8 Best 49-Key MIDI Controllers You Will Love

Here are my picks for the best 49-key MIDI controllers on the market.

If you’re curious to know more about the best 49 key MIDI controllers on the market, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll share with you my picks for the top MIDI keyboards available, and also discuss the notable features you should be looking for in a quality MIDI controller.

Roland A49
Arturia KeyLab 49 MKII
Nektar Panorama T4
M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49
Novation Launchkey 49 MK3

Best 49 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards (TLDR)

Some of the best 49 key MIDI keyboards on the market today are the following:

  • Arturia Keylab 49 MKII
  • Nektar Panorama T4
  • M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49
  • Nektar Impact GX49
  • M Audio Keystation 49
  • Roland A-49
  • Novation Launchkey 49
  • Akai MPK249

The best MIDI controller keyboards give users excellent control over their digital audio workstations.  Let’s dive into some of my favorites MIDI keyboards.

Below, please take a moment to view some of the best-selling MIDI keyboard controllers online.

1) M-Audio Hammer 88
2) Arturia KeyStep Pro
3) Arturia KeyLab 49 MkII

Arturia Keylab 49 MKII

Arturia Keylab 49 MKII

Are you looking for great control over all of your various DAWs or virtual instruments?  If so, I’d recommend you strongly consider the Arturia Keylab 49 MKII.

There’s so much to like on this MIDI keyboard.  First, let’s talk about those impressive after-touch sensitive keys.  If you try them out and love the way they feel, there’s a reason—they’re the same keys you’ll find on the Arturia MatrixBrute (a keyboard that sold for a whopping $2,000!).

You also get 16 backlit RGB performance pads that are velocity sensitive, which of course you can use to hammer out drums and percussive parts in your music.

Nektar Panorama T4

Nektar Panorama T4

Now if you’re looking for more heavy duty control at your fingertips, then the Nectar Panorama T4 might be worth sinking your teeth into (well, no not literally—but you know what I mean).

The first thing I love here is that you get an LCD screen in the center on the front panel.  This is awesome because you know get instant feedback on what you press or alter on the keyboard.

And for all my finger drummers out there, you’re going to love the pads on the T4.  They are very expressive, and any flams or ghost notes will no doubt be captured properly.  

On top of that, you can very easily assign specific sounds to specific pads.  This can be done through “Pad Learn,” where you select a pad (and then select a note or drum) and the sound is immediately assigned to the respective pad.

Roland A49
Arturia KeyLab 49 MKII
Nektar Panorama T4
M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49
Novation Launchkey 49 MK3

M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49

M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49

This keyboard comes with 49 velocity sensitive and semi-weighted keys.  You also get assignable faders, buttons and knobs so that you can fully control your DAW or virtual instrument.

The M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49 also automats to your favorite DAW or plugin, be it Pro Tools, GarageBand, Reason, Reaper, FL Studio or Ableton Live.

As for connectivity options you get both a USB and 5-pin MIDI Out connection.  There’s also one sustain pedal input, as well.

Nektar Impact GX49

A top rated 49 key MIDI controller, this offers a simple and compatible solution to musicians.  The keyboard has lightweight and portable features that many musicians are looking for.  It is known for the navigation controls that connect to software systems and offer universal solutions for recording from the MIDI to software. 

M-Audio Keystation 49

The highlight of this 49 key controller is with the easy to use features.  You can take down and set up the keyboard anywhere with plug and play options.  It also offers extras that every artist needs, such as octave range buttons, modulation wheels, direction controls and pitch differentiators.  A highlight is the ability to sequence tracks with the extra controls offered.

Roland A–49

This keyboard is one of the most popular on the market and always receives high rankings from recording musicians.  The advantages with this keyboard is based on the controller devices that are designed for recording needs.  You can control data with a D-Beam, an innovative technology that activates by motion. 

You will also enjoy automated connections to reduce using plugs for input – output functions.  While the Roland A-49 doesn’t have as many controllers, it offers the needed functions for straight forward and convenient recording options. 

Roland A49
Arturia KeyLab 49 MKII
Nektar Panorama T4
M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49
Novation Launchkey 49 MK3

Novation Launchkey 49

The model of this keyboard is specifically used for those interested in the techno and electronic genres and sounds.  It includes Ableton’s audio with MIDI and maps out the functions required to layer music. 

The keyboard comes with 16 drum pads, octave up and down buttons, faders, knobs and the ability to connect apps for diverse sound quality.  For those interested in samples, loops and layers, this particular keyboard is one to look into. 

Akai MPK249

While this keyboard ranks higher with pricing, it also offers more compatibility for recording.  This controller offers presets for all major software and virtual instruments.  It includes an effects plugin and external hardware, providing more controls and sounds into the keyboard.  The option includes 16 pads as well as 4 pad banks with 64 inputs. 

You can enjoy an arpeggiator, octave controls and extra knobs for the complex recordings that you may have.  It includes a variety of software adaptability as well as extra connectivity to pedals, a 5 pin MIDI and TRS inputs.  The integration to a complete studio has allowed this particular 49 key MIDI to stand out from the crowd. 

Why Choose a 49 Key MIDI Controller

The designs of MIDI controllers are available with diverse sets and sizes.  The smallest number of keys is 25 while the largest is the full size keyboard, at 88 keys. 

The 49 key MIDI controller offers compatibility to play extra keys and to add in complex riffs without taking up space in your studio.  You will easily be able to add in the extra octaves with the keyboard while creating extra effects from plugins and a control board that offers more. 

Specifically, the 49 key MIDI controller offers:

  • Additional sounds
  • More plugins and knobs
  • Versatility
  • Lightweight but diverse controls
  • More keyboard use

By extending your keyboard to an extra octave, you have more functionality, control and sounds for your recording.  While it maintains the light weight and compact feel of a smaller keyboard, the controller functions are expanded to control more of your music.

Features to Look For with 49 Keys

The features of a 49 key MIDI controller are designed to add more recording possibilities.  The combination of size and compatibility for the recordings offer new and diverse options to assist with specialized and custom recordings. 

The following features can help you decide if the MIDI controller is the right size to lay your next tracks. 

Octave range. The 49 key size is often preferred by recording artists because of the balance between recording needs and playing.  Having a 5 octave range of keys assists with additional sounds needed on traditional and contemporary instrumentation.  If you want to record from the keyboard with unique sounds, this provides expanded versions of the sounds you need. 

Sound compatibility.  With more keys are also bigger sound banks.  While all MIDI controllers come with extensive sounds, the 49 key size is able to extend this with extra octaves.  You will find more options from the sound bank, allowing you to easily tune into more playing options for your next recording. 

Controllers.  The 49 key MIDI offers extra controllers for your recordings and software connections.  Reverb, fade in, fade out and sound manipulations are available from the interface between the keyboard and software.  Most of the 49 keys come with an average of 12 knobs for controls as well as extra plug-in devices. 

Added interfaces.  You will find extra buttons, drum pads, sustain pedals and additional knobs as a highlight of the 49 key MIDI controller.  With a slightly larger size is also more interfaces for your recording.  An advantage of this size is that it focuses on extra controls while remaining compact and not including unnecessary devices.

Versatility. Even though there are additional functions to the 49 key MIDI, you will find that it is versatile and easy to use.  As it is only five octaves, it is easier to transport and to maneuver in your recording studio or to play added sounds with your next performance.  Many musicians prefer the 49 keys specifically because of the combined lightweight features and the added recording features.

How the 49 Key Model Functions

Depending on the make and model you decide to get, you will find diverse functions for your MIDI controller.  There are specific designs that offer compatibility with your goals as a musician, all which add into the tracks you are working on.  Following are some of the functions to look for.

Keyboard:  Most of the keyboards come with semi-weighted, velocity sensitive keys.  This allows the keys to remain touch sensitive and to change the sound of each recording.  If you want absolute control over the keyboard, then looking at the weighted options assists with dynamic alterations in combination with the sounds you are using. 

Controller Sounds:  The 49 keys add in several knobs to control the sounds you need.  This means you will be able to alter the entrance and exit of your recording while adding in effects, such as reverb. 

Many of the controllers add in octave changes, transposition and extra patches to make recording easy and expandable.   You will also find that you have options to control other instruments and hardware.  Finding a 49 key controller that has a 5 pin MIDI output will assist with expanding your controls and sounds.

Pads:  The most common pads available with 49 keys is to add in drum patches.  However, you will also find extensive ranges of other formats of pads, all which provide extra sounds.  Whether you are looking for synth pads, orchestration or ethnic drums, you can find it with specific styles of MIDI controllers. 

Software Interfaces:  When looking for your MIDI controller, you will want to define what type of software interface it works with.  Most will connect to specific formats that they are compatible with through a MIDI input – output cord. 

However, there are universal adaptors available through other types of keyboards that expand the type of software compatibility available.  Tune into any extra files that are necessary for your recording and which are provided by a manufacturer for better compatibility.

The 49 Key Interface’s Benefits

Recording musicians who choose the 49 key MIDI controller look at the gear for the versatility of a keyboard when using recording equipment.  The balance between being light weight and having more controls makes the 49 key option a popular choice for specific recordings, as well as playing patches and sounds at concerts. 

Depending on the type of playing you focus on, you will want to look at the benefits and uses with these models. 

Back to the keys. A central benefit of 49 keys is the ability to play five octaves.  For most musicians, this offers versatility to play melody and harmony while expanding the ability to play in some traditional styles.  While it doesn’t offer a full keyboard, most recordings can easily be fine tuned with the number of keys on the controller. 

Expansive sounds. The 49 key models provide more knobs and patches than other types of keyboards.  The size of the model as well as the functions offer more patches, pads and effects than other types of MIDI designs.  The ability to expand the sounds and recording options provides recording musicians with more options for playing. 

To record, or to play? The balance between recording and playing is easily noted with the 49 key models.  Enjoy easy recordings with versatility and additional patches and knobs with these MIDI versions. 

At the same time, the models are lightweight, easy to transport and are used for sound effects or to play in different scenarios.  The model is an easier alternative for the type of music you are getting ready to perform. 

Wrapping It Up

Hopefully this breakdown of the best 49 key MIDI controllers has been very helpful.  There are a ton of great keyboards on the market, and I have no doubt that you’ll find a keyboard controller that you absolutely love.

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