There are lots of MIDI keyboards on the market, and there are lots of weighted keyboards, but weighted MIDI keyboards are harder to find. However, they do exist, and if that’s what you’re looking for, here are our top picks for best fully- and semi-weighted MIDI keyboardcontroller to help you find the right one.
Quick Glance: The Best Fully and Semi-Weighted MIDI Keyboard Controller
If you want a decent mid-range MIDI keyboard with semi-weighted keys, this model from Akai should be of interest. Specifically, it has 49 keys – but it is also available as a 25-key or 61-key version if you prefer something bigger or more compact.
The biggest advantage with this machine is how many functions and options it provides, making it an extremely versatile controller – you will be able to use this for a whole range of music production applications.
Just to give one example, we particularly like the four banks of 16 pads that make it easy to trigger samples, activate loops and employ a whole range of other actions.
Furthermore, due to the onboard USB-MIDI interface, it can be used as your central unit, controlling all the other MIDI instruments in your setup.
We also appreciate the build quality of this machine – this is a tough unit that is built to last.
There’s not much to dislike about this keyboard. We might complain that the keys are a little heavy, and some people might feel you have to press quite hard to get them to play.
Also, since it has so many functions, it might be a little confusing for beginners – but if you know what you’re doing, it provides excellent scope for creative composition.
All in all, a great option for anyone looking for a dedicated MIDI keyboard with loads of extra functionality. If that sounds like the kind of thing you need, this could be an excellent choice.
49 semi-weighted full-size velocity-sensitive keys – for a natural feel
4 banks of 16 pads – giving a total of 64
Assignable controls – to control your DAW more easily
Onboard USB-MIDI interface – use it as your central unit
Well built – should last a long time
Keys feel a little heavy – make take some getting used to
A little complicated for beginners – because so many features
For anyone who prefers a simpler model with more basic functionality, this model from M Audio could be a great option.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is the easy-to-understand interface. It isn’t packed with loads of features, so if you’re a beginner or don’t need anything too fancy, this is a MIDI keyboard that should appeal.
That said, it does offer all the most important controls you would expect. For example, you’ll find pitch bend and modulation wheels, and it also incorporates a convenient octave switch – with a light that helps you keep track of what you’re doing.
We also like the way you can adjust the velocity curves, allowing you to change the responsiveness to suit your requirements.
However, despite this being advertised as a Plug-and-Play unit, this is not true for every DAW – many of them require you to go through a setup process that can be a little confusing and frustrating.
Also, the USB port seems a little flimsy, so you’ll need to be careful you don’t damage it while you’re using it.
In sum, despite these minor issues, this is a solid MIDI keyboard that does the basics well. If that’s what you need – and you don’t need any fancy advanced functions – this could be an excellent pick.
Simple interface – nothing complicated that will confuse you
Adjustable velocity curves – set it up the way you prefer
Pitch bend and modulation wheels – to control these important parameters
Simple octave switching – with light to help you see what you’re doing
Great value – very reasonably priced controller
Plug-and-Play doesn’t work with everything – can be a little complicated to set up
USB port feels flimsy – need to be careful not to break it
If you like the sound of the M Audio keyboard above but are looking for a full-size model with similar functionality, this unit from the same company could be the ideal alternative.
With its 88 full-size keys, it will feel much more like playing a real piano, making it a good pick for those who want to be able to play a wide range of styles.
The design is very simple and easy to understand, but we like the way it incorporates Core Control, a feature designed to make it easier to use this keyboard to control your DAW with minimal use of the mouse.
The onboard controls also include useful pitch bend and modulation adjusters, again, making it easy to control these parameters from the keyboard.
It comes with its own software package, making it easy to start playing as soon as it arrives. However, it is also compatible with all the most popular DAWs, so if you already have one, you’ll be able to use it with that too.
The pack also includes a 2GB sound library, giving you loads of scope for original composition.
However, on the downside, if you want to use it with other DAWs, the setup can be a little complicated, and you may find you need a little patience to get it set up and working correctly.
Also, be aware that this is a big keyboard with a large footprint – so if you don’t have lots of space, you might be better off looking elsewhere.
In short, a great option for anyone who’s looking for a full-size MIDI keyboard that’s easy to use and represents great value for money. However, if you’re looking for a compact option for a smaller home studio, this might not be the best pick.
Full-size keyboard with 88 keys – for the feel of playing a real piano
Core Control – makes it easy to control your DAW
Includes software – but also compatible with most other DAWs
Pitch bend and modulation controls – for extra creativity
Includes 2GB sound library – allows you to play a range of sounds
Complicated setup for some DAWs – may take some time and patience
Large footprint – will take up quite a bit of space
If you’re in the market for a reliable entry-level MIDI controller that will allow you to learn the basics before progressing onto some more advanced techniques, this model from Alesis could be worth a look.
Right away you’ll notice the large number of pads and knobs – 36 and 12 respectively to be precise. This gives you plenty of scope for manipulating your music and controlling your DAW from the hardware.
It also boasts USB and 5-pin MIDI-out, which makes it a more versatile option and gives you more options over how to organize your setup. We like the rugged build quality too – this is a keyboard that should last a long time if you take care of it.
Furthermore, it comes packaged with Ableton Lite, a slimmed-down version of one of the most powerful and popular DAWs currently in use. This is great for beginners since it gives you the chance to try it out before investing in the full version.
However, one negative is that it is a little complicated to get it set up and running at first – although once you get past this hurdle, you won’t need to worry about it again.
Also, the pads can sometimes be a little inconsistent, but this is something you can get used to after working with it for a while.
Overall, another solid pick if you are looking for something that will let you try your hand at electronic music production. It has everything you need to get started and more and sells at a very reasonable price point, making it an option that’s well worth checking out.
36 buttons and 12 knobs – gives you lots of ways to manipulate sounds
Excellent value for money – great bang for your buck
Includes USB and 5-pin MIDI out – a versatile keyboard
Comes with Ableton Lite – an introduction to a popular and powerful DAW
Rugged build quality – should last a long time
Setup a little complicated – clearer instructions would be appreciated
Pads a little inconsistent – but you get used to them
For those looking for a versatile keyboard that can work as a MIDI controller but that also functions as a regular stand-alone keyboard, this high-quality option should be of interest.
As a regular keyboard, it feels authentic to play, and it also boasts a 1GB sound bank, giving you a whole range of sounds to choose from.
Furthermore, the professional-quality FX section allows you to apply up to six different effects simultaneously, so there’s plenty of scope for creating your own sounds and adding a new level of creativity to your performances.
On the downside, there are no instructions for how to use many of the more advanced features, and this is something you’ll need to work out.
Another slight issue is that navigation can be a little complicated, but you get used to it with time, so this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
This is the kind of machine that will appeal to anyone who wants a high-quality piano substitute that will also double up as a MIDI controller for recording music digitally. It’s a bit pricy, but we think it’s worth the money it costs. A recommended option.
Versatile machine – can be used as a MIDI controller or a regular keyboard
1GB sound bank – to create a range of sounds
Professional FX section – can combine up to 6 effects
Includes built-in speakers – ideal for practicing or performing at home
Great value for money – despite the relatively high price
No instructions for some features – need to work out how to use it
A little complicated to navigate – but you can get used to it
If you’re looking for a keyboard that you can learn on but that will also double up as a MIDI controller to give you the option of recording onto a computer, this could be just the model you’re looking for.
It’s designed specifically with learners in mind, so it packs in lots of features that will help you pick up the basics as quickly as possible. Furthermore, it boasts full-size keys, meaning you won’t have a problem switching to a real piano when you have the opportunity.
Another positive is the sound quality, which is highly impressive for something in this category. Of course, it won’t produce professional-level sound, but it’s more than adequate and something beginners will enjoy playing.
We also like the way it can run off batteries – and it gives you plenty of play time per charge – making it a good option if you need to play somewhere without a power source.
For something at this kind of price point and with all the features it includes, there’s not much to complain about. However, we should point out that when used to record MIDI, it doesn’t register the key velocity – so it doesn’t record how hard you press the key.
Also, the transpose function covers less than an octave, something that some people might find limiting.
To summarize, a great pick for beginners who need a keyboard for learning on and who also want the option of using MIDI to record their music. However, probably not the best option if MIDI is your most important consideration.
Great option for beginners – lots of useful features to help you learn
Good sound quality – impressive for an inexpensive keyboard
Full-size keys – good piano substitute
Good battery power – lasts a long time on one charge
Includes case – protects it when you need to take it with you
MIDI doesn’t record velocity – doesn’t register how hard you press the key
Transposes less than one octave – more range would have been better
Owning a full-sized acoustic piano is not convenient for a number of reasons, most obviously due to the size and the cost. However, nowadays, there are many great electric options that come close to matching the real thing, and this model from Yamaha fits that description.
One of the biggest advantages here is that this unit is light and compact, meaning it won’t take up too much space if your home or studio is not the biggest.
The weighted action of the keys accurately mimics the sensation of playing a real piano, and the built-in speakers produce a sound that is very close to the sound of the real thing. We also like the bank of sounds it includes, giving you plenty of choice over how you play.
When you want to connect it to your computer to make use of its MIDI capability, it’s super-easy to do – you simply plug it in via USB and you’re ready to go.
One of the only issues with this keyboard is the price since it’s not cheap – however, it costs a lot less than many of the most expensive options, and we still think it represents great value for money.
Our only other gripe is that the pedal that comes with it is not of the same quality as the keyboard itself and feels more like an afterthought – although it’s easy enough to buy a better one should you so choose.
We like this keyboard a lot. It feels and sounds great, and it’s easy to hook it up to record via MIDI. If those are the qualities you’re looking for, this could be just what you need.
Light, compact and portable – ideal in homes or studios with limited space
Weighted action – accurately mimics a real piano
Exceptional sound for the price – sounds almost like a real acoustic piano
Respectable sound library – for more versatility in how you play
Easy to connect to MIDI device – via USB
More expensive option – although very reasonable for something of this quality
Included pedal inferior quality – feels almost like an afterthought
If you liked the sound of the dedicated MIDI keyboard from Alesis that we looked at earlier but are interested in a more versatile option that can be used as a regular keyboard, this model could be a great alternative.
It boasts 88 full-size keys and 128-note polyphony, making it perfect to practice on if you don’t have access to a real piano.
Due to the suite of educational features it includes, it’s especially suited to beginners hoping to learn the basics and progress from there. While it’s probably not ideal for advanced musicians, it will serve you well until you move beyond intermediate level.
One negative point to mention is that the settings can be a little hard to understand since they aren’t always completely intuitive. Also, the keys lack a little bit of sensitivity, which means sometimes they don’t register when you try to play very soft notes.
However, other than these minor problems, this is still a great option if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to a real piano that is good for learning on and that offers MIDI connectivity. If that’s what you need, this is a model that should be on your radar.
Premium sounds and FX – lots of options for creative playing
128-note polyphony – better than many comparable models
88 full-size keys – an alternative to a real piano
Lots of educational features – ideal for beginners who want to progress
Runs on mains power or battery – allows you to play wherever you want
Settings can be confusing – need to learn where everything is and how it works
If you are looking for an inexpensive keyboard to practice on first and one that offers MIDI capability second, this one could be worth a look. It’s designed for beginners who don’t have access to a real piano, and if you’re in that situation, it’s worth considering.
We like that this pack includes everything you need. Not only do you get the keyboard but also the stand, stool, pedal – and even piano lessons – all in one set.
The 88 full-sized semi-weighted keys will give you a similar experience to playing a real piano, and the built-in speakers will allow you to just start playing out of the box.
The main downside if we’re talking about MIDI keyboards is that, although this one offers MIDI capability, it doesn’t offer you the advanced MIDI functionality of a more specialized model.
Also, the speakers are not particularly powerful, but for practicing at home, this is not a huge issue.
A solid pick for beginners who also want the ability to record via MIDI but who won’t be using it for anything too advanced. If you don’t need anything more than that, this is an option that should be of interest.
Full set – includes everything you need to get started
88 full-size keys – semi-weighted and velocity-sensitive
Built-in speakers – for playing live
10 unique voices – to vary your playing
Includes free piano course – ideal for learners
Speakers a little weak – but ok for practicing at home
Not a dedicated MIDI keyboard – but offers MIDI functionality
This is another keyboard aimed at beginners, this time from Donner. It boasts 88 fully-weighted keys for the most realistic piano feel, and it also comes with a sustain pedal, allowing you to replicate the effect of the real thing.
We like the backlit LCD that makes it easy to see which mode you are in or make adjustments, and we are also impressed by the speakers, which are unexpectedly loud for something in this class.
On the downside, you may find that it is heavy and bulky – if you need something with a small footprint, this might not be the right option for you.
Also – and this is only a very minor complaint – the music stand is awkward to fit and feels a little flimsy when in place. However, this is not a big deal and shouldn’t put anyone off buying it.
This is another model that will appeal to anyone who wants an electronic keyboard for general use and who would appreciate the option of using it with MIDI. If you fall into that category, this could be a smart choice.
Very reasonably priced – great value for money
Fully-weighted keys – replicates the feel of a piano
Backlit LCD – makes it easy to see the settings
Includes pedal – no need to shop for accessories
Loud speakers – impressive for the price
Big and bulky – will take up space in your home
Music stand a little awkward – and on the flimsy side
Although there isn’t a huge range to pick from, there are still some excellent options out there. If you’re looking for a weighted MIDI keyboard but are having trouble deciding which one to go for, any of the options in our review would be a great place to start your search.