Top 11 Best MIDI Controller Brands In The World 2021


A keyboard MIDI controller can simplify the music creation process significantly. Beyond keyboard controls, the powerful MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) communications protocol can allow for incredibly flexible control over pretty much any parameter in digital audio equipment. This includes, notably, the tools of audio production in digital audio workstations among many other instruments and computers.

So then, it makes perfect sense that there’s a huge market for MIDI controllers. Typically these controllers will have triggers (buttons, pads and/or keys) and control parameters (sliders, knobs, wheels, etc.). With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to pick just one (or however many you need) for your setup.

There are plenty of important factors to consider when selecting your MIDI controller(s). The brand is not so critical, though knowing the top brands should help to point your in the right direction.

In this article, we’ll discuss the top 11 MIDI controller brands with an emphasis on music creation. In other words, we’ll emphasize keyboard-type and pad-type controllers. I feel the need to make this distinction because DAW controllers/control surfaces (they look like studio mixing boards) are also technically MIDI controllers (for the most part).

Okay, back to the article at hand!

The top 11 best MIDI controller brands in the world are:

  1. Novation
  2. Akai Professional
  3. Native Instruments
  4. Nektar
  5. Arturia
  6. Alesis
  7. M-Audio
  8. Behringer
  9. ROLI
  10. Korg
  11. Roland

Of course, any “best of” list is subjective by nature. I’ve done my best to make this as objective as possible. I’ve included not only my own bias but also the opinions of others (in real life; in online forums, and by which brands professionals use).

We’ll get into each of these brands in greater detail to explain why they made this list. I’ll also include an example of a MIDI controller from each of the brands along with a link to their official websites and info on the companies’ histories.


Click here to return to My New Microphone’s articles on musical equipment brands/manufacturers.


Novation

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Novation makes plenty of superb MIDI controllers and has an ongoing relationship with the wildly popular DAW developer Ableton (makers of Ableton Live).

The company’s successful Launchpad series was first introduced in 2009 with the original Launchpad. It was one of the very first grid-based keyboard-less controllers, which have become a stable in the electronic and hiphop markets. Of course, samplers like Akai’s line of MPCs were designed with grid trigger pads long before but Novation brought this idea to the DAW MIDI controller.

The Launchkey line from Novation combines typical DAW control parameters (buttons, faders, pads, knobs, expression wheels) with keyboard controls for superb, top-of-the-line MIDI controllers.

Novation draws up its rich heritage and forward-thinking team to create devices, like MIDI controllers, that push technology forward while withstanding the tests of time (which is important as computer technology improves increasingly fast).

Notable MIDI Controller: Launchkey 61 (link to check the price on Amazon)

Novation Launchkey 61

Novation was founded as “Novation Electronic Music Systems” in 1992 by Ian Jannaway and Mark Thompson in the United Kingdom. The company is headquartered in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England, United Kingdom.

Official Website: novationmusic.com

Novation is also featured in the following My New Microphone article:
Top Best Synthesizer Brands In The World


Akai Professional

I mentioned Akai’s successful MPC line of samplers already. It makes sense that the company would go on to produce some of the world’s best MIDI controllers as well.

Akai Professional has a long history to take ideas from and plenty of great minds focused on producing the best music making tools possible. The brand’s MIDI controllers are intuitive and powerful, allowing users to get their ideas out quickly and effectively.

With so many controllers (both pad-centric and keyboard-centric), you’ll certainly be able to find a perfect product for your studio setup with Akai.

Notable MIDI Controller: MPK261 (link to check the price on Amazon)

Akai Professional MPK261

Akai was originally founded as “Akai Electric Company Ltd.” in 1946 by Masukichi and Saburo Akai in Tokyo, Japan and became defunct in 2002. Grande Holdings (Hong Kong) took took over Akai’s electronics brand and in 2005, inMusic Brands took over Akai’s musical instruments brand, rebranding as Akai Professional. The company is headquartered in Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA.

Official Website: akaipro.com

Parent Company: inMusic Brands


Native Instruments

Native Instruments is a leading manufacturer of audio production software and hardware. The company is perhaps best-known for its astonishing amount of software instruments and the incredible sound and functionality of said instruments. However, if you’ve been involved with music production for some time, you’ll likely know that NI’s MIDI controllers are also some of the best in the world.

Because NI’s software products are so widely cherished in the music industry across all genres, the controllers may not get the credit they deserve. Rest assured that the same innovation and drive is applied to the company’s MIDI controllers. The hardware has the same great attention to detail and design philosophy that stimulates creativity in whoever chooses to play them.

Notable MIDI Controller: Komplete Kontrol S88 Mk2 (link to check the price on Amazon)

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 Mk2

Native Instruments GmbH was founded in 1996 by Stephan Schmitt and Volker Hinz in Berlin, Germany, where the company is still headquartered today.

Official Website: native-instruments.com

Native Instruments is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Virtual/Software Instrument Plugin Brands.


Nektar

Nektar is a relatively young company on this list. It’s a compony focused on producing transparent and intuitive hardware controllers for the ever-increasingly powerful audio software. The goal is to provide musicians with tactile products that allow the seamless integration between hardware and software.

Nektar works toward this goal relentlessly, teaming up with various DAW software makers to produce both DAW-specific and universal controllers that integrate beautiful with the workstations.

The team of experienced engineers at Nektar have tons of experience in the field of audio hardware and software. Combing this know-how with the forward-thinking of the company has produced some of the world’s greatest MIDI controllers.

Notable MIDI Controller: Impact LX61+ (link to check the price on Amazon)

Nektar Impact LX61+

Nektar Technology Inc. was founded in 2009 by Niels Larsen (formerly of M-Audio) and is headquartered in North Hollywood, California, USA.

Official Website: nektartech.com


Arturia

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Arturia is a French company that specializes in both software and hardware for musicians. Their software instruments, surface controllers, synthesizers and MIDI controllers outperform much of the competition.

This brand offers some deeply impressive controllers. Even the smaller controllers are designed with superb functionality.

With a passion for sound and technology, the Arturia team members (being musicians themselves) are dedicated to producing inspiring and powerful yet user-friendly tools. The brand’s awesome MIDI controllers reflect this dedication beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Notable MIDI Controller: KeyLab 88 MkII (link to check the price on Amazon)

Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII

Arturia was founded in 1999 by Frédéric Brun and Gilles Pommereuil in Grenoble, France. The company is still headquartered in Grenoble, France.

Official Website: arturia.com

Arturia is also featured in the following My New Microphone article:
Top Best Synthesizer Brands In The World
Top Best Audio Plugin (VST/AU/AAX) Brands In The World
Top Best Virtual/Software Instrument Plugin Brands


Alesis

Alesis is a brand that produces a wide variety of products, ranging from electric drum kits to PA Systems to headphones to MIDI controllers (and much more).

The company aims to deliver high-quality products at affordable prices to both amateur and professional musicians and technicians/engineers. The MIDI controllers are a perfect example of superbly-designed tools that don’t break the bank.

Alesis has drawn on its long history of keyboard design and studio recording equipment manufacturing to bring forth some of the best MIDI controllers on the market today.

Notable MIDI Controller: VI61 (link to check the price on Amazon)

Alesis VI61

Alesis Studio Electronics was founded in 1984 by MXR co-founder Keith Barr in Hollywood, California, USA. In 2001, Alesis filed for bankruptcy and in 2002, the company was acquired by inMusic Brands. Today the company is headquartered in Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA.

Official Website: alesis.com

Parent Company: inMusic Brands


M-Audio

M-Audio is a big name in audio interface and studio integration solutions. In addition to the brand’s superb studio monitors, microphones and interfaces are several high-quality MIDI controllers worth knowing about.

The Oxygen8, released in 2002, was M-Audio’s (then “Midiman”) first portable 25-key MIDI controller. Though it certainly wasn’t the first of its kind, the Oxygen8’s popularity practically brought a whole new category of portable MIDI controllers to the market.

The company has a successful history of offering connection solutions between studio hardware and software and between MIDI, audio and computer devices. Its no surprise, then, that M-Audio’s MIDI controllers are among the best on the market today.

M-Audio is continuously getting better and building upon its legacy as a superb brand for MIDI interfaces and controllers.

Notable MIDI Controller: Oxygen Pro 61 (link to check the price at Sweetwater)

M-Audio Oxygen Pro 61

M-Audio is also featured in My New Microphone’s Top Best Audio Interface Brands In The World.

M-Audio was founded as “Midiman” in 1998 by Tim Ryan in the United States. Avid acquired the company in 2004 and in 2012, sold M-Audio to inMusic though Avid still owns the Mbox range of audio interfaces and some other former M-Audio products. Today, M-Audio is headquartered in Cumberland, Rhode Island, USA.

Official Website: m-audio.com

Parent Company: inMusic Brands


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Behringer

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Behringer can sometimes be a controversial addition to these sorts of lists. Love it or hate it, the company’s MIDI controllers are on point and are priced competitively.

Behringer is one of those huge companies that has a ridiculous amount of resources at its disposal. For pretty much any tool you can think of in the world of music and audio, Behringer has a product.

When it comes to MIDI controllers, Behringer has several high-quality options. The question, then, becomes about which option would work best in your specific situation!

Notable MIDI Controller: U-Control UMX610 (link to check the price on Amazon)

Behringer U-Control UMX610

Behringer was founded in 1989 by Uli Behringer in Willich, Germany. The company is owned by Music Tribe (also founded and chaired by Uli Behringer), which is based in the British Virgin Islands.

Official Website: behringer.com

Parent Company: Music Tribe

Behringer is also featured in the following My New Microphone articles:
Top Best Eurorack Module Synth Brands In The World
Top Best Synthesizer Brands In The World
Top Best Mixing Console Brands For “Budget” Home Studios
Top Best DAW Control Surface Brands In The World


ROLI

ROLI is a relatively young company. Made up of a multidisciplinary team of creators, ROLI is focused on producing the great musical instruments of the future. Along with these innovative instruments come innovative MIDI controllers including ROLI’s flagship product: the Seaboard.

This forward-thinking company continues to push forward, developing and improving new technologies to give musicians more creative control and freedom over their musical expression. These technologies can be found in ROLI’s spectacular Seaboard MIDI keyboard controllers.

Notable MIDI Controller: Seaboard Rise 49 (link to check the price on Amazon)

ROLI Seaboard Rise 49

ROLI was founded in 2009 by Roland Lamb in London, United Kingdom, where the company is still headquartered today.

Official Website: roli.com


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Korg

Korg is a multinational corporation based in Japan. It offers a huge variety of superb musical products to the amateur and professional markets. The MIDI controllers of Korg are among the best in the world.

The company has a long lineage of top-performing keyboards and synthesizers. It also has plenty of experience in designing interfaces and in device compatibility. This familiarity and history has given Korg a huge advantage in producing its MIDI controllers.

Korg is devoted to creating instruments that inspire great music and to making music performance/production fun. One way it does so is with superb user-friendly MIDI controllers!

Notable MIDI Controller: Triton Taktile TRTK49 (link to check the price on Amazon)

Korg Triton Taktile TRTK49

Korg was founded as “Keio Electronic Laboratories” in 1962 by Tsutomu Kato and Tadashi Osanai in Tokyo, Japan. The company name was changed in 1975 and is now headquartered in Inagi, Tokyo, Japan.

Official Website: korg.com

Korg is also featured in the following My New Microphone article:
Top Best Synthesizer Brands In The World


Roland

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Roland is another multinational corporation based in Japan. Like Korg, it produces many superb electronic instruments and certainly high-level MIDI controllers.

Roland’s MIDI controllers are built to last and offer the tools musicians want and need to produce music more effectively. The company’s focus on performance and advanced technologies make for some of the best controllers on the market.

Notable MIDI Controller: A-88 MkII (link to check the price on Amazon)

Roland A-88 MkII

Roland was founded in 1972 by Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka, Japan. The company is headquartered in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka, Japan (moved in 2005).

Official Website: roland.com

Roland is also featured in the following My New Microphone article:
Top Best Synthesizer Brands In The World

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