MIDI Controller vs Keyboard: Choose What’s Best for You!

This article will provide you with a detailed comparison of keyboards and MIDI controllers, along with tips on how to decide what you need.
Fact Checked Yoke Wong
Yoke Wong
Review by Yoke Wong
Expert Consultant
Yoke Wong is a talented pianist and piano teacher, author of online piano courses Pianomother.com, founder of Harmony and Melody Studio.
Updated 23-08-2023
Updated 23-08-2023
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A lot of people wonder whether to go for a midi controller Trusted Source Jamstik: Emmy the Great tries the new MIDI controller | Technology | The Guardian The singer-songwriter has a few frets about the guitar-shaped instrument www.theguardian.com or a standard keyboard when buying their music equipment. It can be difficult knowing the right one to choose, especially if you can’t tell the features, what they are used for, and the differences between the two. In this Midi Controller vs Keyboard article, we will be answering these questions and all you need to know about these tools.

Ultimately, deciding which to go for should only be made after reading all the information below. Having the right answers to all of these questions will help you make an informed decision. So what are you waiting for? Dive in as we guide you through all you need to know about Midi controllers and Keyboards.

What is a MIDI controller?

MIDI Controller vs Keyboard: Choose What's Best for You!The MIDI controller is computer hardware that works jointly with sound software installed on a computer system. It helps in the easy and creative production of music. It does this by transmitting and receiving MIDI information through sound software.

It should be pointed out that the MIDI controller can’t produce any audible sound by itself without an external system. It has no speaker output. This means it needs an external system to translate the information gotten into logical audio sounds.

The external system could be a sequencer, a VS Ti, or a computer. Your MIDI controller should have a USB port that will allow you to connect to any of these external systems easily.

What can you use it for?

The MIDI controller can be used for several things. However, these can be broadly categorized into two, they are:

  1. A Midi controller can be used to play, practice and produce music as a beginner.
  2. It can also be used to make live performances.

The process of playing, practicing, and producing music either as a beginner or an expert is known as automation. On the other hand, automating using a Midi Controller simply means using the software to change the sound parameters within a specific time duration. For instance, you can automate the sounds to change from a very high peak to a medium sound and finally ends on a quiet note, all within three minutes.

You can even time how many minutes or how many seconds each of the notes will sound. To create this automated volume change, for instance, you will need an automation track. The automation track will be controlled by your knobs to deliver your desired sound effect. Most of the time, Midi controllers are used jointly with some audio software, such as Cubase, Ableton, among others.

When using the Midi controller for live performances, Live Performers or even DJ find it very helpful to mix sounds and create beautiful sound filters. It also makes it possible for different sounds can play together.

Pros & Cons

The Pros of A Midi Controller

The Cons of A Midi Controller

What is a keyboard?

MIDI Controller vs Keyboard: Choose What's Best for You!The keyboard is a musical instrument played by pressing the fingers on the parallel horizontal keys to produce different note sounds. The keys usually consist of longer, larger, shorter band smaller keys. Unlike the Midi Controller, you usually don’t need additional equipment to make the keyboard work. It will produce sound by itself.

If you are using an electric keyboard, they are more sensitive to your finger touch. An electric keyboard will give sound as soon as your fingers touch the keys. And the sound produced from the keyboards varies with how long or short you press the keys.

The midi keyboards come in different sizes and shapes. There is a small midi keyboard, which has 25 keys, excluding bells and whistles, and there is also a professional midi keyboard with 81 keys, knobs, pads, and slides. Everything you need to produce melodious music.

What can you use it for?

  1. Learn How To Play: The Keyboard is a versatile and fantastic tool. If you want to practice as a beginner, you can use the keyboard to learn how to play a real piano like a pro. The keyboard can also be used with a headphone; this is ideal if you want to focus or concentrate on the sound played without any interfering sound.
  2. Live Performances: You can also use the keyboard as an expert for live performances. With the Nord stage 3 compact 73 key digital piano, for instance, you can enjoy the new filter effect as well as an enhanced delay effect.
  3. Use as a Controller: The Keyboard can also double as a controller. It has a USB port that you can easily connect to your computer for your music production.

Pros & Cons

Pros of a Midi Keyboard

Cons of a Midi Keyboard

What to choose?

At this point, if you are still undecided on which one to go for or which will better suit your needs, then the following can help with your consideration.

What is your main interest? In deciding your main interest, you have to decide what you want to do and answer the following questions:

A sincere answer to these questions will guide you to know the variables to buy right now or the ones to buy later. To make a well-informed decision, you may need to check out a midi controller and a midi keyboard. You can then choose whichever one that fits your suits your purpose and style.

Can you use a MIDI controller like a keyboard and vice versa?

MIDI Controller vs Keyboard: Choose What's Best for You!Midi controller can be used as a keyboard provided it comes with pads. You would also still need an external system to listen to and enjoy the sounds produced by your midi controller.

Your midi keyboard can also be used as a midi controller as most mid-range or full professional keyboards comes with all the accessories, such as slides, drum pads, and knobs that would make the keyboard easily pass for a controller.

Final thoughts

Whether you are just a beginner or a professional music producer, you would need either the midi controller or the midi keyboard. However, as a beginner, it is advised that you get the midi keyboard. This will help you practice more and hone your skills. It could also inspire you to produce more music. What’s more, with a keyboard, you have the chance to make mistakes and correct yourself again and again.

However, if you would love to go into live performances or mix music as a DJ, your best bet is the midi controller. It allows you to integrate and produce different sounds and synchronize them into one beautiful sound with your midi controller. Also, you can easily travel with your controller.

When you compare the MIDI controller vs keyboard, you will discover they are both essential and sound instruments. Your decision on which to go for is dependent on your needs, what you want to use it for, and of course, your budget.


Jamstik: Emmy the Great tries the new MIDI controller | Technology | The Guardian
The singer-songwriter has a few frets about the guitar-shaped instrument
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