MIDI controllers can be used to create a much wider variety of sound than a digital keyboard, especially if you get a 61-key model.
If you are looking for the best 61 key midi controllers for that purpose it can be difficult to find a high-quality one as there are so many options on the market and it leaves you so confused.
As you can imagine with such sophisticated music equipment, there are several different features that we examined before we found the controllers for our list.
This article hopes to provide information on this question to help guide you through the buying process, which for newcomers can be a bit overwhelming.
Features that we consider important to the purchasing process include weight, key, warranty information, and materials. You should take the time to research before committing to a purchase.
This included size and weight, which will help you decide if you can take your new controller with you or store it in your studio.
We also looked at the number of pads and controllers for each model, as these will have a direct effect on how innovative you can be with your music.
In a hurry? Here are quick links of our top 7 recommendations of the best 61 key midi controllers:
- Novation Launchkey 61-Note MK2 Version
- Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61 Mk2
- Akai Professional MPK261
- Nektar Panorama P6-Controller Keyboard
- M-Audio Keystation 61 MK3
- Nektar Impact GX61 Controller Keyboard
- Alesis V61 MIDI Keyboard Controller
Whatever your budget, here you can find an ideal choice of the best 61 key midi controller and all other areas of your life that demand pristine performances.
Check out my personal favorites and see what arouses your interest. My list of the best 61 key midi controller includes affordable, expensive, beginner-friendly midi keyboards.
Let us help you make the decision to purchase a midi controller to begin your music career. These are some of the best 61 key midi controllers you can buy today.
If you are a seasoned MIDI controller user, this might be the model for you. For starters, it has a wide range of easy-to-use and highly customizable controls.
This includes nine faders, eight knobs, and sixteen pads. These controls, when combined with the 61 full-size synth-style keys, create an infinitely customizable experience that is perfect for anyone looking to take their musical compositions to the next level.
The controller is specifically designed for use with the Ableton Live Lite that comes in the package. You just need to install the program, configure your MIDI controller, and start creating music.
No additional drivers are needed. However, the unit is also compatible with other software products, in case you are used to some other DAW program.
One of the biggest problems with this large number of controls on any other model would be the amount of time it takes to set them up. The last thing you want to do is spend all your study time playing with the controls.
Fortunately, this Novation model comes with an automatic mapping feature. It does all the heavy lifting for you and configures each of the controls on its own.
From there, you can just play around with only those controls that aren’t exactly where you want them to be for a minimal amount of time, and instead focus on what you want to do, make music.
Most of the controls on this model are excellent; pads are inconsistent. They don’t always have the sensitivity to be used as drum pads unless you get the settings right.
They can be used as drum pads, but it may take a little longer than you are used to.
This Native Instruments model uses USB as the communication protocol in conjunction with traditional MIDI inputs and outputs.
There is a five-octave playing surface with 16 velocity-sensitive pads. This model’s sliding bench comes with illuminated buttons underneath, and the screen on the left has more light and color to offer.
Akai MPK261 has so many features and comes with semi-weighted keys.
The controller is not lightweight but offers you a feel close to an acoustic piano. It is a preferred keyboard for intermediate and advanced players.
It has large pads compared to the Novation Launchkey and comes with MPC-style touch quality.
The MIDI keyboard has edge lighting and not full-color lighting, and this offers its attractive nature. You can access 64 pads using four sound banks.
Akai is a big name in the business and it doesn’t live up to its reputation. This MPK261 model is no exception. This is a company that has built a reputation for high-quality products and it continues to prove it with this model.
There are six semi-weighted synth-style velocity-sensitive keys with an Aftertouch function. The interface also features 16 RGB-illuminated velocity-sensitive pads and 24 assignable controllers.
This controller has semi-weighted synth-style keys that are also velocity-sensitive. These keys make it much easier to control and create the exact tones you want when putting together your compositions.
However, customizing this controller doesn’t stop with its keyboard. To accompany these very easy-to-use keys, this model has a wide range of controls and pads so you can customize your sound to suit your specific tastes.
These controls include 16 lighted pads and 24 assignable controls. The pads allow the possibility of four possible drum banks.
In total, this allows you to create sixty-four different sounds, making it an excellent choice for live performances or as a DJ.
Of course, there are a few small issues that you will have to deal with if you decide on this model. It is somewhat fragile to begin with, which is a bit surprising considering its size and weight.
Second, the USB cable, which is your only power source, is very short. I’d be better off buying another one, although this will of course increase the purchase price a bit.
If you’re looking for a MIDI controller that looks like an electric keyboard or you’re just used to using an acoustic piano, this might be a great option for you.
It features fully weighted keys that also come with velocity settings. These keys will allow you to have the best of both worlds, giving you the feel of a real piano, but the overall control of a MIDI controller.
When it comes to the controller aspect of this device, you’ll basically have the world of music at your fingertips.
It comes with 93 realtime controls, making it easy for you to create a custom sound every time you use it.
Of course, since there are so many options, it could be a bit overwhelming for a new user.
Fortunately, this controller comes with an auto-mapping feature. With this amazing option, you can allow the software inside the controller to map what each of the controls does for you to a default setting.
From there you can start creating music or just make small adjustments to some of the settings, rather than all of them. Simply put, automation will save you a lot of time by getting this controller up and running quickly.
Although this is a very well designed and robust device, its faders are not that responsive. They may take a little longer to get where you want them, although the automation certainly makes it a bit easier.
M-Audio Controller is a USB-powered controller with 61 full-size semi-weighted keys that provide the feel of an acoustic keyboard.
You will be able to attenuate the volume when you are playing games and therefore you are in full control.
In addition, it had directional buttons that offer easy control of the software.
It has ergonomically designed pitch and mod wheels for expressive performance.
While many MIDI controllers use full-size keys, they don’t always feel right. Either they are not the correct size as advertised, or they do not have the correct weight behind them.
This can make it difficult for anyone used to playing acoustic pianos or electric keyboards to adapt.
If that’s your case then it might be a good idea to check out this model. It has full-size keys that look and feel almost exactly like a real piano.
The only difference is that the keys are the only semi-weighted, rather than fully weighted. Still, they will provide the user of an acoustic piano with a much more familiar experience, which will only help make the transition to electronic music production much smoother.
As you would expect from a larger-sized controller, this model has a wide range of customizable features.
This includes various mod wheels and volume controls, as well as octave and fader buttons. While this model is lacking in the pad department, it still provides you with a variety of tools to make a variety of musical compositions with ease.
Another feature that helps make this model easy to use is the different software products it includes. These different packages will allow you to try different systems until you find the one you like the most, which is the ideal one.
These different systems can also be used for different types of music, which only helps to increase the versatility of the controller.
The Nectar Impact GX61 is a compact 61-key controller that offers multiple functions at a price that’s hard to beat.
It has 61 full-size velocity-sensitive keys that are easy to use. Like most other Nektar products, this model also features DAW integration to enhance your music experience.
Possibly the best feature of this controller is its compact yet user-friendly design.
This model is designed for the musician on the go who still wants the best from their controller. Its dimensions are nice and small, and it is also very light.
This makes it perfect to take with you wherever you go. Even though this is such a portable device, it still offers many features that make it feel like a full-size model.
The controller features a pitch wheel, a mod wheel, and a pedal jack. This allows you to operate in five different octaves, which is a great advantage if you are looking to change the style and sounds of your musical pieces.
The octave buttons are very easy to locate as they are color-coded with bright LED backlights.
The configuration of this device is extremely simple. While it’s certainly not as simple as plug and play, it’s almost that easy.
This controller has a class-compliant MIDI controller, which means it will work with any iOS device. This compliance means that you can easily connect it to your iPad and get it going with relative ease.
Due to the lightweight nature of this model, it should come as no surprise that it is missing some key features, such as the ear pads.
The overall design is also a bit fragile, so you will have to be very careful with it when transporting and installing it.
Additional tips on buying a 61 key midi controller
MIDI controllers can range from basic ones, such as those with only keys, to others that have sliders and knobs to adjust their controls. The 61-key controller is between the most basic and advanced versions.
There are many options to consider regarding controls and pads, weighted or semi-weighted keys, types of connections, and motorized controls.
Who needs a 61-key MIDI controller?
Anyone looking to record techno music can only suffice with a 25-key controller. But if you’re looking to expand into rock, jazz, or composition, you’ll need more keys to play.
This is where the 61-key controller will come in handy. With so many keys, you get more sound diversity and the ability to enter more genres.
The 61-key MIDI controllers are a perfect combination of portability and functionality in one unit.
Most of the models, including the ones on our list, are all-inclusive units that come with additional controls, pads, and effects.
Brands create these characteristics based on the type of music you want to record and give you a wide enough range of options without isolating you to deal with a huge machine.
Can you learn to play the piano on a 61-key MIDI keyboard?
A 61-key keyboard would be more than enough for a beginner or people who play rock/pop music.
5 octaves would allow most modern music to be played without the need for that extra range provided by an 88-key controller.
Many piano teaching applications can be adjusted to use a 61-key controller.
So, which is the best 61 key midi controller right now?
The best 61 key midi controller really depends on what type of controller you are looking for, what level of performance you are on, and how you want to use it. Our best choice for the best 61 key midi controllers is the Novation Launchkey 61-Note MK2.
- MK2 version of Novation's 61-note USB keyboard controller for Ableton Live
- 16 velocity-sensitive RGB pads, 8 knobs, and dedicated navigation and control buttons
- Software for Mac and PC
- Fully USB bus-powered and class compliant; works without drivers or power cable. OS Compatibility - macOS 10.12 Sierra, Mac OSX 10.11,10.10,10.9. Windows 10,8,7
- Software for Mac and PC, Including: Ableton Live Lite, XLN Audio Addictive Keys. Maximum power consumption 9V DC 250mA. Novation now offers a 3-Year Warranty on this and all other Novation products.
- Smart keyboard controller for all your virtual instruments
- Pro-grade Fatar keybeds with aftertouch - 61 semi-weighted keys
- Ergonomic pitch and mod wheels, plus touch strip for expression control
- Pre-mapped control of KOMPLETE instruments and hundreds of Native Kontrol Standard (NKS) instruments from leading manufacturers
- Full VSTi support; macOS 10.12, 10.13, 10.14 (latest update), Intel Core i5, 4 GB RAM
- Pro Keyboard Performance - 61 semi-weighted, velocity-sensitive full-size keys and a premium piano-style keybed for unprecedented response and natural feel
- Beat Making Essentials - 16 RGB-illuminated MPC-style pads each with 4 banks for 64 pads - the perfect solution for triggering samples, loops, one-shots, melodics and more
- Assignable Control - 24 assignable Q-Link controllers comprising 8 control knobs, faders and switches engineered for hassle-free DAW / virtual instrument mapping
- Your Studio Centerpiece - Take command of your peripheral MIDI equipment courtesy of an onboard USB-MIDI interface with 5-pin MIDI input & output
- Core MPC Tools - MPC mainstay controls included - MPC Note Repeat, arpeggiator, MPC Full Level, Tap Tempo and Time Division
- Nektar's most advanced MIDI Controller. 61 semi-weighted full-size velocity sensitive keys + aftertouch. Amazing number of controls available includes 100mm ALPS motorized touch-sensitive high resolution fader.
- Deep DAW integration for Cubase, Logic, Studio One, Bitwig Studio, Nuendo, Mainstage, Reason and Reaper.
- Comprehensive MIDI functionailty. Compatible with all MIDI music software applications
- Mac and PC compatible
- Includes PreSonus Studio One Artist DAW
- Ultimate Expression - 61 full-size velocity-sensitive semi-weighted keys provide a natural feel that captures every subtle nuance of your performance
- Total Control - Volume fader, transport and directional buttons for easy control of your software, plus ergonomically-designed pitch and modulation wheels, Octave up and down buttons and sustain pedal input for expressive performances
- Immediate Creativity - Easy plug-and-play connection to your Mac or PC—no drivers or power supply required; compatible with iOS devices via the Apple to USB Camera Adapter (sold separately)
- Your Studio Centrepiece - Compact design fits any desk, studio or stage setup perfectly and advanced functionality customizes your controls for your recording software
- Premium Software suite included - MPC Beats, Ableton Live Lite, Velvet, XPand!2, Mini Grand, and Touch Loops
- 61 Premium midi controller with 61 expressive synth-action keys, on-board pitch bend and modulation wheels for performances
- Nektar DAW Integration for most popular DAWs
- 14 MIDI assignable buttons
- Mac, PC and iOS compatible
- Includes Bitwig 8-Track DAW. NOTE: Refer the User Guide before use.
- MIDI Keyboard with 61 full-sized, velocity sensitive square-front keys, perfect for playing Virtual Instruments
- 8 velocity- and pressure-sensitive backlit pads for beat production and clip launching
- 4 assignable knobs and 4 assignable buttons interface with your music software. Seamless, visual feedback via illuminated buttons and knobs
- Octave Up and Down buttons let you access the full keyboard range and Pitch and modulation wheels deliver expressive, creative control
- Premium Software Included - Includes Ableton Live Lite, Xpand!2 virtual instrument software by Air Music Tech and MPC Beats
We’ve covered everything from the factors that should affect your buying decision to a comprehensive list of technical terms that you should know.
You can choose a model that suits your musical needs and also meets your budget constraints.
Finally, if you want high-quality materials, impeccable craftsmanship, and a world-class tone, you should go for a professional controller from any of the best controller brands.
Whatever your wishes, you are now a more educated buyer and you will definitely be more satisfied with your instrument.
We hope this guide has helped you choose the best 61 key midi controller.
Keep on making music!