A MIDI keyboard is a piano-style user interface keyboard device used for sending MIDI signals or commands through a USB or MIDI cable to other devices that are connected and operated on the same MIDI protocol interface. You can get varying sizes of keyboards from having mini keys like the KORG Mirokey, which is great for if you have a small space or you can get full sized keys on a full sized, 88 note keyboard like the M-Audio Keystation 88, so you have the full range of keys if you are going to be playing full piano scores etc. As they are so diverse it means you do not have to be a piano player to use them and this is further helped as you can move and change the notes in your DAW, eradicating any mistakes you may make. You can also get all in one control surfaces like the Novation SL MKII that houses pads, faders and knobs so you can control your DAW, tracks and sounds from the controller.
For me this piece of equipment is an essential in any studio set up as it allows the freedom to create and manipulate different sounds and effects from the keys, knobs, faders and pads (depending on which model you have), giving you the freedom to maximise your full compositional and production potential.
There are a wide range of MIDI keyboards it depends what you are more comfortable with. If you like the MIDI keyboard which is like a piano or keyboard then the Alesis V49 49 Key Expressive USB Keyboard Controller would be a good one to consider as represents good value for money. You get 49 full-sized keys so you have a welcome range of notes and you can change the octave using the up and down octave switch. Being USB means you can connect straight to your Mac or PC and start creating. It also includes 8 velocity sensitive backlit pads that are great for creating drum beats or dropping in various sounds or loops. The fun doesn’t stop there as you get 4 assignable knobs as well as a pitch bend and modulation wheel. This controller is great as you get loads of different functions you can use to create loads of cool sounds for a great price; it also has a sleek look and is well built, so you can’t really go wrong with this MIDI Controller.
If you don’t want the piano keys then you can also get MIDI launch pads, such as the Akai MPC Element Music Production Controller. This MIDI controller gives you a slim line design (14mm Thin) that looks really cool and slick. It also includes MPC Essential Software, designed for use with MPC Essential Software that is free to download and allows you to use the samples to create beats, loops and songs. You get 16 MPC Backlit Pads that are Touch and Pressure Sensitive meaning you can carefully add textures and dynamics to your tracks which I think is very impressive, as texture can be crucial in mixes. You can use it on its own or within a DAW as it is compatible with all DAWs and Mac and PC.
If you have any questions then let me know.