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Best 61 Key Midi Controllers | Complete Buyers Guide

Best 61 Key Midi Controllers

Deciding on the best way to make some music is not a challenging task. Plenty of key options exist out there for controlling sounds and making tracks. In order to make the best of finding a MIDI keyboard controller, here is a look at the best 61-key MIDI controller options for composers and electronic music producers on the market today.

We have done some hard work in preparing this list for you, and the items on the list include these options:

Before purchasing a MIDI keyboard controller, here are some things for you to consider first. With this information, you can better understand which one of these 61-key MIDI controllers fits your needs in the music world.

Table of Contents

Best 61-Key Keyboards Controllers 2021

Novation Launchkey 61 MK2 

Best Allround Midi Keyboard Controller

Novation Launchkey 61 MK2

Novation is known for making some of the best 61-key MIDI keyboards and drum pad options on the market. They allow full play when it comes to reimagining music and making original pieces out of seemingly unoriginal content.

The Launchkey 61 MK2 works on USB connectivity to plug the piece into a computer. You do not have to perform this step, as it can be plugged into other synthesizing machines as well.

The 61 keys on this MIDI controller are velocity-sensitive, so they respond directly to the amount of speed and pressure used on them with ease. They do not have to be pressed too hard, though, so hammering away on the keys does not have to happen.

Novation’s 61-key MIDI controller works with two full-color RGB backlighting button sets, which gives you visual control over what goes on in front of you with this MIDI controller. It does also come with a sustain pedal and the ¼ inch jack socket required for the piece. As with most Novation products, this Launchkey model is compatible with version nine or greater of Ableton Live Lite.

For the sake of making this MIDI keyboard controller work the best, though, you should certainly pair this MIDI controller with the newest version of Ableton Live. Otherwise, a synchronization situation might arise where the product and program do not want to operate well together. This model also comes with a pair of headphones.

Ergonomic design goes into these headphones, and they rotate up 180 degrees for when you want to simply wear them around your neck instead of over your ears.

LINK: Novation Launchkey 61

Akai Mpk 261

Best Drum Pads + Faders 

Akai Mpk 261

Akai also makes a MIDI controller with 61 keys. Furthermore, it works on USB connectivity. In most cases, it will plug and play with synthesizing machines, DJ equipment, and computers easily.

At the same time, it comes with 16 trigger pads that can be preset and used during live performances without much time being spent on programming. In many ways, this keyboard acts as an all-in-one MIDI controller because of the faders and knobs it offers for fine-tuned control over the music.

You can either sit and record original pieces, or you can play your favorites from times past. The 61 keys on this MIDI controller come with semi-weighted power. Hence, they will, in some ways, resemble a piano key to some degree.

On the other hand, they also respond to velocity as well. Therefore, the power being a note directly links with the amount of force you place behind pressing the key. Even though the layout has been revamped from the previous model, many people enjoy this new layout for its ease of use. As an important side note: this 61-key MIDI controller does not come with a traditional power cord.

In many cases, Akai expects people to use this controller like a keyboard being hooked up to other machines, which will provide the power instead. Hence, power for this device comes with the USB connectivity option it provides. A traditional power adapter can be purchased separately as needed, but they are not completely recommended for use because Akai would rather this controller be used among other devices.

Akai Mpk 249 | Complete Review

Alesis VI 61 

Best Responsive Keys 

Alesis VI 61

Alesis comes forward with another rather advanced 61-key MIDI controller keyboard in the form of the VI 61. This model also features 16 pads, 16 knobs, and 48 buttons. All of these items can be programmed to perform certain tasks either while playing music or recording music. It is perfect for composing digital music and playing virtual instruments.

Many supporters of this product like the fact that they can practically become the role of every band member with just the press of a few buttons. The 16 pads on this model come with RGM backlighting. Hence, it affords you the opportunity to color code many of the sounds that come from this MIDI controller. At the same time, the keys come with a semi-weighted capacity.

Velocity response plays a large role in how these keys can be played since you just need to press harder and faster, or softer and slower, to gain certain sounds from the piece. The 16 knobs and 48 buttons total can be adjusted for hands-on control over what sounds come out from the machine.

In many cases, it acts as a digital audio workstation that can operate with other connections and instruments to round out the sound of a band. As with the previous models, this one by Alesis also works with Ableton Live. It comes with a free version of Ableton Live Lite for the sake of giving you a full music-making experience. It also includes the AIR Xpand!2 instrument model.

M Audio Keystation 61 

Best Budget Option

M Audio Keystation 61

M Audio offers the Keystation, which consists of 61 full-size keys. These keys are also semi-weighted with semi-velocity inducement. Hence, they will respond slightly to the different speeds and weights you apply to the keys when playing this MIDI controller.

It does take some time to adapt to the receptors on these keys, so you need to be sure to practice a great deal ahead of time. For the sake of expressive performance, you can also add in a sustain pedal. It is important to note that this pedal is not included in the package.

However, this MIDI controller does include a ¼ inch jack for the pedal to be added into the mix. In order to provide you the best options of control over octaves and pitches, you also have the controls to do so. Ranges can be changed and bent to your will with this 61-key MIDI controller by just pressing a few buttons or turning a few dials. At the same time, these controls act as transport items for music composition.

As with previous models, this one also works with Ableton Live. In fact, it comes with a free download of Ableton Live Lite. You should make certain to use the most current version of Ableton software with this MIDI controller for the best compatibility arrangement. At the same time, it also comes with SONiVOX Eighty-Eight Ensemble, which is a world-class virtual piano. With these two pieces of software, you can compose your music without much problem.

Nektra Impact LX 61+

Best Budget Alternative

Nektra Impact LX 61+

Nektra offers their Impact LX as the MIDI controller with 61 keys to beat on the market. It comes with plenty of controls and modifications to music that makes it sit out in among the best of the pack. Once more, this MIDI controller works on USB control. You can plug it into any synthesizing or DJ setup that you prefer.

On the other hand, you can just connect it to a computer for composing music. This USB connectivity also acts as the power source for the MIDI controller, too. Hence, you do not need an extra power cord.

One can be purchased, but it is not recommended for use because of how this MIDI controller should be used integrated into other products. The keys on this MIDI controller are velocity-sensitive, which gives you greater control over the sound they produce.

Going faster and harder will certainly give you a completely different sound than slower and softer. Additionally, the keys are weighted to mimic the workings of piano keys. You need to learn how to adapt to playing these keys as if you were playing piano, but the science is not exact.

The weight on these keyboards does not act off a hammer function, after all, so you will need to learn the difference between the two rather early on. Software instruments can be used for automatically mapping controls on this setup.

Therefore, it is compatible with Windows and iOS compatible. You do not need to use this MIDI controller with a specific program, but it does work well with Bitwing 8-Track DAW and Ableton Live.

Our Conclusion

There are plenty of 61-key MIDI keyboards to pick from when researching the best 61-key midi controllers, but the ones we offer here are the five best ones.

You should give them all a close consideration, depending on your needs.

The best one of the lot, though, comes from Novation. The Launchkey model adapts to most other machines and software options on the market over other models on this list.

Furthermore, it has more pads and controls that can be altered to your liking.

Changing around these controls is easy to do, and you do not have to go through much to change them around.

61-Key Midi Controller Buyers Guide

There are a few things to consider when researching the best 61-key MIDI controller. First of all, you need to understand the number of keys to purchasing. MIDI controllers range in sizes with different numbers of keys, so you will want to pick one that meets your needs.

A model that comes with 61 keys provides a large enough range for you to work with, but it does not isolate you from dealing with a large machine at the same time. Another thing to think about is how you will play with this machine.

If you need to play it free of a connection to a computer, then that thought process should be dealt with first. From there, you can decide whether or not it is worthwhile for you to carry a computer around to operate the MIDI controller in live situations.

You also need to look closely at the other buttons on the keyboard. Some MIDI controllers offer greater options over fading and fine-tuning sounds. Hence, you will want to purchase a controller that has all the buttons and faders you could use.

Some of these things control bass and treble only, but you can play around more with the sound being produced with more technologically advanced MIDI controllers.

Benefits Of Using a Midi Controller

Musicians make great use of MIDI controllers in recorded and live sessions. The recorded sessions afford a musician the chance to experiment greatly with the MIDI controller’s sound.

At the same time, these sounds can be turned into pre-laid tracks that can then be used in live sessions. Performances in live settings come without much practice as many pre-laid tracks can be played on top of each other at the push of a few buttons.

Music can be synthesized in both situations with ease without causing too much of a headache. In most cases, these controllers are easy to use, so you do not have to perform a lot of memorization with which keys cue up which sounds.

Some people prefer to use MIDI controllers in place of drum pads, which is a great option. They do far more than just playing with sounds in the way a drum pad would, though.

Music can be synthesized into something new instead of being laid over again and again. Reinvention does sometimes bring about a like-new product on occasion with a drum pad, but the MIDI controller affords you the chance to write music instead of playing with someone else’s music clips.

Best Applications For MIDI Controllers

Best Applications For Midi Controllers

Many, different people can make use of a MIDI controller. As alluded to previously, musicians can make or remake music in live sessions or studios. However, they have more attributes than these options alone. DJs can make use of them to control their sound options.

They can add to music and freestyle whenever they wish. MIDI controllers are also great for people to learn how to use keyboards and pianos. Most of these controllers model themselves after a keyboard for a reason, and some of them do operate like pianos.

For example, a hammer-action keyboard mimics the weight of a piano hammer when the keys are played. People who learn from pianos are more likely to cross over to this kind of MIDI controller. However, the weight system on these controllers is synthetic.

They do not use a hammer as a piano does. Therefore, playing them can require some level of acclimation. Other options exist that do not require this hammer system to be in place, and some people feel as if they can play a little bit more naturally on them.

61-key MIDI controllers make a great impact in the music classroom as well. Not only do they teach students how to use keyboards and pianos to play music, but they also allow students the chance to interact with the music-making process.

Students learn how to exchange notes and alternate them in pitch and fade them in and out with ease using one of these tools.

Things to Look for With Software

Most 61-key MIDI controllers operate with a few, top-selling composition software packs. One of the more popular options on the market comes from Ableton Live.

If you have this software pack, you need to be sure to purchase a MIDI controller that will work in connection with it. For a point of reference, Ableton Live works with most MIDI controllers on the market.

However, you should only use the MIDI controller with the newest version of Ableton Live for the sake of compatibility. One or two of these products below suggest going with Bitwing 8-Track, but it is not as readily available as Ableton Live.

Therefore, you need to be sure to have the right software and MIDI controller combination to perform any task you have at hand.

Controversy About MIDI Controllers

Using MIDI controllers takes a great deal of time, true, but it takes far less time to learn how to use one of these items than it is to learn multiple instruments.

Some controversy exists over this point, however, as some people do not consider music made from a MIDI controller to be real music. It creates digital music files, true, but is its composition?

People have greater control over what types of instruments can be used in a song without having to record many different instruments. Many people do not believe MIDI controllers should be used to create real music.

On the other hand, they believe all MIDI keyboard controllers do re-arrange current music options and turn them into rip-offs of music that already exists. However, despite people’s distastes for MIDI controllers based on this reason alone, more people have started to use them over time.


About the author


After becoming obsessed with the beats that were the soundtrack to his youth, Nick became a student of hip hop, digging for vinyl records, looking for the perfect break. Before he got his hands on an MPC sampler, he would mash these records, beats, and breaks into mixtapes and live DJ sets.