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Best 88-Key MIDI Controller 2024? 9 Full-Size MIDIs Tested!!

What is the best 88 key controller? We review 9 of the front-runners...

Get your hands on the best 88-key midi controller, and you can’t really get any better.

That’s because 88-keys is a full 7 octaves, which makes midi controllers of this size pretty much the holy grail, as these 7 octaves are also what you’ll find on-top of a piano. So to say that 88-key midi controllers are a sure sign of someone who takes music seriously, wouldn’t be far wrong. Let’s face it, you have be at least some sort of professional or fanatical music nerd, to invest your hard earned cash into a keyboard that’s this large.

But then again, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, an 88-key midi controller is actually quite a wise investment. Because not only does not only does it offer you the most flexibility in terms of playing, but it’s also made to a significantly higher standard. So while it will set you back substantially more than if you were to size down, it’ll also retain its value far better too. Now your ears have pricked up…

Read on and we’ll which is the best 88-key midi controller you can buy + give you a rundown on why these full-size midi controllers are so expensive.

After something specific about full-size midi keyboards? Our just want to see what we feel is the best 88-key midi controller you can buy? Use the menu below to find all the answers you need fast…

88 key midi controller on a stand next to a producer

NOTE: Curious about other sizes of midi controllers? We’ve also done rundowns of the most popular 61 Key Midi Controllers + the Best 49 Key Midi Keyboard Controllers too.

Okay, so you’re ready to make the jump up to a weighted 88 key midi controller, but then realise 2 things…

  • Fully weighted 88 key midi controllers aren’t cheap
  • There’s a TON of options to choose from + various styles of keys.

But don’t let that worry you! See, we’ve done 90% of the legwork for you. All you have to do is sit back & grab a cuppa, as we outline what (for us) are the best 88 key midi controllers for sale today + answer a bunch of your FAQs… you can thank us later :)

1: StudioLogic SL88

If a fully weighted 88-key midi controller is what you’re after, and yet you don’t have the cash to splash on one that’s fully-loaded, then the SL88 from StudioLogic could well the answer to your prayers. Despite being less than half the price of a premium fully-weighted keyboard, it can rival most when it comes to keys. Reason? The SL88 also shares the same Fatar keybed that you find in the Keylab MK2 and the S88.

And yet when it comes to key feel, the SL88 arguably has the edge. To us, the actual press feels ever so slightly smoother and the keys themselves feel that little bit more responsive. Something that could be down to the way the SL88 is designed. Unlike a fully-loaded controller, StudioLogic haven’t designed the SL88 to flash 50 different colours & offer a gazillion different functions. So there’s no RGB drum pads, assignable faders or encoders included on this keyboard.

Although, you do get a useful joystick for pitch and mod. You also have the ability to control 4 midi channels at once, along with various presets. Basically, all any key-focused player really needs. And it’s that which is what this 88-key midi controller is designed to do – encourage natural play and creative expression. Hence why for any pianist on a budget, it’s fast become the ‘go-to’.

Reasons this full-size midi is worth it…

  • Boasting a Fatar keybed (same as the Keylab & S88) means for key feel, this midi is up there with the best!
  • For a hammer-weighted midi keyboard, this is unbelievably cheap!
  • Despite the price, the keys even have aftertouch!!
  • Arguably the most flexible 88-key board you can buy – it’s ideal for gigging & life on the road as well as suited to the studio.
keyboard controllers being played as part of a band

2: Arturia KeyLab 88 MKII

When it comes to 88-keys, there are few controllers (if any) that do a better job than the Keylab 88 MK2. So much so that this midi controller is often described as the benchmark for any premium 88-key midi. One of the main reasons being its hammer action keys, which could trick you into thinking that the MK2 is in fact a Grand piano. Unlike with its semi weighted rivals, the keys have a good weight to them and even boast aftertouch too.

The keybed’s no slouch either. Made by keybed specialists, Fatar, over in Italy, we found it allows you to work a real depth into your composition. With this 88-key midi controller, you can be truly expressive! The weight of the keypress is heavy, but not overpowering – you don’t have to overwork the keys. Therefore, pieces that contain staccato and legato are particularly fun to play with this controller! And yet the MK2 isn’t just all just about the keys.

As far as 88-key midi controllers go, the Arturia comes fully loaded with 16 RGB backlit drum pads and a bunch of programmable faders/ encoders. Not to mention that set of intuitive transport controls and the sheer plethora of inputs & outputs. All of which makes this board incredibly flexible. Combine that with the metal and real wood design and you really do get a sense of quality. Quality that if you ask us, really does shine through.

What makes this a good 88-key midi controller?

  • That mix of metal + real wood construction is so sexy! Plus the integrated sheet music/ laptop stands are a nice touch!
  • This 88-key midi controller has every input, output & transport control that you can think of!
  • The Fatar keybed (made in Italy) + those hammer action keys, which make the Keylab feel like a digital piano than a keyboard!
  • The software package is decent! We love the selection of synth sounds you get with Analogue Lab.

3: Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 Mk2

The Native Instruments Ecosystem needed this 88-key midi controller. Why? Because it’s the only NI keyboard that comes with a set of fully weighted hammer action keys, that yes – have aftertouch! So as you can imagine, this 88-key midi allows for any keen pianist to play naturally, without being held hostage by a set of semi weighted keys. In fact, in the key department, the S88 has much in common with the Keylab MK2; it shares the same Fatar keybed.

So when it comes to the keys, the only slight difference we’ve been able to find, is that with the S88 being seated in plastic (opposed to metal), there does seem to be slightly less key noise. But, before you sigh at the mention of plastic, consider what it does for weight. The S88 comes in at a whopping 8kg less than the Keylab, which makes it a far better 88-key midi controller for the road. However, usability is where the S88 really shines.

Compare the design to other keyboards in its price range and the design is somewhat minimalistic. Aside from a row of programmable knobs, there’s two wheels for pitch & modulation and some intuitive transport controls, but not much else, That’s because those two LCD screens rid the need for hordes of buttons and switches. A design feature that we really like! Much the same with those LED lights that you’ll find above the keys, which function perfectly as a guide for when doing scales or working with the built-in arp. And yet, none of this gadgetry detracts from what the S88 is mean’t to be – a intuitive key-focused controller and less so a ‘Jack of all trades’.

Why consider this full-size midi keyboard?

  • Thanks to a Fatar keybed (the same as the Keylab), key feel on the S88 is nothing short of sublime!
  • Those LCD screens reduce the need for a lot of buttons – we love the intuitive, but minimalistic design.
  • Native Instruments bundle over 11,000 sounds with this 88-key midi!!
  • Those lights above the keys work super well as part of this board’s scaling features!
music producer using a midi keyboard to compose a hit song

4: M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro

Keen pianist? Don’t overlook the Hammer 88, because as far as we can tell, this 88-key midi controller is one of a kind. That’s because its full set of hammer action keys doesn’t just come with aftertouch – they’re graded too! So much so that this midi controller doesn’t feel like a controller at all. In fact, you could even mistake it for a Digital piano! We found the keypress incredibly similar to that you find on a Grand; in comparison to its rivals, it’s ever so slightly lighter.

The Hammer 88 doesn’t play about when it comes to equipment either. Along the top there’s 8 knobs, 9 faders and 16 velocity sensitive pads, of which you get 4 banks! Plus, pitch and mod is dealt with via two wheels, which are backlit in a vibrant red colour. A similar colour to the strip of felt that runs across the top of the keys. Classy touch that! It’s also fair to say that out of all the 88-key midi controllers out there, the Hammer 88 looks the most premium. Just playing this midi keyboard feels like an occasion.

The metal casing even comes in a satin textured finish too. Plus, there’s even an integrated stand for your sheet music, because as you’ve probably guessed, this 88-key midi controller is all about converting your relationship with the keys into something that you can process through your DAW. Something that’s actually pretty simple, as the Hammer 88 is the most compatible 88-key midi controller when it comes to DAWs. So as you can imagine, we found it rather difficult to pick fault.

Here’s why this 88-key midi is SO special…

  • This is hands-down best 88-key midi controller when it comes to DAW compatibility – aside from virtually all the mainstream DAWs, it even works with MPC Beats. The DAW of rivals Akai!!
  • The keys on this Hammer 88 aren’t just hammer action – they’re graded too!
  • You can tell it’s meant to mimic a piano – the red felt above the keys is a huge giveaway.
  • These are easily some of the best RGB pads we’ve come across on a 88-key midi keyboard!

5: M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3

The Keystation by M-Audio puts up a a good fight, despite it being one of the most stripped-back 88-key midi controllers on sale today. So all you beginners, pay attention! This could well be all the midi controller you actually need, because (we’ll be honest) as far as semi weighted boards go, if you’ve got a tight budget, the Keystation is hard to beat. Get behind the keys and you’ll see what we mean.

For the MK3, the keybed has been overhauled, so unlike the somewhat stiff feeling you got with the previous Keystations, with the MK3 everything’s a bit more loose. The keys are significantly more solid and have a little less spring about them. As for velocity, that’s relatively even too, making the keys less like ‘on/off’ switches and more like actual keys. You can achieve a real breadth of tone with this keyboard. Good to know, as the keys are the main highlight.

The rest of the build is actually pretty simple. You get a fader for the volume and two wheels for pitch and mod, but apart from that, this controller’s pretty stark. And that’s exactly why it’s a great 88-key midi controller for beginners. Buy a Keystation and you’re not paying for endless sets of drum pads, faders and encoders that you ‘may’ end up using. Besides, all of this minimalism does wonders for saving weight. So in comparison to other 88-key controllers, the Keystation is light. Get yourself a gig bag and you’re practically ready for the road.

Why pick this weighted midi keyboard?

  • The keys/ keybed on this MK3 are a huge step owards from the previous gen – well done M-Audio!
  • The software package is sublime – you get Pro Tools First, Ableton Live Lite & MPC beats with this board + sounds like DB33, Velvet, Boom and Expand!!
  • For an 88-key midi controller, it’s pretty darn lightweight – ideal for gigging/ life on the road!
  • It’s key-focused, so you’re not paying for unnecessary features.
close up of the lights on a full size midi controller

6: Roland A-88 MK2

When you think ’88-key midi controller’ the name Roland doesn’t really spring to mind. And yet, we can’t understand why as the A88 MK2 took us by surprise. We’ve even go as far as to say that it’s one of the best full-size midi keyboards that you can get your hands on. Why? Those hammer action keys.

Reason being that the keybed on this midi controller is something else – it feels piano-grade! And that’s because it is; the keybed on the A88 is taken from Roland’s FP pianos and sets it apart from any other midi on the market. In fact, in a blind test between this midi and a Digital piano (a Yamaha), we ended up confusing the two. Kudos for the A88! What caught us out was the way the keys depress on this midi controller.

Like what you get with an Acoustic, when playing the A88 you feel a slight notch as the hammer is released. Albeit a subtle detail, but one that to us piano players really does enhance the realism. A feature that’s also testament to the build quality, which we struggled to find fault with. All the buttons on the A88 feel tactile, the pads offer really good response and the metal housing comes in a textured finish that really does set it apart.

Our only gripe with this 88-key midi controller is its size. Don’t get us wrong, it’s by no means the heaviest midi you’ll find, but in terms of bulk, it can be quite hard to manoeuvre. Because the controls are mounted alongside the 88 keys (not above), this board is long- very long! So if you do decide to opt for the A88, we’d suggest making a permanent place for it in your studio.

Perks of this 88-key midi controller include…

  • It’s got a weighted hammer action keybed – the best you’ll find in a mid controller by Roland. Key feel kudos for that!!
  • There’s a whopping 3 pedal inputs on this midi keyboard.
  • The A88 has 8 assignable knobs as well as 8 drum pads – with the pads you get a whopping 8 banks!
  • Setup is super easy, as the majority of the configuration can be controlled from an app!!

7: Nektar Impact LX88+

The keys on 88-key midi controller really surprised us. And that’s because, despite being semi weighted, the keys themselves have some good weight to them. Compared to other Nektar keyboards, they have a fair amount of resistance. We’d describe them as quite a way from synth action keys and closer to those you find on an Acoustic piano. Something we really didn’t expect, especially when compared to those of the previous gen LX88. A keyboard that (we’ll be honest) we weren’t huge fans of.

Although with the LX88+, the keybed doesn’t feel brittle. Instead, it feels supple and while the keys do have a spring to them, it doesn’t make them unplayable. The velocity on the keys is also relatively even. Good news, as one of our gripes with the previous gen was the fact that the keypress was a bit ‘on & off’. Something that with the 88+ is no longer an issue. Each key allows you to achieve a real good range of tones. In fact, it seems that the keys aren’t the only area where Nektar have worked their magic.

On the topic of response, the 8 drum pads feel slightly more firm and have a better range of response in terms of velocity. The LX88+ also features 9 sliders, 9 buttons and 8 knobs, plus a variety of transport controls and DAW function buttons too. In fact, the only gripe we have with it now is the screen, which while rather useful does look a bit 1990s. But then again, for less than £250, you can’t really complain.

Why this 88-key midi is worth the money…

  • The keys are semi-weighed, but feel to have slightly more resistance than other Nektar keyboards.
  • Those 8 assignable faders + 8 knobs feels really smooth to operate.
  • The LX88+ has 8 drum pads – something you don’t even get on the pricier S88 by Native Instruments!
  • Being a lesser known keyboard, means you can actually pick up an LX88+ quite cheap!
88 key midi controller for sale

8: Nektar Impact GXP88

Really look at the GXP88 and it’s essentially its LX bigger brother, only far more key-focused. And as a result, it’s definitely a contender in terms of your best budget options. So by that we mean that while this keyboard is no hammer actioned showstopper like a Keylab MK2 or S88, it’s a darn good semi weighted workhorse. One that by dropping the gadgetry you find on the LX series, is also far more affordable too.

The only real physical switchgear you have with this midi controller are wheels for pitch & mod, as well as a few simple transport controls. So to call it minimalist, you wouldn’t be far wrong! But that’s all because the GXP88 is all about the keys. Keys that we may add, come with aftertouch. Something that you only really find on premium keyboards – a good sign if you ask us. Granted, when compared to other pricier alternatives, the keybed is well, ‘ok’ – it’s nothing to shout about – but with that being said, we didn’t notice much in the way of key noise. However, the keys do take some getting used to.

Compare the keys to your average midi controller and you’ll see that they’re set on a slight inwards tilt. A setup that can almost make it feel like you’re playing into the keyboard. Quite an usual hand position to say to the least, but with that being said, after a month with this board we actually preferred it. That’s because the slant actually works really well for fast play. Performing piano tricks and playing at light-speed on this board is super easy, especially when compared to other semi weighted midi controllers. So much so that we’d say the GXP is the ideal controller for gigging.

Special features of this 88-key midi controller include…

  • The keys are semi-weighted opposed to hammer action, but they do have aftertouch!
  • The keys are ever so slightly slanted downwards – we found this makes it slightly easier for when doing piano tricks.
  • As far as 88-key midi controllers go, this is cheap!
  • This midi is built like a tank – it has a real good weight to it.

SPOILER: Not all 88 key midi controllers cost the earth.

Because even though the majority are aimed at the more capable producer, there’s still those that are little more ‘stripped back’. By that we mean, while they do have 88 keys, these keys may not be fully weighted & some of the settings may not be as comprehensive as you’ll find on more fully-loaded controllers. But if you’re just after a high key-count, then a full-size budget controller is pretty much perfect.

Speaking of which, here’s what we consider to be the best budget 88 key midi keyboard you can buy today…

9: Arturia KeyLab Essential 88

The ‘Keylab’ name brings with it a lot of assumptions. Most of which are to do with the rather pricy MK2. So as you can imagine, when we heard about the Keylab Essential 88, our ears pricked up… and was a good job they did. That’s because the Essential 88 is much like the name suggests. A stripped-back budget-friendly version of the Keylab MK2. Yet, on first impressions it’s hard to tell.

For instance, the Essential comes with 88 keys, a generous amount of programmable knobs/ faders, as well as a collection of RGB pads, on-top of some rather familiar looking transport controls. According to Arturia, even the navigation screen is no different. It’s only when you pick the controller up, that the differences begin to show.

Unlike the MK2, the Essential is over twice as light. A major reason being that instead of the real wood and metal, the Essential 88 is fabricated of a high-grade plastic. Gone also are the hammer action keys, which have been replaced by a lighter semi weighted set. Tweaks that at first you could mistake for a backwards step, however when you consider that the Essential retails for around 3X as less, suddenly it makes a lot more sense.

In comparison to rival semi weighted controllers, the Essential 88 is very good value. Reason being that unlike the MK2, it’s no been designed to appeal to the hardcore pianist. Instead, its going after a completely different market! One where musicians are more intently focused on functionality and budget, opposed to just key feel. So while pianists may cringe at the sight if the Essential 88, for beatmakers and producers it’s an ideal way to buy into the Keylab DNA.

Why is this the best budget 88-key midi controller?

  • Yes, the keys are semi weighted, but that does make it substantially more affordable than the Keylab MKII.
  • As a controller, it’s good value – you get most of the core fuctions that you get with higher end 88-key midis. Drum pads, assignable encoders, faders, basic DAW control… the lot!
  • Despite this being the Essentials line of the Keylab, you get access to the full version of Analogue Lab!
  • It’s portable, weighing in at less than half the weight of the Keylab MKII.
using a midi controller to compose music

By buying an 88-key midi controller you’re already opting for the ultimate in terms of midi, so why not go for the best version of ultimate? That combo of 88-keys that stands out amongst the rest. The one that really gels with your style of production or just does the best job of streamlining your workflow. Seems like common sense to us.

Exactly why we’ve split our editor’s choice into two distinct categories: the best 88-key midi controller for key fanatics, and the best production all-rounder. Plus, so many of these 88-key controllers have bragging rights that we genuinely struggled to cull them. This shootout was seriously tight! So with that in mind, here’s our verdict…

Best 88-key midi controller for key fanatics = StudioLogic SL88

When it comes to playability and key feel, you’ll struggle to find better value than the SL88 by StudioLogic. And that’s because its hammer action keys really do put it up there with the best.

This midi keyboard really doesn’t feel like a keyboard at all – more like a digital piano if we’re honest. Something that’s partially due to the weighting of the keys, which is close to perfect, but also this keyboard’s secret weapon: that Fatar keybed. A component that you’ll also find on the S88 & Keylab, both of which retail for over double the price!

Now of course, there isn’t much in the way of drum pads, assignable faders or encoders, so out of all the options available this does look somewhat less ‘midi-ish’. However if you don’t use all these extras and are all about the keys, then the SL88 is a great way to make your production budget go further.

Best production all-rounder =Arturia KeyLab 88 MKII

For those after a comparable set of keys to those on the StudoLogic, plus all the bells and whistles in terms of production, the Keylab by Arturia is what we’d label the best all-rounder. In other words the very best 88-key midi controller that you can buy today! Now we must admit, it was a very close call in-between the Keylab and the S88, however for us, the Keylab just clinches it. Here’s why…

Compare the Arturia to the S88 and you’ll see that it 1ups it in quite a few areas, but only by a margin. For instance, the S88 features a great collection of really smooth programmable knobs. However on the Arturia, you get endless encoders as well as faders too. Aside from that you also have a set of highly responsive drum pads – another thing that you don’t get with the S88.

In terms of transport controls, the Arturia shines yet again, with a larger assortment of buttons and functions, which allow you to control your DAW directly from the board. The S88 skips out on quite a bit of that. And then of course when it comes to inputs and outputs, the Arturia shines yet again. On top of those you get with the S88, the Arturia gives you a bunch of aux inputs, as well as CV gate too.

And if that wasn’t enough, it even comes with an attachable laptop shelf, plus a stand to hold your sheet music. Then factor in that the body on the S88 is made of plastic, while the Arturia’s is made of metal as well as real wood, and yep – you can see why we’d say the Arturia is the best 88-key midi controller on sale today.

It’s significantly better equipped than any 88-key midi out there, boasts a premium construction, loads of perks and yet weirdly, is often cheaper to buy than the S88. Don’t ask us why… just thank Arturia.

Enjoy this review of the best 88-key mid controllers & eager for more? Don’t miss out on all our Midi Controller Reviews, as well as our acres of Music Production Advice. Don’t need all 88 keys? Jump into our Guide To The Best 25 Key Midi Controllers + another on the Most Popular Mini Midi Keyboards.

beat makers using a full size midi controller to create chord progressions

Or, if you’ve still got as burning question about 88-key mid controllers, keep reading to discover all the perks of making music with a 88-key midi…

88-key midi controllers expensive for one reason: how much they offer you as a producer.

Really look at it and a full-size midi keyboard is ‘the’ most functional keyboard you can get your hands on. By that we mean, while you conventional piano is well, a piano – a midi keyboard can be that & so much more. For the price of midi you don’t just get your standard keyboard – you get access to practically every instrument, sound and vocal affect that you can think of.

Not only that but unlike your conventional piano or keyboard, you can use a midi controller with your DAW. All of which allows you to adjust the sounds manually and to rearrange your composition if you do so wish. So long to the need for a ‘perfect take’…

In fact the only real drawback of a midi controller in comparison to a conventional keyboard, is that it cannot be used independently from your DAW. Because a midi keyboard is a ‘controller’, much like the name suggests, it’s only a means to control a virtual instrument, not a way of creating sound. So if you were to try and use a midi keyboard without a DAW, you’d hear nothing.

Midi keyboards rely on your computer’s speakers to create any sort of sound or audio playback. Not that it’s an issue though, as virtually everyone has access to a computer these days, especially anyone to do with music production or a studio. So really there’s a good reason why midi keyboards are so expensive. In 99% of cases, they’re the reason behind a smash hit.

Compare a full-size weighted midi keyboard to one that’s semi weighted and you’ll soon sense a difference. This being in terms of key feel and how the keyboard actually is to play. This is because the way in which the keys are mounted/ reset themselves (i.e. the action), is different in a semi weighted keyboard than one which is weighted.

A semi-weighted keyboard uses a spring action, which means (much as it sounds), the key is reset to its neutral position via a spring mechanism. Something that’s often said to make keys feel springy and all-in-all have less feel to them. Being lighter, semi weighted keys reset themselves very fast, which makes them actually quite hard to play for most pianists. Go from a fully-weighted piano to a semi-weighted midi keyboard and it’ll likely feel like a step down.

And that’s because all major pianos have what’s known as weighted hammer action keys. Essentially, this means that attached to the end of each key is a hammer, much like that you’ll find in a conventional piano. This hammer is what gives the key weight and allows 88-key midi keyboards to simulate the feel of a conventional piano. All of which allows those playing to be more expressive and produce far cleaner end results.

Personally we’d favour a fully-weighted midi keyboard every day of the week. Why? Because not only do they give you more feel over how you play, as well as minimise the need for heavy post production. But they’re also made to a higher standard too.

Out of all the full-size midi controllers you can buy, if you’re after the best keys possible, then a weighted midi keyboard is the way to go!

That’s because weighted keys simulate those you’ll find on a real piano. In comparison to semi-weighted keys, which are spring actioned, weighted keys are what’s known as hammer-action keys. What this means is that just like in a piano, there’s small hammers attached to the end of each key. These hammers (using gravity) are what reset the key into its neutral position.

It’s this action that gives a piano its unique, slightly weighted feel and what allows pianists to be so expressive. Try and do various piano tricks on a semi-weighted board and you’ll likely struggle, as spring action keys have a lighter keypress and significantly more bounce to them. Hence why semi-weighted midi keyboards reset themselves so fast. All of which hampers your ability to get the same depth that you’d be able to get with a piano.

So if key feel is purely what you’re after, then we’d say the best 88-key midi controller would be the Studiologic SL88. It’s keybed in on par with the bets in class and yet it comes in at less than half the price of more technical full-size midis, making it for any keen pianist, a real bargain!

Professionals tend to gravitate towards full-size midi keyboards for a reason, especially those with hammer-weighted keys.

The main reason being because the majority of top end producers found their love for music whilst playing the piano, so hammer weighted keys are a major perk that you struggle to find on smaller midis. Plus, the size of a 88-key midi keyboard, while not exactly portable, means that no octaves are hidden behind a button. Instead all of them are available straight off the bat.

What’s more, 88-key midi controllers are some of the most fully loaded that you can get your hands on. So for a prod searching for the ultimate in terms of flexibility, a full-size midi is often the way to go. And if that isn’t enough, compared to their more affordable brothers and sisters, full-size midi keyboards are also built to a significantly higher standard too.

So while 88-key midi controllers aren’t cheap, it’s not surprise why professional producers and studios gravitate towards them. For a studio environment, they’re the best a midi controller can be.

For all you Hip Hop producers looking to make beats with a midi keyboard, full-size is more than often the way to go, especially if you’re a key-focused producer.

That’s because when you really look at it, 88-key midi controllers are the ‘creme de la creme.’ A complete studio solution that aside from being the most flexible type of midi keyboard out there, is also one of the most feature rich. Contrast your typical 88-key midi controller to its more portable brothers and sisters, and you’ll soon see that it’s not only packing more keys that are of a higher quality.

But you typically also get more in the way of drum pads, as well as assignable switchgear and faders. The DAW integration with these midi keyboards is usually a step up too. All of which makes the process of getting your ideas down and doing some fast-rate finger drumming an absolute breeze.

The only instance where an 88-key midi controller may not be the best for making beats, would be if you’re just starting out as a prod, or want something that’s am little more ‘on the go’. In which case, a 25-key midi may be a more sensible place to start. Intrigued?

Stay with us! You can get the lowdown on 25-key midis in our guide to the Best Midi Keyboard For Logic Pro X.

While 49 keys can usually be enough for some producers, if you want ultimate flexibility in your recordings then 88-key midis are definitely the way to go.

This is because, aside from offering you a full 7 octaves, 88-key midi controllers tend to be built to a better standard. So the keys on a top-end 88-key model will be weighted, opposed to semi-weighted – an option you can normally only be specced on full-sized midi controllers. The build itself will also be more premium, with the use of metal and in some instances, real wood too!

For the price you’ll also get a lot more in terms of features. In particular a more impressive keybed – we’re BIG fans of the Fatar keybeds that you find in the SM 88, S88 and the Keylab midi keyboards. In our experience, they dramatically enhance the way in which you play. Not to mention the overall feel of the keyboard.

Aside from the keys, you’ll also get a lot of added perks with an 88-key midi keyboard when it comes to gadgets and accessories too. Typically you’ll get more in the way of drum pads, assignable faders, endless encoders and even a more bulked-out software bundle.

And then of course, an 88-key midi controller has a far longer life. Being manufactured to a better standard than their cheaper relations, rest assured they’re long lasting. Exactly why you won’t find new models being introduced every year or two. There’s no need.

PRICE STILL LOOK A BIT DAUNTING? CONSIDER THIS: Buying one midi keyboard that lasts you 10 years, could well cost you the same as if you were opt for 49 keys. Over the same period, it might even be cheaper!!

That’s because to get yourself a good 49-key midi keyboard you’d be looking at around £300-£400. Roughly a third of the price of a top-quality 88-key midi controller with weighted keys. The factor in the difference in build quality, as well as the fact that smaller keyboards tend to be updated more frequently and you could easily end up spending the same, if not more. Let’s just say that facelifted keyboards ain’t cheap!

And yet, you’d only be getting the functionality of a 49-key midi keyboard. So that’s less drum pads, assignable faders & knobs + no weighted keys. Seems pretty conclusive if you ask us – in the long run 49-key midi keyboards are the best value you can get.

Connecting you midi controller your computer is (in most cases) pretty simple.

A lot of the best midi keyboards these days are plug-in-&-play, however depending on your choice of keyboard/ your operating system (Windows or Mac) there may be a few additional steps that you need to go through. To get a better idea of what these are, be sure to check out our article on How To Connect A Midi Controller To A Computer