There was a time that I was in the same phase as you, looking for a new keyboard with midi functions. With actually no good idea about what I should be getting. The most common thing that people do is go and look for the least expensive one out there. There is a positive thing in going that route. You will get to know the possibilities and the hands on experience in what is working for you and what isn’t.
After a while in discovering new controllers and playing around on most of them, it all comes down to 5 points. If you’re considering to buy one please pay attention.
How does it actually feel?
Starting out with a cost efficient keyboard with only 1 octave you might think it’s portable with a buss powered option. But the thing is that if your a piano player you will be missing out on more octaves and the keys might not be suited for you. However if portability is your thing and you want to take it on the road, then a small midi keyboard will suit you nicely.
Look for a keyboard controller that fits your needs and feels comfortable within your budget.
Tightly integrated software.
While most offers out there come with maps for the major Digital Audio Workstations like protools, it might not be enough. It can be a hassle for the beginner to map and assign all functions within the DAW or even within your plugins. If there are no suitable mappings then the learning curve could be a problem (nothing that the tutorials on the internet can’t help you out with). On the other hand there are a lot of midi controllers out there that plug and play with your favorite DAW. Do your research and find the one that fits your preference.
Faders, Rotary knobs, Mod wheels and sliders.
It’s common for the beginner to choose the one that looks flashy and has the most gadgets on it. You should really investigate on what all those buttons can do for you. Who would want to buy a piece gear while ending up not using half of it’s capabilities, it’s a waist of money if you ask me. If you’re doing a lot of tweaking within your plugins go for rotary knobs. If you’re a well versed keyboard player you might want some good mod wheels to alter your sound. Sliders and Faders are usually used for a mixing type situation, controlling your track channels.
Go to your local music store and check out if they have the midi controlling keyboard on display. Get a feel of buttons, knobs and keys. You might want to ask the person in charge of the section if you could demo a few products. What I want to say is that you want to be certain that your buying the right one. A cheap keyboard might break down if you bang on it to hard or you might damage the circuit board. A good build product will last you a long time.
Check for Support and updates
Many cheap keyboards will not have an ongoing support for customers, while the more expensive ones will keep updating there drivers and functionality. A good support will answer all of your questions and help you out where they can. This is one thing to look for when going out to buy one, it will help tremendously. However if they don’t have a support like that you shouldn’t really bother the product either.
When narrowing your choices down with these 5 guidelines I’m sure you will find the right keyboard for you.
Guest Post – Jay von Kriegenbergh is a professional music gear blogger and Audio Engineer. Started out making beats for local rap artists to producing and arranging for upcoming artists, also teaches basic producing skills to teenagers at his home town.
Infographic Resource: Getinstrumental.com