Balance, Portability, & Functionality! 61 Key MIDI Keyboard is a combination of these three things. It presents a great balance between your requirements in terms of musical range and portability. Plus, the number of keys is enough for complex two-hand playing.
Experts call 66-key MIDI keyboard a sweet spot between 49-key and 88 key midi controller. Since, the wider range your music requires, the more keys you need. However, fitting those keys into a small studio space is difficult.
61 Key MIDI Keyboard is just right.
It has the right number of keys for the touring musicians and it doesn’t take too much space either. It is also not too small or unplayable like 49 key controllers. Some musicians find 49 keys a little too small for what they do, but this 61 key MIDI keyboard has large enough keys for complex two-hand playing.
You can utilize it for recording, music production, and live performances.
|Products||Best For||Our Ratings||Check Price|
Novation LaunchkeyTop of The List
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Akai MPK261Expressive Pads
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Alesis V61Works Great
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61Key MIDI Keyboard – Buying Guide
Having so many resources in one place can make it difficult to pick the best model. Once you have settled on the 61-keys as the overall size, it is pertinent to ponder the features of the keyboards against your musical needs and budget.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Key Size & Weight
The size of the keys impact the kinds of buyer it attracts.
The 61 key MIDI keyboard attracts the professionals due to its full-size keys and a premium piano-style keybed feel. It doesn’t have exactly pro-level piano keys, but the keys are still created for those who are looking for a portable controller with large keys that feel great when playing.
The keys to this model always have more quality than 49-keys and 25-keys, even if they are semi-weighted. Hence, they rank for experts.
Especially, intermediate players love their keys. They are perfectly aligned for them and produce real feel which they desire. Besides, at the same time, they provide a good balance of playability, which is almost impossible to achieve with a 25-key or 49-key version.
If you are a known musician and want to have portability in a MIDI keyboard and avoiding 61-key only because of semi-weighted keys, don’t forget to check our review list.
The 61-key keyboard controllers also come with weighted keys that cater to the pianist. Though, 61-key models with weighted keys can be more expensive.
Touch sensitivity keys, also known as velocity keys, respond to how firmly or softly you play.
This factor doesn’t matter in a 25-key or 49-key MIDI keyboard. But when we talk about the 61-key model, it matters the most. Because this model is designed for the comfort level of musicians. It is always imperative for the manufacturers to give high importance to the sensitivity of the keys.
The key sensitivity in the 61-key MIDI keyboard comes in two main classes:
The key sensitivity with dynamic class refers to changes in loudness or volume. On the contrary, The non-dynamic class is all about simple on/off switches that cause the sound of play.
The non-dynamic class is present in almost all keyboards, but you need to opt for the key sensitivity with dynamic class. Since, as we have mentioned earlier, it affects the changes in loudness and volume. This thing highly affects the tone and expressiveness of the music.
In other words, you have detailed control over the sound. The great thing we are assessing in the recent models is some of them are even offering multiple velocity curves to choose from.
For example, you can personalize the feel of the key in your way. This is a very recent addition but it is changing the perception of the MIDI keyboards.
Understand Your Requirements
How well do you understand your requirements? If you are opting for a 61-key MIDI keyboard, there is a high chance you are at least an intermediate-level musician and looking for the flexibility and performance in the MIDI keyboard.
In case you are in between learning and starting your career, focus on the ‘Control Options’.
The more control options you have on the keyboard, the more control you can have over your music. We know, they can be distracting if you are a beginner player, and they jack up the prices too, but if you have them on the keyboard, you can polish your music creation skills and turn into a professional-level musician in no time.
So, first, look for pads, mod wheels, and motorized controls.
They are the basic controls and features and present in almost all 61 key MIDI keyboards. Having them on the keyboard is an advantage. You can also see some additional controls like ‘Motorized Knobs’ and ‘Faders’. Both are used for recordings or live fast tweaking.
They are just like the mixers on an old-style desk. Second, check the DAW integration feature. Without the DAW integration, a MIDI keyboard is nothing, as it doesn’t make any sound of its own. Technically, it is possible to use any keyboard with any DAW but the DAW integration feature explains what it works best with out-of-the-box.
Top 3 61-Key MIDI Keyboard
If you’d like a little more guidance and find out what other consumers and professional musicians think about the different 61 key models, keep on reading. Here we look at the current market favorites, updated for 2019.
Check out our in-depth review and pick the one that suits your needs.
Novation Launchkey 61 MIDI Keyboard
This 61-key MIDI keyboard finds its place at the top of our list.
It is smaller than it appears in the image and it is very light, therefore, portability isn’t an issue. It weighs around 9.26 pounds only. Furthermore, it is utterly USB bus-powered and class compliant. There is no need to find and work on the drivers or struggle with the power cables in the small space.
Although the company promotes its key integration with all major software, we have discovered that it underperforms with other DAWs.
It is designed for ‘Ableton Live’ only. The Ableton Live lets you mix and tweak your music. Professional musicians call it the ‘Art of Designing A Live Show’. If the Launchkey is coming with it, you should fully appreciate it.
Things We Liked
- It comes with Ableton Live software.
- The software integrates well and gives immediate control over loops.
- It has two large wheels to control pitch and modulation.
- There are 16 RGB pads, 8 knobs, and 8+1 faders.
- The company gives a 2-year warranty on this product.
Things We Didn’t Like
- It doesn’t perform well with other DAWs.
Akai Professional MPK261 MIDI Keyboard
It is no surprise that the most notable feature of this 61-key model is its expressive pads.
If you are a great pad user or spend too much time on them for beat creation, you won’t get any model better than this one. Although other 61-key models also come with the pads, the quality and expressiveness we find in Akai MPK261 are matchless.
It has 16 RGB illuminated pads with four banks. They are slightly larger, for that reason, it is easy to operate them. Plus, with four sound banks, in a way, you have access to 64 pads.
Apart from this, it would be correct to call it a feature-rich controller. It has all the features like the most advanced 88-key MIDI keyboard. From a bunch of programmable buttons to a huge range of control options, it comes with everything.
Things We Liked
- It has 16 RGB illuminated, expressive pads.
- Due to its four sound banks, you have 64 pads.
- It has a user-friendly layout.
- It is compatible with Akai VIP.
- The overall build quality is great.
Things We Didn’t Like
- The pitch/modulation wheels are awkwardly located.
- It is slightly expensive.
Alesis V61 MIDI Keyboard Controller
Alesis V61 not only looks great; it works great.
This company continued its legacy of providing quality yet affordable equipment. It has a handful of control option but we can call it a beginner-friendly product because of its simple appearance and controls.
Moreover, it comes at a price point that is perfect for beginners. If you are a person who is just exploring music production, you can trust it. It has enough options to launch a few loops, but not enough to confuse you. Also, the size is small, and the control options are limited.
For that reason, you can perceive its features and have a command on them quickly. The only concern we have in this economic model is the keybed feel. It sometimes produces a squeaking friction sound, particularly if you are playing it fast.
Things We Liked
- It can use an optional power adapter.
- It has 16 illuminated encoder/pots.
- It is beginner-friendly and economical.
- It has 4+4 assignable knobs and buttons.
- It comes with Ableton Live.
Things We Didn’t Like
- The keybed feel isn’t great.
61 Key MIDI Keyboard – Frequently Asked Questions
Learning and playing a MIDI keyboard is a tough and long-term process. The only option you have is to play it a lot, for a long time.
Talented musicians use this strategy to level up skills. They perceive, the more you play the instrument, the better you understand the feature and discover new stuff in it.
Below are a few important questions we often receive from the MIDI keyboard players regarding the 61 key MIDI keyboard models. Most of them are related to the features as they perplex the beginners.
To comprehend the answers below, it is imperative to test them on the keyboard over and over. This is the only way to end your confusion and perceive how the features work.
Is the 61 key MIDI keyboard is designed for extra features only?
It is designed for the extra features, but NOT only for the features. The main purpose is to offer better personalization for professional musicians.
As a musician, you shouldn’t only look for the features. Instead, think about what do you want to control. This is the only way to choose the best 61 key MIDI controller.
Who should get this keyboard?
We believe, beginners should avoid 61 key MIDI keyboard.
It is specifically developed for at least intermediate players who have some piano playing experience and comprehend how its features work.
The intermediate level musicians mostly already own a smaller, beginner-friendly MIDI Keyboard Controllers. They know all about the DAW integration. They usually don’t have any issues in understanding and dealing with extra sets of features.
What is ‘Auto-Mapping’ in these keyboards?
If a 61 key MIDI keyboard doesn’t have an auto-mapping option, you have to manually configure it for better personalization; it is very time-consuming especially if you don’t have any knowledge about it. You have to follow the steps in the instruction manual.
The keyboards with auto-mapping feature automatically configure themselves. This thing reduces the setup time and gives a plug and play functionality. Though, keep in mind, having an auto-mapping feature doesn’t mean your keyboard will work with every DAW. It will only work with the preferred software or the popular DAWs.
What if the software isn’t included in the package?
It is better if the keyboard is coming with software. Always try to buy one that offers software because it saves you money and protects you from a setup confusion. You don’t have to find the perfect DAW for it or purchase extra VST.
So, be grateful if the software is included in the package and understand that the company is saving you hundreds of dollars.
When it comes to buying the best 61 key MIDI keyboard, always remember it should match your progress and current skill level.
It is a great option for those who are currently using the 49-key model and want to switch to a more professional tool. Experts also believe that 61-key MIDI keyboards are for only those who are actively learning, taking classes, and improving their skills. If your interest or skill level is likely to stay static, don’t opt for it.