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Keyboard controllers are prevalent among DJs and music studios. These MIDI keyboard controllers facilitate recording and playing melodies and chords. Keyboard controllers are versatile and usable in numerous entertainment and imaginative applications. The perfect keyboard controller optimizes your inventive experience in gaming, live performances, music production, and theater.  

Many aspects affect the efficiency and usefulness of keyboard controllers. Understand the key classifications, connectivity choices, and other features. This article guides you through the procedure of picking the best keyboard controller. You will uncover features and functions that your keyboard controller needs to have. 

1. Types of Keys  

Keyboard controllers have multiple unique key types, catering to ranged playing techniques. Research the key varieties and select what will work for the specific project. Weighted keys generate the feel of traditional pianos and offer a more real-life playing experience. They are perfect for pianists because of their expressive capabilities. Semi-weighted keys maintain a lighter touch with minimal resistance. These keys are versatile and suit all music genres. 

Unweighted keys are lighter and offer a more responsive feel. These keys provide the ideal experience for synth-style sounds and fast playing. These keys are popular in high-end keyboard controllers. Ensure the keyboard controller you pick has the ideal type and number of keys. 

2. Intended Use  

Research your music workflow and understand every bit of the process. Does your music-making process start with melodies, drums, and chords? These large key beds have an extensive range and provide more expressivity.  

Consider a 25- or 37-key controller for extra controls. These keyboards allow you to control plugin parameters more effortlessly. Consider keyboards with built-in velocity-sensitive drum pads if you are a hip-hop or lo-fi producer. The content you create with a keyboard controller is crucial. The wrong one can mess up your production. 

3. Software and DAWs 

Many keyboard controllers work with most digital audio workstations. Find keyboard controllers compatible with the majority of digital audio workstations. Remember, some controllers have unique hardware and software requirements. Some have additional firmware and software solutions to support plug-and-play communication with DAW. Decide on the keyboards to pick based on the software you already have. 

Choose keyboard controllers that integrate seamlessly with your DAW. It should allow for easy control of virtual instruments, recording MIDI data, and navigating software efficiently. It should allow for flexible MIDI mapping and let you customize control assignments. Some controllers allow support for protocols such as Mackie control and Human User Interface. Such high-end features enhance communication with specific DAW versions for improved editing functions and control over mixing. 

4. Inputs and Outputs 

Keyboard controllers have many MIDI input and output ports. Input ports support connecting to external MIDI devices, including drum machines and synthesizers. MIDI output ports allow the transmission of MIDI-generated data from the controller to external devices. These ports enable control of MIDI-compatible equipment and hardware synthesizers.  

Many advanced keyboards have USB ports for connecting to a computer. They allow for a simplified setup and prevent the necessity of using more MIDI interfaces. Some USB ports transmit both data and power. For users wanting to daisy-chain several MIDI devices, choose controllers with MIDI thru ports. The feature helps in complex setups needing a connection to multiple MIDI instruments. You will discover other controllers with sustain pedal and expression pedal inputs for connecting sustain and expression pedals. Consider the devices you will connect to the controller and your workflow. 

5. After Touch Features  

Aftertouch features make a keyboard more expressive when playing. Its quality determines how sensitive your keyboard is to pressure. Keyboards with more sensitivity detect pressure effortlessly after touch. Key release after touch gets activated after you release a key after pressing. The feature enables easy, nuanced control over things, such as vibrato and modulation. 

The channel aftertouch affects all keyboard keys simultaneously when you apply pressure to keys. Use this key for overall expressive control, including the varying sustained note intensity. Consider the aftertouch quality of the keyboard. Aftertouch adds a dynamic effect to playing and lets you control parameters such as volume, pitch, and filter. Sound designers and synthesizer enthusiasts need quality after touch to shape and create more evolved textures.  

Consider keyboard controllers with more advanced aftertouch to evaluate changes in intensity and volume generated when playing traditional instruments. The feature gives you more control over the subtleties of performance.  

6. Additional Features  

MIDI keyboard controllers have many other unique and fascinating controls. The range and type of buttons, knobs, wheels, faders, and touch strips in keyboard controllers vary based on the keyboard controller type. Think of your workflow when purchasing controller keyboards. The perfect keyboard controller can shape and enhance your workflow. Choose keyboard controllers with the best-quality buttons, touch strips, and knobs to enjoy higher levels of expression and automation. 

There are two types of controller knobs: rotary encoders and pots. Pots have 270 range and control things like volume. Rotary encoders turn infinitely in all directions and work best for controlling automated parameters such as resonance and LFO. Knobs come in many different sizes, including cheaper and mini-size options. Knobs and faders do almost the same job. Faders are essential for controlling track volume. Larger faders offer more control and better functionality. 

Almost all keyboard controllers have a universal modulation wheel and pitch controls. Cheaper alternatives offer pressure-sensitive buttons and touch bars instead. These features modulate sound when playing your controller. 

Wrapping Up 

Every time you want to shop for keyboard controllers, you should have a budget and know what you want. Decide on the ideal keyboard controllers based on the workflow. Think of the additional features to make your work easier and fun. Consider keyboards with the right size and type of knobs, faders, wheels, and buttons.  

The aftertouch sensitivity should be a priority consideration when making a purchase. Give the input and output ports priority. Think of the devices you will add to the keyboard controller. Also, consider the software and DAW support and compatibility. 


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