Of course, you can do a lot with 49-key and 61-key, however, they are nothing compared to the 88-key model. The range and composition capabilities of an 88 key MIDI keyboard are beyond compare. It is an all-around excellent product with all the bells and whistles and does the job quite well.
The 88 Key MIDI Keyboard isn’t for everyone. There is no point in having the 88 Key MIDI keyboard if you want to learn the music creation process on it. It is not for playing simple lines with a few notes.
This keyboard is only for musicians who are skilled pianists and looking for a realistic, high-quality playing experience. It gives them the freedom to play more and let them add diverse expressions to their music.
Live musicians particularly love this keyboard as they always want to have more keys. The 88-key model acts as a bridge for them between an upright piano and electronic music and allows them to deliver incredibly responsive live performance.
|Products||Best For||Our Ratings||Check Price|
M-Audio Hammer 88Studio-grade Software Suite
|Check on Amazon|
Native Instruments S88Full Functionality and Control
|Check on Amazon|
Nektar Impact LX88+Economical
|Check on Amazon|
Best 88 Key MIDI Keyboard – Buying Guide
A great concern, it is not so straightforward to find the best 88 key MIDI keyboard. This is true; all models aren’t made equal.
If some are fully weighted, others have mappable parameters and packed with unique features. Besides, price is also another factor. 88-key models can be so expensive as their unique features and the exceptional keybed feel add to the price.
We have compiled a great guide below that will facilitate in choosing the best 88 key MIDI keyboard and show you how to save your cash by focusing on the features you only need.
Number of Zones
88-key MIDI keyboard with ‘Zones’ is precious. The zone feature lets you split the keyboard into multiple zones.
For example, the bass can be on the left hand and synth on the right. In a way, you can control several different sound devices at the same time. You can also use zones to quickly switch between different instruments, which is very necessary while creating music.
There is no need to work on different layers and then merge them in the DAW. Every beat can be controlled in the live music creation process. For that reason, professional DJs love it, since they have to switch between different beats quickly.
The zone page in the DAW shows different things, such as data line, info bar, settings for each zone, return arrows, and enable and disable buttons. It also divides the zones into four main categories – Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3, and Zone 4.
All these zone categories are active within the MIDI note range. You can enable and disable them too with the enable & disable buttons on the page. Their status always shows on the page with the parameters. When you edit their parameters in the active status, it is saved within the group.
You don’t have to edit it again and again.
Harmonic range in an 88 key MIDI keyboard is all about the combination of the notes. It is the sequence of different sounds that you edit and use in music. The more harmonic range a keyboard offers, the better. The 88-key model usually has the best harmonic range.
Since the number of keys matters the most. They present the exceptional range of the notes that professional musicians and DJs need. In a piece of music or song, we may not realize the range of notes in them but we may be hearing more than one note at a time.
The high number of keys in the MIDI keyboard not only generates different sounds but also add depth to them. If it is still tough to understand, think about a violinist.
He can create any sound with just one string by only changing the position of its finger. Also, the pressure of the finger on the string changes the range and depth of the sound and makes it more expressive.
The MIDI keyboard with good harmonic range acts in the same way. It produces a higher series of notes and makes several harmonic sounds together, which is utterly difficult to achieve with a 25-key or 49-key MIDI keyboard.
To use 88 key MIDI controllers, you must delve into the world of software. Fortunately, it already comes with the software.
However, if you are using an 88-key model and don’t know about other software, you are limiting the options. Knowing about different software and the features improves the quality of your music and lets you add more dimensions to your music.
For example, some software has strength in the type of synthesis. They provide you with a great palette for creating original sounds than other keyboards. They use analog modeling effect (great for electronic music) and also allow you to reproduce your sound in varying pitches across your keyboard.
However, this is only possible in top-of-the-line software. Similarly, there is some software that is exceptional in sequencing and audio recording. Musicians who are more into performing live should opt for this kind of software as MIDI sequencing is a valuable tool in it, and they can record many accompaniment parts with just a push of few buttons.
So, the more you understand the versatility of the software, the better you perform. You always pick it according to your exact needs.
Top 3 88-Key MIDI Keyboards
We are going to take you through some of our favorites 88 Key MIDI Keyboards, so hopefully, you’d love them too, as they are equipped with different features, specs, and quality.
Here are the best, top-rated 88 key MIDI keyboards in 2019.
M-Audio Hammer 88 MIDI Keyboard
It is the best 88-key product with a studio-grade software suite.
If you have been looking for a great MIDI keyboard with piano feel, you can’t get anything better than M-Audio Hammer 88. It has a wooden weighted hammer action keybed that deserves A++ ratings. It is also gorgeous and responsive like grand pianos.
We believe this keyboard is specifically designed for the ‘Feel’ and incredibly responsive performance. Since the only focus is to enhance realism.
For that reason, there aren’t enough controls. The only controls you will find on this product are pitch bend and modulation wheels, three pedal inputs, and assignable fader and wheel. These options with 88-key exceptional feel are enough for those who are on a budget.
Things We Liked
- This keyboard has a substantial, appropriately weighty action.
- It gives an authentic piano feel.
- Ableton Live Lite 9 is included in the package.
- It supports iOS connectivity.
- You can learn to play it with Skoove (3-month subscription)
Things We Didn’t Like
- Limited functionality and no drum pads.
Native Instruments S88 MIDI Keyboard
If you are looking for full functionality and control, Native Instruments S88 is for you.
It is an all-round fully weighted model with more features than you can expect. Therefore, it is expensive too. First, there is Maschine Control, which gives you one-touch access to your scenes. This feature is rare but very useful when it comes to editing and utilizing the patterns.
Next, we have a high-resolution color display. The purpose of this HD display is to keep you focused while you are working on your music; browsing sound, tweaking parameters, etc.
Also, the thing which makes the professional musicians fall in love with it is its ‘Eight Touch-Sensitive Knobs’. We haven’t seen this quality and quantity of knobs in other MIDI keyboards. These knobs are used for precision tweaking for all your sounds.
All in all, we believe this MIDI keyboard deserves all the praise. Everything you need to know or use is in the line of sight.
Things We Liked
- It is easy to use NKS compatible effect and instrument plugins.
- There are RGB lights above each key.
- It has an HD color display that keeps you focused.
- It has an improved layout with more dedicated functions.
- It is compatible with many software like Ableton, Logic Pro X, and Nuendo.
Things We Didn’t Like
- There isn’t any drawback.
Nektar Impact LX88+ MIDI Keyboard
Nektar Impact LX88+ is economical and easy to integrate with your DAW.
It is designed for those who desire more features in their 88 key MIDI keyboard whilst keeping a fairly low budget. It costs less $350 but still has all the important features like transport controls, modulation wheels, and faders. It even has 8 drum pads on it. Though it is a great product there are a few things we didn’t like.
For example, in terms of connectivity, it is very basic. Moreover, the placement of the controls is awkward. If you already use a MIDI keyboard, it would feel weird to control wheels as they are on the left edge of the keyboard. Other than that, it is perfect and a good value for the price for beginners.
Things We Liked
- The functionality and feel are great.
- It is economical.
- It has transport and navigation controls.
- It supports most of the popular DAWs.
- It has velocity-sensitive pads for finger drumming.
Things We Didn’t Like
- The placement of the controls is weird.
Best 88 Key MIDI Keyboard – Frequently Asked Questions
People who have already used a MIDI keyboard with fewer keys have many technical questions regarding the 88-key MIDI keyboard.
If your question isn’t listed below, you can send us a request by completing the request form. Most of the requests are fulfilled within 24 hours.
What is ‘Effect Processing’?
The effect process is a term used for applying effects in the MIDI software.
The main purpose of this term is to turn an ordinary sound into something special. Some effects can be applied to a single note and others can be applied on the whole track. Furthermore, sound-shaping tools like EQ also matter in effect processing. They give you more control over the music.
Can we use sounds from other software in the 88 key MIDI keyboard?
Yes, you can.
Most 88-key MIDI keyboards come with Ableton Live which can receive MIDI notes from other software like Logic Pro and use them as its own.
Though, keep in mind, the process of importing sound from other software is tough. It has some steps, which a beginner can’t comprehend easily.
What are ‘Microtones’?
Microtones are the interval in the music.
They are smaller than semitones which are also used for the intervals. Trained musicians use them by doing tiny frequency adjustments to keep them in tune as much as possible. In a MIDI software, these tones are rendered in two specific ways – using the standard MIDI synthesizer and pre-recorded audio files.
Can I use other software in the keyboard?
We know some people aren’t comfortable with using the default software.
Particularly, the musicians only like to work with their favorite software as their hands are set on it and they perceive all the aspects of it.
The only thing you need to do before buying the 88-key MIDI keyboard is to check whether it is compatible with other software. If it is not recommended, it is better to buy some other 88-key model that offers software versatility and lets you use any software you want.
What is the best feature in the 88 key MIDI keyboard?
- ‘The Ability To Generate Multiple Sounds Simultaneously.’
- The 88-key MIDI keyboards are known for this.
- They layer the sound in more ways than you can imagine.
Having an 88 key MIDI keyboard can be great for many reasons. You can open up your creative boundaries, even if you are a professional, and explore music in a wider range.
Just remember, 88 key MIDI keyboard is only good if you are going to use all its features. If you are serious about bringing your production to the next level, we recommend Native Instruments S88. It is expensive but gives a solid pad functionality.
However, if you are on a budget, save your cash and get M-Audio Hammer 88. It does the job well without any bells and whistles.