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Anyone who wishes to learn how to play a keyboard instrument will have to make the choice of the first instrument. A full-fledged classical piano can be “heavy” both in the literal sense – housing conditions do not allow it, and in terms of cost. In the end, such drastic measures are often simply not necessary and you can get by with a compact and versatile synthesizer. And an even better option might be a midi keyboard.

The editors of Expertology magazine, together with the analytics of the service https://rankquality.com/, have prepared for you an overview of the best midi keyboards on the market in 2019-2020 with a preliminary analysis of key characteristics and selection criteria.

How to choose a midi keyboard

For those for whom this topic is completely new, we have prepared a brief excursion with explanations of the basic points: what is a midi keyboard in general, what are the varieties, what to look for when choosing.

What is a midi keyboard

Outwardly, most midi keyboards very closely resemble synthesizers – the same “piano” keys, a similar shape, similar controls. But that’s where the similarity ends. By itself, a midi keyboard is exactly what a keyboard is, and it cannot sound on its own, unlike a synthesizer.

A midi keyboard becomes a musical instrument only when connected to a computer (in some cases, to a wearable gadget) and running the appropriate software. The closest analogy is a computer keyboard, which is useless on its own, but can do a lot when connected to a PC.

What are midi keyboards

We said above that midi keyboards are very similar to synthesizers in their “piano” appearance. In fact, this is the case, and most midi keyboards on sale are just that. But for the horizon it is useful to know that there are other form factors.

In addition to the classic type, there are also push-button keyboards, pad controllers, touch keyboards, even options with an accordion-type keypad or foot organ type.

But, the most common and popular type is midi keyboards of a classic look with “black and white” keys. They can already differ among themselves in the number of keys – from mini-keyboards for 25 keys to full-size 88 keys. It is this form factor that we will consider in today’s thematic review from Expertology.

Mechanism

We figured out the fundamental differences, now let’s look at the design nuances, which can also be important. For a beginner, you should at least know about them, and the choice is already a personal matter for everyone.

So, midi keyboards of the classic “piano” type are distinguished by keyboard mechanics: unweighted (synth-action), semi-weighted (semi-weighted) and weighted (full weighted action, hammer action).

  1. Weighted keys – This is the closest version to the classical piano. Only such a midi keyboard can be a more or less close alternative to a mechanical piano for full-fledged learning. It uses the same hammer principle with a complete imitation of classical mechanics. Only the hammers here do not hit the strings, but the sensors. This takes into account both the force of pressing and the force of impact, as in a real piano. As a rule, such models are the most expensive.
  2. Semi-weighted keys – also an imitation of the hammer mechanism, but in a lightweight version. The keys have a counterweight and inertia – this is how an imitation of mechanics is created, but there are no hammers themselves. Due to inertia, you can get a much wider dynamic range. It is physically easier to play on such a keyboard than on a weighted one and with a big stretch it can be used for learning to play the piano.
  3. Unweighted – the simplest, easiest and often cheapest option. Such midi keyboards are also called dynamic or synthesizer-type keyboards. They are definitely not suitable for the correct positioning of hands in the course of learning to play the piano, but they will be ideal for learning musical notation, playing the keys without any particular ambitions, for your own pleasure and playing music with your family. It can also be a good option for a musician to quickly record an original melody that suddenly came as an insight.

Connection interface

Almost all modern midi keyboards are equipped with a USB interface. Therefore, if you plan to use the device only when connected to a computer, nothing else is required. But for those cases when the midi keyboard will work as part of a “team” of other musical instruments, you may need a different connection method. The universal type of connection is consonant with the name of this class of devices – midi interface.

The classic MIDI connector uses 5 pins and cannot serve as a power connection at the same time, unlike USB. Yes, even USB is highly dependent on the source, and if it is a tablet, it simply does not have enough energy to power a midi keyboard. Therefore, for the keyboard to work via the MIDI interface, the keyboard will need its own power in any case, and when connected via USB, it will depend on the power of the source.

Additional functionality

MIDI keyboards can also differ in additional features and functionality. So, at the level of the game itself, this or that model can support after-clicking, have built-in modulation wheels, support the connection of pedals, contain a variety of additional controllers for sound modulation right on the device, even before the signal hits the computer or other “older” device.

The presence of such functional additions can make life much easier, or it may turn out to be unclaimed – these points should be considered in advance if you have to pay significantly extra for such additional functionality.

Rating of the best midi keyboards

Nomination place Name of product price

The best compact midi keyboards

one

M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3

4 839 ₽

2

AKAI MPK Mini MKII

6 900 ₽

3

KORG microKEY2-37

7 400 ₽

four

Nektar Acorn Masterkey 61

7 990 ₽

5

Novation Launchkey Mini

8 253 ₽

6

Arturia MiniLab MkII

8 980 ₽

The best midi keyboards from 10 thousand rubles

one

Roland A-49

10 930 ₽

2

Nektar Impact LX25+

9 990 ₽

3

M-Audio Keystation 88II

17 219 ₽

four

Native Instruments Kit Kontrol A49

19 040 ₽

5

Studiologic SL88 Studio

36 860 ₽

6

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 MkII

92 000 ₽

The best compact midi keyboards

The first selection of the review is devoted to inexpensive compact midi keyboards, mainly from well-known and reputable brands. The presented models are not necessarily the newest – Expertology specialists took into account not only objective indicators, but also feedback from real users for the entire time each model was on the market.

M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3

Rating: 4.9

M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3

Let’s start with the most inexpensive and simplest option, which has proven itself well as a small comfortable midi keyboard “for all occasions”. The manufacturer is known for its inexpensive, efficient and fairly reliable equipment.

The M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3 is only slightly wider than your average laptop and is a great portable option that can be deployed in any environment – whether at home, in a cafe, even in a park on a bench. Dimensions – 418x20x105mm, weight – 0.45kg. The number of keys is 32, small-sized with an unweighted mechanism. Connection to the control device and power supply – via the USB interface.

The 32 keys of this model is a good compromise between the very minimum of 25 keys and the full-size version of 88 keys. This range covers two and a half octaves, and switching between octaves of other orders is carried out using a button on the case itself. There is also a mechanical volume control, which can be reprogrammed to another function if desired; pitch control keys; active shift key. The ease of use of this additional functionality causes mixed reactions from users, but at least it is there. The control buttons are backlit, the color of which changes depending on the mode.

There is, however, one flaw in the model – sometimes it happens that octaves stop connecting. The problem is solved simply – in the state disconnected from the computer, by simultaneously pressing and holding the “+”, “-” buttons and the octave switching button. A possible problem with sustain is also “treated”.

The keyboard consumes quite little power, and is powered only by the USB interface. The lack of the possibility of additional power from the outlet is regarded by some users as a minus, since when powered from a laptop, the M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3 will definitely drain the battery significantly.

The keyboard comes with a fairly long USB cable and a software package – Ignite and Ableton lite. The version of Ableton is greatly simplified, but it is quite suitable for basic tasks.

This model supports GarageBand, due to which the device can be connected to the iPad through a special adapter. True, you have to put up with a very meager selection of software and functionality limitations, but this is already an iPad problem.

Advantages

  • build quality;

  • minimum dimensions at 32 keys;

  • additional functions;

  • changeable, depending on the mode, illumination of control buttons;

  • GarageBand support.

Flaws

  • no own power supply, only via USB;

  • sometimes switching octaves and sustain “flies” (treated).

AKAI MPK Mini MKII

Rating: 4.8

AKAI MPK Mini MKII

The review continues with the most inexpensive midi keyboard of the MPK series of the AKAI trademark. Representatives of the “old school” perceive this brand with warmth, although in fact there is almost nothing left of the legendary Japanese company – in 2004, AKAI went bankrupt, and the Chinese company Grande Group of Hong Kong bought the trademark.

The dimensions of this model are 318x45x181mm, weight – 0.75kg. The case is made of strong plastic, the assembly is solid, strong, without backlash and squeaks. The keyboard is stable on any flat surface thanks to the rubber feet. The control buttons are equipped with a variable backlight.

Here we see the minimum accepted set of keys – 25 by two octaves, but due to this, additional functionality has been significantly expanded. The keys are small with an unweighted mechanism. It is possible to connect the pedal via a standard 6.3mm TRS connector on the back of the device. Power supply – via USB Type B. The keyboard supports transposition (shift).

Additional functions and controls: modulation controller, pitch controller, arpeggiator, drum pads (velocity sensitive), Pitch/Mod joystick, octave up/down. Eight customizable controllers support user settings with the ability to save – 4 banks of memory are allocated for this.

This model definitely pleases with a simple but well-thought-out arrangement of control elements, which makes working with a midi keyboard especially comfortable and enjoyable. The octave switching buttons are located on the left just above the main block of keys. Large rubberized drum pads are pressure sensitive. Controls are placed on the left, and custom controllers are on the right.

Using specialized software, which is included with the AKAI MPK Mini MKII, you can set up individual pads and link them to DAW functionality. The Pitch/Mod controller in this model is made not in the form of ordinary wheels, as in most other similar instruments, but in the form of a joystick with a red hat. Users for the most part find this solution convenient and expedient.

Advantages

  • build quality;

  • touch sensitive keys;

  • velocity sensitive pads;

  • convenient location of controls;

  • saving user settings;

  • easy to set up and use software.

Flaws

  • USB powered only.

See also: 11 best synthesizers

KORG microKEY2-37

Rating: 4.7

KORG microKEY2-37

The next mini model in Expertology’s review of the best midi keyboards is a product of the no less legendary Japanese brand KORG. Only this time the company is still the same, with which it all began, and the good traditions of quality are observed.

This model is part of the KORG microKEY2 line, which includes midi keyboards for 24, 37, 49 and 61 keys. We will consider not the smallest, but not the largest option – for 37 keys. The body dimensions of this modification are 565x54x139mm, weight – 1kg. The device is powered by a USB Type-B connection or autonomously from two AA batteries. On one set of batteries can work up to 20 hours.

The keys are small, unweighted, but velocity sensitive (Natural Touch). In addition to the USB Type-B port, there are also two USB Type-A sockets that allow you to connect other devices in USB hub mode. In the context of specifically musical use, this model is often equipped with additional external functionality through nanoKONTROL, Korg nanoPAD or other compatible controllers. Direct connection to iPad is provided.

This model, like both previous ones, supports octave shift – there are function buttons on the case for this. They give access to the entire range, moreover, they allow you to shift not only whole octaves, but also individual notes. For the regulation of sound and expressiveness, wheels Pitch Bend (pitch) and Modulation (modulation) are provided.

KORG microKEY2-37 is easily and quickly recognized by the operating system, most often you do not even need to install drivers. But for the full use of the keyboard, you still need specialized software. The basic part is provided free of charge – you can download it from the official website of the manufacturer. In addition, this midi keyboard comes with official KORG Gadget and KORG Module licenses.

Advantages

  • 37 sensitive keys;

  • USB hub function;

  • the ability to connect a pedal (footswitch);

  • the ability to connect directly to the iPad;

  • simple installation in the system;

  • work including from AA batteries.

Flaws

  • no fundamental flaws were identified.

Nektar Acorn Masterkey 61

Rating: 4.7

Nektar Acorn Masterkey 61

Now let’s look at one of the few options on the market with a coverage of three octaves, and even with semi-weighted keys, which can be bought for less than 10 thousand rubles. This is Acorn Masterkey 61 of Nektar famous brand. Please note that this model has been discontinued. On sale in the Russian market for February-March 2020 is still available, but not everywhere.

Keyboard case dimensions – 965x190x76mm, weight – 2kg. The exterior is dominated by a silver finish. This model has 61 keys, semi-weighted, small-sized, responsive to velocity. The control panel is located on the left side. The midi keyboard is connected via the USB Type-B interface, and it also receives power from it. There is a standard 6.3mm jack for connecting a sustain pedal (the pedal itself is not included in the package).

This model offers the user a good additional functionality, even regardless of the software. So, on the control panel there are four assignable control knobs in real time, octave switching, program change, transposition, MIDI fader (assignable). Modes are shown on a simple 3-digit LED display.

The octave shift buttons are located directly above the LED screen. With their help, you can expand the coverage of octaves by the keyboard by 4 up and 3 down. If desired, these buttons can be programmed to perform other functions (along with octaves, there are only four options): midi channel change, program change, transposition.

The keyboard comes with licensed Presonus Studio One Artist software. This is a very powerful platform for recording or production, convenient, easy to learn, containing a rich set of ready-made filters and tools for working with sound and even video.

Advantages

  • 61 keys;

  • semi-weighted key mechanism;

  • high-quality calibration of the keys;

  • additional functionality;

  • powerful and useful software;

  • combination of price and features.

Flaws

  • no pronounced flaws and systematic complaints were found.

Novation Launchkey Mini

Rating: 4.6

Novation Launchkey Mini

The next midi keyboard in our review is the youngest mini-model from the Novation Launchkey Mini line. We will consider a newer, improved and functional model from the same series in the second selection.

This is a midi keyboard with a minimum set of keys for such devices – 25. The keys are small, unweighted. Device dimensions – 325x43x175mm, weight – 0.675kg. It is connected and powered via the USB Type B interface. In general, the performance is not bad, but the class makes itself felt – the assembly is not the strongest and most thorough.

This model, in addition to its main function, also offers quite interesting advanced functionality. So, on the control panel there are 16 rubberized backlit pad buttons. They can be used for hammering drums or for working with the Ableton program. The backlight can change colors to guide you to the function set on each pad. Above the pads are 8 mechanical knobs that can be assigned to control filters or a mixer. Other controls are for shifting octaves, switching between modes, etc.

To further expand the functions of this model, the manufacturer provides proprietary software for free. Synchronization is fast and transparent, the interaction between the device and the software is lightning fast.

Advantages

  • 16 rubberized pads with variable illumination;

  • 8 programmable rotary controls;

  • high-quality free branded software for iOS.

  • lightning-fast keyboard interaction with software;

  • simple and convenient control.

Flaws

  • not too careful assembly.

Also Read: Best Digital Pianos

Arturia MiniLab MkII

Rating: 4.5

Arturia MiniLab MkII

Completing the first selection of the review of the best midi keyboards according to Expertology magazine is another mini-model with 25 keys. This is the second generation of the successful and popular Arturia MiniLab.

The Arturia MiniLab MkII model received an updated design, expanded packaging, new features and, in addition, the Ableton Live Lite software bundle, as well as licensed UVI Grand Piano Model D and Analog Lab Lite virtual instruments.

Keyboard dimensions – 355x50x220mm, weight – 1.5kg. Powered and connected via USB Type B interface. 25 unweighted, touch-sensitive, small-sized keys. The control panel contains 8 convenient pads, 16 customizable circular controls, control buttons, touch controllers – pitch change, modulation. It is possible to connect a sustain pedal via a standard 1/4″ TRS.

Rotary controls require special mention. All of them are impeccable, which is not to everyone’s liking, but has its advantages. The first 9 knobs are also push-buttons, you can use it to navigate through the list of instruments and select presets.

Users react somewhat ambiguously to the use of touch-sensitive touchpads for Pitch and Modulation instead of traditional mechanical wheels. But for the most part, such a solution finds positive feedback, like the entire device as a whole. By the way, the touchpads are also customizable – they can be reset to zero when you remove your finger or fixed at the current value until the next change.

Analog LAB Lite comes with a free Lite version and upgrades to the full version will incur an additional charge. But even on the light version, you can also significantly expand the functionality of the keyboard.

Another complete program – UVI Grand Piano – turns Arturia MiniLab MkII into a real Steinway concert grand piano (corresponding visualization), and even sampled. The virtual instrument contains an impressive library of 862 samples. UVI Grand Piano may require a significant part of the system resources, so it is advisable to use not the weakest computer to work with the program.

Advantages

  • quality assembly;

  • simple but nice design;

  • quality pads;

  • multifunctional rotary controls;

  • touch panels Pitch and Modulation instead of wheels (not everyone likes it);

  • useful additional software included;

  • you can connect a sustain pedal.

Flaws

  • there are complaints about the “scrolling” of the rotary controls.

The best midi keyboards from 10 thousand rubles

The second selection in the review of the best midi keyboards according to Expertology conditionally separates budget models from more advanced ones with a claim to a semi-professional and professional level.

Roland A-49

Rating: 4.9

Roland A-49

First, let’s take a look at the most inexpensive midi keyboard in this collection from Roland. This is a 49-key instrument with a small set of controls. In terms of functionality, the Roland A-49 is somewhat inferior to the budget models “stuffed” with pads described above, but here quality and some approximation to a professional level come first.

Device dimensions – 836x84x182mm, weight – 2.5kg. The materials and assembly are exceptionally high quality, which is noticeable immediately and is noted in almost every review of real buyers. Professionals note the impeccable key mechanics (even for unweighted ones), the correct aftertouch and the touch sensitivity similar to a real piano. From the governing bodies

The device is connected and powered via USB Type B standard 3.0. This is an important point, since fast USB allows you to use the keyboard with a computer without noticeable delays even without using an ASIO card. There is also a MIDI output. It is produced in two colors – white and black, reflected in the name of the modification with the indexes BK and WH, respectively.

Of the controls on the body of the Roland A-49 are: buttons S1 and S2 for switching sounds, assignable controls C1 and C2; Function and SuperNatural buttons (simultaneous pressing of them calls the Visual Control function. The Function button gives access to selecting the active MIDI channel, sound bank, changing system settings. The SuperNatural button is already an “invention” strictly Roland – turns on the mode of interaction with the connected sound module (Jupiter-80, Integra-7 and others).

With simple “+” and “-” buttons, you can transpose, raise or lower the octave. Changes to the mode will be reflected on the LED next to it.

On the rear panel of the keyboard, in addition to MIDI and USB connectors, there are TRS-jacks HOLD and EXPRESSION for connecting sustain and expression pedals.

Advantages

  • high build quality;

  • impeccable key mechanics;

  • natural “piano” sensitivity and aftertouch;

  • USB3.0 and MIDI interfaces;

  • work without delays even without an ASIO card;

  • two sockets for sustain and expression pedals.

Flaws

  • some users lack functionality.

See also: 6 best electric violins

Nektar Impact LX25+

Rating: 4.8

Nektar Impact LX25+

The second number in the selection is another model from Nektar, this time more serious than the Acorn Masterkey 61 described above, despite the minimum set of keys – 25. This keyboard is comparable in price to the previous one.

Device dimensions – 476x70x267mm, weight – 1.8kg. The 25 main keys are full-sized, which can be important for professional use. The mechanism is still unweighted, synthesizer type. The tool is connected via USB Type B, and is powered by it.

The Nektar Impact LX25+ control panel contains a fairly wide range of controls for parameters and additional functionality. There are 8 backlit pads, 8 assignable knobs, standard Modulation and Pitch Bend wheels, conveniently placed transpose and octave switches, 5 configurable presets, a Page button to switch between standard and custom layouts, and more.

On the mechanics of the keys and pads, users for the most part have a good opinion, but there is some feedback that notes a certain weakness in the sensitivity of both. Tests have shown that such claims are not unfounded.

The Nektar Impact LX25+ is an above-average keyboard, which means it integrates seamlessly with almost every DAW software in demand in music circles. The fader and mixer pots allow you to control the channels of the desired track on the DAW, all 8 knobs can be assigned in any order and configured to control tones and volume.

Advantages

  • high quality parts and assembly;

  • full size keys;

  • wide additional functionality;

  • convenience and intuitiveness of management;

  • wide compatibility with DAW-programs;

  • flexibility of settings and assignments.

Flaws

  • relatively weak sensitivity of keys and pads.

M-Audio Keystation 88II

Rating: 4.8

M-Audio Keystation 88II

From “mini” to “maxi” – the next model in our review will be the first with a maximum number of keys – 88. This is the second edition of the popular and well-proven M-Audio Keystation 88. The updated version received even more positive feedback from users and high professional assessments.

The dimensions of the keyboard are 136x24x9cm, the weight is already quite decent – 7.7 without packaging. 88 full-size, semi-weighted keys with velocity sensitivity. Connected and powered via USB Type B interface. There is also a standard MIDI output and two jacks for connecting pedals. And another important point – this model can be powered by a 9V adapter, but the adapter itself is not included in the kit.

The keyboard is made in a compact case and there are few physical controls on it: a volume slider and a modulation wheel – both assignable, +/- octave shift buttons, a Pitch Bend wheel, an edit mode button. In terms of drivers, there is wide backward compatibility with Windows up to XP, and for the Mac OS X family.

This model comes with Ableton Live Lite and Ignite Music Creation software. Official warranty from the manufacturer – 12 months.

In general, this is one of the most affordable solutions, where there is a physical coverage of all seven octaves. This point, combined with quality and a very affordable price, makes it easy to “forgive” some limited functionality. Yes, and this limitation is only conditional – with the use of appropriate software, the capabilities of the M-Audio Keystation 88 II grow many times over.

Advantages

  • 88 semi-weighted full-size keys;

  • build quality;

  • MIDI connector;

  • two interfaces for connecting pedals;

  • compatibility with many operating systems;

  • power supply from the adapter.

Flaws

  • somewhat limited functionality.

Native Instruments Kit Kontrol A49

Rating: 4.7

Native Instruments Kit Kontrol A49

Now we will look at the representative of the iconic Komplete Kontrol series from Native Instruments. This is a midi keyboard of medium “size” – 49 keys with some important features for professional use. In the line there are also modifications with a smaller and larger number of keys with similar functionality.

First, briefly about the technical side of this model. Dimensions of the device – 820x89x257mm, weight – 4kg. Connection and power supply – via USB Type B. There is a standard 1/4 Jack socket for connecting a pedal. The keys are full-size with a semi-weighted mechanism. Of the controls, 8 encoders are located directly on the case, one 4-way push-button encoder, two touch strips for changing the pitch and modulation.

The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49 benefits from tight integration with almost all virtual MIDI instruments and extended compatibility with Native KOMPLETE.

But even without such integration, the controller’s firmware already initially contains a rich selection of tools – 4500 standard sounds and almost 10GB of the most diverse material for composing and arranging musical compositions.

The Smart Play and Easy Mode modes deserve special praise. They are aimed at simplifying the input of chords and individual notes. So you can create a rich loss by pressing individual keys. In Easy Mode, the process is even more simplified – any scale is displayed only on white keys.

In general, Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49 is a convenient and powerful tool that allows you to easily combine plug-ins, manage them, and comprehensively use the richest built-in library. Modes and statuses are displayed on a compact OLED display, further enhancing user convenience.

The keyboard can also function in sequencer mode with the assistance of the appropriate software. So, for example, in the Ableton Live application, you can control quantization, playback, recording, as well as turn the metronome on and off, repeat or undo operations, and much more.

Advantages

  • quality of materials and assembly;

  • tight integration with many software systems;

  • full support for Native KOMPLETE;

  • smart play;

  • mode for beginners Easy Mode;

  • the widest range of built-in musical material.

Flaws

  • no obvious deficiencies were found.

See also: 19 best piano manufacturers

Studiologic SL88 Studio

Rating: 4.6

Studiologic SL88 Studio

Finally, consider two models with the full size of the keys, their maximum number and hammer action. The first will be the most inexpensive model in this class – Studiologic SL88 Studio from the famous Italian manufacturer Fatar.

This model is essentially a simplified version of the older and much more expensive flagship modification Studiologic SL88 Grand. The main difference is the use of lightweight TP / 100LR mechanics, which significantly affected the cost. The rest of the functionality of the tool remained unchanged.

Keyboard dimensions – 1260x125x310mm, weight – 13.7kg. The body is strong and metal. The keys are sensitive to pressing and are supplemented with an aftertouch function (Aftertouch). Controls: 4-position regulator, 3 function buttons, 3 joysticks. The modes are displayed on a compact 320×240 dot color display. The keyboard supports the division of the main block of keys into zones, 4 ranges.

To connect the device, a USB Type B connector is used. There is also a MIDI input and two MIDI outputs. Four connectors are provided for connecting external pedals. Power supply – from the adapter included in the delivery.

When developing this model and its older Grand modification, the engineers were guided, in particular, by the desire to minimize the dimensions, at least in width. The developers have fully succeeded in this – the width of the keyboard is almost equal to the width of the keyboard block itself. For the same purpose, the traditional modulation and tone wheels have been replaced with joysticks. There are three joysticks in total, and the third controls Cutoff and Resonance. This is the default, since the joysticks can be reprogrammed if desired.

We should also say a few words about the mechanics of the keys. The TP/100LR system used here is objectively the best budget alternative to the expensive flagship TP/40WOOD. It is comfortable, high-quality and durable, quite quiet and with a controlled stroke. However, especially sensitive and sophisticated musicians should try the keyboard by touch in the literal sense, as there is still some slowness and viscosity. Again, these are not flaws, but only features that may not matter.

Advantages

  • 88 keys;

  • weighted keys with hammer action;

  • strong metal case;

  • quality of materials and assembly;

  • LCD display;

  • 4 connectors for connecting pedals;

  • value for money.

Flaws

  • individual sensitivity to the peculiarities of the TP/100LR keyboard mechanics.

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 MkII

Rating: 4.5

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 MkII

The review of the best midi keyboards according to Expertology concludes with the most expensive professional solution from Native Instruments. This is the “big sister” of the above described Komplete Kontrol A49, which significantly surpasses it in terms of professional level and capabilities. It is an upgraded version of the popular and commercially successful Komplete Kontrol S series.

There are no longer any half-measures in terms of key mechanics – the manufacturer uses a full-fledged professional Fatar hammer action. Remarkably, each key in its upper part is backlit, and this was done not for a decorative purpose, but to increase the intuitiveness of the game – the indicators illuminate certain areas, depending on the settings.

Keyboard dimensions – 1390x115x346mm, weight – 13.2kg. The updated version of the controller received rubberized mechanical wheels for adjusting Modulation and Pitch Bend, which was not in the previous one. There is also a touchpad as an alternative to the expression pedal. To display modes and other information, there are two color graphic displays. There are also eight touchpad controls, a set of control buttons and a navigation knob on the control panel.

This model can be used standalone without being tied to a sequencer. The functionality allows you to quickly search for materials by tags, preview the instrument, turn on arpeggios and chords with single keys. The keyboard is tightly integrated with most of the most popular DAWs, equipped with plug-ins that support Smart Play and NKS technologies, and is fully integrated into the Komplete Kontrol and Maschine Essentials ecosystem.

For connection and switching, a USB interface, MIDI input and output, connectors for sustain and / or expression pedals are provided. The package also includes the Komplete 12 Select software package with Gentleman, Monark and Massive add-ons, as well as a set of 7 thousand ready-made sounds and 33GB of effects and instrument sounds.

Advantages

  • 88 keys, full size;

  • high-quality hammer mechanism of Fatar keys;

  • each key with a separate functional backlight;

  • high professional level.

  • multifunctional software included.

Flaws

  • high price.