It does skimp out on the features either: 25-keys, 8 rubber drum pads, 8 fully-assignable control knobs a dedicated note repeat function and more.
But Akai also makes some other fantastic controller options in various sizes. Here are your best options:
- Akai Pro LPK25 25-Key Portable MIDI Keyboard $57
- Akai MPK Mini MKII 25-Key USB MIDI Keyboard $99
- Akai Pro MPK225 MKII 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard $249
- Akai Pro MPK249 MKII 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard $399
- Akai Pro MPK261 MKII 61-Key USB MIDI Keyboard $499
Some honorable mentions in the $100 range include the Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note USB Keyboard Controller, the M-Audio Keystation II USB MIDI Keyboard and the IK Multimedia iRig Keys Pro
If you’re just getting going, and looking for something really inexpensive to start with, here are some options floating around $50 or less that will get you jamming in minutes:
- Korg nanoKEY2 Slim-Line USB Keyboard $50
- midiplus AKM320 MIDI Keyboard Controller $40
- IK Multimedia iRig Keys MINI 25-key Keyboard $79
For all things Mac and iOS music production stay locked to our Logic Pros series.
The Logic Pros are: Justin Kahn and Jordan Kahn, who also front Toronto-based electronic/hip-hop group Makamachine.
Want more Logic Pros? Check out the archives here and stay tuned for a new installment each week in 2017.