While you can do a lot with the 49 and 61 key MIDI keyboards controllers, they’re nothing compared to the 88-key full-size instrument. And if you are serious about playing and composing music, it’s inevitable that you’ll look for the best weighted MIDI keyboard at some time.
A great concern, however; it’s not that simple to find the best 88-key MIDI keyboards with so many options flocking on the market. Since we all have different needs and preferences, we will be lying if we tell you that there’s a fit-for-all option.
You’ll find different instruments equipped with different features, specs, and quality. And the only way to know your perfect match is by doing research for each instrument to know its strength, weaknesses and who it’s best for.
Top 7 Best Weighted 88-Key MIDI Keyboard Controllers: Reviews
Unfortunately, very few of us have that time to go through each instrument to decide their best fit. That’s why we have done the research to bring you 7 best 88-key MIDI controllers that will fit different requirements.
Here are the best weighted 88-key MIDI keyboard controllers 2021:
- Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 Mk2
- M-Audio Hammer 88 Keyboard Controller
- Arturia KeyLab 88 MIDI Controller Keyboard
- Akai Pro MPK Road 88 Keyboard Controller
- Doepfer LMK4+ MIDI Master Keyboard
- Studiologic SL88 Studio Keyboard Controller
- Korg D1 Stage Piano / MIDI Controller
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 Mk2
If you want an all-round fully weighted 88-key MIDI controller with hammer action, then the Komplete Kontrol S88 is the way to go.
The keyboard comes with sleek black buttons and a smooth design which includes the twin screen Komplete Kontrol browser that you can use to run everything without the need for a monitor.
With the keyboard, you can use every NKS compatible effect and instrument plugin which will turn up in the browser on the screens. All you need to do is to load it up with the encoder and map it to the buttons and knobs available. Better yet, it comes with hundreds of instrument sounds and effects from leading manufacturers.
Literally, everything you need to know is in the line of sight. You’ll find sound and projects information on the screen and the backlight of the buttons which varies with intensity and colors to indicate different settings and so on.
The workflow is slick and responsive. It combines with the guiding lights on the keys to pinpoint the location of sounds, scales, switches, key zones and more.
Its keyboard has a great feel as it comes with weighted keys each with hammer action, smart spring and memory foam damping for a more realistic feel.
The instrument comes with precise pitch control and mod functions. It features the ultra-sensitive touch strip which provides a responsive alternative to the plugin that expresses pedal.
- It sounds like the SL88 Grand.
- Offers a more realistic feel compared to most of its competitors.
- Lighting zones that will help you in as you play.
- Many integration options.
- No finger drum pads.
- Require additional power source.
This keyboard enables you to capture all your ideas. If you are looking for the best MIDI controller with weighted keys and immediate access to transpose, mixing and able to edit controls with visual feedback and volume adjusting on the built-in display, the S88 Mk2 is the way to go.
M-Audio Hammer 88 Keyboard Controller
This controller remains to be one of the pocket-friendly weighted keyboards with a reasonable feel and enough features to perform essential functions.
It comes with a solid build and weighs 38.6 lbs which is easily manageable where one person can carry and even move around with a substantial flight case.
The front panel comes with just a few controls: two buttons, pitch, and modulation wheels and one fader. On the rear, there are equally minimalist components. You’ll find footswitch sockets, USB connector, power input, and MIDI output.
Unfortunately, the only visual indicator in this unit is the pitch and mod wheel which glow red.
You don’t need additional drivers in for USB functionality; you just need to plug in, select it as MIDI input device on your DAW and you are good to go. All you need is to fire up the editor app and if the USB is connected, you can use it.
You can separate the keyboard into four zones and use each to transmit different MIDI channel with own octave and transposes. With this, you can overlap the Zones to create layered sounds and produce richer music. And if you want to use the settings again in future, you just have to save the file to the library of presets.
On top of that, the Hammer 88 comes with weighted keys that are not too hard to play fast yet weighted enough to leave you satisfied.
The hammer action is great that anyone looking for a fantastic feel and great response will not be disappointed. You’ll be able to play piano parts with great accuracy and good expression that is rarely available even to high end keyboard controllers.
The keyboard is velocity responsive, where the sound will vary depending on how hard or soft you hit the keys.
- Satisfying hammer action.
- Very affordable.
- Great build quality.
- Quality software and plug-ins included.
- Few visual indicators.
While it might not have so much to offer in terms of features, the M-Audio Hammer 88 is a great budget item. It comes with features that will greatly suit average pianists but might prove hard to those who are used to advanced key stations.
Arturia KeyLab 88 MIDI Controller Keyboard
The 88-key fully-weighted controller keyboard is a great instrument primed to redefine how you interact with virtual synths. It includes Analog Lab software which has over 6000 presets.
With the keyboard, you can have maximum control of your sounds. This is enabled by the amazing hammer action keyboard and the available controls: faders, encoders, transport controls, and buttons.
The keyboard is touch sensitive with aftertouch so you are guaranteed to have a great experience. On top of that, the KeyLab 88 is pre-mapped but you can use MIDI control center software to customize the layout.
It comes with a great sound as it emulates vintage synthesizers giving you over 6000 classic sounds with the option to choose any synth sound you need in the bundle.
You can choose patches from Arturia popular software like the ARP2600, Modular V, JUP 8V and so on. Even better, you can add organs and classic EP’s for a classical experience.
It comes with a generous set of controls and great feeling keyboard that you can easily configure and optimize for all software you use. In addition, there’s expression pedals and breath controller inputs which is ideal for music production.
The KeyLab 88 has a firm and positive action with no side to side wobble on the keys during practice. The monophonic aftertouch has great controllability and can be adjusted according to your preference.
All the knobs behave as they should. The sliders come with a nice feel and the incorporated MPC pads that are built to tolerate even heavy pounding.
You can easily adjust the knobs buttons and sliders to give you the desired combination data and even save them as preset.
- Excellent keyboard feel.
- Fine-looking appearance.
- Good value for money.
- Huge sound library.
- Few controls.
- Limited Analog Lab editability.
If you are looking for the best 88-key MIDI keyboard that comes with great features, beautiful interior and a modest price tag the KeyLab 88 is a good place to start. It undercuts most of its competitors in both weight and price.
Although it doesn’t come with most fancy keys like the Analog Lab, you‘ll find it exciting and very reliable. It makes its way to be one of the cheapest 88-key MIDI keyboard controllers out there.
Akai Pro MPK Road 88 Keyboard Controller
The Akai Pro MPK Road 88 controller comes with a built-in audio interface and road case. This instrument is designed for professionals who are looking for a versatile fully weighted MIDI keyboard.
It features 88-key graded keybed with hammer action and velocity sensitivity which are meticulously engineered to give even the most demanding musician the nuisance they need of their performance.
With its built-in USB audio interface which gives you four audio outputs, the instrument is ideal even for advanced musicians. This eliminates the need for a separate audio interface where you can create a separate feed to monitor your stage and PA system.
It comes with dedicated volume controls on the front panel where you can manage your signals easily without messing with other interfaces.
The MPK Road 88 is designed to be responsive enough to give you a number of creative potentials to express control synthesizer and other software.
It enables you to select to transpose for a key change, split the keyboard to allocate multiple sounds and even select their presets. The controls are dedicated to each function to enable you to manage the instrument without using the menu. On top of all that, you’ll find dual expression pedal MIDI in-out ports and USB connectivity which are ready for all situations.
- Great keyboard feel.
- Compact design.
- Great professional features.
- The keys can be a bit noisy.
The MPK Road 88 is one instrument that will enable you to manage your VI collection to maximize the effect. It thoughtfully includes everything a professional keyboard player might be looking for. You’ll find Pitch and MOD wheels that combine with dedicated volume control knobs and buttons to easily meet the challenge.
Doepfer LMK4+ MIDI Master Keyboard
This is another instrument that has made its way to our best 88-key MIDI controller list. It’s an instrument that you can easily use as the command center of your electronic music gear as it comes with 88 full-size piano keys with hammer action and it’s packed in a flight case with a removable lid to give it maximum portability and control.
The Doepfer LMK4+ comes with two MIDI inputs which you can use to connect another keyboard or bypass pedal. With the instrument, you to send MIDI program change and bank message, MIDI clock, Start, continue, stop, and even reset all function. Even better, you can assign the wheels, rotary, control, sliders, aftertouch, footswitch and pedals any parameter.
Its playability is exceptional whereby you can fine tune the feel to fit your playing style from the available 32 selectable velocity response and 8 aftertouch response. On top of that, it comes with 128 memory slot that enables you to save your configurations and use them later.
The instrument comes with 8 overlap zones which you can assign and get comprehensive control to multiple synths. You can assign the velocity of each zone and aftertouch curve MIDI channel and output, controller activity, bank number transpose and more.
- Comes with 3 resistance level.
- Pre-mapped and requires no manual to access every function.
- Comes with the European plug so you need a converter to power it.
For serious players, the LMK4+ is the best deal out there when it comes to a reliable MIDI keyboard controllers with tones of fancy features. It comes with a great feel to give you pianos style action.
Generally, from production to playing, the Doepfer is the best MIDI keyboard with weighted keys in the market. It’s certainly a great value of everything.
Studiologic SL88 Studio Keyboard Controller
The SL88 is a modern MIDI controller that combines quality construction, versatility, ease of use and fantastic pricing. The instrument comes with a compact case, premium TP/100LR and 88 graded keys with a plastic keybed.
You can easily adjust the feel to the available soft, medium and hard settings or even customize it to your preference with the available 6 editable velocity response of each key. Here, you’ll find 6 factory settings to balance the keys and a memory of 10 custom settings to store your own.
The controller weighs only 30 pounds and sheds as much cost as it does on the weight. On top of that, the layout is very simple but classic in all ways.
It includes just three real-time controllers with the clever arrangement: the first is spring loaded with four axis to control mod and pitch. The second is loaded in only two directions and the third isn’t spring loaded at all and it’s used for crossfade, planning, and synthetic control.
The SL88 Studio provides pretty straight forward connectivity. There are two pedals input that can accommodate the regular sustain pedal, there’s the third pedal for a continuous controller and a fourth pedal that supports either multifunctional or controller pedal.
There are USB ports that support class-compliant USB-MIDI connectivity. You’ll also find MIDI jack in and two MIDI jack out, power input that is supplied by the 9V external power source but still it can run with the USB bus power.
The instrument comes with an elegant TFT color display and a control knob that is a multi-position selector and enters key when pressed. It comes with a 250 program memory with each memory coming with four programmable zones that you can split and layer on the instrument.
It also enables you to set bank select message for each zone which might seem like a little detail but is very essential to send message to change program MIDI containing multiple sound banks.
- Compact design.
- Very responsiveness control.
- Flexible midi routing.
- With the pitch bend joystick and patch changing, you might have trouble gaining the control.
Overall, the SL88 comes out as a useful and contemporary command center. It has a remarkable weight and gives outstanding value for money. With the keyboard, you are guaranteed to get a grand flavor that differs only in action.
Korg D1 Stage Piano / MIDI Controller
This is an instrument dedicated to bringing the feel of a grand piano to your home or stage. It features the famous Korg RH3 keybed at a mid-range price to bring hammer action into the compact frame with the patches and built-in effects.
The instrument is unquestionably well designed as it takes minimal construct approach and layout. Actually, the instrument is so minimal in a way that you might have a hard time spotting features like headphone jacks.
Above the keybed, the instrument comes with numerous effect and patch controls. On the left, you will find controls for touch sensitivity, reverb, chorus, and basic brilliance.
To the right, there are simplified patch controls that enable you to access over 30 different sounds organize them into 10 tones and categorizing them into 3 variations.
On the back, you get a 1/4 output/input damper, power input, and MIDI in and out jack pin. Unfortunately, there’s no USB-MIDI jack included in this keyboard which might seem like a downside considering it’s built focusing home use.
The available patches bring additional depth and increase the focus on sensitive resonance and sample sounds.
The sustain pedal is full and vibrant and the key off sounds contribute the realism commonly available to the electric pianos. The chorus and reverb effect are very useful to add motions and ambiance to the patches.
- Great keybed action.
- Ideal for stage and home performance.
- Solid and minimalistic design.
- User-friendly control panel.
- No USB port.
- The keys are too heavy for some people.
The Korg D1 is a terrific instrument for players with different skill sets. We can actually say it is the cheapest weighted MIDI keyboard on the price range.
The onboard RH3 is one of the high-end weighted keyboards offered by Korg and having at the affordable price is really remarkable. Even though you don’t get many fancy features, this remains to be one of the best MIDI keyboards with weighted keys in our list.
From the realistic to full feature to simple yet elegant, an 88-key controller keyboard will be great for numerous reasons. The instrument will open up your creative boundaries as a musician and allow you to explore a wide range of options.
In our list, you’ll find something that will fit your needs whether you are looking for an instrument that sound and feel like a real piano, something friendly and portable to travel with or even one with pads and extra buttons.