The Best MIDI Controllers for Electronic Music Producers Under $500

As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases. This means that if you click on certain links on this site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you need a MIDI controller that suits your style and budget. In this blog, we review the best MIDI controllers for electronic music producers under $500 and help you choose the right one for you.

 

1. Akai Professional Advance 49

PREMIUM PERFORMANCE

Read more

2. Nektar Panorama P4                 

ULTIMATE INTEGRATION

Read more

3. M-Audio Hammer 88          

REALISTIC EXPRESSION

Read more

 

4. Arturia KeyLab 61 MkII

VERSATILE CONTROL

Read more

5. Novation Impulse 49

EXPRESSIVE INNOVATION

Read more

6. Alesis V161 MIDI Keyboard

AFFORDABLE VERSATILITY

Read more

 
 

1. Akai Professional Advance 49

PREMIUM PERFORMANCE

Large color screen, 8 knobs.Works with any VST instrument.
Responsive synth-action keybed with aftertouch.Built-in arpeggiator and note repeat.
Picture by Akai

Picture by Alesis

PROS

  • If you’re in search of a MIDI controller that offers more than just note-playing capability, the Akai Professional Advance 49 is worth considering. Not only is this keyboard well-built and user-friendly, but it also boasts some unique features that set it apart from others. Here are four key advantages that make the Advance 49 stand out:

    Firstly, it comes with a large color screen, allowing you to effortlessly browse, edit, and control virtual instruments visually. All parameters, presets, and plug-in categories are clearly displayed, enabling easy adjustments through the eight accompanying knobs and buttons. Additionally, you can switch between various modes such as Multi, Setlist, and VIP to personalize your workflow.

    Secondly, it supports any VST instrument plug-in, not limiting you to Akai or Native Instruments offerings. Bundled with VIP software, this plug-in host integrates with your DAW and grants access to all your plug-ins from one place. Moreover, you can create up to eight layers and splits of different plug-ins and save them as patches for convenient recall.

    Thirdly, its synth-action keybed with aftertouch provides excellent responsiveness and a pleasant playing experience. Although the keys are slightly smaller than standard, they remain comfortable. Placing the pitch and mod wheels above the keyboard saves space, allowing ample room for your mouse or other equipment. The keyboard also features eight large, sensitive, and colorful MPC-style pads that can trigger notes, chords, arpeggios, and drum sounds.

    Lastly, the built-in arpeggiator and note repeat function bring fun and creativity to your playing. The arpeggiator offers a variety of modes, patterns, and time divisions that can be adjusted on the fly. With the note repeat function, you can repeat notes at various rates, from 1/4 to 1/32, with or without swing. These functions can be easily synchronized to your DAW tempo or external MIDI clock.

    These are just a few reasons why the Akai Professional Advance 49 stands out as an exceptional MIDI controller for electronic music producers under $500. If you would like to learn more about this keyboard, you can read some reviews here , or watch some videos here . Alternatively, try it out for yourself to discover its potential for enhancing your music!

CONS

  • The Akai Professional Advance 49 is a MIDI controller that offers extensive features and integration with virtual instruments. However, there are a few drawbacks that prospective buyers should consider.
  • First, some users find the keybed to be too stiff, making it difficult to press and requiring excessive force to play. This can be fatiguing and uncomfortable during long sessions, potentially affecting the expressiveness and dynamics of performances.
  • Additionally, the software that accompanies the Advance 49, known as VIP, has been reported to be unstable. Users have experienced frequent crashes, compatibility issues with certain plug-ins, and unreliable syncing with the hardware. These issues can be frustrating and limit the functionality of the controller. Despite these drawbacks, the Akai Professional Advance 49 offers a large color screen, an extensive control section, and support for any instrument plug-in. To learn more about this MIDI controller, check out our blog post: The Best MIDI Controllers for Electronic Music Producers Under $500.

2. Nektar Panorama P4

ULTIMATE INTEGRATION

High-resolution color display, 49-key keyboard.Motorized fader automatically adjusts volume.
16 encoders, 9 faders, 12 pads.Semi-weighted keyboard with aftertouch.
Picture by Nektar

PROS

    • If you are searching for a MIDI controller that offers more than just note-playing capabilities, then the Nektar Panorama P4 should definitely be on your radar. This 49-key keyboard controller is specifically designed to seamlessly integrate with popular Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) such as Reason, Cubase, Logic Pro, and Bitwig Studio, making it one of the top choices for electronic music producers working with a budget under $500.

      First and foremost, the Nektar Panorama P4 boasts a high-resolution color display, allowing you to effortlessly view the parameters and values of the selected track or device within your DAW. This display also enables easy navigation through menus, presets, and files without the need for a computer mouse.

      Another notable feature is the motorized fader, which automatically adjusts according to the volume level of the chosen track or device. Additionally, this versatile fader can be utilized to control various parameters such as filter cutoff, envelope attack, and LFO rate. Alongside the fader, the Nektar Panorama P4 offers mute, solo, and mode buttons, in addition to automation read and write indicators.

      For ultimate control, this MIDI controller sports 16 endless rotary encoders, nine 45mm faders, and 12 pads, which can be assigned to control any desired parameter within your DAW. This flexibility can be further extended by switching between different modes such as mixer, instrument, transport, or internal. The pads are velocity- and pressure-sensitive, enabling triggering of notes, chords, clips, or scenes.

      Providing a superior playing experience, the Nektar Panorama P4 features a semi-weighted keyboard complete with aftertouch. The inclusion of octave up/down buttons and two programmable buttons adds to the overall versatility of this MIDI controller, making it suitable for sending pitch bend, modulation, and other MIDI messages. The keyboard can also be divided into four separate zones, each with its individual MIDI channel and settings.

      Capable of greatly enhancing your workflow and creativity, the Nektar Panorama P4 is a versatile and powerful MIDI controller that is compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. It comes complete with a USB cable and a software bundle that includes Bitwig Studio 8-Track.

      To gather further information about the Nektar Panorama P4, be sure to visit the official website and also check out various reviews available online.

CONS

  • The Nektar Panorama P4 is a powerful MIDI controller with deep integration for Reason. It boasts a sleek design, color LCD screen, motorized fader, and standout features. However, there are a couple of drawbacks to consider before purchasing.
  • Firstly, it lacks audio I/O, yet it’s relatively expensive at around $500. To connect audio sources or speakers, a separate audio interface is required, increasing both cost and complexity.
  • Secondly, its compatibility is primarily tailored for Reason users. While it can function as a generic MIDI controller with other DAWs, it won’t offer the same level of integration and control. Nevertheless, the P4 remains a fantastic MIDI controller with impressive functionality, yet if affordability or compatibility is a priority, explore our reviewed options under $500 for electronic music producers.

3. M-Audio Hammer 88

REALISTIC EXPRESSION

Solid, sturdy construction, 38.5 pounds.Simple and intuitive interface.
Generous software bundle with controller.Versatile connectivity with multiple inputs.
Picture by M-Audio

PROS

  • If you are in search of a MIDI controller that provides a realistic piano playing experience and a minimalist design, then the M-Audio Hammer 88 is worth considering. This 88-key keyboard controller features a fully weighted hammer-action keybed that delivers an authentic and expressive performance. Here are some of the advantages of the M-Audio Hammer 88 that make it an excellent choice for electronic music producers on a budget of $500 or less.

    Firstly, the Hammer 88 boasts a solid and durable construction, able to withstand the demands of both studio and live use. Its metal top panel and wooden bottom panel give it a high-end look and feel. Despite its sturdy build, the keyboard weighs a manageable 38.5 pounds, making transportation and setup hassle-free.

    Secondly, the Hammer 88 boasts a simple and intuitive interface that allows you to concentrate on your performance. With only five controls – a volume fader, two program change buttons, and pitch and modulation wheels – you can effortlessly navigate its features. Additionally, the included preset editor app allows you to personalize the functionality of these controls, assigning them to various MIDI channels, CC numbers, and ranges.

    Thirdly, the Hammer 88 comes bundled with a generous selection of software, including virtual instruments, digital audio workstations (DAWs), and plugins. With access to sounds from AIR Music Technology, SONiVOX, Ableton Live Lite, Pro Tools First, and more, you have a wide range of tools at your disposal. Furthermore, you can utilize the Hammer 88 to control any MIDI-compatible software or hardware device.

    Lastly, the Hammer 88 offers versatile connectivity options, enabling you to expand your setup. It features three pedal inputs for sustain, expression, and a footswitch. Additionally, it has a USB port for power and data transfer, as well as a MIDI output for connecting to external MIDI devices.

    In summary, the M-Audio Hammer 88 is a MIDI controller that provides exceptional value for its price. With its impressive keybed, sleek design, user-friendly interface, and comprehensive software package, it caters to both piano and synth parts seamlessly. If you are in search of a keyboard controller that can meet your needs for a reasonable price, the Hammer 88 may be your ideal choice.

CONS

  • The M-Audio Hammer 88 is a highly praised MIDI controller ideal for electronic music producers seeking an authentic piano experience with a user-friendly interface. Nonetheless, it does come with a couple of downsides worth considering before making a purchase.
  • The first drawback is its weight and bulkiness, weighing 17.5 kg and measuring 128.3 x 29 x 12.7 cm. Being one of the largest and heaviest MIDI controllers available, it is not easily portable and will occupy a significant amount of space in your studio or on stage. If portability is important to you, it may be wise to explore other more compact and lightweight options.
  • Additionally, the Hammer 88 has limited controls and features with only five on the front panel, including a volume fader, two buttons, and two wheels. The back panel includes just three footswitch ports, a USB port, and a MIDI out port. This means that it offers limited flexibility and customization compared to other controllers that provide a wider range of knobs, faders, pads, and additional features for enhanced functionality.

4. Arturia KeyLab 61 MkII

VERSATILE CONTROL

1. Superb keybed with aftertouch. 61 Keys.2. 16 RGB pads, 9 faders.
3. Sleek aluminum design with wood panels.4. Priced around $499.
Picture by Arturia

PROS

  • If you’re in search of a MIDI controller that provides excellent performance, top-notch quality, and affordability, the Arturia KeyLab 61 MkII is definitely worth considering. This keyboard controller stands out as one of the finest options for electronic music producers under $500, and here are four reasons why:

    Firstly, it features a remarkable keybed that truly emulates the feel of a real instrument. With its semi-weighted Pro-Feel keybed, the KeyLab 61 MkII offers exceptional sensitivity and expressivity across various velocity ranges. Complemented by aftertouch and metal pitch and mod wheels, this keyboard provides enhanced control.

    Secondly, it seamlessly integrates with your digital audio workstation (DAW) and virtual instruments. Bundled with Arturia’s Analog Lab 3 software, this controller grants you access to an impressive library of over 6,000 sounds from their highly acclaimed V Collection. Additionally, the extensive MIDI and CV connectivity allows you to control any software or hardware synth. The keyboard’s 16 RGB pads, 9 faders, 9 encoders, and 10 DAW command buttons can be conveniently customized to suit your preferences.

    Thirdly, it boasts a sleek and durable design that complements any studio environment. Sporting a slim, lightweight aluminum chassis with elegant white or black finishes and wooden panels, the KeyLab 61 MkII exudes style. Its top panel is intuitively organized and easily navigable, aided by magnetic overlays for different DAWs.

    Lastly, it offers exceptional value for your hard-earned money. Priced at a reasonable $499, this keyboard controller provides a top-tier keybed, a versatile control surface, a powerful software bundle, and a visually appealing design, all serving to inspire your music-making journey.

    Overall, the Arturia KeyLab 61 MkII is a MIDI controller that excels in performance, quality, functionality, and aesthetics. It undoubtedly earns its place in your studio as one of the best options available for electronic music producers under $500.

CONS

  • The Arturia KeyLab 61 MkII is a versatile and powerful MIDI controller with integration capabilities for Arturia’s software instruments. However, it does have a few drawbacks worth noting.
  • Firstly, its price tag of $499 may be considered high for a MIDI controller, especially when compared to alternatives like Novation SL MkIII (around $599) or Nektar Panorama P6 (around $499) which offer similar or more features for less.
  • Secondly, the KeyLab 61 MkII’s sturdy metal chassis, while enhancing durability and a premium feel, also adds bulkiness and weight, making it cumbersome for frequent transport or live performances. Nevertheless, it has several pros, including an excellent keybed, deep Analog Lab integration, and extensive connectivity options. The final decision should be based on personal preferences, needs, and budget. For more information on MIDI controllers for electronic music producers under $500, visit our blog post: Best Midi Controllers Under $500 (Ultimate Guide).

5. Novation Impulse 49

EXPRESSIVE INNOVATION

Semi-weighted keyboard with aftertouch.Hands-on control without mouse.
Backlit pads with roll function.Compatible with major DAWs.
Picture by Novation

PROS

  • If you are in search of a MIDI controller that effortlessly handles electronic music production, the Novation Impulse 49 should be on your radar. This keyboard offers several standout features without breaking the bank. Here are four key advantages of the Novation Impulse 49:

    Firstly, the semi-weighted keyboard with aftertouch allows for expressive and dynamic playing. The keys are comfortable and responsive, and you can select from four velocity curves to match your playing style.

    Secondly, the Impulse 49 boasts eight rotary encoders, nine faders, and nine buttons that can be easily mapped to any parameter in your DAW or plug-in using the included Automap 4 software. This grants you hands-on control over your mix, effects, and instruments without needing to touch your mouse or keyboard.

    Thirdly, the Impulse 49 includes eight backlit pads that can be used for drumming, triggering clips, or playing arpeggios. These velocity-sensitive pads have a roll function for effortless creation of rhythmic patterns. Additionally, the pads can be utilized to modify arpeggiator settings on the fly.

    Lastly, the Impulse 49 is compatible with prominent DAWs like Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Cubase, Pro Tools, and FL Studio. It also comes bundled with various software and sounds, including Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station, and Loopmasters samples.

    The Novation Impulse 49 is a versatile and powerful MIDI controller, elevating your electronic music production to new heights. With its superb keyboard, plentiful controls, and useful features, it offers a fun and user-friendly experience. Priced under $500, it delivers great value for money. If you’re interested, check out these reviews .

CONS

  • The Novation Impulse 49 is a highly versatile MIDI controller that caters to the needs of electronic music producers. With 49 semi-weighted keys, 8 drum pads, 9 faders, 8 knobs, and a mod wheel and pitch bend, it delivers a wide range of functionalities. Furthermore, it comes bundled with Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station, and Loopmasters sample pack. However, there are a couple of drawbacks to consider.
  • Firstly, its sizable weight and dimensions make it challenging to transport or store in limited spaces. Therefore, those seeking a compact and portable option may need to explore alternatives.
  • Secondly, compatibility issues have been reported when using this controller with certain DAWs like Logic Pro, FL Studio, or Cubase. Mapping controls, syncing tempo, and triggering pads might require additional driver downloads or software configurations for optimal functionality.

6. Alesis V161 MIDI Keyboard

AFFORDABLE VERSATILITY

61 semi-weighted keys with aftertouch.16 velocity- & pressure-sensitive pads.
16 assignable knobs and 48 buttons.5-pin MIDI out port connectivity.
Picture by Alesis

PROS

  • If you are in search of a feature-packed MIDI controller at a reasonable price, the Alesis V161 MIDI Keyboard may be worth considering. It is recognized as one of the top MIDI controllers for electronic music producers priced below $500, and here are four reasons why:

    To begin with, the Alesis V161 boasts 61 semi-weighted keys with aftertouch, enabling you to play with greater expression and dynamics. These full-sized keys offer a superior feel compared to cheaper alternatives that often come with mini or plastic keys.

    Additionally, this MIDI controller features 16 velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads that can be utilized for drum programming, sample triggering, or sending MIDI messages. The pads come with customizable multicolor LEDs to indicate various functions. Furthermore, the Roll button allows you to create drum rolls with adjustable speed and intensity.

    With 16 assignable knobs and 48 assignable buttons, the Alesis V161 provides extensive control over different parameters of your software or hardware. These controls are easily mappable to your digital audio workstation (DAW), plugins, or external devices using the user-friendly Alesis VI Editor software.

    Furthermore, the Alesis V161 comes equipped with a 5-pin MIDI out port, enabling seamless connectivity with other MIDI devices like synthesizers, drum machines, and modules. This grants you increased flexibility and versatility in music production, allowing you to use the keyboard as a master controller for your entire setup.

    While these advantages offer just a glimpse into the capabilities of the Alesis V161 MIDI Keyboard, there is much more to explore. To witness the keyboard in action, you can watch video reviews or read customer reviews online. You may also want to compare it with other MIDI controllers in a similar price range, such as the Novation Launchkey 61 MK3 or the Arturia KeyLab Essential 61. Ultimately, ensure that you select a MIDI controller that aligns with your requirements and preferences, and enjoy the process of creating music!

CONS

  • The Alesis V161 MIDI Keyboard is a popular choice for electronic music producers due to its versatility and affordability. With 61 semi-weighted keys with aftertouch, 16 pads, 16 knobs, 48 buttons, and a 5-pin MIDI out port, it offers extensive functionality. Additionally, it includes software editor and production software. However, there are a couple of drawbacks to consider before purchasing.
  • Firstly, some knobs exhibit slight jitter, which can impact parameter adjustments. This inconsistency may result in unwanted MIDI messages affecting performance or recording.
  • Secondly, the LED feedback is not customizable and does not respond to incoming MIDI messages, hindering control and navigation. While these issues may not be deal-breakers for everyone, those seeking a more reliable and customizable MIDI controller may want to explore other options.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top