The 61 key midi controllers look very similar to synthesizers, and digital pianos. The difference is quite significant: synthesizers and digital pianos work and sound independently, whereas MIDI-keyboards are supporting for better sounding.
In general, the 61 key weighted midi controller is a controller, which can play more complex parts with two hands. It is an ideal option for those who want to get a sound very close to the sound of the piano.
There is such kind of key midi controller:
- 25 key MIDI controller – a good option for those players who often travel with different musical instruments. It is great for those who only need to play with one hand to record music. They are very popular with hip-hop beatmakers for producing a sound.
- 49 key MIDI controller – a minimal version of the controller for those who are going to use two hands during the playing. Great for those who want to learn how to play keyboard instruments. Popular among hip-hop beatmakers and e-sound producers.
- 88 key MIDI controller has the same number of buttons as an acoustic piano. Thus, this device is great for beginners and experienced pianists. The only disadvantage is the difficulty in transportation.
This article helps you to choose the best 61 key keyboards among existing and find out all the advantages and disadvantages.
The best 61 key midi controllers reviews
#1 Novation Launchkey 61: easy to interact
Novation Launchkey 61 is smaller than you think and it is very light, so portability is not a problem but one of many reasons why we added it to our midi controllers reviews. This model with 61 keys has a new design and rich functionality – three InControl buttons, nine sliders to control the mixer, large Pitch Bend and Modulation wheels, 8 rotary controls over the pads section, 8 Mute / Solo buttons. Automapping is very nice too. No external software or drivers required, and best of all, no additional ‘wall wart’ power supply as it runs off of USB power. The keys feel like most any other keyboard controller in this price range.
- The controller is run with just one cable, so transportation is easy.
- The keys are somewhat sensitive to velocity. There isn’t really soft touch/soft sound, but if you strike the keys more aggressively, you can get a louder tone.
- The keys aren’t that sensitive to velocities. Louder is all good, but softer is left wanting.
- The lines along aren’t able to play softer.
- There is only one accessory port.
#2 Nektar Impact GX61: good replacement for your old controller
The MIDI keyboard has the acclaimed Nektar DAW Integration feature and functions with iOS devices as MIDI controllers.
Due to its compact design, the Nektar Impact GX61 MIDI keyboard fits comfortably in front of the computer. It has high functionality that other full-fledged controllers are not capable of. The Impact GX61 has a 61 note keyboard (5 octaves), a pitch bend wheel, a modulation wheel, and a footswitch jack.
61 key midi keyboards perfectly supplied by the transposition keys. The other buttons will take some setup, but it should be pretty easy to get going. Speaking of getting going, a free copy of Bitwig 8-track comes included with this keyboard.
As a USB device, the Impact GX works with all USB devices that have a MID compliant driver Class Compliant. All versions of Windows from XP and later are suitable, Apple OS X 10.5 and later, plus Linux. The GX MIDI keyboard works with iPad, connecting via the optional USB Camera Connection Kit. Impact GX is powered by the iPad and therefore is an absolutely mobile recording and playback system.
- Black keys are comfortable to play. This controller allows playing B or D flat major scales with ease. Black keys do require more pressure on the Akai if they are not pressed at the very bottom end.
- Good velocity curves for playing pianissimo or playing with expression.
- Random velocities on fast scales or piano run on every velocity curve setting.
#3 Akai Professional MPK261: excellent combination of quality and affordability
The Akai MPK 261 MIDI Controller 2014 Series supports QWERTY commands that allow you to work more efficiently with the software. The controller is compatible with iOS devices (via the Camera Connection Kit), and a special energy-saving mode is also provided.
The AKAI MPK261 is the best 61 key midi controller in its price segment. The controller is equipped with a USB port, 5-pin MIDI input, and output, as well as two inputs for connecting the expression and sustain pedals.
The keyboard is developed to replace the previous generation and add convenience to the hardware control of your software. The 61 key MPI keyboard MPK 261 is housed in a low-profile case that has 16 trigger pads with colored LED backlighting (borrowed from MPC series controllers), a bright LCD display, 8 rotary knobs, and 8 faders and all the most necessary keys for transport and navigation.
- A solid controller with lots of lights. Also, great software and internal MIDI functionality.
- iOS compatibility feature using a separately sold Apple iPad Camera Connector adapter kit.
- Mapping Takes Time.
- No X-y Touchpads.
#4 Samson Carbon 61: can be combined with everything
The model is primarily distinguished by the ability to connect an Apple iPad tablet using the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit. A special stand allows you to place the iPad on the keyboard, and if necessary, you can power the Carbon 61 from the tablet. One of the best 61 key midi keyboards is very light, small and portable.
If you dabble in playing simple organ music for 1 manual 61 keys will cover you. 49 even. It works great with software synths too. Velocity adjustment settings are quite simple. If you’re used to playing synths and controllers, you will feel right at home. It boasts solid-feeling Mod and Pitch wheels as well as Transpose and Octave buttons. It has an assignable knob and slider and an edit button, so you can assign functions to software if you wish, but it’s low on bells and whistles like drum pads and banks of knobs.
- Lightweight – so it’s easy to transport.
- Size – smaller than average 61 key controller.
- Keys are touch sensitive.
- Pan control is a rotary switch- slider would have been nicer.
- More controls would be nicer.
#5 Nektar Panorama P6: inspiring and exotic
These 61 key digital piano feels sturdy and generally well-constructed. Nothing shifts or rattles, nothing flexes, and it is definitely not light or flimsy. The case itself is entirely plastic but satisfyingly chunky and durable.
The TFT is extremely bright and clear. Without checking the manual, you can get the CC assignments and velocity curve and save that to a new default profile in a couple of minutes without a single problem or complaint.
A clear 3.5-inch color display provides all the necessary information about each mode and menu, regardless of whether you are working with Reason or MIDI. The controller is equipped with an extended panel of 11 transport control buttons: Return to L, Forward to R, Undo, Click on / off, Record Mode, Cycle on / off, Back, Forward, Stop, Play and Record. Using the Shift key, they also work as function keys for assigning MIDI commands or QWERTY macros. Even though in my opinion this one cannot be called best 61 key midi controller, it’s still worth to be mentioned.
- Excellent feeling keyboard, pads, and physical controls.
- Custom mapping of editing parameters for hundreds of instruments and plugins.
- Fade travel (loose) and the MPC-style pads.
- Keys are mechanically noisy.
The 61 key interface’s benefits
The real advantages of a MIDI keyboard are its versatility and portability. These advantages allow you to manage almost any modern equipment and software, and the size of some lets them be transported even in a laptop bag.
The dynamics of the keyboard (velocity). Nowadays, it is already very difficult to come across a keyboard that does not know how to convey the value of the dynamics — almost every modern keyboard can do this. The dynamics of the keyboard usually controls the volume of the sound but can control any other parameter you wish.
Aftertouch is an additional ability to modulate sound using the keyboard. After the compression mechanism, as a rule, professional semi-weighted type keyboards are equipped. After you press a key and make a sound, you can additionally “press” a key by modulating some sound parameter. This feature is used most often with synthesizers. Virtual acoustic instruments do not need this kind of modulation, however, sometimes they can also be interestingly controlled after pressing (for example, using the after pressing is very convenient to control the effect of the “vibrato” of a virtual violin).
Things to consider when choosing 61 key controllers
Most modern MIDI keyboards are equipped with a USB port that allows you to connect such a keyboard to a PC using a single USB cable. The USB keyboard receives the necessary power and transfers all the necessary data.
If you plan to use your MIDI keyboard with a tablet (for example, an iPad), keep in mind – tablets do not have enough power at the output ports. In this case, your MIDI keyboard may need a separate power supply – most of the serious MIDI keyboards have a connector for connecting such a unit. The connection is made via USB, (for example, through a special adapter Camera Connection Kit, in the case of using Apple tablets).
If you plan to use a MIDI keyboard with any external hardware (for example, with synthesizers, drum machines or groove boxes), then be sure to pay attention to the presence of classical 5-pin MIDI ports. If there is no such port for a MIDI keyboard, then connecting it to an “iron” synthesizer without using a PC will not work. Keep in mind that the classic 5-pin MIDI port is not able to transmit power, so when using this communication protocol, you will need an additional power supply. Most often, you can get by connecting the so-called “USB-plug”, i.e. ordinary USB-220 volt wires, or even “power up” a MIDI-keyboard via USB from a computer.
So, before choosing a tool, try to answer the following questions:
- The number of keys: do you need 25, 49, 61 or 88 keys?
- Keyboard mechanics: a crucial aspect. Synthesizer type, semi-weighted or weighted hammer?
- Aftertouch: Do you need it?
- Faders, buttons, rotary controls: how much, their location? Is there automapping?
- Inputs / Outputs: MIDI via USB, iOS support, 5-pin MIDI connectors, CV / Gate outputs?
- Pads: how much, touch sensitivity, aftertouch?