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Best MIDI Keyboard for Garageband on Mac

best midi keyboard for garageband

Don’t get scared or slowed down by technology anymore. New gadgets have extras features to help you make better music.

MIDI is the language used when you’re creating music on the computer and even old analog hardware.

Luckily for you, this is not something that you have to learn or even really need to understand to make music (yet).

The top Midi keyboard controller for GarageBand that we will be reviewing in the article will all be Midi over USB.

All you have to do is switch on the computer, plug in the keyboard, and then you will be playing the selected sounds and pre-set synths inside of GarageBand from your new keyboard Midi controller.

Not only are these Midi keyboard for Garageband tools plug and play, but they are also USB bus-powered.

That means you do not have to bother finding an electrical outlet to power up the midi keyboard. Just plug and play.

Compact Pick
Arturia Minilab Mk2
Our Pick
Akai Mpk Mini Mk2
Best 49-Key
Akai Mpk 249
Table of Contents

Best Midi Controller For Garageband

1. Akai MPK Mini MK2

Best Mini Midi Keyboard

Akai 1

Akai has been in the business of manufacturing high-quality music production equipment and best Midi keyboards for Garageband for over 30 years.

The Akai Mpk Mini Mk2 is a 25 key Midi keyboard controller that is packed with a whole range of useful features such as the 8 X touch-sensitive pads.

Akai Mpk Mini was made famous by hip hop producers and is heavily used by finger drummers for creating drum patterns with your fingertips.

8 X 360 degree rotary knobs for assigning effect and manipulating sounds directly from the Midi controller.

Akai have removed the traditional mod and pitch wheel and replaced them with a 4 way dynamic pitch and modulation thumbstick.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Portable
  • Packed with features for beginners and advanced users
  • Comes shipped with free synthesizer software

Cons

  • Only 25 keys
  • Compact unit, some users may prefer more keys and fewer pads
  • Plastic construction

2. Arturia Minilab Mk2

Stylish and Compact

Arturia 2

The Minilab is a small studio and portable producers dream since it’s one of the best Midi keyboards for Garageband around today.

The team at Arturia has included 16 heavy duty, thick rubber, rotary encoders for all you midi tweaking pleasures.

Besides its great build quality and aesthetically pleasing design, the Arturia Minilab is another Midi controller that is on the smaller side of the scale but packs a punch when it comes to features, functions, and value for money.

The Arturia Minilab Mk2 is a great Garageband option for producers with a small studio, the team at Arturia has included 16 heavy duty, thick rubber, rotary encoders for all you midi tweaking pleasures.

Plus, the mod wheel and pitch bend are now touched sensitive slide pads so there are fewer possibilities of damaging your Midi controller when sliding it in and out of your backpack.

Pros

  • High quality and low price
  • Slim and compact built
  • 8 drum pads, 2 banks
  • 2 touch-sensitive strips for the mod wheel and pitch control

Cons

  • Only 25 keys
  • No Midi in and out ports
  • No external power input

3. Akai MPK 249

Best 49 Key Professional Midi Controller

Akai 3

If you’re looking for a Midi keyboard controller to add to your Garageband home studio and you’re not after a portable option, then the big brother of the previously reviewed Akai Mpk Mini Mk2 could be the solution for you.

The Akai Mpk 249 is one of the top Midi keyboards for Garageband we can recommend.

It boasts a whole lot of options that you can grow into once you start to get more advanced in making electronic music.

Chances are once you get more serious about producing you will want more control over your sounds and workflow.

That’s why we suggest the more advanced controllers like the Mpk249 from the start, the Akai Mpk249 has 49 keys, plus plenty of knobs, faders, and pads for you to create music on.

With a general bare bones keyboard Midi controller, all you get is a set of keys and maybe a mod and pitch wheel.

If you start on a slightly more advanced controller then you will not need to upgrade in the near future.

That being said, one reviewer we found online said that he had a Akai Mpk49 (the older model) for 7 years and slowly learned how to assign knobs and faders.

He got to play out drum patterns on the pads and never had to upgrade his Midi keyboard controller.

Pros

  • 49, Semi weighted, full-size keys
  • 16 RGB backlit pads
  • 8 X Controller Knobs, 8 X Faders, 8 X Switches
  • Plug and play with all major software including Garageband

Cons

  • Price (this is not a budget controller)
  • Additional midi mapping can take some time to learn

4. M Audio Keystation 49 II

Budget Studio Midi Keyboard Controller

M Audio 4

If you’re looking for a 49 key midi controller on a budget or you just want to try creating music on a midi keyboard controller without making a big financial commitment, then check out the M Audio Keystation 49 II.

This is a fairly basic keyboard controller that comes equipped with standard features to get you started with producing music and playing your favorite sounds and instruments from Garageband.

The Keystation 49 II comes with a bundle of sounds, including the lite version of Ableton Live Lite, so you can check out the functions and workflow of this amazing DAW.

Simply plug and play this with the USB MIDI and USB power functions. It’s one of the best Midi keyboards for Garageband users who travel as well.

No drivers are required to be installed and this controller is compatible with both Mac and PC.

Pros

  • Cheap price and great value
  • Great for beginners on a budget
  • 49 full-size playable keys
  • Software bundle, including Ableton Lite

Cons

  • No assignable faders, knobs, or pads
  • Spring action keys
  • Keys lack sensitivity and responsiveness when playing advanced chords

5. Alesis V49

Best Quality and Value Midi Keyboard

Alesis 5

This is slightly more expensive than the M Audio Keystation 49 II but packed with features, functionality and a great design.

Something that will look awesome in your studio is Alesis V49 Midi keyboard controller. It’s surely part of the best Midi keyboards for Garageband today.

The V49 comes with adjustable sensitivity, full-size keys, 8 pads, 4 rotary knobs, and 4 banks to access sounds and instruments from inside your DAW.

This is a great Midi keyboard for Garageband at a budget price.

It will allow you to plug and play with Garageband, without the need to install drivers or mess around with updates.

The pads, rotary knobs, and banks will allow you to grow into this keyboard’s functions and capabilities as you learn how to create music inside the software and advance your skills in music production.

Even advanced music producers can use the Alesis V49 in their studio to create amazing tracks and push the software to its limits.

Don’t be fooled by the price tag as this is a Midi keyboard controller that you can keep for a long time while you travel on your musical journey.

Pros

  • 49 full-size keys
  • 8 X pads, 4 X rotary knobs, 4 X Soundbanks
  • USB Powered
  • USB midi (plug and play)

Cons

  • Lacks some of the features and functions of the more expensive
  • 49 keyboard models
  • No rotary encoders
  • No LCD display

Garageband MIDI Keyboard Winner

The team at BPM Skills have thought long and hard about what would be the best midi controller for Mac flagship DAW, Garageband.

And with the considerations of price, functions, quality, design, and playability, we have come to a conclusion.

Our winner and suggested Midi keyboard controller for Garageband users is the Alesis V49.

Alesis V49

Why the Alesis V49? Well, the V49 ticks all the boxes for us.

It has plug and play technology. That means you don’t have to sweat over installing drivers and dealing with tech issues when it comes to setting up the midi controller.

The Alesis V49 has more than enough features to get you started producing on Garageband.

You won’t even have the need to upgrade your controller. All you need is to improve your skills and understanding of the software.

49 full-size keys, this is the most common sized Midi keyboard controller for home music studios, allowing you to learn and play a wide range of chords and melodies.

The price, this is a great value midi controller, with a solid build and plenty of feature that won’t break the bank.

Garageband Controllers: Ultimate Buyers Guide

Buyers Guide

How Many Keys Should I Get?

It’s really a personal choice when it comes to keyboard size, we have kept it pretty simple in this review and stayed within the range of 25 and 49 key top Midi controllers for Garageband.

25 key controllers were chosen due to their affordable price and compact size, which is great for traveling or small working environments.

The 49 key controllers were included as they are the most common size for bedroom studios and they allow you to play a range of octaves at your fingertips.

What MIDI Keyboards are Compatible with Garageband?

There are lots of Digital Audio Workstations on the market.

Chances are that you will sooner or later want to try out some new software for creating and editing your electronic music ideas.

All of the Midi keyboard controllers that are mentioned in this review can be used with all the main DAWs.

Some are even shipped with the version of Ableton Live so that you can test out the functions and unique workflow of Ableton Lite.

(Ableton Live Lite is also Mac friendly DAW.)

We have chosen to review a range of USB Midi controls for Garageband that all come equipped with more than just a row or Midi keyboard keys.

Conclusion

We know that soon enough you are going to want to get more creative with the interactivity and workflow that you can produce when using a controller.

It sure beats a traditional laptop keyboard and mouse to create electronic music.

All of the chosen keyboard controllers we have included in this review have many features that will allow you to get more creative.

You’ll surely be able to manipulate the sounds and software via the controllers’ functions.

For more options, check out our article on the Best Mini MIDI Keyboards for Travelers and Beginners.

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About the author

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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.