The 4 Best MIDI Controllers for Students in Music Production School

Posted on October 21st, 2016 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

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Producing music on a computer with a mouse and keyboard is possible, but it usually takes longer to get things done than it would with an instrument. There’s also something of the musical experience that is lost when a mouse and QWERTY keyboard are your only tools.

For many musicians, a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) controller is a great upgrade. They typically look like the keyboard of a piano, and act like “real” instruments when used with music production software. Hit a key, and watch the corresponding note appear in your composition.

Want to add a MIDI controller to your setup? Here are the four best models you’ll find.

1. The Novation Launchkey 61 MK2 Is a Decent Bet for Students at Music Production School

If you want a full-sized MIDI keyboard, the Novation Launchkey 61 MK2 is a solid choice. With 61 keys and multiple sliders, switches, and pads to help you create your vision, it’s a great option for students who want a good amount of capability in an inexpensive package.

This product is designed for use with Ableton Live production software, and while it does map onto other programs, it could take some time to make everything work. Still, Novation promises that it “works with any HUI-compatible DAW,” so if you put the time in to tweak the settings, it should be a fairly versatile pick.

2. The M-Audio Keystation 49e Is a Good Light, Basic Option

Students attending music production school who want something compact, but that still has a decent number of keys, will appreciate the M-Audio Keystation 49e.

Lightweight, and able to connect to iPads for on-the-go production, this controller also packs in a few dials and buttons for tweaking your tunes, but not as many as some other controllers. Like most MIDI controllers, its keys are velocity-sensitive, meaning the strength of a press will determine the loudness of the corresponding note in the software.

It’s not the most feature-packed option, but if you need a 49-key MIDI controller that is basic and compact, this is a good choice.

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iPad integration lets you take the Keystation 49e on the go

3. Students in Music Production Programs Will Love the Akai MPK Mini’s Features

For students who want something small, but also really good, there’s no beating the Akai MPK Mini MKII 25-Key. It’s the #1 seller on Amazon, and with good reason.
With the Akai MPK Mini, you get several backlit percussion pads, eight knobs, octave adjusters, and a built-in arpeggiator—all of which help musicians get the very most out of this small musical package.

It’s a great option for students in music production programs to take on the go, and as Equipboard—the world’s largest database of musical gear—puts it, “Some users like this MIDI keyboard so much, that despite originally buying it for travel use, they end up using it as their primary studio keyboard.”

4. Want to Go Pro? The Akai MPK249 Is the Beast You Need

This model is quite a bit more expensive than the others on this list. If you’re just dipping your toes into the water, or don’t have the budget for something expensive, this won’t be for you. However, if you don’t mind a bit of expense and want something that packs in a ton of features, the Akai MPK249 is a great buy.

This model comes with 49 keys, eight knobs, and 16 percussion pads, each of which has four banks (essentially upgrading it to a 64-pad system). Overall, it’s definitely the best option on this list for the budding professional who wants lots of tools at their disposal.

Whether you want something small and portable or something big and full-featured, there’s a MIDI controller for you. Add one to your setup to take your digital music production to the next level.

Are you thinking about taking your talents to music production courses in Toronto?

Visit Trebas to learn more or speak to an advisor about getting started.

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