The 15 Best DJ Midi Keyboards (Review & Comparison)
Of 2019 – Our Top Picks Reviewed
Selecting the right DJ keyboard is crucial to performing to the best of your ability. With so many different models it’s often challenging to choose the right one for yourself.
You need a midi keyboard that offers a simple learning curve, can produce entire songs, with the ability to load and record tracks, and control every aspect of your music while changing things on the fly.
We’ve worked with many professional DJ’s who’ve gone through the challenge of finding a stand-alone production unit at various times. That’s how we garnered this list of what are currently The Best DJ Midi Keyboards available.
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The Best DJ Keyboards
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1. Kawai MP11
Size: 54.3 x 18 x 7.2 inches – Weight: 71.5 lbs – User Memories USB Recorder
The Kawaii MP11 is a professional stage piano made with 88 keys of real wood, which have an ivory appearance for a sophisticated look. The weighted keys are designed to feel like a real grand piano. With harmonic imaging it sounds clean and detailed with each keystroke.
The MP11 is a master midi keyboard meant for any studio or stage. The triple sensors are extremely fast reacting and offer a crisp pitch with an easy to use pedal jack. It even comes with an onboard recorder to use when traveling and don’t have access to your studio. For beginners it’s easy to use because of its onboard virtual assistant, you can customize every aspect of this piano effortlessly.
Made by Kawai which has been in business for over 90 years and has won over 50 international major awards for its product excellence. The MP11 is built with quality materials meant to be durable and provide excellent sonic detail.
Capturing the feel of an authentic grand piano with its sound, it offers control of the delicate pianissimo you desire all the way to complete stability when playing fortissimo. With 40 voices and 129 different effects it’s an excellent choice for anyone desiring a true piano experience.
2. Akai Professional MPK249
Dimensions: 12.3 x 29.1 x 3.4 inches – Weight: 12.9 lbs – Keys: 49 semi weighted
The Akai MPK249 is a premium performance keyboard controller. Made with 49 carefully weighted keys, this keyboard is a great match for any producer as well as being an affordable option. Equipped with many of the midi keyboards standard features but also serving improvements in every important aspect.
With its 16 new color illuminated style pads, and features like note repeat and mpc swing it’s capable of rhythmic manipulation on the fly. Being able to assign your encoders, faders and buttons you have complete control over the music you produce.
An added bonus is the package comes already with DAW software such as Ableton Live, Hybrid 3 and Akai Pro Essentials. So with a one time purchase of this midi keyboard you will have everything you need to get started with your music production. Excellent for those starting their first studio.
Enjoy the feeling of complete control with 5 inputs and outputs. The combination of keys and pads, with 8 control knobs, faders, and switches making mapping incredibly easy. Control your virtual instrument or virtual effects with the touch of a button. This is why the MPK249 is considered as one of the most well-rounded midi keyboards available.
3. Akai Force
Dimensions: 1.9 x 14.7 x 13.8 inches – Weight: 13 lbs – Play, perform, produce
The Akai Force is a stand-alone unit meant for sampling and sequencing. You won’t need a computer at all, but when combined with DAW software like Ableton Live it becomes a masterpiece for music production for any DJ.
Even without a computer it gives you access to many sampling effects like pitch shifting, stretching, looping and so much more. With 8×8 clip launch, four synth engines and 10GB of memory it’s one of the most favored complete music production units available.
Capable of rendering a true thorough DAW experience without the need of any computer, using auto bpm detection to make looping and sampling in a flash.
It’s 7 inch touch screen makes it simple to perform onstage or compose music in the studio. The four synth engines allow you to control the effects, bass, leads, and pads. You’ll be able to set the chord sequencer and arpeggiator any time or activate the note mode for intelligent progression and scaling.
If you decided to pair with Ableton Live, everything done on the Akai Force can be saved then moved over to Live to continue production. You’ll have further control over instruments and drums to be edited within Live. That’s why many believe the Akai to be one of the most complete production devices available.
4. Arturia KeyStep
Dimensions: 21.89 x 7.28 x 3.11 in – Weight: 3.09 lbs – 32-key Slim Keyboard
The Arturia Keystep is an affordable keyboard controller and sequencer. With 32 keys it’s meant to be compact and travel friendly. Control the pitch and mod strips without any moving buttons like faders to avoid damage while traveling.
This keyboard has an onboard 64-step sequencer, and chord play to reproduce chords played across the board. The sensitive slimkeys offer a full sized feel on a compact keybed. This is an entry level keyboard meant for those wanting to start creating music but are on a limited budget which is why it’s a great option.
For its price the build is quality, with materials that make you feel it should be priced much higher. It has good weight to it and was designed by professionals who care about making a good product. Engineered in France by Arturia, the founders Frédéric Brun and Gilles Pommereuil had the intention of making affordable synthesizers for the public.
The highlights of the compact Keystep are its sequencer and built-in arpeggiator. It also has after touch as an added bonus. However the transport buttons are only to be used with the sequencer. This won’t affect those who already use a DAW controller for transport controls. This is a great option for those looking for a very affordable keyboard.
5. Arturia KeyLab 88
Dimensions: 51 x 19 x 5 inches – Weight: 45 lbs – Hybrid synth
The Arturia KeyLab 88 is a complete 88 key midi keyboard. It’s sold in a package deal to include Analog Software 3 which gives you access to over 5,000 presets. Complete with 16 pads, faders, and transport controls, it’s a full keyboard with everything you could need.
Capable integration with any DAW software you use. The 88-key midi keyboard was designed by the reputable company Fatar, which has been in business for over 60 years in Italy. The velocity-sensitive keys allow for passionate playing even fortissimo.
Emulating almost every synth sound you could need with over 5,000 presets, you can quickly choose from strong bass to harmonic organs and so much more. With 88 keys, complete set of controls, weighted keys, and configurable to your liking it’s ideal for anyone. From independent artists, studios, to even dedicated producers.
An added bonus is that this keyboard includes Analog labs software and a free Popsocket, which helps you get started straightaway.
6. Novation MiniNova
Dimensions: 29 x 19 x 6.5 inches – Weight: 8.95 lbs – Editing Software Included
The Novation MiniNova is a mini 37 key synthesizer and vocoder. Small and compact, but yet still very powerful. With 256 onboard presets which you can can twist and change with its vocoder.
The synth engine uses a 20 slot modulation to create abstract patches. Enjoy creating rhythms and melodies with the onboard arpeggiator. The MiniNova can also serve as a midi controller by simply connecting it to your computer. If you’re looking for synth mastery in a compact form than this is meant for you.
With one of the strongest synth engines in such a compact keyboard you get a variety of effects. There’s 14 waveforms with 26 wavetables and 20 digital waveforms. There are three different oscillators, detune, virtual sync and hardness. The 20 slot modulation matrix allows you to combine synth modules for even more detailed production.
Add up to 5 effects per voice like compression, distortion, reverb, delay and chorus. For it’s price you won’t find something better for poly than the MiniNova. The knobs are responsive and the menu has ease of use with the option you need a touch of a button away. Most find the MiniNova to be a beauty of machinery capturing even unique old sounds of the 90’s.
7. Behringer DeepMind 6
Dimensions: 25.6 x 10.1 x 4.1 inches – Weight: 15.21 lbs – Channels: 8
The Behringer DeepMind 6 is a 37 key, 6 voice analog synthesizer. Work with a wide selection of tracks from progressive rock to pop from the sounds of the 70’s to the 90’s. Behringer wanted to make an analog synthesizer which can reproduce any iconic synth sound that you’ve always wanted to produce.
Using two digital analog oscillators and two low frequency oscillators for each of the 6 voices. With a detune fader, four digital FX engines and an 8 modulation matrix the 32 step sequencer is capable of creating the sound you desire.
The keyboard has aftertouch enable, as well as three envelopes with many more features. The DeepMind 6 is a masterful synthesizer made by an excellent German company. Behringer being in business for more than 30 years their products are reputable and built to last.
This keyboard is one of the highest quality sound, most dynamic polysynths available. Made with Behringer’s newest technology the voice recreation allows you to use vintage synth sounds. Including 5 reverb modes such as rich plate, room, hall and rich chamber. Capturing every note with the finest of detail it’s a high recommended state of the art midi keyboard.
8. Kurzweil SP6-8
Dimensions: 52 x 15 x 6 inches – Weight: 27 lbs – 32 FX units horsepower
The Kurzweil SP6-8 is an 88 key stage piano. Offering the most satisfying feeling when compared to competitors at its price point, it simply beats the rest. It offers a warm and harmonic grand piano sound that’s detailed and can be played in a studio or for an onstage performance.
The weighted hammer action keys incorporate a grand piano sense of realism to its touch. The audio quality is of the highest eminence with many capabilities like adjusting the reverb with the multi-FX engine or customizing one of the eight arpeggiators to your exact choosing.
Weighing 28lbs it’s lightweight for a true stage piano and great for any gig’s where you need to travel long distances. With 2GB full of unique sounds which can be loaded instantaneously because of its Flash Play technology. You’ll never have to worry about loading times again.
You’ll never have notes drop either when you escalate to maximum polyphony because of its dynamic allocation of polyphony. The FX engine reproduces a complete range of changeable effects like delays and reverbs. And It’s arpeggiators create beautiful rhythms effortlessly. Including 20 unique physical controllers this stage piano is a masterpiece.
9. Kawai VPC1
Dimensions: 16.8 x 54.3 x 7.3 inches – Weight: 65 lbs – Keys: 88
The Kawai VPC1 is a virtual piano controller meant for those who use virtual piano software. Made with real wooden long keys and ivory touch, the weighted hammers create the feel pianists want when performing. It’s bass counterweights and triple pedals help incorporate the same feel as a real piano.
Kawai is taking full charge when designing the finest digital pianos. Their VPC1 is meant to create a virtual piano experience which feels like playing a real grand piano. So the feel and sound is of the utmost importance to recreate that magic. It’s a controller which gives a true authentic experience of a real piano which is the feedback most users gave.
Much like a real piano it was designed to have no wheels, sliders or any buttons, with only a usb port and midi inputs and outputs. It comes with it’s own VPC1 software which includes the essentials you need to play, but it only works for windows.
This virtual keyboard is meant to plug and play. If you need something compact but still want an acoustic piano look and feel the VPC1 is right for you.
10. Kurzweil PC3K8
Dimensions: 54.3 x 13.2 x 4.3 inches” – Weight: 72 lbs – Keys: 88
The Kurzweil PC3K8 is an 88 key synthesizer workstation. The keys have fully weighted hammer action with aftertouch sensitivity and velocity. The keys have a quick release spring as an added bonus to capture the feel of a synthesizer and keyboard in unison.
The performance is much faster than many competitors because of its 128 voice polyphony. There are 16 insert effects but over 500 effects like distortions, compressors, reverbs and much more. Its instrumentals are precise and crisp sounding because of the 32 layers per program. Allowing your production to sound light or deep with the touch of a button.
The strongest feature of the PC3K8 is nearly all the programs sound are of very high quality. Some competitors offer thousands of sounds but in reality they’re not good or usable. The stock programs in this keyboard are much better than other keyboards with 3,000 sounds and only less than 300 are worth using. It’s more well-rounded and why it’s a great choice.
There are few limitations, the capabilities are endless. It does have a higher learning curve but you will appreciate it afterwards. There are so many parameters to change and customize. Regardless if you’re playing classical all the way to rap this synthesizer creates extremely good results.
11. Kurzweil Forte
Dimensions: 54.5 x 15.5 x 5.5 inches – Weight: 49 lbs – Keys: 88
The Kurzweil Forte is an 88 key synthesizer and a marvelous stage piano. With a huge 16GB sound library you can emulate literally any sound you desire. You can choose from a wide variety of sounds from Kerzweil’s soundsets and also have new standard set by the Forte.
The 4.3″ LCD display is widescreen with color and offers a detailed control set. You can easily navigate through the many different features without any hassle. With Forte’s Flash Play technology you won’t have to wait for any sounds to load, which is one of Kurzweil’s key features in their products.
You have individual buttons to assign to your favorite sounds, with different sound variation options. There are 23 unique assignable onboard controllers, which is more than enough to set up your synthesizer to your liking. The Forte provides its own editing software for even more control, that’s compatible with PC or Mac which is very important.
The best feature of the Kurzweil Forte is it’s dynamic allocation of polyphony. Your notes will never drop again. If you’re playing with lots of effects, its smart technology will select which voices to drop to play the new voices. It makes complex sounds appear more smooth and organic sounding much like a true grand piano. This is why many prefer the Kurzweil brand.
12. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2
Dimensions: 60 x 20 x 11 inches – Weight: 28 lbs – Keys: 88
The Komplete Kontrol S88 MK2 is an 88 key high quality synthesizer, built with two LCD color screens with an easy to use interface. It’s fully weighted hammer action keybed gives an excellent touch which professional pianists prefer to use. The dual screens will allow you to control DAW software directly onboard. It’s the latest and greatest midi keyboard technology.
With the new universal preset system, you can quickly select any Native Instruments preset instrument in your sound library and set individual presets by selecting a keyword to find your selection. After you’ve made your selection touch sensitive controls allow you to customize and tune your tone with the touch of a button, via the native map.
Made with a Fatar keybed, built with quality materials meant to be durable and last a lifetime. These keys won’t lose their resistance after years of playing which is the sign of a quality keyboard. The touch strip and mod wheel makes it easy to change your pitch as well. Including color coded keys which light up based on a performance.
Made by Native Instrumentals it’s German engineering at its finest. Coming from Berlin, the company has quickly grown an established reputation within the music production industry. Creating music production equipment as well as software you can’t go wrong with.
The Komplete Kontrol comes with Komplete select which is a higher grade sound library of different effects and sounds. Once you register your hardware this premium feature will be provided completely for free which is reason enough to own a S88 MK2. The customization doesn’t stop because you can quickly integrate your hardware to use third party plugins should you choose too. It’s the newest technology and well worth its price many times over.
13. ROLI Seaboard Rise 49
Dimensions: 35 x 4 x 13 inches – Weight: 10 lbs – 5D touch
The Roli Seaboard Rise 49 is a 49 key, keyboard controller meant for keyboardist. It’s a new instrumental but still very similar to a piano. The keybed is spongy and much more sensitive than any other keyboard though. You can slide keys easily, and change the tone of each key to your liking with the equator synthesizer or your own software. Allowing you to produce distinct sounds unlike any other instrument.
The aftertouch and polyphonic pitch let’s you adjust the pitch of any key, or Add depth to a certain key while the others remain the same. You can even use 3rd party instrumental samples and quickly incorporate them.
The actual keybed does not have physical keys, rather the sculpted keywaves have a very unique feel. It will take just a minute to get used to this feature. With the utmost sensitive keybed the lightest touch will trigger a response which you can adjust as well. If you jiggle the keys they’ll produce a vibrato sound which is a capability other pianos do not have.
This USB keyboard is the first to incorporate a 5D touch keybed. Effortlessly glide between notes using a new playing style, add a pedal with the pedal input for even more control. Made with durable metal construction, including its own Equator synthesizer software meant for both PC and Mac. Choose from nearly a thousand presets on the onboard SoundDial and create guitar sounds all the way to the harmonic sound of a grand piano.
14. Novation LaunchKey 49
Dimensions: 30.5 x 3.5 x 10.6 inches – Weight: 8.16 lbs – Software for Mac and PC
The Novation LaunchKey 49 is a 49 key keyboard controller. Designed to be used with Ableton Live specifically, but can incorporate any DAW software of your liking. It’s a great choice for producing electronic music.
The LaunchKey’s layout is very efficient making ease of practical use. Quickly change the settings you need on the fly without hassle. It has color coded pads, keys, knobs and faders.
Have control over your music production, choosing different instrumentals or effects has never been easier. You can play beats and change effects with the pads and the color coding changes to give visual cues of your clips. Matched with your DAW you have a piece of art ready for any studio or independent artist.
With eight rotary knobs you can adjust any of the effects and instrumentals. The nine faders control your mixer, the keys are designed with velocity sensitivity so you can play without holding back. The controllers match perfectly with Ableton Live and integrate instantaneously, while still being able to assign the controls to your liking.
The LaunchKey 49 is meant for in-house or on the road travel. It’s ready to go the moment it’s connected to a PC or Mac. With a 4GB sound library there’s plenty of instrumentals and sample to choose from. Coming with Ableton Live one of the best DAW softwares available, for its price point it’s simply one of the best keyboards available.
15. Novation Impulse 61
Dimensions: 30.5 x 3.5 x 10.6 inches – Weight: 11 lbs – Keys: 61
The Novation Impulse 61 is a 61 key midi keyboard controller. Like other Novation products it’s designed to be used with Ableton Live and includes the DAW software for free.
The keyboard is semi-weighted with aftertouch and very responsive to the lightest touch. The keyboard is complete with 9 individual faders, 8 knobs, and 8 color coded pads. There’s a wide array of assignable buttons and transport controls which integrate seamlessly with any DAW software you choose.
The display screen makes navigation easy with the options very accessible. The pads match perfectly with Ableton Live for creating beats. The Impulse 61 includes it’s own unique effects for free after registration with the XLN Addictive Keys virtual instruments. You can choose from studio grand, electric grand, modern upright and mark one to resemble your favorite sounding piano.
The Automap 4 software allows quick access to the DAW you choose or the current plug-ins. The drum pads make for quick warp arpeggios and roll beats. Each purchase includes the Novation Bass Station and Loopmasters for your sample library.
The beauty of Novation products is it’s a company which strictly focuses on creating midi keyboards both analog and digital performance synthesizers. The company has been in business for nearly 30 years and during that time the Impulse 61 has proven to be one of their best sellers with the latest and newest technology available.
How We Chose The DJ Keyboards In Our List
Honestly, it was not easy picking the best DJ midi keyboards to include in this review. It’s important to fully understand the fundamentals of this particular music device such as what features will you be needing and how easy is the device to set up.
We’ve carefully selected the keyboards with the most features and highest quality of production for their respective price points. Our goal is for each of these keyboards to have something that’s right for a certain demographic.
Whether you’re on a budget and need the most for your dollar, or you’re able to invest freely for all the bells and whistles you’ll find it here on this list. There’s a keyboard right for you listed below.
DJ Midi Keyboard Buying Guide
When it comes to choosing the right midi keyboard there’s a couple of things we suggest you look for. For example, most professional producers want 49 keys.
Midi Keyboard Budgets
Consider first how much you’re willing to spend because prices can vary from $100 all the way up to $2000. Then decide which niche you fall into, beat-making, mixing, producing music, or playing live?
How Would You Use The Keyboard
If you use your computer mostly and only need a keyboard for melodies than choose something with keys. If you’re making beats and using real time effects than choose pads. If you don’t want to use a computer at all than get an all-in-one with knobs, pads, buttons and faders.
Midi Keyboard Software
Some keyboards come with their own DAW software (digital audio workstation) make sure yours is compatible with the software you plan on using. Lastly, select the right brand. Some brands are known for their quality builds, while others are known for their cost-effectiveness.
Whether you’re searching for a synthesizers or stage piano for a performance you will find the best of both available on this list. From price points for those on budgets to those who are wanting to invest heavily on the best performing studio equipment it’s been detailed here.
Our goal was to provide a comprehensive list which would be accessible by any demographic. If you’re wanting to start a studio, already have a studio, play at home alone or as an independent artist there’s something here for everyone which is currently the best in the market. That’s why we compiled this list from hundreds of customer reviews and from personal experience with the performers we work with.
We’ve covered the most important information which you need to know to make the right selection. When you’re ready to make your purchase we know you’ll be satisfied with the end result because that was our end goal in mind.