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Best 49 Key Midi Controller 2023: 10+ SUPERB 49 Key Combos!!

What is the best 49 key MIDI controller? Is 49 keys enough for a MIDI controller? We reveal all...

Narrowing down best 49-key midi controller can be quite the task. Take out word for it!

In fact, out of all the breeds of midi keyboard you can buy, narrowing down the best 49-key midi, is hands down one of the hardest decisions you’ll have to make. Why? Because for midi controllers, 49-keys is very much the middle ground. So as you can imagine, they’re not uncommon.

While some manufacturers may hold back on developing a 61-Key Midi Controller or a Hammer Action Keyboard With 88 Keys, every manufacturer who’s got so much as a foot in the ‘midi game’, produces a 49-key model. But then again, that’s hardly surprising, as when you really look at it, 49-keys is more or less ‘the’ perfect size.

It’s compact to the point that its reasonably portable, and not so feature-packed that they weigh the earth. Yet at the same time, it’s large enough so that you can fit both hands comfortably on the keyboard, and built to a standard that doesn’t feel cheap. So to ask if a 49 key midi keyboard is enough, is an entirely valid question. One that we hope this rundown of the best 49 key midi controllers can help you answer

After something specific about a midi keyboards with 49 keys? Or just curious as to which we think is best 49-key midi controller out there? Use the menu below to find all the answers you need fast…

49 key midi keyboard laid in the packaging on a table

NOTE: There’s more than just 49 key midi controllers. So be sure to also check out our guides to the Best 25 Key Midi Controllers + the Best 61 Key Midi Keyboard Controllers.

SPOILER: There’s a LOT of 49 key midi keyboards out there.

So many in fact, that it’s impossible to count them all on your fingers!! Safe to say there’s NO shortage. Combine that with the fact that each set of 49 keys are different in their own right + serve a slightly different purpose, & you can soon see how whittling them down to just 1 can turn into quite the headache. Team that with how no 2 keyboards have the same keyfeel, button arrangement, level of features & yep – the chances of you ‘eenie meanie minie mo’ ing your way to buying the best 49 key midi controller, are seriously slim.

But no matter – we’ve done 90% of the legwork for you! Simply read on & we’ll outline how to find the best 49 key midi controller for your setup…

Much as it sounds, these are 49 key midi controllers that may be a bit on the heavier side & are more suited to use in a studio. Aside from supreme keyfeel, they’ll also come bundled with the most tech. All designed to make the task of producing music that bit easier #WorkflowGodsend

Think of these midi controllers as the ultimate 49 key experience…

1: M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49

a producer using a midi controller to make beats

2: Arturia KeyLab 49 MkII

3: Novation 49SL MkIII.

4: Akai Professional MPK249

the keys of a midi keyboard shining in the sun

5: Roland A-500 Pro

6: Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A49

7: Nektar Impact LX49+

a bunch of 49 key controller keyboards set out side by side

These are 49 key midi controllers which are stripped-back, & designed more to be affordable & portable. And while these controllers aren’t what you’d call fully-loaded, they do offer enough features to keep the average player (especially beginners) happy.

In other words, they’re 49 key midi keyboards that take the ‘common sense’ approach…

8: Novation Launchkey 49 MK3

9: Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

10: Korg MICROKEY 2-49 midi keyboard

a band producing music in a studio

11: Roland A-49

12: Nektar SE49 Midi Keyboard

If you’re after a portable 49 key controller – hold your horses.

See, while the average 49 key midi controller isn’t overly bulky, depending on which you buy, there will be some differences in terms of weight & form factor. Typically, the more fully-loaded a keyboard controller is, the heavier & bulkier it’ll be. However, that’s not to say that lightweight & slim controller are ill equipped. In fact, they could well be all the midi controller you need!

In which case if you’re after a portable 49 key midi controller that doesn’t take itself too seriously, we’d say you’re best bet would be the…

13: M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3

keystation 49 being bought by a music producer

Okay, so not everyone has mega £$€ to splash on a mid controller – we get that!

In which case, you’re probably after something slightly more stripped back. A keyboard that’s perhaps not the most feature-packed, but still allows you to do a LOT of what you can do with other midi controllers. If you’re anything like us, you’ll still be wanting decent controls for pitch & mod + basic transport controls for your DAW. Not to mention, a decent set of keys with good feel that stilla llow you to be expressive.

Hence why if we were to choose our favourite budget 49 key midi controller, it’s be the…

14: Samson Graphite 49

DISCLAIMER: Whittling down all of these 49-key controllers to just one wasn’t easy.

As you’ve probably discovered throughout this blog, all midi keyboards come with their own set of perks, as well as those areas where they perhaps need to pull their socks up. So really, which 49-key midi is best for you does depend largely on what you look for in a keyboard controller. Are you key-focused? An avid finger drummer? Or just after something portable?

Either way though, we have managed to reach a conclusion about what we think is the best all-rounder. In other words, the best 49-key midi controller that you can buy in 2023. That keyboard being the…

Arturia Keylab 49 = Best 49-Key Midi Controller 2023

Our main reason behind this choice being balance. Compared to a lot of the 49-key midi controllers, this is somewhere that we think the Arturia really shines. You’ll be hard pushed to find a better all-round package with 49-keys, because (as far as we can tell) there isn’t really many areas where the Arturia falls short.

The terms of build it feels solid, and doesn’t have that lightweight plasticky feel that you get from a lot of controller keyboards in this price range. Everything on the Arturia just feels that little bit more premium. We’re BIG fans of the aluminium case! And while that does mean it is slightly heavier than its rivals, it’s a trade-off we’d happily make.

Equally, the Keylab 49 also looks the part too. Unlike the S49 by Native Instruments, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet it’s not too garish that it’d be mistaken for a children’s toy. Something that we’d forgive you for doing with Akai’s MPK249. The layout’s also easy to get your head around too.

Boyish good looks aside, the Arturia’s keys are no slouch either. The keybed was the real star of the show for us. Out of all the midi keyboards we tested, the keyfeel on the 49 was by far the most superior. Most likely why it’s called the ‘Key’lab, opposed to some random combo of numbers and letters.

Also consider that the Keylab 49 comes with the same full access to Analogue Lab as you’d get with the full-fat Keylab 88, and suddenly that price suddenly makes a lot more sense.

Yes – while the Keylab does set you back more than the majority of 49-key midi controllers out there, that’s not say it’s bad value. Add up all the times it 1ups other keyboards and if anything, it’s a full-on bargain.

Enjoy this review of the best 49-key midi controller keyboard and eager for more? Don’t miss out on all our latest Midi Controller Reviews, as well as the latest Music Production Gear. Recently, we also did a review of the best Midi Keyboards For Logic Pro X + another on the Best Weighted Midi Keyboards, which may also be a good read!

finger drumming on the best 49 key midi keyboard

Or, if you’ve still got as burning question about 49-key midi keyboards, keep reading to discover even more about why 49-keys could well be all you need…

Yes – a 49-key midi keyboard is more than enough. In fact, in most cases it’s all you really need!

For anyone who’s after a balanced midi keyboard that’s just as feature-rich as it is portable, you can’t really go wrong with a 49-key midi keyboard. Granted, if you’re a concert pianist you may yearn for more keys, but for 90% of producers 49-keys just works. It’s a nice balance that works well either on the road or in the studio.

Exactly why we found choosing the best 49-key midi controller such a tricky task.

In the instance that you’re wanting to learn piano, we’d say that this is one of the few instances where 49-keys isn’t enough.

When learning the piano (especially if you’re doing scales/ piano tricks), you really do need access to the full 88 keys, or at the very least 61 (just one step down). Learning the piano is all about coordination, so the more keys you have, the more likely you are to (A) understand the keyboard & (B) be more flexible in the way you play.

However if you ask us, using a controller to learn piano opposed to a keyboard wouldn’t actually be a bad idea. Not only is a controller more flexible than a piano, but it’s also substantially more affordable too. The only thing we’d say if you are thinking of learning piano using a controller is to not cheap out. Go for an 88-Key Midi Controller with Hammer Action Keys if you want to get the full experience.

While both 49 & 61-keys do work well for most producers, which you prefer all really comes back to what type of producer you are.

If you’re a key-focused player who’s no stranger to an intricate piano melody, then a 61-key controller is likely your best bet. For anyone who’s key focused, more keys is always going to be the way forward. However, if you’re not the type of producer to get lost in piano symphonies and more just use the keys to lay down the odd string of notes here and there, then a 49-key midi controller would more than suffice.

49 key midi controllers come in at roughly between 25 & 35 inches in width, although each keyboard differs.

For instance, the Akai MPK249 comes in at just over 29 inches, while the Alesis Q-49 comes in at just shy of 33. The main reasons why 49-key midi keyboards differ in size is down to the size of each key + the overall layout of the keyboard.

It’s worth noting that on most midi controllers (even with the same amount of keys), the actual width of the keys is very often ever so slightly different, just like the length. And it’s much the same with a keyboard’s design too.

Some keyboards position extra features like drum pads or wheels for pitch & mod, to the side of the keys, while others place them above. All of which can yet again cause the width of the midi controller to grow/ shrink in length.

Midi keyboards can range quiet substantially in size.

The majority of midi keyboards you come across will feature either 25, 49, 61 and 88 keys. However it’s not always as simple as that. There’s a few midi controllers you can get in slightly more obscure sizes like 32, 37, 42, 73 and 76.

As for the keys themselves, these can range in size too. While the majority of larger midi keyboards will feature keys that are the same width/ length to those you’d find on a piano, others (mainly those designed for portability) often feature mini-sized keys. These are usually shorter, as well as thinner than the average set of keys. All of which can make them less ideal for any keen piano player.

Thankfully though, you’ll only really find mini keys on 25-key midi keyboards – the smallest of the bunch. Keyboards that the typical piano player will probably shy away from anyway.

A keyboard with 49 keys has 4 out of the 7 octaves that you’ll find on a piano.

In most cases, you’ll find 49-keys is a good amount in which to play piano pieces and not too small that it becomes a hinderance. If you’re wanting to use 49-keys to lay down melodies or produce ‘on the go’, then a 49-key midi controller is hard to beat.

When it comes to midi controllers with 49 keys, we’d say distinguishing which has the ‘best’ keys is actually quite tricky. Because that really all depends on what you look for in the keys on a controller. So while the synth action keys of cheap 49 key midi keyboard may not be an issue for some (maybe even a plus point), the semi-weighted keys of a more premium controller may work better for others.

With that in mind then, here’s 3 ways to decide what sort of keys are best for you. Something that should help you pin down which midi controller has the best keys for your style of production…

  • Key size – Not all 49 key midi controllers have the same sized keys – worth noting! While some are slimmer (like those on the Arturia Keylab 49), others can be considerably chunkier like those you find on the AKA MPK 249. Something to bear in mind, especially if you have big hands, because very often the key width can dictate how easy it is to play the right note + perform those impressive runs across the keys!
  • Key weight – Just as with size, when choosing a midi controller you’d be a fool not to consider the weight of the keys. Because to a large extent, the resistance of the keys determines how expressive you’re able to be when you play. Let’s just say there’s a reason that 99% of full-size pianos are hammer-action. Plus, on the topic of actions, some keys can feel slightly more ‘springy’ than others, especially those which are synth action – something worth noting if you’re a frequent pianist!!
  • Aftertouch – How can you forget aftertouch? Just like the sustain pedal on a piano, aftertouch is another feature that can help you take reach places that you never thought it ever would. Hence why when you’re talking about which 49 key midi controller has the best keys, you cannot afford to ‘brush-over’ the topic of aftertouch. A feature that’s arguably one of the marks of a higher-grade 49 key controller like the Arturia Keylab 49 or the Novation S49 MKII