These days, it’s easier than ever to create great sounding music right at your computer desk. Expensive studio equipment with all the bells and whistles will always have a place of course, but it’s becoming the norm to rely on all of that less and less.
For many up and coming producers, programmers, and musicians, all you need to get your foot in the door is Garageband. It’s a fantastic piece of software that allows you to record, layer in synth instruments and virtual drums, and even tweak the mix so that it sounds more professional.
You can control everything in Garageband with your mouse alone if you want, of course. However, you’ll have far more command of all of the virtual instruments if you happen to have a MIDI controller.
The most useful style will always be a keyboard. There are quite a lot of different styles on the market however, making it a bit difficult to know which one is worth your time.
Never fear, in the following, you’ll be provided with a basic breakdown that will help you pick the best midi keyboard for garageband for your personal needs.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Portable Midi Keyboards for GarageBand Comparison Table:
- 2 Midi Keyboard Buyer’s Guide
- 3 Wrapping Up
Best Portable Midi Keyboards for GarageBand Comparison Table:
MIDI keyboards in the market come in a variety of flavors, and you can easily get confused if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Here are our 5 best MIDI keyboards for GarageBand:
Designed for musicians who like making beats in their laptops, the Akai Pro MPK Mini is a budget MIDI keyboard that combines portability and functionality.
It has 25 velocity-sensitive mini keys, 8 MPC-style pads and 8 Q-Link knobs that offer comprehensive control over your music creation process. It also has plug-and-play functionality so you can hook it up your laptop and get started right away. You don’t even need an extra power cable for it to work—just the USB cable is fine.
But affordability comes with a price. The MPK Mini may feel like a toy keyboard due to its lack of synth-weighted keys, and it has no pitch and mod bend wheels built-in, but if you just need to capture ideas on the go, then the MPK Mini is for you.
The Akai Pro MPK Mini MKII builds on the solid foundation of its predecessor while adding some very nifty features that make this one of the best among the competition.
The 25 mini keys are now synth-weighted, meaning they feel almost like real piano keys when you press them; the 8 impact-sensitive pads and 8 Q-Link knobs are complemented with an additional 4-way joystick for dynamic pitch and modulation control, allowing for more control than ever before.
Folks may have difficulty getting used to a joystick versus wheels to control pitch and modulation, but it’s easy once you get used to it.
The Williams Legato 88-key digital piano is perfect for those who want the simplicity of a keyboard without the extra features of a full-fledged MIDI keyboard.
The keys are solid and semi-weighted, and it comes with only five sounds–piano, electric piano, organ, synth and bass—that almost sound like the real thing.
The Legato runs on batteries or a power adapter, neither of which are included in the package, but it definitely makes up for the value you get for the price. It has no pads and knobs, but a split/layer function and built-in metronome takes its places for the dedicated pianist and composer.
If you need a keyboard to use in live performances AND a full-featured MIDI controller, the Novation Launchkey might just be what you’re looking for.
It features over 50 hardware controls that let you control almost every aspect of your music production. These hardware controls instantly map to all major DAWs, including GarageBand, so there’s no more hassle in setting up your equipment.
It has synth-styled keys and 16 impact-sensitive multicolor launch pads that can trigger and stop clips, and it comes bundled with apps for iPad that let you harness the full functionality of the hardware. The Legato is feature-packed with all you need to create and perform any type of music you want.
Alesis Q25 is a medium-size MIDI keyboard that gives you the basics of musical production without the complexity of knobs and faders.
The 25 keys are velocity-sensitive that allow for expressive performance and the pitch and modulation wheels allow for increased control over musical expression.
Making music through GarageBand is as easy as plugging the Alesis Q25 in the USB port and you’re good to go. While the Q25 doesn’t make sound on its own, it also strips away the knobs and faders to let you focus on creating music and less on tinkering with all those buttons.
Midi Keyboard Buyer’s Guide
There is no MIDI keyboard that works for everyone. Some folks may be looking for a keyboard that lets them try out the basics of music production, while professionals, on the other hand, may be looking to invest in a full-featured keyboard to use in their live performances.
There are also different aspects to consider when choosing a MIDI keyboard, such as the number of keys, extra buttons and knobs, portability, and budget, among others.
Having semi-weighted keys versus non-weighted keys is a big debate in the music production world. Basically, the difference between semi-weighted or synth-action keys from regular keys is that there is additional weight on the keys, making you feel that you are playing an digital piano.
Some people can’t live without this perk, saying it makes the difference between playing a song and playing it with feeling. Others argue that there is not much improvement over non-weighted keys that justify the additional cost. This one is up to personal preference, so try it first.
As for the number of keys, most people feel that 49 keys are the standard for composing and making music in GarageBand. Having the full range of 88 keys are unnecessary, unless you’re a professional pianist who likes to play live in front of a crowd.
You also have to consider if you need the capability of playing sound even without connecting your MIDI keyboard to GarageBand. It can be tedious to set up every cable and equipment if all you want to do is practice playing your favorite song. If that’s the case, then choose a keyboard that has built-in speakers.
But if your primary goal is capturing ideas and turning them into masterpieces, then you can forego the built-in speakers and just use headphones instead.
Things To Consider Before Choosing Small Music Keyboard?
The following elements are incredibly important when it comes to a MIDI controller:
First of all, if you’re assembling a small home studio in the likes of your bedroom, it’s more than likely that space is a limited commodity. There are plenty of MIDI controllers out there that are just far too big. It’s in your best interest to pick something that gives you good functionality without taking up all of you room.
If you go too small however, sometimes you end up sacrificing features. While a lot of what you need will be provided by the program itself, the best value midi keyboard should at least include the likes of pitch and modulation control and some separate touch pads for beat programming. Simple is often better, but you never want to limit yourself too much.
Finally, as much as it pains us to admit, the price really does play a part in what music equipment is the best choice. The best model will always have some sort of mix of what you need as far as size and performance while still having a reasonable price tag. With that in mind, it’s highly suggested that you opt for the Akai Professional Mini MKII Portable USB keyboard controller.
There you go, the 5 best MIDI keyboard for GarageBand. These five MIDI keyboards are the best choices whether you are looking for something to bring on the road or something to complement your already comprehensive studio. Make sure to consider what features you need, and cross out the ones you don’t, and you’ll be getting the value you paid for.