The screen is much smaller on the A-series (plus the S-Series now has two) and you lose the touch strips, a pedal input and the keyboard now has a ’custom NI keybed. It’s located at the top left of the keyboard and it is an LCD display. When you click, “browse” to find synthesizer sounds, you will immediately see your screen start to change as you browse through options.
The pads have three modes, selected with dedicated buttons. In the default mode pads play notes and trigger drums, with the note mappings stored and recalled like all other control settings in the eight memory slots. The knobs are the stars of the MPK’s panel: eight chunky continuous controllers, whose name, channel info and value pop up on the display when operated. The encoders can work in either absolute or relative mode, allowing you to pick up controls smoothly in software that supports it.
One of the more obvious hardware additions is an OLED display showing various data like arpeggiator settings and more. It’s cool, if not a bit underwhelming, but at this price it’s definitely not a major disappointment. Overall, the layout remains similar to the Mk2.
The MPK Mini is very programmable. Eight different control sets can be recalled directly from the front panel. Out of the box these banks are populated with sets for different DAWs, including MPC Beats, Logic Pro X and FL Studio. One nice feature is that you can store the Arp’s settings and on/off status as part of a program bank, so you can create performance snapshots.
The packaged sounds that are included in the KeyLab are seemingly the the best part here, regardless of the controllers form of quality and playability. It’s everything the better, at that point, that Analog Lab 2 is effectively one of the best collections of great synthesizer emulations we’ve at any point gone over.
The Keylab’s interface is by far the best we’ve used. The settings are easy to access using the buttons and scroll wheel under the screen. This keyboard’s screen fits lots of text, and it makes the Samson and AKAI options feel low-tech. As an added bonus, the Arturia Keylab comes with Analog Lab and Piano V instrument software, plus Ableton Live Lite. While I personally already have Pro Tools, making Ableton redundant for me, the included virtual instruments were a nice bonus.
The Novation Launchkey 49-note is the middle size of the Launchkey line and is a sibling of the 25 and 61-note versions. All the Launchkey versions come packed with Ableton Live 9 Lite for seamless pairing and performance. The Launchkey Mk2 49 features velocity sensitive, full-size keys and 16 RGB pads, as well as nine sliders and eight knobs for controlling your mixer, instruments, and effects all of which are mappable.
The Ableton integration worked extremely well. The Launchkey MK3 is loaded with secondary functions that are easily accessible by pressing the “Shift” key. Holding Shift while pressing a button or key provides access to these features without having to menu dive. he bottom row of pads configures the pads with four function modes: Session, Drum, Scale Chord, and User Chord, as well as four custom settings that you can set up via the freely downloaded component software. Session mode allows you to fire off clips. To the right of the top row of pads is a “>” button, which allows you to launch the scene of all clips in the row.
The Launchkey MK3 is designed to control hardware MIDI devices and includes a dedicated 5-pin DIN MIDI output port. Armed with your favorite MIDI device’s MIDI parameter list (found in the manual), you can easily set up the knobs, pads, buttons, and faders to control anything using the Components software. The Launchkey also generates clock output, allowing you to synchronize an entire studio of drum machines and synth modules.
The Novation Launchpad pro has a unique control surface which includes buttons that are specifically used for mixing, triggering loops, manipulating clips and firing off effects. It contains an entire suite of software such as FL studio software, Ableton live software and Reason software.
Bundled sounds are becoming more and more important when choosing a MIDI controller, because more and more manufacturers have started including them in the box as a free download.
There are clearly plenty of options in the world of midi keyboards. When we think of the top 5 midi keyboards, For us it’s always about utility. Extra functions always mean extra fun. Durability is always important as well. We believe that these keyboards listed above are truly the best keyboards currently on the market. We hope you enjoyed our opinions of the top 5 midi keyboards.