Midi (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controllers do not produce any sounds. By using a communication standard, they serve 2 main purposes:
- They allow you to control external midi sound modules, midi instruments or drum machines;
- They let you control your music recording application: your transport controls, parameters for vst instruments and effect plugins, track automation, etc…
You don’t have to use a midi controller to make music. You can do everything using only your computer keyboard and mouse to control your DAW and play/record music. But it will be painful. Basic midi controllers cost less than a hundred dollars, so it’s a good investment if your are serious about making music.
How to choose a midi controller?
There are a lot of midi controllers available, in all price ranges and with very different features. So if you are new to making music and beats, here are a few pointers to help you choose your controller.
To select the proper midi controller for you and your home studio, you have to consider the following:
- What is your music style?
- Do you play any instrument?
- Do you have any constraints on space and budget?
- Do you need a portable controller?
- What are your goals and preferences?
- Will you use your midi controller on stage?
You will then be able to choose the features you need:
- combination of keys, sliders, knobs, pads, buttons
- number of keys: 0, 24, 49, 61, 76 or 88
- keyboard with weighted, semi-weighted or synth action
- usb powered
- midi connectors
- audio interface included
Midi controllers are usually usb powered. Musicians into Rap/Hip Hop tend to favor midi controllers with pads (easier to program beats) and small or no keyboards. I personally went for a 49 keys midi controller keyboard.
I am not a piano player so I didn’t need 88 keys. 24 keys didn’t seem enough to me, but it might fit your needs and budget.
If you want to have a lot of control over the parameters of your DAW, you might prefer sliders or knobs, or both, and possibly a lot of them.
Some midi controllers also come with an audio interface. They are more expensive, but if you need both pieces of equipement, it could be less expensive for you than buying a controller and an audio interface separately.
Midi Controllers Suggestions
Here a few suggestions for midi controllers from reputable companies:
Other studio gear related posts:
Studio Monitor Speakers
Studio Monitor Headphones