The Best 49-Key Midi Keyboards under $250 (Ultimate Guide 2023)

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Looking for a 49-key midi keyboard that won’t break the bank? Check out our ultimate guide for the best 49-key midi keyboards under $250 in 2023. We review the top models, features, pros and cons, and more.

1. Alesis VI49                                      

VERSATILE AND EXPRESSIVE.

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2. Novation Launchkey 49

SIMPLE AND INTUITIVE.

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3. Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

WIDE SOUND RANGE.

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4. Nektar Impact LX49+

SEAMLESS INTEGRATION.

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5. M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49

PREMIUM PERFORMANCE.

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6. Nektar Impact GXP49

STREAMLINED DESIGN.

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1. Alesis VI49

VERSATILE AND EXPRESSIVE.

16 RGB pads, 36 buttons, 12 knobs36 assignable buttons, 12 knobs.
Semi-weighted keyboard with aftertouch.Comprehensive software bundle included.
Picture by Alesis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Picture by Alesis

PROS

  • If you’re searching for a budget-friendly 49-key MIDI keyboard, the Alesis VI49 is worth considering. This controller comes with several impressive features that set it apart from other options. Here are four key advantages of the Alesis VI49:

    Firstly, it boasts 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads which can be used to trigger drums, samples, or loops. Additionally, these pads are capable of launching clips in popular DAWs such as Ableton Live. Their backlit design changes color based on the assigned function.

    Secondly, the Alesis VI49 includes 36 assignable buttons and 12 assignable knobs. With these, you gain complete control over your software instruments and effects. Adjusting parameters, modifying volumes, and switching presets becomes simple. The buttons and knobs are illuminated and have a smooth feel, further enhancing your user experience.

    Thirdly, this MIDI keyboard features a semi-weighted keyboard with aftertouch. This provides a realistic and expressive playing experience. The full-sized keys offer a comfortable action that responds intuitively to your touch. Additionally, the pitch and modulation wheels, along with the octave buttons, allow for added expression during your performances.

    Lastly, the Alesis VI49 comes bundled with extensive software. This includes Ableton Live Lite, Xpand!2 by AIR Music Tech, Twist 2.0 by SONiVOX, and VIP 3.0 by Akai Professional. These programs grant you access to an array of sounds, effects, loops, and features, serving as a wellspring of creativity.

    Overall, the Alesis VI49 is an excellent choice for those seeking a versatile and economical 49-key MIDI keyboard. Its sleek design, solid build quality, and wide range of functions will undoubtedly enhance your music production. Most online retailers offer this product for around $250.

CONS

  • The Alesis VI49, a 49-key USB MIDI keyboard controller, offers a variety of features and controls at a reasonable price. However, it does have a couple of drawbacks worth considering before purchasing.
  • Firstly, some users have reported squeaky keys when pressing them, which can be annoying and distracting . This may be due to the quality of materials or keyboard assembly. If you prefer a quiet and smooth keyboard, the VI49 may not be the ideal option.
  • Secondly, the VI49’s programming options are limited, with users finding the software editor confusing and buggy . Additionally, it lacks a dedicated mode for controlling popular DAWs like Ableton Live or Logic Pro X, requiring users to create their own config file or use a third-party script to maximize its potential.

    Keep in mind these cons when searching for the best 49-key MIDI keyboard under $250. Despite these downsides, the VI49 boasts numerous pros including semi-weighted keys, backlit pads, and an affordable price. Ultimately, the choice should be based on your personal preferences and specific needs.

2. Novation Launchkey 49

SIMPLE AND INTUITIVE.

“16 RGB pads, 9 faders”Powerful software bundle, integrated controls.
full-size keyboard with synth-actionUSB-powered and plug-and-play operation.
Picture by Novation

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

PROS

    • If you are in the market for a 49-key MIDI keyboard that offers exceptional value, performance, and versatility, look no further than the Novation Launchkey 49. This keyboard stands out as one of the best options available for under $250, and here’s why:

      First and foremost, the Novation Launchkey 49 boasts a sleek and sturdy design that makes it both visually appealing and reliable during intense performances. Equipped with 16 RGB pads, 9 faders, 8 knobs, and a mod wheel and pitch bend, this keyboard offers an extensive range of controls to cater to your musical needs. The velocity-sensitive pads serve multiple purposes, allowing you to effortlessly play drums, launch clips, or control effects. Furthermore, the assignable faders and knobs enable you to fine-tune various parameters such as volume, pan, filter, or any other aspect of your software instruments or DAW.

      Additionally, the Novation Launchkey 49 comes bundled with an impressive selection of software, making it an even more enticing option. Included in the package are Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station, V-Station, and XLN Addictive Keys. Moreover, you gain access to Novation Sound Collective, which provides free or discounted plugins every month. Facilitating seamless integration with major DAWs, the InControl technology automatically maps the Launchkey 49’s controls to match the software functions, guaranteeing a hassle-free experience.

      When it comes to the keyboard itself, the Novation Launchkey 49 proves to be a standout performer. Boasting full-size synth-action keys that are both responsive and expressive, this keyboard allows for a dynamic playing experience. The inclusion of aftertouch further enhances your ability to modulate the sound by applying pressure after striking a key. Furthermore, the transpose function enables you to effortlessly shift the octave range up or down to suit your preferences.

      Not only is the Novation Launchkey 49 feature-rich, but it also offers plug-and-play convenience. Powered via USB and requiring no external power supply or drivers, this keyboard allows for seamless connectivity to your computer or iOS device. This means that you can dive straight into your music-making endeavors without any unnecessary setups or installations. Moreover, the MIDI out port provides the flexibility to connect the Launchkey 49 to other MIDI devices.

      In conclusion, the Novation Launchkey 49 is an affordable and incredibly versatile MIDI keyboard that is certain to boost your music production workflow and take your creativity to new heights. Regardless of whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned professional, this keyboard is an excellent addition to any studio or live setup. With its robust features, software bundle, and user-friendly operation, the Novation Launchkey 49 truly offers unparalleled value for money.

CONS

  • The Novation Launchkey 49 is a MIDI keyboard with great features for its price range, but it also has drawbacks to consider.
  • Firstly, its non-weighted and non-semi-weighted keys may not provide the same realistic feel as a piano or synth keyboard, and they lack aftertouch capabilities.
  • Secondly, the software bundle it comes with, including Ableton Live Lite and Novation plugins, is not as impressive as its competitors, lacking more advanced instruments and effects like Native Instruments Komplete or Arturia Analog Lab. It’s important to weigh these cons against its affordable price and versatility when deciding to purchase the Novation Launchkey 49.

3. Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

WIDE SOUND RANGE.

Comprehensive software bundle with 3 programs.“Sleek, ergonomic design with features.”
Customizable mappings and presets.USB-MIDI interface for any device.
Picture by Arturia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

PROS

  • If you’re in search of a reasonably priced, 49-key MIDI keyboard that offers a plethora of features and adaptability, the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 is definitely worth considering. This keyboard has been flawlessly designed to seamlessly integrate with your DAW and software instruments, granting you extensive control and encouraging creative expression. Here are a few key advantages of this keyboard:

    Firstly, it arrives with an all-inclusive software bundle comprising Analog Lab 4, Ableton Live Lite, and Piano V2. These programs provide access to thousands of sounds and effects, while also offering a robust platform for music production and recording purposes.

    Secondly, the keyboard boasts a sleek and ergonomic design, featuring 49 velocity-sensitive keys, 8 RGB backlit pads, 9 faders, 9 rotary knobs, and a pitch bend and modulation wheel. Additionally, the keyboard offers dedicated DAW commands and transport controls that enable seamless navigation and project editing.

    The third advantage is that it supports the Arturia MIDI Control Center, enabling customization and saving of personal mappings and presets for various software and hardware devices. Furthermore, the keyboard offers chord mode and scale mode, which make playing complex chords and melodies effortless.

    Lastly, it has a USB-MIDI class compliant interface, which means it can seamlessly function with any computer or mobile device without the need for drivers or an external power supply. It also includes a MIDI out port, allowing for connectivity with other MIDI devices.

    The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 is a remarkable choice for anyone seeking a versatile and user-friendly MIDI keyboard capable of accommodating any musical genre or style. It undoubtedly stands as one of the finest 49-key MIDI keyboards available on the market today, all for under $250.

CONS

  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 MIDI keyboard controller is a feature-packed option at a reasonable price. Still, it’s important to be aware of its drawbacks before purchasing. Here are two cons to consider:

    1. Lack of aftertouch and keyboard zoning limits expression. Unlike some competitors in this price range, the KeyLab Essential 49 lacks aftertouch and keyboard zoning capabilities. This means you can’t control sound dynamics with key pressure or split the keyboard for different instruments. This may impact creativity and performance options, particularly for advanced musical genres.

    2. Limited software compatibility can be frustrating. Although the KeyLab Essential 49 comes with useful software like Analog Lab, Ableton Live Lite, and UVI Grand Piano Model D, other software instruments or DAWs may face compatibility issues. Not all applications support the keyboard’s control protocols, impacting the use of knobs, faders, pads, and transport controls. Manual mapping using MIDI Control Center software may be required, which can be time-consuming and inconvenient, especially when frequently switching between applications.

    These considerations should be taken into account before purchasing the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49. However, depending on your preferences and needs, these may not be deal-breakers. Overall, the keyboard offers good value and quality for its price, making it a solid addition to your home studio or live setup. Informing yourself about the pros and cons is always wise when making a purchase decision.

4. Nektar Impact LX49+

SEAMLESS INTEGRATION.

Pre-mapped DAW configurations for software.Pads and sliders for versatility
Bitwig 8-Track included with LX49+.Low-power mode for extended battery life.
Picture by Nektar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

PROS

  • If you’re in the market for a 49-key MIDI keyboard that offers excellent value for the price and seamless integration with your DAW, the Nektar Impact LX49+ should be on your radar. This controller stands out from the competition due to its impressive features. Here are four reasons why you might want to consider this keyboard:

    1. DAW Integration. The Nektar Impact LX49+ comes pre-mapped with popular DAW configurations including Bitwig Studio, Cubase, Logic Pro, Studio One, and more. This allows you to effortlessly control your DAW’s mixer, transport, instruments, and effects. Additionally, you can switch between different modes to access various functions instantly.

    2. Pads and Sliders. This keyboard features eight velocity-sensitive pads, perfect for triggering drums, samples, or clips. The pads have four LED colors indicating different states and can be assigned to different MIDI notes or CC messages. In addition to the pads, the controller incorporates nine 30mm sliders for adjusting volume, pan, or other parameters.

    3. Bitwig 8-Track. The Nektar Impact LX49+ comes bundled with a Bitwig 8-Track license. Bitwig 8-Track is a powerful DAW that allows for unlimited audio and MIDI tracks, virtual instruments, effects, and more. With compatibility on Windows, Mac, and Linux, it boasts a user-friendly interface making it easy to learn and use.

    4. Low-Power Mode. While the Nektar Impact LX49+ can be powered by your computer or iPad via USB, it also offers a convenient low-power mode. By switching to this mode, the controller conserves battery life by turning off its lights while still allowing full functionality. This feature is particularly advantageous for on-the-go musicians who prefer working anywhere.

    These are just a few of the noteworthy advantages of the Nektar Impact LX49+. Undoubtedly, the Nektar Impact LX49+ is among the top choices for 49-key MIDI keyboards under $250 in 2023.

CONS

  • The Nektar Impact LX49+ is an affordable MIDI controller, but it does have a few drawbacks to keep in mind.
  • Firstly, it lacks a MIDI Out port, restricting its use to computer or iPad connectivity. This limitation forces users to rely on their DAW for MIDI communication with external devices, causing inconvenience and potential latency issues.
  • Moreover, its keybed is considered mediocre with a loose and cheap feel compared to keyboards in a similar price range. Unresponsive keys and limited dynamic range can negatively impact playing expression and accuracy. Nevertheless, if you seek a cost-effective MIDI controller with comprehensive DAW integration and numerous controls, the Nektar Impact LX49+ may still be a suitable choice. However, those in need of a MIDI Out port or better keybed quality should explore alternative options.

5. M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49

PREMIUM PERFORMANCE.

Arpeggiator, chord and scale, note repeat.Deep integration with popular DAWs.
Generous software bundle for creativity.Sleek, sturdy design for comfort.
Picture by M-Audio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

PROS

  • If you are in search of a 49-key MIDI keyboard that offers a multitude of features and performance options while remaining affordable, the M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 is an excellent choice. Priced under $250, this controller keyboard has a lot to offer, and here are four reasons why it stands out:

    Firstly, the Oxygen Pro 49 boasts a range of built-in functions like an arpeggiator, chord and scale modes, and note repeat capabilities. These features provide ease and flexibility in creating dynamic and expressive melodies, chords, and rhythms. Moreover, customization options allow you to tailor these functions to suit your musical style and preferences.

    Secondly, deep integration with popular digital audio workstations (DAWs) like Ableton Live, Logic Pro, FL Studio, and Cubase sets the Oxygen Pro 49 apart. With transport buttons, faders, knobs, and pads, you can effortlessly control various software parameters, plugins, and instruments, eliminating the need for excessive mouse and keyboard usage.

    The Oxygen Pro 49 comes bundled with a generous selection of professional software tools. Among these are Pro Tools First M-Audio Edition, MPC Beats, Ableton Live Lite, Hybrid 3, Mini Grand, Vacuum, Boom, DB-33, and more. This extensive software package allows you to access hundreds of sounds, effects, loops, and samples, enabling you to start making music immediately.

    Lastly, the Oxygen Pro 49’s sleek and sturdy design offers a comfortable and user-friendly experience. The full-sized keys are velocity-sensitive and aftertouch-enabled, providing a realistic and expressive playing experience. Additionally, the backlit and responsive pads are ideal for finger drumming and triggering clips, while the OLED display ensures crucial information and feedback are readily visible.

    In conclusion, the M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 is a versatile and powerful MIDI controller that can greatly enhance your music production workflow and creativity. Its combination of competitive pricing, extensive features, and robust design make it one of the best 49-key MIDI keyboards available for under $250 in today’s market.

CONS

  • If you’re in the market for an affordable 49-key MIDI keyboard controller, the M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 may catch your interest. This new model offers a wide range of features and performance without breaking the bank. However, it’s important to be aware of certain drawbacks before making your decision. Two cons to consider are as follows:
  • Firstly, the key action is unsatisfying with light, springy, and noisy keys lacking expression and dynamics, especially on the black keys.
  • Secondly, the keyboard has a steep learning curve with non-intuitive functions and modes, requiring time spent with the manual and OLED screen for effective use. Remember these cons alongside the pros, like deep DAW integration and a generous software bundle.

6. Nektar Impact GXP49

STREAMLINED DESIGN.

Semi-weighted keys, DAW integration, repeat engine, Nektarine software.Advanced DAW integration, seamless control.
Repeat engine for rhythmic patterns.Nektarine software: load, control 16 VSTs.
Picture by Nektar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

PROS

  • If you are in the market for a 49-key MIDI keyboard that offers exceptional value for money, look no further than the Nektar Impact GXP49. This controller keyboard has an array of impressive features that set it apart from its competition. Here, we will highlight four essential advantages of the Nektar Impact GXP49:

    Firstly, the Nektar Impact GXP49 boasts semi-weighted keys with aftertouch. These full-size keys are not only responsive but also highly expressive. Additionally, they support channel or mono aftertouch, giving you the ability to add extra modulation and expression to your playing by applying pressure to the keys .

    Secondly, this keyboard offers advanced DAW integration. Seamlessly compatible with popular DAWs like Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Cubase, Studio One, and more , the Nektar Impact GXP49 allows you to control various transport functions, track selection, volume, and more through dedicated buttons on the controller. Furthermore, you can effortlessly open and close DAW windows and navigate songs with ease.

    Next, the Nektar Impact GXP49 boasts a unique feature called the repeat engine. This feature enables you to create rhythmic patterns and arpeggios instantly with the simple press of a button . You have the flexibility to adjust the tempo, rate, accent, gate, and swing of the repeat engine, syncing it to your DAW or external MIDI clock.

    Lastly, this controller keyboard comes with the Nektarine software, a free VST plug-in host. With Nektarine, you can effortlessly load and control up to 16 VST instruments or effects simultaneously . Additionally, you can create custom maps for each plug-in and seamlessly switch between them using the preset buttons on the controller.

    These features only scratch the surface of what the Nektar Impact GXP49 has to offer. As one of the best 49-key MIDI keyboards priced under $250 in 2023, it truly delivers exceptional value.

CONS

  • The Nektar Impact GXP49 is a MIDI keyboard controller that’s perfect for those on a budget. With its sleek design, semi-weighted keybed, and streamlined control panel, it’s easy to see why it’s a popular choice. However, before you make a purchase, there are a couple of drawbacks to consider.

    Firstly, the Nektar Impact GXP49 has limited real-time control. With only one assignable dial and seven assignable buttons, it might not offer enough hands-on control for users who want more flexibility. Other MIDI controllers in the same price range, like the M-Audio Oxygen 49 and Novation Launchkey 49, have more knobs, faders, and pads to enhance your music-making experience.

    Secondly, while the Nektar Impact GXP49 claims to have advanced DAW integration, it falls short in some areas. It only provides basic transport functions, track selection, and volume control. If you use software like Logic Pro X, for example, accessing mixer, instrument, or smart controls can be challenging. Switching between different DAW functions can also be confusing as you’ll need to use the Shift button and secondary functions. Some users even had to manually download additional files for proper DAW integration.

    Despite these drawbacks, the Nektar Impact GXP49 remains a solid choice for those seeking a wallet-friendly and user-friendly MIDI controller.

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