What’s the Best 49-Key MIDI Controllers Available?

In this article, we’re going to examine a wide variety of 49-key MIDI controllers to better help you determine which keyboards will most provide you with the best bang for your buck.  We’ll also discuss notable features you should be looking for in a MIDI controller, as well as how these machines function and what prices you can expect to pay for a quality MIDI keyboard.

And, to better help you, please take a look at the interactive table below, where you can compare some of the top MIDI keyboards on the market.

Akai MPK249Akai MPK249Semi-Weighted Keys
arturia-keylab-49Arturia KeyLab 49 MKIIMore than 200 Multi Patches
roland-a88Roland A-88Dual and Split Keyboard Functions
Novation Launchkey 61 MK316 velocity-sensitive RGB pads
Roland A49USB Bus Powered

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.

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

1) Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII
2) Roland A-88 MKII
3) Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88
4) Novation 61SL MkIII
5) Novation Launchkey 88 MK3

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. 

Top 5 49 Key MIDI Controllers

For the beginner or budget buyer:

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. 

Easy to use solutions:

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.

Popular and featured controls:

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. 

For the electronic musician:

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. 

For the complex recordings:

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. 

You can read our review of the Akai Professional MPK249 here.

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