Everything You Wanted to Know About 61 Key MIDI Controller Keyboards

When it comes to complex two hand playing, a 61-key MIDI keyboard is an ideal choice. The best thing about this model is that it is portable and at the same time compact. If you are a keyboardist looking for a controller, then this is it. You will be able to use it for live performances and studio performances.

The only thing that you need to remember, is that you need an extra tabletop for this. Or, you can use a keyboard stand. When it comes to a small studio or home studio, the size of the keyboard can still be a problem. If space is an issue, I would suggest you go for a 25-key or 49-key controller.

On the other hand, if you are looking for something bigger, then I would suggest you to go for the 88 Key MIDI controller keyboards.

Methodology

  • First and foremost, we took a hard look at the available 61-key MIDI keyboard controllers.
  • We were looking for keyboard controllers under the $1000 price range.
  • We have done detailed analysis on all of them.
  • We looked into the forum posts, expert reviews, customer feedback, and user ratings etc.
  • We have used the Gearank’s rating algorithm for this purpose.
  • You can take a look at the results of the testing below.
  • Also, we have come up with the list of price categories. This has been done to assist with convenient navigation.

Key size and weight

The weight and key size are two very important factors which you need to keep in mind. When it comes to most of the controllers, you will see keys which are semi-weighted, velocity-sensitive synth action. There are a couple of reasons why this is true. First and foremost, it provides good portability. It also provides dynamics and playability.

However, you will also come across 61-key controllers, that have full-size and weighted keys, which are meant to satisfy the pianists. The thing that you need to keep in mind, is that in most cases they are longer and bulkier.

Having more controls is always a good idea

When it comes with a 61-key controller, having more control is always a good idea. You can go for motorized controls, after touch, mod wheels, pads etc. Having more controls is always preferred. When looking to purchase, I would suggest you to take a second look at the images and specs to see if they offer these things.

However, the more features there are, the more money you will have to shell out. You have to keep your budget in mind, while properly balancing that you have everything that you need as well. Let’s take the example of motorized knobs and faders.

Having these two is highly recommended as they are cool features, but the problem lies with the fact that you will have to spend more money to have them. I would suggest you to take a look at the Nektar Panorama P6.

Transport controls

Transport controls are really significant. When you have dedicated buttons, using the keyboard becomes a lot easier and more convenient. This holds true especially in the case of bulky ones with 61-key.

You will be able to stop, fast forward, rewind and play, with lots of ease when it comes to transport controls. Most importantly, you don’t have to constantly move back to your computer. This is really helpful in maintaining a good flow for your work.

What you wish to control?

MIDI keyboard controllers are mostly used for controlling DAW software and virtual instruments on computers. Because of this reason, the USB port has become a standard feature.

I would suggest that you  go for a 5-pin MIDI connection, if you are looking for a controller that can work with external hardware and standalone synths. This is an important thing to keep in mind.

Auto mapping

Manually configuring your keyboard controller can be a waste of time. You should go for something that automatically configures itself. The good thing is that this allows for plug and play functionality.

As a result, you don’t have to waste your time working on the configuration, which is tedious. You may not have auto-mapping for all the software pieces that you come across, but most of the manufacturers provide instructions. In some cases, they even provide a download link.