Buyer's Guides

Best Budget MIDI Keyboards in 2024: Starting from less than $50/£50!

MIDI keyboards, whether they be highly expensive or cheap as chips, are also known as MIDI controllers. And it’s great to know that there are some brilliant budget MIDI keyboards in the year 2024, as these little bits of gear put you in total control of your music, hence the name. So take comfort in knowing that there are lots of excellent MIDI keyboards available in the lower budget price range. Headliner is here to guide you through and make your decision as enjoyable as possible.

In fact, the biggest names in the MIDI keyboard game are at play here — you might think a Korg or Akai would be looking to empty your bank account upon sale, but even these huge, established names offer some brilliant bang for your buck. Starting from as low a price as £39/$49, you can make your purchase without financial anxiety and get plugged into the best DAWs in no time. So let us begin our merry quest to find you the most suitable budget MIDI keyboard.

From stripped-down basics to flexible midi keyboard controller options, we've got you covered!

Nektar SE25

  • Huge value: proving cheap midi keyboards can be superb

  • Snugs into your laptop bag perfectly. Portable midi keyboard.

If you tend to find yourself making music on the go, then a portable MIDI keyboard that fits perfectly into your on-the-go bag might be what you’re after. The Nektar SE25, however, still offers immense value despite being diminutive.

It also wins the prize on this best budget MIDI keyboard list of being the cheapest — almost unbelievably so. You shouldn’t have a hard time getting one for well under £50/$50. As the name suggests, it is very small, but the obvious plus is it’s very transportable. It has great integration with every DAW you can shake a stick at, whether that be Cubase, Garageband, Logic, and the rest.

It's official: cheap midi keyboards can be great!

Price: $47 | £37


Arturia Minilab MkII

  • Keyboard itself is very high quality

  • Analog Lab Lite software is a lovely add on. Impressively affordable midi controller

All-round legends in the world of electronic music-making, Arturia’s Minilab MkII is a très fantastique option if you’d like to try one of their most reasonably priced keyboards. It is also a great entry point to their Analog Lab software if top vintage analogue synth emulations get you excited.

This may be a budget MIDI keyboard list but make no mistake, no Arturia product ever looks budget. It’s a fantastic-looking package with 16 encoders to tweak the 500(!) Analog Lab synth presets, and a lovely MIDI controller. And it will fit nicely into your laptop bag. It’s also very light to carry, while also being solidly built, so the slightest knock won’t leave you facing catastrophe.

Another cheap midi keyboard that elevates any home studio without breaking the bank. Adding pads and plenty of midi keyboard controller options to your studio has never been easier.

Price: $88 | £70


Korg microKEY2 Air-37

  • A fantastic compact midi keyboard

  • Great wireless connectivity

When pondering upon the best MIDI keyboards for you, it’s worth noting that brands often offer the same model in different numbers of keys; 25 keys, 37, 49, 61 – even a full-sized 88 keys. The little Korg microKEY2 Air is available in 37, 49 and 61 note models. We’re looking at the 37-key version, which gives you a nice amount of keys to play with, while still being wonderfully cheap from the enormously respected Korg. You’ll still have a great time with the 25 keys version, if you want to lower the price further.

Being small and a budget MIDI keyboard at around £100/$100, it unsurprisingly fits more into the keyboard than controller category — it’s more about the keys than having lots of knobs, bells and whistles. If you don’t mind small keys and not having loads of features, Korg are always a name you should consider when it comes to any product of this nature, and the Air-32 is no exception.

Price: $105/£83


Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3

  • One for the Ableton Live zealots out there

  • The arpeggiator is lots of fun. A midi keyboard for unlocking your creativity

When we conjure up the delightful and physical experience of controlling a DAW using a MIDI keyboard/controller, many musicians immediately think of Ableton Live. The Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3 was specifically designed with Ableton in mind and excels in its compatibility, offering additional features like pitch bend, modulation touch strips, and one of the most impressive arpeggiators available. Not to mention, it comes bundled with exceptional software.

However, it's important to note that this controller works seamlessly with other DAWs as well. If you're an Ableton enthusiast, it's highly unlikely that you'll find a better option at such an affordable price point, below £100/$100. It's also a portable device, making it ideal for travelling, and its extensive features truly shine within this MIDI keyboards list.

Price: $110 | £87


Akai MPK Mini Mk3

  • Great software bundle

  • Very worthy of the midi keyboard ‘controller’ name with lots of features

The Akai MPK Mini Mk3 is recognized by several commentators as the top choice for beginners rather than pros seeking the best budget MIDI keyboard, and it's difficult to argue against that claim. It also serves as an excellent controller for the majority of users who don't require a mega-advanced device. When it comes to effortlessly incorporating basic chords, basslines, and melodies into your music, Akai has truly simplified the process with the MPK Mini Mk3.

If you're concerned that its appearance might be too basic, fear not. The controller's eight encoder knobs are exceptionally well-suited for seamless integration and control of your digital audio workstation. Additionally, Akai has included eight MPC-style drum pads, which are fantastic. While this compact device easily fits in your backpack, it boasts enough impressive features to make it a valuable asset in any professional studio setting.

As a midi keyboard controllers around the $100 go, this one is up there with the best!

Price: $112 | £89


Alesis V49 MKII MIDI Keyboard

  • A fantastic midi keyboard to perform on

  • Piano keys action is very realistic

When it comes to MIDI keyboards and controllers, budget or otherwise, it's common for the keys to be miniaturized and far removed from the experience of playing a real-life piano. Not so with the Alesis V49 MKII MIDI Keyboard, which breaks that trend by offering full-size keys with a satisfying spring and synth action. Along with its impressive keybed, this keyboard features assignable hardware controls that further enhance its appeal, making it undeniably one of the best budget MIDI keyboards available.

Considering it comes right in at around £100, the above would be enough for many people. However, with eight pads, function buttons, modulation wheels, pitch bend, and more, it goes above and beyond. It includes a complimentary bundle of MPC Beats music production software, which is remarkably user-friendly, allowing you to dive into creating beats effortlessly.

Price: $126 | £100


Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32

  • Lots of keys for a compact midi keyboard

  • Great integration options and a true midi keyboard controller

When discussing the best budget MIDI keyboards and controllers, it would be remiss to not shout the name Native Instruments from the rooftops. The Komplete Kontrol M32 is packed with an abundance of features, including eight capacitive knobs, a 4D encoder, and a plethora of buttons that make it an outstanding choice for operating Maschine or your DAW.

As a compact 32-key keyboard/controller, it performs exceptionally well, with the only compromise being its smaller keys due to its portable size. Nevertheless, many users find that they quickly adapt to the key size and become comfortable with it. Exceptional performance and an remarkably affordable price means you should consider making this keyboard a native in your home.

Price: $127 | £101


M-Audio Keystation 61 MK3 NEXT

  • Plenty of keys while still being a compact midi keyboard

  • Solid build - a great affordable midi keyboard

At just above £100, this entry from M-Audio is one of the best budget MIDI keyboards as we move ever so slightly move into the intermediate price range. M-Audio's Keystation 61 offers remarkable features at a still very reasonable price. One of its standout qualities is its slim and compact design, making it one of the sleekest keyboards/controllers available. Despite its slender profile, it provides five octaves and a total of 61 keys for your playing pleasure.

It also doesn't compromise on key quality by offering mini keys with no spring action. Each key is semi-weighted and crafted to meet the high standards one would expect from M-Audio. The Keystation 61 focuses on delivering exceptional key performance rather than overwhelming you with an abundance of buttons and controls. So it's an excellent choice if you identify more as a pianist rather than a DJ. For those seeking an even more expansive keyboard, there's also an 88-key version priced at approximately $/£150.

Price: $159/£125


M-Audio Oxygen 49 MKV

  • Midi Keyboard with a Great arpeggiator

  • Chord and scales modes are a great creative feature

Hello again, M-Audio! Offering a more affordable option compared to M-Audio's Pro 49, the Oxygen 49 proves to be another of the very best cheap MIDI keyboards/controllers just above the £100/$100 price range. While it may not possess all the features found in its counterpart, it still delivers impressive performance. Instead of the Pro's OLED display, the Oxygen 49 incorporates a 3-segment LED display. While programming, you can access 16 sound sources from the front panel, although not simultaneously.

Although the dedicated MIDI out-port is absent, the most notable difference lies in how Oxygen 49's functions are mostly activated through soft keys and the "secondary modes" found in the keybed. It boasts useful features such as Smart Chord and Smart Scale modes, which prove to be fantastic tools for songwriting and composition. And its arpeggiator is just lovely, putting more creative possibilities into your hands. 

One of the best midi keyboard controllers for under $200/£200

Price: $159/£125


Midi Keyboard FAQ: How important are performance pads?

When choosing a midi keyboard. This is a seriously important factor. 

Some are more than happy to relieve their secondary school days, playing out a drum beat on the white and black keys of a Casio keyboard. Understandably, others find it less nostalgic, and more of a dreadful experience. Enter velocity-sensing performance pads. Many of the budget MIDI keyboards above sport varying numbers of these pads, and most controllers average eight, while some offer more. These are used for playing drums, and triggering loops from your DAW. Some even have aftertouch built in.

Bear in mind that some of the budget MIDI keyboards above have no pads, to keep the price down. So it’s a case of thinking about what you will be using your keyboard for. If you will be mostly recording and performing synth lines, piano VSTs and other non-percussive instruments, it’s possible that you wouldn’t be using the performance pads much anyway. Some people even prefer having a MIDI keyboard just for keys and having a separate MIDI pad controller on its own for these purposes. If your music sees you making a lot of beats and loop-triggering, then you should definitely factor them in, whether you want the pads on your keyboard or a dedicated device. And if you do the latter in live performances, you probably won’t want to be seen dead playing your kicks and snares on the keyboard’s keys, unless doing so wearing a tie and blazer.

You should now be feeling more in control of your decision regarding which is the best budget MIDI keyboard for you. It’s wonderful knowing you can get a lean, mean music-making machine for a very reasonable price. We wish you ‘tally-ho’ as you get out there and start making beautiful music on the right MIDI keyboard for you.

Further Reading: best midi keyboards to suit any budget.