• Post last modified:09/16/2018
  • Reading time:10 mins read

When you get a MIDI controller keyboard as a DJ, it can be difficult to find a balance between all the many features, prices, sizes, and so on. It is important to consider many options and approach your decision with an unbiased opinion.

We have hand-picked from a rather large catalog 10 MIDI keyboard controllers which stand out. There were various criteria that had to be met such as durability, quality, size, and features. In the world of today, DJs have an ever-growing list of creative possibilities. With the advent of MIDI technology not too long ago, it wasn’t soon before this technology moved over to the DJ industry. Now is a great time to consider adding a keyboard MIDI controller as an additional element for your live sets.

Best MIDI Controller Keyboard For DJs

Before we break down the factors you need to know about a MIDI keyboard controller below, let’s start by taking a glance at each of the best MIDI controller keyboards on the market. While glancing through each of the products, consider whether they have the features which you need in a MIDI controller keyboard. Finally, consider the bad sides of each product, researching all aspects before making a final purchasing decision.

Akai Professional MPK Mini MK2 White

As featured in a separate review of the MPK Mini MK2, this product stands out. It comes with three different software, including MPC Essentials. It is a wonderful choice to consider, as long as you aren’t a complete newbie to MIDI-mapping, DJ software, and MIDI controllers. This is a great portable option for the mobile DJ who doesn’t want a heavy rig to haul.

Specifications:

  • 25-key design.
  • 8 drum pads.
  • 8 assignable knobs.
  • Small, portable & lightweight.
  • Reasonably priced.
Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII – 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller With 8 Drum Pads, 8 Assignable Q-Link Knobs and Pro Software Suite Included
  • Compact keyboard controller easily fits backpack and studio production desk (12.4" long, 1.6 lbs)
  • Powered by USB connection to computer, with free virtual-instrument download packages
  • Crammed full of all the features you need to play and edit musical ideas

Last update on 2021-09-19 at 11:39 // More Information

Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note

This is a great keyboard which gives the pianist who can simultaneously use drum pads and the rest of their equipment endless potential of creativity. With 4GB of samples, plenty of drum pads and a price which can compete which products of much lesser-quality, this should be considered by any DJ who wants an extra MIDI keyboard controller in their setup.

Specifications:

  • 25-key design.
  • 16 drum pads.
  • 8 assignable knobs.
  • 4GB of included samples.
  • 2-year warranty on defects.
Sale 40%
Novation Launchkey Mini 25-Note USB Keyboard Controller, MK2 Version
  • Launchkey Mini - the mini keyboard for Ableton Live
  • 16 multi-colour backlit velocity sensitive drum pads
  • 8 knobs, dedicated navigation and control buttons

Last update on 2021-09-19 at 17:38 // More Information

Nektar IMPACT LX25+

If you are a DJ which both cuts their own transition tracks in the studio and can play the keys live, then this is a product you should take a hard look at. The highlights of this product include separate buttons for recording, playing, stopping, backlit drum pads, and a Bitwig 8-Track DAW. If you want a MIDI controller keyboard for gigs and in the studio, check this one out.

Specifications:

  • 25-key design.
  • 8 backlit drum pads.
  • 8 assignable knobs.
  • Designed to also work with DAWs.
  • Comes included with DAW software.
Nektar, 25-Key Midi Controller (Impact LX25+)
  • Premium midi controller with 25 expressive synth-action keys, on-board pitch bend and modulation wheels for performances
  • 8 Hyper-Sensitive backlit pads
  • Mac, PC and iOS compatible

Last update on 2021-09-19 at 17:38 // More Information

Akai Professional LPK25 Ultra-Portable

One burden of the live DJ is having a behemoth setup with too much to haul. These sorts of DJs who want a MIDI keyboard controller should consider a product which is smaller than the average keyboard controller. Since this product is only 1.1 inches thick and 13.4 inches long (and only 1.4 oz.), you would be hard-pressed to find a more portable MIDI keyboard controller to add to your setup.

Specifications:

  • Ultra-portable dimensions.
  • 25-key design.
  • Can run wirelessly.
  • Easy to transport.
  • Simple to set up.
AKAI Professional LPK25 - USB MIDI Keyboard controller with 25 Velocity-Sensitive Synth Action Keys for Laptops (Mac & PC), Editing Software included
  • 13-inch, slim-line laptop performance keyboard with 25 velocity-sensitive mini-keyboard keys for playing melodies, bass...
  • Dedicated octave up and down buttons to increase the keyboard to the full melodic range plus a sustain button for...
  • On-board arpeggiator steps through chords automatically and generates inspiring melodic ideas quickly

Last update on 2021-09-19 at 17:38 // More Information

Worlde Panda MINI Portable

This is perhaps the best MIDI controller keyboard for the DJ who needs a fine balance between price, size, and features. The Worlde Panda Mini is a wonderful option for people who want a diverse array of different controls, the ability to incorporate easily to software, and a price that anybody can afford. With top-quality features such as drum pads with velocity, the potential to use knobs sliders for volume, for example, this is a top-quality product.

Specifications:

  • 25-key design.
  • 8 drum pads.
  • 4 assignable knobs.
  • 4 assignable sliders.
  • Reasonably-priced.
Worlde Panda MINI Portable 25 Keys USB MIDI Keyboard MIDI Controller with Drum Pad
  • 1. 8 Trigger Pads with velocity and assignable to controllers, with 3 velocity curve and one constant velocity.
  • 2. 25 keys with velocity assignable to controllers, with 3 velocity curve and one constant velocity.
  • 3. 4 assignable control knobs, 4 assignable control sliders, 4 banks for different settings

Last update on 2021-09-19 at 17:38 // More Information

M-Audio Axiom AIR Mini 32

This is a great overall product from a respected brand name in the DJ industry. If you prefer durability, brand quality, and top-quality features, this controller should be considered. It is great for a producer DJ who wants an entry into Pro Tools, an industry staple and acclaimed DAW software.

Specifications:

  • 32-key design.
  • 8 drum pads.
  • 8 assignable knobs.
  • Comes with Pro Tools First.
  • Competitively priced.
M-Audio, 32-Key, 32 Keys (Keystation Mini 32)
  • Compact MIDI controller to fit in a backpack or laptop case for portable music production
  • 32 synth-action, velocity-sensitive mini keys. Lightweight
  • USB powered; single cable convenience & highly portable

Last update on 2021-09-19 at 17:38 // More Information

Akai Professional LPK25 WIRELESS

Having tangled wires can be one of the most frustrating occurrences as a professional DJ. It is time-consuming to constantly organize your wires. However, getting products like this keyboard gives you the option to cut back on a wire mess. The LPK25 can be battery and Bluetooth powered, allowing for a wireless experience. The batteries can even power the device up to 12 hours long. This product is the dream of a live performer.

Specifications:

  • 25-key design.
  • Bluetooth 4.0 compatibility.
  • USB or battery-powered.
  • Can be wired or wireless.
  • Reasonably priced.
Akai Professional LPD8 Wireless | Bluetooth/USB Drum MIDI Controller for iOS, PC, & Mac (8 Pads / 8 Knobs)
  • Portable Drum Pad MIDI Controller with Bluetooth 4.0 Connectivity
  • Powered by (3) AA batteries or via USB connection
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac, and iOS and available music-making apps, such as iMPC Pro

Last update on 2021-09-19 at 17:38 // More Information

Alesis VI61 Advanced Keyboard Controller

If you want all the best features in a MIDI keyboard controller, including plenty of keys and extra buttons, look no further. Although this product may not boast a lightweight and portable design as other products on this page do, it is wonderful in its own aspects. For example, outside of the 16 knobs and 16 drum pads, there are also 48 additional, programmable buttons.

Specifications:

  • 61-key design.
  • 16 drum pads.
  • 16-knobs.
  • 48 assignable buttons.
  • Competitive price and features.
Alesis VI61 | 61-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with 16 Pads, 16 Assignable Knobs, 48 Buttons and 5-Pin MIDI Out Plus Production Software Included
  • MIDI Keyboard with 61 full-sized, square-front, semi-weighted keys with after touch. USB MIDI and 5-pin MIDI Out offer...
  • Manipulate plugins and virtual instruments with hands-on controls. With VI61, you can open and close filters on virtual...
  • 16 velocity-sensitive trigger pads with illuminated RGB feedback for beat production and clip launching. Pitch and...

Last update on 2021-09-19 at 17:38 // More Information

Korg nanoKEY Studio Bluetooth & USB MIDI

Korg has long been a brand which boasts high-quality features and products. Although they may sometimes be difficult to install for uninformed and poorly researched customers, those who know MIDI are normally great candidates for top-quality keyboard controllers like this one. With a fine balance between price, quality, durability, and features, this should be on every mobile DJ’s potential list of options.

Specifications:

  • Extremely portable & lightweight.
  • 25 backlit keys.
  • 8 assignable knobs.
  • 8 drum pads.
  • Comes with a screen.
Korg Midi Controller (NANOKEY-ST)
  • Step-record as easily as typing. A keyboard with 25 backlit keys that illuminate
  • More freedom to produce music, via USB or wirelessly
  • Lightweight and compact design can be placed anywhere and easily transported

Last update on 2021-09-19 at 17:38 // More Information

Honorable Mention: Novation Launchpad

Novation is a branch which has a tendency to focus more on samples and drum pads. Many DJs who use MIDI controllers care less about the keyboard design as they do the number of potential buttons. Since many DJs prefer drum pads over keys, this is a great option to consider if you need more room for samples.

Specifications:

  • 64 drum pads
  • Comes in an 8×8 grid.
  • Works flawlessly with Ableton Live.
  • Unlimited cutting and sampling potential.
  • Competitively priced.

Keep in mind that this product is not your typical controller. This product doesn’t have the typical keyboard design. As a result, the design may be a deal-breaker to some. It will also take an advanced user to use this controller with DJ software. However, since this product boasts a high number of drum pads, a reasonable price, and the option to work hand-in-hand with Ableton Live, it remains an honorable mention product.

Novation Launchpad Ableton Live Controller with 64 RGB Backlit Pads (8x8 Grid)
  • Launchpad integrates with Ableton Live, after a quick and easy setup, giving you the ability to create and perform your...
  • 64 RGB pads light up to match the color of your clips in Live; see at a glance what's loaded, playing, and recording
  • Bright, colorful pads make the unit stand out just from USB power - when you're on stage or creating an exciting...

Last update on 2021-09-19 at 17:38 // More Information

Best MIDI Controller Keyboard for DJs: Buyer’s Guide

Now that we have established some of the best MIDI controller keyboard options on the market, let’s break down all the important features and variables for you to consider. If you are a first-time buyer for a MIDI keyboard controller, pay attention.

Often, ignorance of certain common problems can be detrimental to your mental health when you try to use your new equipment. Whenever you are finding new DJ equipment there is a simple rule — research, research, research.

Installation Might Not Be Easy:

MIDI controllers can be difficult to map and use. This is after the period where you learn how to set up the device with your laptop. Although some MIDI keyboard controller products come without drivers and work flawlessly with certain software, this isn’t a general theme. In fact, many DJs likely already have software and other devices they want a MIDI controller keyboard to work with.

Before you purchase any of the above options, it’s important that you first do the research. This is especially the case for the installation procedure. Plugging and installing drivers is only one thing. If you need your MIDI controller keyboard needs to be mapped out on your software, installation can turn into a weeks-long process. Be sure to remember that installing your device may be a lot more difficult than you expect.

Features You Need:

There are endless arrays of features you can get in a MIDI keyboard controller these days. Start by finding a group of features you can’t live without. More than likely, the following items should be comprehensive enough of a list.

However, there are many instances where DJs have unique needs. As a result, the following features should only be considered as a guide, and not a comprehensive list of all features that a MIDI controller keyboard can have.

  • Plenty of Keys.
  • Velocity-Sensitive Buttons.
  • Drum Pads.
  • Easy Installation.
  • Lightweight & Portable.
  • Affordable Price.
  • Durability.

As mentioned, consider the features above as a guide and not a comprehensive list of all the features you may need. Since each DJ has their own style and personal needs, it is difficult to provide a personalized list of the features you will need.

The above features are some of the most popular things for a MIDI keyboard controller. As long as you are confident in what you need, and get a controller that fits your needs, you can avoid buyer’s remorse.

Consider Your Style:

The type of DJ you are will influence the type of MIDI keyboard you should get. For example, if you need a MIDI controller which gives you a nice menu of sampler buttons, then you are perhaps best off with a product like the Novation Launchpad.

However, a DJ who can also play the keys will have an endless amount of potential uses for a keyboard. In fact, these sorts of DJs might benefit from our Best MIDI Keyboards page to see some larger options.

Size Matters:

Not all DJs should consider a large full-length keyboard. In fact, most are better off using a small keyboard so they can carry it around easily. However, there is a fine line between conveniently portable and lightweight, and being too portable and lightweight.

Some controllers, for example, have small keys which can be difficult to use if you have large fingers. Be sure to research the size factor and ensure that it will match up to your personal needs. After all, it is hard to have a universal size for just about anything, especially keyboards.

Best MIDI Controller Keyboard for DJs: Summary

As we can see from the above options, there are many great potential MIDI controller keyboard products to consider. As long as you keep your desired features in mind — your style, the size you need, and the amount of installation necessary — you can find a new go-to.

Since there are plenty of portable, lightweight, and feature-packed controllers to choose from, getting the best MIDI controller keyboard is easy and simple once you are informed. Make sure to choose the one which accommodates your personal style and needs.

Keeping all the above factors in mind, the best MIDI controller keyboard for a DJ is perhaps the Akai Professional MPK Mini MK2 White. If you would prefer to have drum pads over the traditional keyboard feel, then check out the Novation Launchpad.