Even if just for demos, having the ability to lay down tracks with samples is increasingly becoming one of the most valuable tools for producers and composers. And, thanks to better and better samples becoming available, many producers see MIDI programming as one of the best ways to make music with their DAW.
If you don’t already have a solid MIDI controller, chances are you’re missing out on much of the functionality and capabilities of your DAW. On top of that, many of the newer controllers feature programmable knobs, faders and pads that can be utilized to boost your mixing workflow.
Here are three of the best 61 key MIDI controllers on the market right now.
M-Audio Axiom 61
Probably the most straightforward, and affordable, of our group, the M-Audio Axiom 61 is an all around excellent MIDI controller. The semi-weighted keys offer enough action to allow your expression to shine through in your samples and the pads are top quality. With eight knobs, eight pads and nine faders, it has more than enough features to accommodate the workflow of most DAWs and producers.
Novation Impulse 61
The Novation Impulse offers similar features to the Axiom and is equally reliable for programming MIDI samples. Some musicians have preferred the action of the Impulse to others and the new model has improved faders, which feel more professional.
With several knobs and faders, there are countless possibilities with DAW integration.
Akai MPK 261
Akai’s MPK 261 is the newest model of the group and represents a nice upgrade from the original MPK 61. It has an excellent action, eight faders and 16 pads with programmable RGB lights, which could be used for more extensive drum/sample sequencing and live performances. (Ableton users, rejoice!)
There are some extra programmable features on the MPK 261, as well, that allow more extensive DAW mapping of the buttons, which could have even more benefits to your workflow.
If you don’t have a MIDI controller yet, any of these three will make an excellent addition to your studio and can enable you to make the most of today’s amazing sample libraries while streamlining your workflow.