In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: June 17, 2021
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Logic Pro X was created by Apple, giving music producers a great piece of software for their musical creations. It has a wide variety of features that are designed for beginners and experts alike. Adding the best MIDI keyboard for Logic Pro X can expand this range, creating an entire recording studio right in your own home.
When searching for a new MIDI controller, there are some features you should pay close attention to. How many keys it has and whether they are weighted or not will affect how you play, especially if you are already an accomplished pianist. The types of controls it has is also essential, as the knobs, faders, and pads can create different sounds and effects. The dimensions should fit the space you have available. If you plan on traveling with your equipment, you should also check out the controller`s weight.
To help you decide which product is the best MIDI keyboard for Logic Pro X, we spent countless hours searching manufacturer’s sites, checking out the features each model has to offer, and reading hundreds of customer reviews. Then we chose the top options, creating a comparison table and adding in some in-depth reviews. We also wrote up a buying guide to help you figure out which features you need for the music you want to create.
The second version of this compact keyboard is already a true flawless for Akai Professional, we can ask ourselves what the brand could bring more to this classic? Akai took up the challenge, integrating into this third MPK Mini an OLED screen, endless rotary encoders, and a brand-new Gen 2 keyboard offering an ever more powerful response.
This new version of the MPK Mini incorporates the ingredients that made the success of the first versions: a robust, compact, and very decorative chassis. There’s a 25-key Midi keyboard reworked on this third version to offer an even more natural touch, a dynamic response, and velocity-sensitive MPC-type backlit pads.
The MPK Mini MkIII is aimed at both experienced musicians and producers already equipped with music production software. Beginner producers can also use it, thanks to the vast software pack included, opening the door to the world of computer music. Comes with the all-new MPC Beats production software developed by Akai.
It also integrates the simulations of Hybrid 3.0, Velvet, Tubesynth, Mini Grand, or Electric virtual instruments developed by AIR Music Tech, as well as the MPK Editor which will allow you to edit the assignments of the MPK Mini MkIII. The simple, unified installer takes care of installing the entire software suite in one click, so you can focus on your music.
Against the metal and wood of the originals, to lower the price, Arturia reissues its initial Keylabs in plastic. Despite some downgrades, they maintain a high number of editable controls, LCD screen, and a selection of software with Analog Lab 2, Ableton Live Lite, and UVI Grand Piano Model D.
In versions of 49 and 61 keys, with a large price cut, this version is brought closer to a greater audience, although in a segment in which there is abundant competition.
It maintains the two wheels, octave and transposes control buttons and a high number of controls. These include 9 faders and 9 rotary encoders, although, in pads, this is reduced to eight but backlit and with multi-color possibility.
In order not to deviate completely from the ‘retro’ look that has characterized their keyboards, it includes some sides with a wood flavor.
Within the included software, Analog Lab 2 delivers 5000 sounds through the software products included in Arturia’s own V Collection that recreate classic synthesizer and keyboard models by digital simulation. Ableton Live Lite and UVI Grand Piano Model D complete the trio of software products included with the purchase of these drivers.
What makes it special?
Chord play' function triggers chords with a finger
The Akai Professional MPK249 is built to be an all-in-one controller that works well with Logic Pro X for composing music in your home studio as well as live performances. It has an abundance of features that let experts create the music they want, plus is easy to learn for beginners who are composing for the first time.
This MIDI controller has 49 full-size semi-weighted keys built into a high-quality piano-style keybed. This gives you the natural feel of a piano in a much more compact size.
These keys are velocity-sensitive, so they respond accordingly to the pressure you put on them as you play. They also include aftertouch, which gives you a much more dynamic performance. Octave Up and Down controls also expand your melodic range, so you can play harmonies, baselines, and so much more.
Other features include the eight assignable faders, knobs, and switches, the 16 MPC-style pads that come with RGB feedback, and some onboard transport buttons that expand the faders, knobs, and switches to a full 24 each, plus the four pad banks that increase the pad number to 64, all with a variety of lighting options to keep everything a bit more organized.
Though it doesn’t include a traditional power cord, this MIDI controller from Akai Professional comes with a USB cable to attach to your computer, which then powers the keyboard as you play.
There are a few features that make the Novation Impulse 49 USB MIDI Controller Keyboard a great option for those who love to play their own music. It uses Automap 4 Control Software, which integrates almost seamlessly with Logic Pro X, as well as Pro Tool, Ableton, and many more.
This software allows you to instantly map all of those controls, including the knobs, buttons, and faders, so you can use them all to their full potential to create the exact sounds you want every time you sit at your music studio.
The keys are full-size piano-style so that you can move seamlessly from your piano to your controller. They are also semi-weighted, with assignable aftertouch to increase performance and enhance your musical expression.
There are eight high-quality drum pads, which are all velocity-sensitive and include the aftertouch feature. These pads are backlit in three colors of LEDs and have some unique functions, such as rolling beats or warping arpeggios.
Other features include the eight knobs, nine faders, and a few buttons, plus a custom LCD screen. This control panel gives you the ability to adjust and control every aspect with very little effort.
There is no power cord needed, as the Impulse uses the USB to give it power. There are also MIDI in and out ports, plus expression and sustain pedal inputs, just in case you need them.
Though it has an extremely simple design, the Alesis V49 is still one of the best affordable MIDI keyboards for Logic Pro X there is. It has 49 full-size keys with square fronts and adjustable sensitivity, so you can set the curves to match your style. There are buttons that raise or lower the octave as well, expanding the keyboard’s range so you can play whatever you like.
On the side are eight pads, which are pressure- and velocity-sensitive. These backlit pads allow you to add some beats to your music or launch some clips. The four buttons and four knobs are all assignable, allowing you to adjust the volume, activate the effects, change the parameters, or anything else you need. There are also pitch and modulation wheels, so you can create the exact sound you’re looking for.
For hooking up this keyboard controller, there is a USB and USB-MIDI connection to link up to your Mac or a PC, as well as a ¼-inch TS footswitch input.
Though it works great with Logic Pro X, the Alesis V49 MIDI controller comes with some other awesome software for creating your music as well. This includes the Ableton Live Lite 9, which is a fluid audio/MIDI area that lets you record, mix, and edit as needed. The Xpand!2 software is an advanced virtual instrument that provides you with some premium sounds to add in for a more unique sound.
There are a few reasons the Akai Professional MPK MINI MK2 MKII is one of the best mini MIDI keyboard for Logic Pro X models around. It is lightweight and easy to use, even for those who are new to making their own music. This model also has an attractive price tag, so you don’t need to empty your bank account to try it out.
The compact design of this keyboard controller also makes it an excellent option for those who take their music on the road. It has a number of useful controls that allow you to compose your music, record it, and then perform it for an audience using all of its great features and software.
One of these features is the four-way thumbstick, which gives you more control over modulation and dynamic pitch. The onboard arpeggiator allows you to adjust the resolution, range, and modes quickly and easily for more intricate musical sounds.
This MIDI controller has 25 velocity-sensitive synth-action keys that use dedicated octave up or down buttons to give it a more extensive range of melodies. There are eight Q-Link knobs, which can be assigned as needed to be used for mixing or fine-tuning the plug-ins.
Also included are eight backlit velocity-sensitive MPC-style pads, with two banks to expand them to a full 16 for even greater capabilities. The four memory banks even let you store your presets for quick setup.
The Nektar Panorama P6 MIDI controller keyboard is sleek and stylish, so it will make a great addition to any home recording studio. Not only can you use it with Logic Pro X, but it is also compatible with Cubase, Control Bigwig Studio, Reason, and many more.
This keyboard controller has 61 weighted velocity-sensitive keys. This makes the down weight similar to what you’d experience with an acoustic piano, but without the finger exhaustion, so you can play for much longer. There are five velocity curves as well, giving you a wider dynamic range. The keyboard features pitch bend and modulation assignable wheels, octave shift buttons, and five keyboard maps that can store all of your settings.
There is also a wide range of controls on this model. The motorized 100mm ALPS fader is touch-sensitive and gives you pro-console mixer channel control that moves the fader whenever you switch tracks or alter the volume.
The 12 pads are velocity- and pressure-sensitive, with seven velocity curves to choose from. There are also 16 encoders, nine 45mm faders, and ten LED buttons that are all assignable. This controller even has the ability to store up to 20 presets, so you don’t have to reset everything every time you sit down and start to play.
For the connections, the Nextar includes a USB port, a USB Micro B connector, a foot switch ¼-inch jack input, and an expression pedal ¼-inch jack input.
The low price isn’t the only reason the Korg NANOKEY2BK is the best cheap MIDI keyboard controller for Logic Pro X. It has an advanced design that keeps it slim and compact, perfect for those with limited space or who like to take their music on the road with them.
The low-profile keyboard has 25 keys, all of which are wide enough for even larger fingers, with enough space between each one that you never press the wrong one while you’re playing. These keys all have decent touch and velocity response, so their performance is as expressive as you are.
Though there aren’t a ton of knobs and faders, there are a few additions that can enhance your creativity. First, is the Octave Up and Down buttons, which can shift the pitch over four levels, adding to your musical range without using extra keys.
There are also Pitch Bend Up and Down buttons and a Modulation button. The Sustain button is a must for adding some regular or electric piano parts to your creations.
You don’t have to worry about a bunch of bulky cords with the NANOKEY2BK, either. It uses only a single USB cable to attach it to your computer, which links it to your Logic Pro X or other software and powers the controller at the same time. This MIDI keyboard controller comes in both black and white.
The M-Audio Code 61 Black is the largest one in the Code series, featuring a brand new keybed that gives you clean and precise action with a natural profile. The keys are all pressure- and velocity-sensitive, giving you the type of expressive playability you’re looking for.
On the side of the keyboard are 16 RGB velocity-sensitive drum pads. These are all assignable and backlit, with customizable colors, so you know what function each one has been assigned with only a glance.
The color-coding isn’t just for the pads, though. All the faders, buttons, and knobs also have customizable color options, so you always know what mode you’re in while you’re playing. For even more control and less confusion, there is even an alphanumeric LED display, which gives you an on-screen display so you can see every parameter and setting at all times.
A new feature for the M-Audio keyboard controllers is the X/Y Touchpad. This addition gives you even more direct interaction with all of the instrument plugins and effects on the X/Y axis.
You can even split the keyboard into four different zones, assigning them as you see fit. This adds to the flexibility and the range of functions the MIDI controller has to offer. You can use four different instruments, each with its own zone, or you can overlap them to play two instruments at once.
Despite its simple design, the IK Multimedia iRig Keys is still a versatile MIDI controller that works for all skill levels. It is easy to set up and use, so beginners love it, but it also has a wide range of functions that experts need to create great music. This keyboard controller is also lightweight and portable for those who like to play on the road.
The iRig Keys includes some great software, like the SampleTank SE for Mac and PC, which can be used as a standalone or as a plug-in for Logic Pro X, GarageBand, Cubase, and much more. You can even use this model with your iOS or Android devices, with all the cables needed for this included.
This MIDI keyboard controller has 25 keys, with three octaves, giving you a wide melodic range for playing two-handed parts. The keys are full-size, though some find them a bit thinner than standard piano keys.
There isn’t a lot of buttons and dials to deal with, either. There are five buttons in total, including the Octave Up and Down, the Program Up and Down, and the Set button, which lets you save up to four setups at once. There is also a Volume/Data knob, which is assignable and customizable as you see fit. A modulation wheel, pitch wheel, and an input for an optional expression or sustain pedal are also included.
Why did it make our list?
Lightweight and portable
Plug and play
What is not ideal about it?
Keys a bit thin
Things to Consider
Adding a MIDI keyboard controller to some powerful production software like Logic Pro X can take your creative abilities to a whole new level, as they work together to give you even more options in sounds and effects. MIDI controllers come with a wide range of features, too, including different numbers of keys, faders, knobs, and so much more. This guide is designed to help you to slice and dice all the information manufacturers provide you with.
How can a MIDI controller take your Logic Pro X creations to a whole new level?
Logic Pro X is a high-quality software tool created by Apple. It is used by a huge number of music producers found all around the globe, due to its fantastic capabilities. Of course, it isn’t just for the experts. Beginners in the music industry also find it easy to use for composing their first musical creations.
Though you can use Logic Pro X on its own, tapping into its multiple features for the sounds and effects you’re looking for, there is an excellent reason to add a MIDI keyboard controller to your home studio. These handy tools can expand the range of Logic Pro X, enhancing its features and adding in some extras for a whole new experience. The MIDI keyboard controllers that work with Logic Pro X give you some great variations, allowing you to get a full recording, including different tracks that are built right into your library.
Another remarkable thing about the Logic Pro X controllers is that they come with a wide range of features on their own, so you can get a simple model or one with a huge range of features for extra effects. They come in compact or full-size models, with different key amounts and types, so you should have no trouble finding one that meets your needs and personal style.
Features to consider while choosing a MIDI keyboard controller for Logic Pro X
If you’re in the market for a MIDI keyboard controller to go with your Logic Pro X software, there are a wide range of options to look for. The following sections will help you get started.
Number of keys
When you’re looking at the different MIDI keyboard controller options, you’ve likely noticed that they come with different numbers of keys. For instance, the Akai Professional MPK MINI MK2 MKII only has 25 keys, while the M-Audio Code 61 Black has 61 keys. There are also some MIDI keyboard controllers that have 49 keys or go as high as 88 keys, which is the maximum you’ll find on products of this type.
There is no right or wrong number of keys when choosing a controller, it all depends on your personal preference. The more keys you have, the wider the melodic range you can create. Of course, some of the smaller models have octave up and down buttons, which can expand the range without adding more keys to the keybed. Those with a background in piano may also find it more comfortable to stick with a larger keybed since it is what they are used to.
Keys features: semi-weighted vs. velocity-sensitive
The keys themselves are rather important, so you need to choose the right ones. This will ensure you are comfortable playing them and they are allowing you to create the sound you want. Different types of keys have different capabilities, too, so be sure to pay attention when choosing your MIDI controller for Logic Pro X.
Full-sized keys are designed to look and feel like the ones you’ll find on a classical acoustic piano. If you are already a piano player, these are likely going to give you the feel you are used to when playing, rather than throwing you off when you`re trying to play. For everyone else, the size of the keys depends on the size of your fingers. Those with thin fingers can handle thinner keys, while thicker fingers may end up pressing more than one at a time.
The weight of the keys is also important. Like full-sized keys, fully-weighted ones feel more like the keys on a real piano, so are best for piano-players. Semi-weighted keys, like the ones on the Novation Impulse 49 USB Midi Controller Keyboard, aren’t quite as heavy, using a spring-loaded mechanism combined with light weights attached to the keys. These ones are best for those on a budget, as they tend to cost less than a fully-weighted keyboard.
Velocity-sensitivity means that the keys respond to the amount of pressure you’re putting on them and create the sounds accordingly. For instance, if you are lightly touching them, they will create softer notes than if you were really pounding the keys. The harder you push, the louder the notes will be, giving you a wider range of expression than keys without this feature.
Pads and controllers
Some of the MIDI keyboard controllers we’ve reviewed, like the Akai Professional MPK249, have a wide variety of pads, buttons, knobs, and faders on them, while others are much more basic. To a beginner, this may all look quite daunting but all of these extras have their purpose.
Though the keys give you your standard piano sounds, you may want to add some other sounds to your music. That’s where the pads come in. These are usually used to add some drum beats to your compositions, though you can use your software to add other sounds of your liking, musical phrases, or other features you want to be included. This gives your music some extra depth.
The faders, knobs, buttons, and arpeggiators are all added in for performance control. These controls can all be mapped to the Logic Pro X software, allowing you to adjust settings and add in what you need as you go. Of course, not everyone wants all of these extras, so if you are interested in a more basic model, a MIDI controller like the Korg NANOKEY2BK may be a good choice.
You should also remember that the more of these pads and controls you have on your controller, the higher the cost will be. Simple designs are better for those on a budget or who don’t need all the bells and whistles to create some good music.
Weight and dimensions
The weight and dimensions of the best MIDI keyboard controller for Logic Pro X matters for a few reasons. If you plan to set your controller on a desk and leave it there, the weight won’t really matter very much. It only comes into play if you plan to take your music on the road for composing while you travel or for live performances. The more weight you’re carrying, the harder it will be to transport all your gear to wherever you’re heading. That’s why those on the road should consider models like the Korg NANOKEY2BK, which is light enough that it won`t be a burden, no matter where you`re going.
The dimensions are also an important feature for traveling with your recording equipment. A bulky one will require a special carrying case or a large suitcase to keep it safe on the road. Smaller models can fit into a backpack, so you can just tuck them in with your laptop and head out. Of course, the dimensions are also something to look at for home use, especially if you have limited space.
Smaller desks may not be able to support a full-sized MIDI keyboard controller, so be sure to measure how much room you have to spare for one and get the model that has the features you need while still fitting in that area.
The price of a MIDI keyboard controller for Logic Pro X varies, depending on the size of the product and the features it uses. A small model with a more simple design can cost as little as $50, though you will be a bit limited with what you can do with it. A larger model with the maximum number of keys possible and all the faders, knobs, and buttons you could ask for can range up to $500 or more, which is well worth it if you intend to use the controller to its full potential. If you`re on a budget, though, it may be best to stick with something a bit less pricey.
Though the features described above are the main ones you`ll want to look for when choosing a MIDI keyboard controller, there are a few other things worth noting. This will ensure you have the best quality tool to meet your needs.
One thing to look at is the build quality of the controller. Those made of heavier materials, like metal, will last much longer than ones made of plastic. This is especially important for those who plan on doing some traveling with their equipment. The sturdier the design, the more bumps and knocks it can withstand without falling apart.
The cables that come with it are also something to look at. Some models come with a power cable, while others get their power directly from the Mac, PC, or laptop they are plugged into. Different consoles require different cords as well, especially if the MIDI controller can be used with a handheld device like an iPad or smartphone. The more systems it`s compatible with, the more cords you may need, so be sure it has them all or you may be spending some extra time and money finding the ones you need later.
Quite a few of the models we reviewed here have some backlighting on the pads or other controls. These are handy for a few reasons. Though your home studio may be brightly lit, those performing may be doing so in darker venues, so the backlighting helps you keep track of all the controls you need. Some models, like the M-Audio Code 61 Black, also offer color-coded backlighting, so you can set different colors for different sounds and effects, keeping everything nicely organized for recording, mixing, or performing.
Even if you`re using Logic Pro X with your MIDI keyboard controller, it is still nice to have some free software that helps with the setup of the controller when you first start out with it. These bits of free software may also integrate with Logic Pro, making it easier to map your controls or adjust the settings as needed.
You may also want to look at the warranty for the product you`re buying. As well as how long the MIDI controller is covered for, this will also tell you exactly what is backed, including the casing, keys, knobs, and every other piece of the controller. The more coverage you have, the more comfortable you will be using this handy tool at home or on the road.
Logic Pro X software is only compatible with a Mac, so you can`t use this particular software with an iPad. This doesn`t mean you can`t use a MIDI controller with an iPad, you just can`t do so to use Logic Pro X. If you would like to use your controller with this type of device, you can choose to use Logic Remote instead, giving you many of the same functions as Logic Pro X, plus adding in some Touch Instruments and creating some custom key layouts as well. Be sure to check that the controller has the right cord for connecting to the iPad before you buy it.
Yes, all of the models we have reviewed can be used with many different types of popular DAW software, such as Ableton, Cubase, Reason, or Pro Tools. You don`t need to use Logic Pro X for you composing, mixing, or recording if you prefer another type of software. Of course, you`ll need to check the manufacturer`s information to be sure it will work with the software you prefer before you buy one, to be sure you have what you need.
The Alesis V49 is a good choice for beginners. It has a simple design that is easy to learn, even if you are trying out a MIDI controller for the first time. It also comes with a few controls to add some range to your composing, without overwhelming you. The Korg NANOKEY2BK and the IK Multimedia iRig Keys are also good beginner options for the same reasons.
The best MIDI keyboard for Logic Pro X will allow you to take the tools that the software has to offer and expand their use to create some truly astounding musical compositions. There is a wide range of MIDI keyboard controllers to choose from, but a few are worth taking a closer look at.
The AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 is a compact MIDI keyboard with 25 velocity-sensitive mini keys, making it a powerful yet portable option. There are eight backlit velocity-sensitive MPC-Style pads, eight 360-degree knobs, and a unique 4-way thumbstick controller, as well as a built-in arpeggiator. This model also boasts an OLED display and comes with the Complete Music Production Starter Kit, adding to its value.
The Arturia KeyLab Essential has 49 smooth-action keys with velocity and eight dynamic RGB back-lit pads. There are also plenty of switches, encoders, and wheel, all making this unit highly versatile. The Analog Lab 2 included with the purchase offers 5,000 sounds, and you also get Ableton Live Lite and UVI Grand Piano Model D for the price.
The Akai Professional MPK249 also uses 49 semi-weighted full-size keys, which are pressure- and velocity-sensitive and include aftertouch. The Octave Up and Down buttons expand the range, plus there are transport buttons to expand the controls and the pads, all of which use customizable backlighting.