8 Best 61 key MIDI Keyboards

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Looking to set up a midi controller for your home studio? Here are the top picks for 61 key midi keyboards that you can get in 2021.
61 key midi keyboards

Table of Contents

Introduction

The first thing you want to do after making up your mind about purchasing a MIDI keyboard is to study the vast number of choices that are available in the market. There are 61 key MIDI keyboards that come with a wide range of features. It is important to note that the budget and your personal requirements and preferences are among the factors that should be considered. You can easily narrow down the search by studying the features and specifications that these keyboards promise to offer you.

Let’s dive straight in to the 8 best 61 key midi keyboards that would be perfect for your home studio. 

Our Top Picks for the best 61 key MIDI keyboards

The best overallArturia Keylab 61 MKII

The budget pickSamson Carbon 61

The best for AbletonM-Audio Keystation 61 MKIII

The beginner-friendly pick – Alesis V61

1. Arturia Keylab 61 MKII

With other keyboards at this price point offering so many features already, Arturia steps up to the challenge not by adding more features, but by making integration so simple that you can get to writing and performing right away. Arturia provides Analog Lab PianoV and Ableton Live Lite as a bundled suite to get your creative juices flowing faster. Arturia presents the Keylab as a near universal controller for almost any major DAW on the market.  All of this wrapped up in an aluminium chassis to stand up to anything you might throw at it.

The Good:

  • High quality metal body
  • Velocity-sensitive drum pads
  • Top-of-the-line synth action with Arturia’s analog synthesizer

The Bad:

  • Does not have a built-in arpeggiator

2. Alesis V61

If you are in the market for one the best easy-to use 61 key MIDI keyboards that also has plenty of functionality and performance, then this is a great option. This model from Alesis is so easy to get started with and is perfect for anyone who is just beginning producing their own music. On the other hand, if you are an experienced musician, then this controller still has plenty to offer, from 8 LED velocity-sensitive backlit pads to plenty of knobs, wheels and buttons. While it is not too heavy or bulky, it is quite long. This might make it challenging to travel along with or to fit in a smaller audio space.

The Good:

  • Visual information through illuminated knobs and buttons
  • USB MIDI connectivity for Mac and PC
  • 8 velocity-sensitive backlit pads

The Bad:

  • A little basic compared to more fully-appointed LED display screens

3. Novation Launchkey 61MKIII

Whether you’re launching clips in Ableton Live or compromising in any other major DAW, you want streamlined tightly integrated control over your music creation process and that’s exactly what you’re going to get with the Novation Launchkey 61MKIII. Packing hot new features like scale and chord modes, a powerful appreciator and larger velocity sensitive pads with optimized response, the Launchkey MKIII is more intuitive to use than ever and the quickest way to get your music from your head to your speakers.

The Good:

  • High-end build quality
  • Slick keys, knobs, pads and sliders
  • Flawless Ableton Live integration

The Bad:

  • Not compatible with USB-A
  • Relatively smaller screen

4. Nektar Panorama P6

If you are in the market for a MIDI controller that has the look and feel of an electric keyboard or you’re just accustomed to using an acoustic piano, then the Nektar Panorama P6 might be an excellent option for you. It features fully weighted keys that also come with velocity settings, and these keys will allow you to have the best of both worlds since they will give you the feel of a real piano but the overall control of a MIDI keyboard. As far as the controller aspect of this device goes, you will basically have the musical world at your fingertips. Though this is a very well-designed and rugged device, its faders are not all that responsive and they may take a little bit more time to get to where you want them. The auto mapping feature certainly makes this a little easier.

The Good:

  • Velocity-sensitive keybed with semi-weighted keys and after-touch
  • Variety of controller options including 20 buttons, 12 pads, 9 faders and 16 encoders
  • Motorized fader for automations

The Bad:

  • Mediocre build quality with rubberized pitch/mod wheels
  • 3″x4″ LED display with low resolution

5. NI Komplete Kontrol A61

When it comes to 61 key MIDI keyboards with full-sized velocity sensitive keys that are compatible with Native Instruments for audio production, this controller is a  perfect fit. Drawing from their experience as a developer of virtual instruments, Native Instruments designed the Komplete Kontrol A61 to make it intuitive and versatile. They put two full colour displays into the unit along with complementary knobs and buttons that can be automatic or custom-assigned. As expected, it integrates nicely with their own complete select software which is bundled with the keyboard. Note that the A61 does not come with pads, but it does offer a simulated 61 key fatal key-bed with after-touch. Overall, if you are more of a piano player or someone that’s not too focused on beat making, then this MIDI keyboard will be perfect for you

The Good:

  • Improved workflow
  • Text-to-speech support
  • Maschine integration

The Bad:

  • No velocity curve in the keybed

6. Samson Carbon 61

The Samson Carbon 61 is one of the best 61 key MIDI keyboards to purchase if you’re on a budget. If you’re just getting started in music production, then this might be a good option for you. It offers plenty of music flexibility without confusing you too much. This is a portable controller, which makes it great for anyone that wants to  work in lots of different locations. While this model doesn’t have any pads, it does come with a pitch wheel, modulation wheel and data knob. Though the lack of pads will limit your abilities a bit, these other customizable parts will still give you plenty of leeway as to how you go about creating the sound for your compositions. If you’re starting out as a beginner on a budget price, this 61 key MIDI keyboard will be perfect for you.

The Good:

  • Affordable price range
  • iPAD stand
  • Standard MIDI keyboard that does not require a DAW to work

The Bad:

  • Noisey, clackey sounding keys

7. M-Audio Keystation 61 MKIII

While lots of MIDI controllers utilize full-sized keys, they don’t always quite feel right. Either they are not the correct size as advertised or they don’t have the right weight behind them, and this can make it difficult to adapt to for anyone who is used to playing acoustic pianos or electric keyboards. If that is the case for you, then it might be a good idea to check this model out. It has full-sized keys that look and feel almost exactly like a real piano. The only difference is that the keys are semi-weighted rather than fully weighted. Another feature that helps to make this an easy to use model is the different software products that it comes with. These different types of systems can be used for different types of music which only helps to increase the versatility of the controller.

The Good:

  • Sturdy, durable body while still being light enough to carry around
  • Offers VSTi piano instruments and Ableton Lite Live
  • USB charging

The Bad:

  • Springs installed beneath the keys are noisy
  • Short USB cable

8. Nektar Impact GX61

The Nektar Impact GX61 is a compact 61 key MIDI controller that provides essential functionality at a very good price point. It doesn’t have much in the way of bells and whistles, but it provides what you’d expect in its price range: full keyboard functionality with a few extras thrown in. At its core, it is a synth action keypad with 61 full sized velocity sensitive keys, so the keys are expected to be light and easy to use. Note that this soft playing field may throw off users who prefer a piano-like action, but it is unreasonable to expect a premium feel in this price range. Other features of this Impact GX61 include 7 MIDI assignable buttons, dedicated controls for octave switching and easy-to-use transpose features. It is designed to pair with popular DAWs including Cubase. Reason, Nuendo, Garage Band, Sonar, Logic, Bitwig, Reaper, Studio 1 and FL studio. Nektar was able to pack in all these features without compromising on portability with its small profile and light weight.

The Good:

  • Good variety of controls
  • Great DAWS integration
  • Affordable

The Bad:

  • Unweighted keys
Ananya Roy
Ananya Roy
Music junkie with an engineering degree from Manipal Institute of Technology currently living in Pune, India. Enjoys playing the piano, petting dogs and eating sushi.

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