When it comes to getting a good size with the best value and mix of features, 49 key MIDI keyboard wins. It is a primary studio instrument that gives a lot more range to play with. It is also compact enough to be mobile and doesn’t take too much space.
Finding the best 49 key MIDI keyboard is tough.
It does hit the sweet spot for many musicians, but it serves a niche purpose – music production. Besides, some people think it is lesser than its 88-key cousins.
This isn’t true at all since 49 key MIDI keyboards almost have all the features like 88 key midi controllers. The only difference is they are a hybrid between performance and portability.
They look like a simple, straightforward controller.
However, the features in the 49 key versions are flexible. From handling your details in the software to have full command of the MIDI setup, you can do anything.
Everything is right at your fingertips.
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Novation LaunchkeyLove using Ableton
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Akai MPK249Awesome Keyboard
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Best 49 Key MIDI Keyboard – Buying Guide
49 Key MIDI Keyboard is an ideal product for studios. It allows you to delve deeper into the world of producing brilliant music. Therefore, it is one of the best investments you can make.
But the question is, what should you look for when buying a 49-key MIDI keyboard?
Let’s find out.
Pad VS Keyboard Controller
Understanding the difference between ‘Pad Controller’ and ‘Keyboard Controller’ is important. It affects your buying decision on a grand scale. The pad controllers can be bought separately or as an extra feature on the MIDI keyboard. A separated pad controller usually has around 64 pads, though, on the 49 key MIDI keyboard, you will find mostly 8.
The basic purpose of the pads is to trigger audio effects and bang out drum patterns. For that reason, the music producers find them extremely intuitive.
The keyboard controller, on the other hand, is used for composing tracks by playing MIDI notes. It has piano-like keys, and apart from the pads, there are some additional controls too like knobs, buttons, and feathers.
Before opting for a 49-key model, it is better to consider your playing style. It is possible to find both features on a single board. But if you are solely into banging out beats and experiment sounds, you should get a pad controller instead of a keyboard controller.
A MIDI keyboard should always come with software with a simple interface.
If your desired 49 key model doesn’t offer integration with its software, it means you have to download and connect it with some popular DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Integration with DAW facilitates in many ways.
For example, you can download some extra files for music creation.
Some 49 key MIDI keyboard developers don’t mention anything about the software integration. Feel free to ask them regarding the software and its integration process. They advise you straightaway or inform you about the major application their keyboard integrates well with.
With default integration, like Ableton, you don’t have to do these extra steps. You just start swiftly making the best, most professional music possible.
Size, Weight, & Budget
If you are looking for a competent and exceptional 49 key MIDI keyboard, keep aside a budget o a minimum of $200. It will help you to get something professional grade.
You can buy a 49 key version for as low as $60 too from some retailer, but these economical MIDI boards don’t come with a lot of features. You will miss features like knobs, buttons, or pads. Besides, the software integration process won’t be uncomplicated either.
Second, the weight of the keyboard also matters.
It defines the level of portability. We believe, 49 key models should be portable. It should be small and light enough for easier transportation.
Since you can use it in live performances. If it isn’t portable and if it occupies a lot of space, you can’t move it time and time again.
Therefore, opt for a keyboard that is smaller in size, lightweight and can help you perform gigs every weekend.
Can you work with your unique sound?
Luckily, most MIDI keyboards allow you to customize the sound effects. Especially, through their features and software integration, the possibilities of making your sound effects are virtually endless. You can make as many unique sounds for your music as you want.
Before buying your favorite 49 key MIDI keyboard, you need to look for some additional functions like ‘Pitch Bend’, ‘Modulation Wheels,’ and ‘Drum Pads’.
All of them are essential for composing and creating sounds.
There is another important feature that plays a huge role in sound effects – ‘Aftertouch’.
In a nutshell, the Aftertouch feature lets the musicians emphasize the melodies and chords. It adds another layer of expressiveness to your specific sound or overall music. With this feature, you can give one Aftertouch value to all keys or change the parameter of each held note.
Fortunately, this feature is available in most 49-key models.
Top 3 49 Key MIDI Keyboards
We hope we have given you a few things to think about. Here is the list of the best 49 Key MIDI keyboards. All these below keyboard can be a great starting point for the beginners and they have a lot of enjoyable features for professional musicians as well.
Nektar Panorama P4 MIDI Keyboard
This is an expensive 49 key MIDI keyboard.
However, the benefits of this model are endless. Its performance capabilities are well worth the money. The thing we love the most on this keyboard is the number of pads. It has 12 pads with velocity and pressure sensitivity.
This number is enough to create a limitless beat and play with different sound effects.
It also has 16 encoders, 9 faders, and 10 assignable buttons. Plus, the spectacular and deep integration with Bigwig studio makes it the best MIDI controller ever. The ability to shape and control sound through these features is beyond belief.
Another great feature in Nektar Panorama is the 3.5″ high-resolution TFT screen, which is extremely bright and clear. It presents the real-time view of all the controls and functions.
The only downside we have discovered in this keyboard is the semi-weighted keys.
If you love weighted keys in a MIDI keyboard, this isn’t for you.
Things We Liked
- It is entirely plastic, but it feels sturdy and durable.
- The buttons are made of heavy rubber
- The pads are dense and have a nice texture.
- It offers a deep level of integration with the major DAWs.
- Its ability to control and shape sounds is brilliant.
Things We Didn’t Like
- It has semi-weighted keys.
Novation Launchkey 49 MK2 Version
Love using Ableton? This is your keyboard!
This keyboard gives you complete control over Ableton’s audio. The Ableton Live doesn’t let you spend a lot of time with your mouse. It gives you more time for making music and lets you integrate it immediately and automatically with its software. In case you aren’t the Ableton user, this 49-key keyboard map to other major music software also using In Control.
It is an economical product compared to other products on our list. Therefore, we weren’t expecting pads in it. But, surprisingly, Novation Launchkey has 16 RGB velocity-sensitive pads, which facilitate in creating expressive drum beats.
In a way, you can get the most out of your controller straight out of the box.
Furthermore, with this 49 key MIDI keyboard, it is possible to customize the sound in any way you like. You have rock solid eight rotary knobs, which are used to tweak your instruments and sound effects. We have tested their efficacy, and without a doubt, they are pretty much the quickest and easiest way to produce and perform music.
It is a sturdy construction overall, but the minor issue we discovered is its pads have a lack of sensitivity. They can’t work exceptionally well in quick, intense, live performances.
Things We Liked
- The key provides enough pressure sensitivity for music creation.
- It works very well with Ableton.
- Its compact and minimal design makes it portable.
- The 8 rotary knobs let you tweak your instruments and sound effects.
- It works without drivers or power cable.
Things We Didn’t Like
- Its pads have a lack of sensitivity; it is hard to get low-velocity output.
Akai Professional MPK249 MIDI Keyboard
It is an awesome keyboard at a great price.
Akai MPk249 also comes with a free basic version of Ableton Live. So, you have extraordinary functionality in your hands for music production. This software facilitates in composing, recording, remixing, and improvising your musical ideas.
The thing that separates this model from other 49-key MIDI keyboards is the high-definition virtual synthesizer.
This synthesizer combines the warmth of the analog synths with digital manipulation capabilities to let you produce serious, award-winning sounds.
If you are already a professional musician and want to maximize your workflow, the combination of VIP and MPK249 grants unrestricted freedom to the creators. It makes the entire thing natural and enhances workflow and creativity.
Also, the MPC Essentials (the one track version of the full MPC software) supercharge your production with a 64-bit music production package.
Things We Liked
- It has a high-definition virtual synthesizer that helps in creating sounds.
- You can bring electronic instruments and digital audio recordings in a single interface.
- The Octave controls give you access to the entire melodic range.
- It has 16 RGB illuminated MPC style pads.
- It has a premium, piano-style keybed feel.
Things We Didn’t Like
- The keys are velocity-sensitive, but semi-weighted.
49 Key MIDI Keyboard – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about 49 key MIDI keyboard. If you don’t see yours, don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section.
Why should I choose the 49 key MIDI keyboard?
It is excellent for intermediate keyboard learning.
With 49-key, you can begin to start playing two-handed parts with ease, which is not possible with a 25-key MIDI keyboard. According to experts, this keyboard can take you up to the Grade 3 standard.
Plus, it is quite inexpensive too.
You can afford it and relish all the top-notch features of a professional board as well.
What are ‘Transport Controls’?
Transport Controls are the basic controls to keep your recording workflow going.
They are dedicated buttons to control recordings, such as Play, Stop, Rewind, etc.
The main benefit of having these controls is you don’t have to reach for your computer mouse over and over to control the recording.
You can control them directly through the keyboard.
What are ‘Weighted Keys’?
Weighted keys in the MIDI keyboard mimic the feel of an acoustic piano.
This is something which is very much desired by the professional musicians because they give the ‘real’ feeling.
However, the only downside of 49 key midi controller weighted keys is you have to build up a certain level of finger strength to work on them as they require a certain level of force to push them down.
What is ‘Touch Sensitive’ and ‘Velocity Sensitive’?
These two terms are so common.
If a MIDI keyboard you are planning to buy has Touch-Sensitive keys, it means it will play louder (mostly) or softer according to the velocity of your playing.
Velocity Sensitivity is about the individual notes, not the whole keyboard; the notes can be louder or quieter. But the thing that makes Velocity sensitivity more interesting is you can adjust the velocity of the notes in the software to make your music more captivating.
All in all, if you are serious about becoming a professional musician, we have to recommend Akai. It plays more like a piano, but the extra functionality lets you grow into a better musician.
Besides, it is a modern MIDI keyboard.
The technology in the MIDI keyboards has changed exponentially. Manufacturers are constantly optimizing their boards for your creativity & workflow. Fortunately, the Akai has all the modern features. It is reliable, versatile, and currently the best 49 key MIDI keyboard in the market.
So, get Akai MPK249 and start creating some tunes.