In this article, we will be taking a look at the best MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio. There might be some raised eyebrows if you are not familiar with the terminology.
MIDI? FL Studio? Allow us to explain.
Well, this stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, which is better known as MIDI. An expression that has sent waves of terror through many people when it was first encountered. Us included.
With development driven on by Roland, it turned into a standard that is accepted worldwide. It isn’t that easy to explain briefly for those who might need such an explanation. Perhaps the best way is to call it a language. A means by which instruments and computers, as well as other hardware, can ‘talk’ to each other.
This language operates in some ways like a computer language as we understand it. With items talking to each other in codes. A way of transferring data. That data might be what you are playing on a specialized MIDI keyboard.
Using MIDI, we can play, edit, and record music using a standard set of protocols that all machines and software understand.
This is a DAW that was designed and marketed by Image-Line Software in Belgium. It was first released in 1997 under the name of Fruity Loops, hence the current FL. That must have been some party the night that name was chosen.
The name was changed in 2003. Someone felt that for their product to be taken more seriously, it needed a serious-sounding name. That, and a potential lawsuit from breakfast cereal manufacturers Kelloggs, may have been persuasive.
It is a popular system in some musical genres. And its operating systems are compatible with Mac OS and Windows, making it widely available.
The MIDI keyboard…
Robert Moog, yes, that one, gave us what was probably the first MIDI keyboard in 1983. These days there are hundreds to choose from.
They look very much like a small piano but with a variety of extra control buttons, sliders, and wheels. The number keys are limited on some models, but you can get a MIDI keyboard with up to 61 keys. Some do not have keys at all and just a variety of colored buttons. They rarely produce any sound by themselves and therefore need to be connected to other devices.
So, let’s take a look at the Best FL Studio MIDI Keyboards currently on the market and find the perfect one for you…
Top 7 Best MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio On The Market In 2021 Reviews
1 Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII – Best Portable MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio
At one time, Akai was one of the biggest players in creative sound. The Akai 4000D and its follow up the 4000DS, were excellent 4-track recorders and were many people’s first introduction to recording at home.
Unfortunately, they ceased trading in 2002. Maybe it was complacency, but they did get knocked back by other Japanese companies that took hold of the marketplace. Today they are marketed by independents who have ensured the famous name lives on.
A compact MIDI controller…
The MPK Mini MKII is a neat little unit designed for the home music producer. But given its size of 7.13 by 12.52 by 1.73 inches and weighing just over one pound, it is great for traveling with.
Creativity just got portable.
Small is good…
It has just 25 velocity-sensitive keys, and a four-way controller for modulation and pitch control. The top panel is completed by two banks of backlit MPC-like pads and eight Q-link controls, which can be assigned.
Some other hardware controls give you the freedom to record and/or write, wherever you are.
Some great additions…
The keyboard might only have 25 keys, but with the built-in octave down and up controls, you get the full range of a piano. There is also an input for a sustain pedal to add some more expression. However, the pedal is not included.
You get an arpeggiator that has adjustments for range and resolution, allowing you to create complex arrangements. Also, access to any of Akai’s MPC, Music Production Center, workstation technologies.
A comprehensive package of production software is included. This includes virtual instruments. Also, Hybrid 3 and Sonivox synthesizers. They all come with plenty of controls, editing, and filtering facilities.
There are four memory banks that allow you to save any hardware or software settings to call up later.
The MPK Mini MKII doesn’t need drivers to be downloaded or external power. It gets its power through a USB connection to a computer. Furthermore, it is both Mac and Windows compatible. All-in-all, it is very much a plug-in-and-play instrument.
A very good MIDI keyboard with a variety of user options and some good software included. And all at a very reasonable price point.
- Compact, portable, and easy to use at a very attractive price.
- Plenty of built-in sound features.
- Some will need a larger base keyboard with more keys.
2 Alesis V49 – Best Compact MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio
Next, in our search for the Best MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio, if you prefer a larger keyboard to work with, this will be of interest. The keys are also full size, so you get the feeling and the expression of playing on a real keyboard. Having said that, it is still a compact unit measuring 9.60 by 37.60 by 4.53 inches. It weighs just over six pounds.
All you need…
There are 49 keys designed with square fronts to create an authentic feel. The keys are not weighted, which some may not like. There are eight touchpads with backlit LEDs. The pads are velocity and pressure-sensitive.
There are four control knobs and four push-buttons, all of which can be assigned different functions. You will also find modulation and pitch wheels, as well as just about everything you need for some serious sound-shaping. And the blue LEDs that light up the knobs, buttons, and pads make it easy to use in darkened rooms.
Despite having 49 keys, it also has an octave shifter, which allows access to a full range of the 88 keys you would find on a concert grand piano. Data connection and power are supplied through one USB cable. Plug-ins and a variety of virtual instruments can be controlled by the V49.
Also included is a special Alesis edition of Ableton Live and a MIDI software editor.
It is worth noting that it appears that this keyboard is not compatible with Mac OS (Catalina 10.15). There does not seem to have been an update from Alesis. We think if you use that OS on your Mac, it is worth checking first.
A good keyboard controller set at an attractive price point. It is especially suitable for use with FL versions nine and higher.
- Plenty of good features built-in.
- 49 keys and backlit controls, buttons, and knobs.
- Keys are not weighted.
- Could be a potential problem for Mac OS (Catalina 10.15) users.
3 Nektar Impact GX61 Controller Keyboard – Most Versatile MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio
This keyboard controller from Nektar is a powerful MIDI tool that is great with FL Studio. Actually, it is rather good with anything. It has the functionality you don’t often find on controllers that cost much more.
It is great if you prefer a full-size to work with. Sixty-one full-size keys with a velocity-sensitive action. It has four different velocity curves. You can therefore set the keyboard up to suit your own playing style. Although, it should be noted that the keys have a synth feel rather than a piano feel.
An asset of this keyboard is that it lends itself to a variety of genres of music. Despite there being 61 keys, it is still a compact unit measuring 38.00 by 7.75 by 2.75 inches. At six pounds, it is portable enough to take anywhere.
Everything is clear and well-laid out. There are some important inclusions. Octave and Transposition. Both with colored LEDs to indicate your choices. Also, modulation and pitch bend wheels. There are eight buttons that allow you to manage your DAW operations without the need to use a mouse. Each button can be set for two MIDI messages.
It includes 8-Track Bigwig DAW software. You can operate it using an Apple iPad, but you will need to purchase the connection kit.
Easy to use…
Probably better to say easy to use once it has been set up. Your operating system, be it Mac OS or Windows, should immediately recognize the keyboard. However, in some cases, this is not always the case, and it will be best to check compatibility first.
It is set at a reasonable price point.
- Good size keyboard with plenty of sound options.
- Cost-effective keyboard.
- Some register their discontent with the setup process.
4 Alesis V61 Keyboard Controller – Best Full-Size MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio
This is a keyboard very similar to the V49 we have already looked at. But there are some important differences.
Is the most obvious difference. This has a 61-note keyboard. Very important for those that like plenty of room to play.
Most keyboards have octave controls, of course. They are useful and do allow you to alter the pitch. But having a longer keyboard with extra note options is always a better option. For those who like to cover the range of the keys, an octave control is not a good substitute.
The keys have control options for the velocity curves. Therefore, you can adjust them to suit your own style of playing.
The controls and operations are very similar. Modulation and Pitch wheels dominate the design. And there are control buttons and knobs that operate effects and adjust the volume. These also open and close filters and make adjustments to the parameters.
Built-in is access to use Pro Tools and Ableton Live Lite, plus a variety of other packages. These help you create and share your music. And it includes a USB cable for transferring data and as the power supply when connected to a computer.
To operate it with FL Studio does not require any additional software or drivers. However, it is worth checking its updated compatibility if you are using Mac OS (Catalina 10.15). There have been some issues in this area with other Alesis products.
- 61 keys give a better full keyboard option for those that prefer it.
- Set at a reasonable price point.
- Could be compatibility issues with macOS (Catalina 10.15).
5 Akai FireProfessional Performance Controller for FL Studio – Best Premium MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio
If you are looking for a MIDI instrument to work with FL Studio, then you can’t beat a product designed in conjunction with Image-Line. This makes it a strong candidate for being the Best MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio. As it is made by Akai, that is another good reason.
First of a kind…
As we just said, this is a controller produced with Image-Line especially to work with FL Studio. That makes it a unique product. The first of its kind.
With that in mind, it is not surprising that those who produce with FL Studio appreciate its music creating abilities.
It certainly has a certain style about it, and anyone looking for a conventional keyboard MIDI controller won’t find it here. It measures 12.44 by 6.52 by only 0.9 of an inch and, therefore, has a small footprint.
There is a 16 by 4 matrix sporting backlit RGB pads. RGB being the Red, Green, and Blue theory of color recognition of humans. The pad sizes can be altered to suit the size you want. Whilst it is small and lightweight at under two pounds, we recommend that this is used in a secure place. It probably won’t take too kindly to be dropped.
They are what you might call complex to any MIDI newbies. Likewise, there will be a learning curve involved. The programming is based around a step sequencer process. This is achieved using the pads which are velocity-sensitive. Tracks and sounds are built in this way.
There are plenty of Tool Bar and Playlist menus. Additionally, you can quickly access files and browse audio without using a mouse. This is achieved using the graphical OLED display.
There are four rows of controls that are touch-capacitive. These give you controls over all the parameters within FL Studio, including volume, filters, and panning. These can all be done for each selected channel individually.
Connecting to FL Studio could not be easier and is a simple plug-in-and-play operation. Once you have mastered it, this controller is suitable for both live and studio sessions.
A little more expensive than most keyboard operations, it is packed with potential. You just have to learn how to unleash it.
- Sleek design with a small footprint.
- Packed with features and options.
- There will be a learning curve.
6 Korg, 25-Key Midi Controller – Best Value for the Money MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio
Let’s return to what some may see as a simpler, more conventional design for a MIDI keyboard and controller. This is a compact unit with basic but good features, as we shall see. This is sure to be included on any list of the Best MIDI Keyboards for FL Studio.
On a Budget?
If you need a MIDI controller, but you are on a tight budget, then you have just found the answer. This controller from Korg is a great little unit. And of course, when we are talking about electronic music creation, there aren’t many bigger names than Korg.
Founded in 1962 in Japan, they have been responsible for some of the sounds we hear every day on tracks recorded by some of the world’s best. This might be a budget-priced controller, but it is still full of great Korg creativity.
Measuring just 14.60 by 1.60 by 3.70 inches and weighing under one pound, it is a versatile controller. It will work happily either in a studio environment or at home on your laptop. You can even connect up your smartphone or tablet.
It is also easy to carry around with you if necessary.
Easy to use…
This is a 25 key model with velocity-sensitive keys that are very touch responsive. As it is not over-endowed with too many features, it is easy to use. Setup is quick and painless, and you will be making music in a few minutes.
If you use Logic or Garageband, there is a driver that needs to be installed. There are no recorded issues with the download.
Basic but functional…
It is powered using a USB connection to your laptop or desktop. The same cable is also used for data transfer. Controls are quite basic but have most of what any beginner will need. There is an arpeggiator, along with a joystick and a sustain control. It has eight channels, each with three control buttons.
A very good, basic, and cost-effective controller by a great manufacturer.
- A basic machine with some nice features.
- Korg quality at a cost-effective price.
- Some will just need more features.
7 Novation Launchpad Ableton Live Controller – Best Budget MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio
Novation is quite a well-known brand in certain circles. They’re part of a group of brands that includes Focusrite, who most will be familiar with.
This is another MIDI controller that integrates with a DAW. In this case, that is Ableton Live Lite. If you are already using Ableton, then it does need to be version 9.2 or later. If not, there will be compatibility issues. Once you acquire Launchpad, setting it up is easy.
There are 64 pads that illuminate, so you can see exactly what you are doing. These make the operation easy to understand. And they are a big plus if you are using the controller on a stage in dark lighting.
There are plenty of instruments and options built-in. Furthermore, you can use the grid to create drum tracks. Connections make it easy to utilize Ableton’s drum tracks as well as other loops and samples.
It is a compact unit measuring just 9.45 by 9.45 by 0.98 inches and is therefore easy to carry around. This makes it suitable not only for home studio work but also for live performances.
There will be a learning curve attached to this controller. This is especially relevant if you are new to Ableton. However, while this is designed with Ableton in mind, it will work with a variety of other DAWs. It is compatible with Mac OS 10.9 and higher and Windows 8 and higher.
A reasonable price point.
- Operated via easy to read colored pads.
- Plenty of Ableton loops, and samples included at a decent price point.
- Some will prefer a keyboard to work with, rather than pads.
Looking for Something Else?
There is no shortage of keyboards on the market. So, check our in-depth reviews of the Best Kawai Digital Piano, our Best Yamaha Digital Piano Reviews, the Best Keyboard Synthesizer, and the Best Portable Keyboard Pianos you can buy in 2021.
What is the Best MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio?
You may be wondering why we are limiting our search to MIDI controllers that are the best for working with FL Studio.
The Big Three…
In terms of the modern DAWs, the “big three” most recognizable are Pro Tools, Logic, and Ableton. And Cubase is probably not far behind. Go into any major studio, and you will likely find at least one, if not more, of them in use.
But there is another DAW that is becoming ever more popular, FL Studio. Increasing in importance for EDM creation, it is fast gaining a big reputation. That justifies looking at which MIDI keyboard/controller might be the best to work with it.
But what MIDI keyboard/controller to use with it?
There are a number of options, and it will depend on what you want from the controller. We believe that it is not to be played like a piano. So a smaller keyboard or pads will suffice.
We would therefore choose a very basic model, the…
A controller that does the job from a respected manufacturer. It has some basic but nice features at a great price, which is probably exactly what you need and easily our choice as the Best MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio.
Until next time, may the music move you.