The Best 49 Key MIDI Keyboard Controllers In 2018

Keyboard Controllers
Novation Launchkey 49 USB Keyboard Controller for Ableton
According to customer reviews and our own research, the Novation Launchkey 49 is must-have for everyone who is interested in music production.

You would ask why? The answer lies in a range of advanced features the midi controller comes with.

We hooked it up to personal computers running windows and others running Mac OS that had DAWs installed. It was better than the others for controlling secondary audio input from popular software workstations.

Virtual Studio Technology effects like vocoder effects from plug-ins were also produced better.

This VIP enabled Musical Instrument Digital Interface controller comes with 4GB of Loopmasters samples you can play around with when you connect a synthesizer. With sixteen expressive RGB pads, you will be getting the best 49 key Midi Controller there is.

Top-Rated 49 Key MIDI Keyboard Controllers

ProductPopularityQuality
Akai Professional MPK494080
Akai Professional MPK2494080
Novation Launchkey 496080
M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV5070
M-Audio Keystation 49 II6080
Alesis V496080
Nektar Panorama P42080
Akai Professional Advance 491060
Novation Impulse 495080
Roland Lightweight MIDI Keyboard A-491080
Alesis VI493080
Nektar Impact LX49+1090
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S493070
Novation 49 SL MkII2080
M-Audio Axiom AIR 49570

Akai Professional MPK49 USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

Akai Professional MPK49

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Dimensions: 11.8” x 28.7” x 3.94”.
Weight: 12.8lb.
Power: USB powered.
Compatibility: Can work with both Mac and PC.
Connectivity: Connects to a PC via USB, working with Cubase, Ableton and more, some even without downloading drivers.

This Akai Professional MPK49 is the top-rated midi keyboard controller. It comes with the attractive features like pitch bend, octave control and modulation to give excellent performance.

It has convenient buttons for operating DAW from the keyboard. It comes with the USB powered mechanism which supports the plug and plays connectivity for you. It is most recommended MIDI keyboard which is easy to setup with its portable hardware.

The product comes with warranty and safety user guide. The keyboard controller is the well-known brand and has a great rating of the midi controller as per consumer reports.

LIKES:

  • Sturdy design: It’s ideal for travel and heavy-duty use, since it’s strongly built and will withstand some hard handling.
  • Key weight: The weighted keys make for comfortable, responsive play.
  • Screen design: Because the screen is large and backlit, it’s practical for live performance use. You can easily read the detail even in low light.

DISLIKES:

  • Power source: Not all users prefer USB power options. It would be great of a secondary option is provided.
  • Responsiveness: The pads aren’t very responsive and tend to be softer than the keys.
  • Misses beats: When you hit certain buttons fast the unit doesn’t register all of them on the recording.

Akai Professional MPK249 49-Key Keyboard & Drum Pad Controller

Akai Professional MPK249

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Dimensions: 29” x 12.25” 3.38”.
Weight: 12.6lb.
Power: Usually via USB but power adapters can be bought.
Octave: Up to 10 via Octave Down an Up features.
Compatibility: Both iOS and Windows-enabled.
Connectivity: Connect via USB; TRS inputs can be used with footswitch or pedals.

If you love to travel, this is the best 49 key midi controller for you. It is a complete studio setup which you can carry with you wherever you go. It is manufactured with solid metal but it is too lightweight to carry around.

The keys of this midi synthesizer give you feel of the expensive keyboard at best price. The product has numerous satisfied customer reviews. It completely gets fit into your travel bag which makes it portable.

It is all in one controller which comes with the trigger pad to give you the perfect platform for composing your own music or performing live.

LIKES:

  • Software: It’s VIP enabled, empowering you to use this state of the art software designed for composers.
  • Drum pads: The responsive and effective drum pads are great improvements on previous models.
  • Responsiveness: When keys are so responsive it’s possible to compose almost any type of audio or genre effectively.
  • Quality: It’s built sturdy so it’s portable and it will keep in good condition for long.

DISLIKES:

  • Power source: The unit isn’t sold with a power adapter, so it requires an additional capital investment if you prefer that to only charging via USB.
  • Software downloads: Features are only enabled after downloading software from the brand’s website. This proves difficult as the site is often down.

Interesting Read: Best 61 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards

Novation Launchkey 49

Novation Launchkey 49

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Dimensions: 33.51” x 12.6” x 4.7”.
Weight: 8.16lb.
Power: Can run off USB and DC power.
Octave: Design includes both Up & Down features.
Compatibility: Usable with both Mac and Windows.
Connectivity: Connect with USB, 1/4” Jack socket, DC power socket.

This 49 key keyboard is for the pro users. This latest midi controller includes Novation launch key which is the best addition to this setup. Novation Launchkey 49 is the lite version which limits the use of 8 tracks but it is also enough for your creativity going live.

This is the best tool for a live performance on stage. The system is enabled with a USB powered keyboard which you can use it with your laptop by connecting to an A/C outlet. It can also be used with an adapter. The system is compatible with major DAW’s.

LIKES:

  • Software provided: You can use this model with most music software such as Ableton Live Lite and Novation Bass.
  • Extras: You get 4GB of Loopmasters samples to start using with your DAW setup even though it’s a MIDI controller under $500.
  • Warranty: a 2-year warranty that covers defects related to manufacturing.
  • User-friendly design: The layout makes it easy to use, as it’s intuitive. It’s also easy to set up to create a DAW studio that suits your preferences.

DISLIKES:

  • Quality: This unit is much less sturdy than some similar keyboard.
  • Velocity and sensitivity problems: They keys and pads don’t deliver the promised results in terms of velocity & sensitivity, making it difficult to create accurate audio tracks.

M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV

M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKIV

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Dimensions: 32.04” x 9.56” x 3.7”.
Weight: 6.39lb.
Power: USB powered.
Compatibility: Mac and Windows-enabled.
Connectivity: USB to PC.

This M-Audio oxygen 49 key MIDI keyboard controller has the touch-sensitive keys, 8 assignable knobs, 9 assignable faders, which make you experience your music with ease.

It has a transport controller which let you control DAW without using mouse keys. Users of the product have an average review of the product. Those who want to do mixing find the knobs very helpful.

Besides it is a good 49 key MIDI controller it has a drum pad which is little hard to use. The product keeps you engage in creativity for recording and mixing music without mouse clicks. This is possible due to the total control over your software with an array of assignable knobs pad.

LIKES:

  • Software: You get DAW software packages such as Pro Tools and VIP (Virtual Instrument Player) to help you create exceptional audio.
  • Plug and play: With no need to download software, you can start creating immediately.
  • Ease of use: Because you can manage your DAW with control buttons on the unit, you don’t have to use your mouse much. This saves time and effort.
  • Weight: It’s one of the lighter units on this list, so it scores high on portability.

DISLIKES:

  • Quality problems: The unit is not as durable or long-lasting as other units on this list of reviews.
  • Mapping: Mapping takes quite some effort and the unit doesn’t always store your allocations for future use.
  • Velocity accuracy: The keys don’t always give the right velocity, so you may get loud notes without intending them.
  • Cheap feel: It’s not a high-end unit; the knobs and exterior feel cheaper than similar models.

M-Audio Keystation 49 II

M-Audio Keystation 49 II

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Dimensions: 31.9” x 7.7” x 3”.
Weight: 4.6lb.
Power: USB.
Octave: Buttons for Up and Down.
Compatibility: Both Mac and PC enabled.
Connectivity: USB & ¼ “ input for sustain pedal.

Compose digital music with M-Audio Keystation 49 II by playing virtual instruments. You get the system powered with a USB connection so that you can have complete control over your music software without using a mouse.

It is semi-weighted gadget with sensitive keys. All together gives an expressive performance. The system includes transport controls, modulation wheels, octave range buttons and pitch bend.

The system also has a high-quality virtual piano instrument. As per customers reviews, it is a great MIDI controller. You can connect it to your PC or MAC. It enhanced your recording workflow.

LIKES:

  • Size and weight: It’s even smaller and lighter than other M-Audio models so you can take a quality brand wherever you perform or create music. The size is also ideal if you don’t want to clutter your studio.
  • Plug and play: You’ll need minimal setup time as the unit will immediately use your computer’s drivers and you can simply start creating.
  • Price: It’s reasonably priced, making it possible for almost anyone to have a DAW setup.
  • iPad enabled: You can purchase an iPad Camera Connection kit which would enable you to use this with your iPad and more iOS products.

DISLIKES:

  • Entry level: This is ideal for beginners, but lacks the features, quality and sensitivity that professionals usually want.
  • Sonivox problems: Although marketed as provided with Sonivox Eighty-Eight Ensemble, many users complain the software doesn’t work and can’t even be downloaded from the website.
  • Not weighted: The keys aren’t much weighted, which influences how you play and the audio that’s brought forth.
  • Cheap feel: The unit and the cords feel flimsy.

Must Read: TOP 10 Keyboard Stands for Digital Piano

Alesis V49

Alesis V49

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Dimensions: 37.6” x 9.6” x 4.53”.
Weight: 9.5lb.
Power: USB.
Octave: Up & Down buttons create a full melodic range.
Compatibility: iOS and Windows-enabled.
Connectivity: USB to PC; Input for the sustain pedal.

If you’re a software musician, Alesis V49 is the must-have tool for you as it offers hands-on control for the software. It is one of the best 49 key MIDI keyboard controllers compact in size available at cheap price.

It has expanded features than others in the list. The latest V series combine eight drum pads with velocity sensitive keys. These features allow playing virtual instruments resulting in dynamic expressions.

The MIDI learn feature with this system let you make assignments quickly. It has the USB cable which provides a data connection as well as power.

LIKES:

  • Free features: With this model, you get many free software downloads such as Xpand!2 and Ableton Live Lite 9.
  • Fast setup: Create the best DAW studio setup quick thanks to automated processes such as Software Preset/Parameter.
  • Backlit features: Many knobs and buttons are backlit. This makes it practical to use in low light environments, such as when using it as part of a live show with low lighting.
  • Compatibility: It works well with GarageBand, which is a favorite of many producers.

DISLIKES:

  • Power options: USB power is your only option, which many producers don’t prefer. A second option allows you to customize your studio more.
  • Velocity problems: As with many lower quality controllers, the velocity features tend to malfunction. At random times ordinary pressing of a key will result in loud audio which can ruin a track or performance.
  • Low-quality design: The unit feels cheap and the quality of the interior components is questionable.
  • Pad design: The pads don’t respond the same to similar taps.
  • Setup: Though marketed as an easy setup device, many users complain that software setups are difficult and take time.

Nektar Panorama P4

Nektar Panorama P4 49-key

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Dimensions: 5.51” x 35.04” x 14.57”.
Weight: 17.75lb.
Power: USB.
Octave: Octave shift buttons.
Compatibility: Windows and iOS enabled.
Connectivity: USB.

You get the control mechanism for logic pro X, Bitwig studio, Nuendo, Cubase and Reason only with the Netkar Panorama P4 controllers. These controllers are mapped with five DAWs.

It has a large TFT display which shows your control parameters in real time. You can easily control your virtual instruments.

You can access these pre-mapped DAWs through encoders, faders, buttons and pads. You can command all these DAWs through a single device.

The system has channel strip control. Product dimension is 89x14x17cm. This is a budget system to experience music.

LIKES:

  • Integration: It’s designed to be integrated deeply with your DAW. This makes production fast and effective.
  • Quality: In design, functionality and sturdiness this is a quality product. You can feel it’s strong and will last longer.
  • Professional device: Prepare to be faced with many buttons. This is a unit for professionals who want many options and are used to working with the many features without being overwhelmed.

DISLIKES:

  • Price: This is one of the most expensive units you’ll find on the market, but not necessarily rated the best. This doesn’t make sense for your budget.
  • Size & weight: You’ll sacrifice a lot of space and you won’t easily transport this anywhere because it’s big and heavy.
  • Interface: Some users find the interface difficult to work with.
  • Limited iOS use: Because you need a USB power source you can’t use this with an iPad.

Akai Professional Advance 49

Akai Professional Advance 49-Key

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Dimensions: 29.52” x 11.52” 3.48”.
Weight: 6.83lb.
Power: USB.
Connectivity: USB.

Transform your plugins into hands-on playing experience. You can manipulate your virtual instruments without experience.

It is a good quality system from most popular AKAI brand. Other than 49 keys it is also available in 25 and 61 key sizes. It gives you the power of live playability with keyboard workstation.

It has HD display of 4.3 inches. The display delivers 1:1 access for instrument and other functions. The screen adapts to the plugin control you select.

The advance keyboard works efficiently with VSTi virtual instrument. Experience the ease of editing, mixing and accessing eight virtual instruments at a time with this keyboard controller.

LIKES:

  • Weight and size: Despite it having some of the coolest features, it’s still compact enough to be portable for the traveling muso or producer.
  • Customization: Because it works with VIP you can create sets of your favorite sounds so you don’t have to go in search of them again.
  • Screen: The screen is full color and LCD. This gives you clear information and everything will be noticed even in dark setups such as studios or evening performances.
  • Endless knobs: The knobs are large enough for easy navigation and complete control. They’re also endless so you can tune your sounds exactly as you want them.

DISLIKES:

  • Price: Here’s another pricey unit that will only be worth the expense if you use all the features.
  • Protools problems: Users find that it doesn’t work with ProTools. As this is a favorite of many it can make the unit quite useless.
  • Velocity and sensitivity problems: The unit doesn’t respond as you would expect such an expensive product should.

Novation Impulse 49

Novation Impulse 49

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Connectivity: USB; MIDI output; Sustain pedal input.
Dimensions: 28.3” x 15.1” x 6.29”.
Weight: 14.00lb.
Power: USB or DC power supply.
Compatibility: Mac and Windows-enabled.

Novation Impulse 49 is the USB music keyboard controller. It is incorporated with latest software automap 4. The system comes with a number of free software and sounds.

The system is ultra responsive to the touch with a semi-weighted keyboard. It feels good to operate this keyboard. It translates musical expression with MIDI synth or software you use.

The system comes with a user guide which makes it easy to use. It has 9 faders, 8 knobs, LCD screen and buttons which let you control your DAW. As per user reviews, one can get the better system than this in comparison with same cost systems.

LIKES:

  • Quality: It’s a well built square unit that will serve you well for a long time.
  • Free extras: With each purchase of the Novation keyboards you get free access to software downloads including Ableton Live Lite, LXN Audio Addictive Keys and a sample pack from Loopmasters.

DISLIKES:

  • Software problems: Users complain the unit doesn’t work with all versions of the software.  Its own software is also filled with glitches.
  • Not portable: It’s a bit on the heavy side, making it difficult to use this for touring.
  • Price: As it’s too difficult to use, many users feel it’s not worth the money to pay for a unit that isn’t user-friendly. We live in the 21st century where technology is supposed to help us, not make processes more complicated.

Roland Lightweight MIDI Keyboard A-49

Roland A-49

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Dimensions: 32.91” x 7.17” x 3.31”.
Weight: 6lb.
Power: USB.
Octave: Up & Down selection.
Compatibility: Mac and Windows.
Connectivity: USB; 5 Pin MIDI; Two TRS inputs for pedals.

If you want to buy a complete studio setup under $200 from best brands, Roland A-49 is what you are looking for. It has compact value MIDI keyboard currently trending on the market.

You get compatibility with MAC and USB both. It offers performance with the availability of buttons, octave, knobs and switches. Nothing can beat it excellent experience if you opt to choose the best one.

Customers rated this mobile system as a quality system. It has velocity sensitive keys with synth action keyboard. It weighs 6 pounds which make it portable.

LIKES:

  • Weight: It’s easy to carry this item around, so you can take your studio anywhere.
  • Keys: The keys feel exceptional and are weighted well

DISLIKES:

  • Small knobs: The knob sizes make them difficult to grasp and control.
  • Not standardized: There’s a difference between the white and black keys’ velocity.

Alesis VI49

Alesis VI49

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Nektar Impact LX49+

Nektar Impact LX49+

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Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S49

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Novation 49 SL MkII

Novation 49 SL MkII

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M-Audio Axiom AIR 49

M-Audio Axiom AIR 49

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Things to Consider when Buying a 49 Key MIDI Controller

You can create exceptional audio with the help of a MIDI controller. But you need to pick wisely. You probably saw in these reviews that a brand often focuses on a specific aspect of music production. You need to pick a model that matches your expectations and studio requirements.

To help you create the perfect shopping list according to your unique application of the controller, let’s look at a few important aspects. When you understand them, you’ll easily make the right selection.

Key Size/Weight

How experienced a player are you? If you’re used to playing on a piano, you’ll look for the same feeling when you’re working on your MIDI keyboard. This relates to:

  • The size of the keys which should ideally resemble a piano’s.
  • The plastic keys should be fully weighted to simulate a piano’s when your fingers impact them.

It’s about creating a real feel on keyboards so pro musicians can have authentic experiences. This will ensure quality performances for optimal recordings and track building.

Octaves

You’re using the 49 key unit to save space. But you may still want to use some very high or low notes. Luckily some MIDI keyboards allow you to extend your octaves beyond the 49 key setup. This is done through Octave Up or Down buttons.

On the other hand, you can ignore this feature if you know it doesn’t apply to you. If you’re more into using the synthesizer pads, there’s no reason to spend more on octave features. For the same reason, don’t acquire a 49 key unit if 25 keys will do.

Compatibility

You want easy usage of your MIDI keyboard with your current computer. But what if you change computers in the future?

That’s why it’s important to find keyboards that are compatible with both Windows and iOS. It also helps for occasions where you take your equipment elsewhere. You don’t want to battle getting to work in someone else’s studio.

But take note that most MIDI keyboards won’t work with all Apple products. The main reason is that they need a USB port as a power source, which iPads can’t provide.

If you’re setting up your DAW studio and working with an iPad only, you may have to reconsider your setup if you need a MIDI controller to get the sounds you want.

Versatility & Control

What does the model allow you to do? MIDI controllers are used for many audio functions and you must make sure yours has all the features you would like to use:

  • Does it have well-designed keys that are at least semi-weighted for optimum playing enjoyment?
  • How many pads does it have?
  • Can it work with quality DAW software, such as being made for Presonus Studio One?
  • What control knobs can you use?
  • Can you use an effects pedal for added effects?
  • Does it have an arpeggiator to make basic playing sound exceptional?
  • A MIDI keyboard with aftertouch can detect whether your notes are long or staccato, according to your playing.

If you have all these versatile features on one unit it’s logic that less computer work is necessary, because you can create all your masterpieces on the MIDI controller itself.

What’s important for the professional producer is ease of use, saving time and enjoying the process. A versatile unit provides this.

Power Supply

Most MIDI keyboards work from a USB power source. This makes sense since the units are used in conjunction with computers to which they connect via USB.

However, to customize the layout of a studio or use it as a standalone unit—not in conjunction with your PC—it’s handy if you can also use DC power sources.

You don’t want to purchase a MIDI keyboard under $500 only to find out it’s not a practical solution to your studio.

Software Integration

No DAW setup works without software. The brilliant packages on today’s market must be compatible with your MIDI keyboard so you can produce, record and master quality tracks.

This code integration is especially important if you’re already using a certain program. Why change from what you know? Make sure it’s a keyboard for Reaper or for Sonar—if you like these packages—so you can keep on enjoying your software with your new equipment.

Benefits and Advantages of the 49 Key MIDI Controller

Why are the 49 key controllers so popular? It’s probably the versatility you get without making too many sacrifices:

  • With 49 full-size keys, you can have riffs and octaves for all your compositions.
  • You won’t use up too much space so your studio stays spacious.

It’s obviously lighter than a full size 88 key controller. This portability makes them the coolest midi controllers around.

With most of the units discussed in this review, you’ll be able to create the ideal studio setup, because unlike a 25 key unit there are usually more knobs, controllers, inputs and outputs.

A standalone MIDI controller is the ideal match between size, functionality and number of keys. Which one will you get for your studio?

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