We’re trying to cover every budget-range here when it comes to MIDI keyboard controllers, and today at $300 or less, have a viable target for finding a very effective MIDI keyboard without getting too high to save some extra cash for some other gear you may need for your recording studio. Typically we’ll recommend this exact price-point for those finding either a beginning MIDI keyboard, or perhaps want to upgrade their existing model. We have however even seen some of these in professional studios since higher-priced controllers may come with features or software you may not even use that jacks up the price.
The Best MIDI Keyboard Controllers Under $300
Novation Launchkey MK3
The Novation Launchkey MK3 is a compact and portable controller 25 miniature keys (there are different keys available but for higher prices), fully integrated MIDI keyboard with a great build quality on top of it all. It importantly has an impressive technology included called ‘Automap’. This technology can send control messages and MIDI data between Novation hardware and some of the most popular music software DAW, mapping important hardware controls to your controller for nice automation or perhaps ability to play live if you do so.
This makes it easier on musicians working with VST because they will spend less time setting up their gear and making music, increase some workflow steps for a better creative process, or really just make it easier to get your ideas on to paper. In addition, the Novation Launchkey MK3 has sixteen drum pads, two navigation buttons, eight knobs, mod/pitch bend touch strips, and good scale and arpeggiator modes as wells as for chords. Definitely one of the best MIDI keyboards under $300 in the game right now in our opinion.
Arturia KeyLab Essential
Another MIDI keyboard with a lot of great features under $300 is the Arturia KeyLab Essential. This MIDI keyboard controller has a DAW control area and screen section for instant access to 5000+ of their presets (Analog Lab — included in the package).
On top of this, this MIDI keyboard most notably has a 49 note velocity sensitive keyboard (again, some more key counts at different prices), pitch bend and modulation wheels, eight back-lit performance pads (RGB lit), six transport switches, six user memories (customizable), nine rotary encoders and faders, four command switches, 1 DAW assigned memory, one ‘Analog Lab’ assigned memory and “Chord play” mode.
Nektar Impact GXP88
With advanced semi-weighted velocity eighty-eight note keys, the Impact GX88 has a powerful master keyboard functionality as we’re getting the exact count of regular pianos in case you’re an actual player and want that authenticity. This MIDI keyboard controller under $300 has a new key bed and new note repeat engine with aftertouch as upgraded from their previous controller.
In terms of important specs to keep in mind, the Nektar Impact GXP88 has a whopping fourteen buttons (RGB LED), note repeat tempo control and Nektarine features, modulation and pitch bend wheels, seven transport buttons for DAW integration (or assignable MIDI), one push encoder, octave up and down buttons (LED indicators) and transport up and down buttons (LED indicators). The Impact GXP 88 lastly comes with Nektarine plug-in software and Bitwig DAW.
The Novation Impulse is another one of our favorites, and is a powerful semi-weighted MIDI controller just under $300. This MIDI keyboard gives you a lot of features at your fingertips to control your DAW well from the outside.
The Novation Impulse has nine assignable buttons, nine faders, mod, pitch bend and modulation wheels, sustain and expression pedal inputs, eight rotary and pads (backlit), six dedicated transport controls, and an LCD screen. You can also roll beats and launch clips in Ableton Live in case that’s your DAW of choice (works well with others, too), paired up with four control switch buttons, six function buttons, nine mute/solo buttons as well as a toggle button and arpeggiator with tap roll and tempo.
M-Audio Keystation 88
The M-Audio Keystation 88 is another highly-rated MIDI controller with eighty-eight semi-weighted, velocity sensitive keys. This MIDI keyboard under $300 has modulation pitch bend wheels as well as volume and sustain pedal inputs, an assignable slider that can also act as a volume control, data up\down buttons as well as controls for DAW transport.
Additionally and as the smart device production game continues to grow, the M-Audio Keystation 88 can also be hooked up to your iPad for mobile use. For software, this MIDI keyboard comes with a free download of Ableton Live Lite (which is what we use), SONiVOX Eighty-Eight Ensemble (a nice CD327 Steinway piano VST) and AIR Music Tech Xpand! 2.
Native Instrument Komplete Kontrol A49
Our sixth and last best MIDI keyboard controller for under $300 we’ll list for you here today is Native Instrument’s Komplete Kontrol A49. This controller has an intuitive display (OLED ) which gives the musician some nifty navigation, although is most effective if you use their DAW and VST’s (can still work pretty well with others). It has a pre-mapped controls over their Komplete instruments and effects VST series as well as hundreds of sounds from their Komplete Kontrol Software.
For some highlights, the MIDI keyboard features 49 semi-weighted custom NI key notes (if you go higher it’s passing our $300 or less mark, although they also have a 25 key for cheaper if you can get away with less keys), modulation and pitch bend wheel, eight control knobs (touch sensitive), 4-way push encoder, dedicated transport control, and something called a ‘Smart Play’ feature which lets you stay in key with over 100 modes and scales as well as play some chord progressions and arps with only one key or map any scale you want to the white keys only. A solid choice as the best MIDI keyboard under $300 if you made it this far, but beware that N.I. really pushes you using their DAW and VST to get the most out of this one.