Best Keyboards for Making Beats: MIDI Controllers and More
The best keyboards to make beats and rhythms for Hip Hop, Rap, EDM, Dubstep, Trap, Reggaeton and other styles of electronic music.
Table of Contents
The best keyboards to make Beats for electronic music
Whether you are an artist or music producer of Hip Hop, Rap, House, Techno, Trance, Dubstep or other electronic music style, you need to have a keyboard to compose and/or produce your Beats or rhythms. Thus, we show you in depth the best keyboards to make rhythms and Beats so that you can choose the one that best suits your needs and tastes.
These keyboards are options that allow you to quickly start creating Beats in your Home Studio or bedroom. Thus, these keyboards will allow you, whether you are a music producer or an artist, to use the best resources to create rhythms and music. In electronic music like Hip-Hop and EDM, fun and catchy beats are essential for your tracks.
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Selection methodology and considerations
We analyze the market for keyboards to make Beats and consider those equipment that are available in the main markets: USA, Europe, Japan, Korea, etc.
The aspects analyzed were sound quality, versatility, productivity, ease of use and portability, among others. So when building beats, a keyboard that simplifies and improves your workflow, with good audio quality, will be your perfect companion.
In our selection there are keyboards with different numbers of keys, so you can choose according to your needs. So, if you’re a music producer looking to create rhythms or beats where you’re using your piano background, you’ll want to look for a keyboard with more keys. Now, if you don’t use a piano instead, you may want to opt for fewer keys and more pads. With more pads, you can use more samples, and you can even put piano notes on the pads if you feel more comfortable doing so.
Within the keyboard options, there is the number of keys. Depending on the use you give it or your musical profile, if you are focused on using it to make Beats and MIDI controller, maybe you will prefer one with few keys like 25 or 32, which are practical and portable. On the other hand, if in addition to using it to make Beats, you will also use it as a synthesizer or piano itself, a 73, 76 or 88-key keyboard will be perfect for you. Thus, normally, you will find the following number of keys according to
You might be interested in our selection of the best digital pianos and keyboards for beginning and advanced musicians.
The best keyboards to make Beats:
- Novation SL MKIII 61
- Akai Professional MPK249
- Alesis VI25
- Novation Launchkey49 MK3
- Akai MPK Mini MK 3
- Roland FA 08
- Korg Kronos 2
- Yamaha Montage 8
The best keyboard for making Beats: a quick look
There are two options that are great options for keyboards to make Beats. One is the workstation keyboard and the other is the MIDI keyboard. Both options allow you to make beats or rhythms, however MIDI controllers require a PC or Mac laptop.
In case you don’t know where to start, we’ll give you some suggestions to consider. In case you are looking for a combination of features and price, we suggest the Novation SL MK III 61. Another slightly cheaper alternative is the AKAI MPK 249.
In case you are looking for a music workstation with which you don’t need a PC or Mac laptop, we suggest the Roland FA 08. The Roland will give you everything you need to make your own Beats, produce music and much more.
Finally, maybe you are looking for something simple, portable and cheap, in that sense, the AKAI MPK Mini Mk3 is unbeatable, and the best keyboard to make Beats.
The best keyboards to make Beats
Now that you understand why some keyboards are better than others for setting Beats or rhythms, let’s get into the list!
Novation SL MKIII 61
The Novation SL MK III not only makes it easy to create beats or rhythms, it’s also an absolute powerhouse that lets you do so much more. You have the ability to control hardware synths with this keyboard and it also has a great sequencer.
When making Beats, one of the most important things in a session is the workflow. This keyboard has been optimized to greatly increase your workflow, so you don’t have to keep looking at your computer.
This keyboard does not have speakers and you will need to connect it to a PC or Mac or you will need to use headphones.
Price: $699 / £630 / €726 | Compatibility: PC, Mac | Number of keys : 61 | Key Size: Full Size | Key Type: Semi Weighted, Velocity Sensitive | Controls: Pitch and Mod Wheels, 16 Velocity-Sensitive Drum Pads with Full-Color RGB Backlighting, Page and Scene Start Buttons, 8 Continuous Rotary Buttons, 8 Sliders, 6 Transport Controls, Octave/Transpose Buttons, track buttons, 5 TFT RGB screens | Connectivity: USB, MIDI Out / Out2 / Thru, Sustain & Expression Pedal, Footswitch, CV / Gate / Modulation 1 & 2, Clock Out | Energy: Electric network | Size: 98.1 x 30 x 10 cm | Weight: N/A.
Manufacturer Site: Novation Music
Also, we recommend that you visit our review of the best MIDI controller keyboards.
Akai Professional MPK249
This MIDI controller is one of the best keyboards for making beats due to its versatility and a fairly affordable price. It comes with 16 drum pads that can be programmed to easily make beats or rhythms.
The control screen is very easy to navigate and useful for users who are new to these musical instruments. Akai is known for providing musicians with a wealth of software so that when you purchase an Akai product, you can immediately start accessing new sounds.
If you’re on a budget, you can also look at the mini version, the Akai MPK Mini MK3.
Price: $429 / £279 / €329 | Compatibility: PC, Mac | Number of keys : 49 | Key Size: Full Size | Key Type: Semi-Weighted, Synth-Style, Velocity Sensitive | Controls: Pitch and Mod Wheels, 16 Velocity-Sensitive Drum Pads, 8 Assignable/Transpose Buttons, 8 Faders, LCD Display | Connectivity: USB-MIDI with 5-pin MIDI in & out | Power: USB power | Size: 29″ x 12.25″ x 3.38″ | Weight: 12.6lbs.
Manufacturer Site: Akai Professional
The Alesis VX49 is an instrument that won’t give you the headaches of some of the controllers we won’t mention. If you’re using FL Studio or a DAW that isn’t extremely popular, you don’t have to worry about compatibility with this controller.
It comes with a full color display with 8 knobs and 8 drum pads. The best feature of this keyboard is that it comes with aftertouch for the keys. This is extremely useful and can give the musician amazing textures.
Price: $179 / £115 / €139 | Compatibility: PC, Mac | Number of keys : 25 | Key Size: Full Size | Key Type: Semi-weighted, velocity-sensitive with aftertouch | Controls: Pitch and Mod Wheels, 16 Velocity-Sensitive Drum Pads, 8 Assignable Illuminated/Transpose Knobs, 24 Buttons | Connectivity: USB-MIDI output | Power: USB power / Mains power | Size: 20.9″ x 10″ x 2.8″ | Weight: 7lbs.
Manufacturer Site: Alesis
Also, take a look at the best software to create Beats online and for free.
Novation Launchkey 49 MK3
The Novation Launchkey has come a long way since it first hit the market. This controller is really good with Ableton as it was practically built for Ableton. It still works fine with all DAWs, it’s really easy to use for Ableton.
Launchkey has 16 drum pads and a lot of additional software for free. If you are looking for a cheap keyboard to make beats and beats, this is definitely a great option with the right keys.
Price: $229 / £205 / €239 | Compatibility: PC, Mac | Number of keys : 49 | Key Size: Full Size | Key Type: Synth-style, velocity sensitive | Controls: Pitch and Mod Wheels, 16 Velocity-Sensitive Drum Pads with Full-Color RGB Backlighting, Page and Scene Start Buttons, 8 Continuous Rotary Knobs, 8 Sliders, 6 Transport Controls, Octave/Transpose Buttons, track buttons | Connectivity: USB, MIDI Out, Sustain & Expression Pedal, Footswitch, CV / Gate / Modulation 1 & 2, Clock Out | Power: USB Power | Size: 31.6″ x 10.16″ x 3.03″ | Weight: 6.68 lbs.
Manufacturer Site: Novation Music
Akai MPK Mini MK 3: The best budget keyboard for creating Beats
The Akai MPK Mini MK3 is the latest controller from Akai to replace the best selling MIDI keyboard of all time, the MPK Mini MK2.
This is easily the best keyboard for creating Beats for those on a budget. Since it’s small, you can use it in a bedroom, in a van, or even in your living room if you like.
Portability is one of the reasons this keyboard has been great for making beats and rhythms. Another reason is the fact that it is powerful.
Depending on what Beats you’re doing, the only limiting factor you’d have would be smaller keys. Having said that, it’s not normally necessary to play super complex parts when making Beats.
If you’re looking to really take advantage of a piano background, choose one of the workstation options above.
Price: $119 / £89 / €98 | Compatibility: Mac / PC / iOS | No. of keys: 25 | Key Size: Mini | Key Type: Velocity Sensitive | Controls: Eight Assignable Encoders, Eight MPC Pads, Full Transport Controls, 4-Way Joystick | Connectivity: USB | Power: Bus cable | Software: MPC Beats, Bassline, Tubesynth, Electric, Hybrid 3, Mini Grand, Velvet | Dimensions: 32 x 18 x 4 cm | Weight: 750g
Manufacturer Site: Akai Professional
You might also be interested in the best DAWs to build your Home Studio with your Windows, Mac and Linux PC.
Roland FA 08 – Music Workstation
The Roland FA series is an affordable option from Roland and also one of the most popular. The keys on this workstation feel like real ivory keys, which is really hard to find on a keyboard. Customization is really nice on this product as it has faders that allow you to mix and tweak the sounds to your liking.
The Roland FA-08 includes over 2,000 sounds from the flagship Roland INTEGRA-7 sound module, including the SuperNATURAL synthesizer and acoustic drums and tones. Also, it features a built-in arpeggiator along with Roland’s basic D-beam synthesizer. The D-beam is basically a synthesizer where you put your hand over a sensor and it makes crazy noises.
Pick up a beat in a trap rap song, you can use the D-beam to play crazy samples in the background. It will give a unique touch to some of your productions.
Simply press a button to instantly configure your workstation for use with your DAW via USB, including control templates for most major DAWs.
Price: $1,980 / £1,333 / €1,799 | Compatibility: PC, Mac | Number of keys : 88 | Key Size: Full Size | Key Type: Weighted, Velocity Sensitive | Controls: Modulation Wheel, 16 Backlit Velocity-Sensitive Drum Pads, 6 Assignable Rotary Knobs, Large Color Display | Storage Medium: SD Card | Connectivity: USB, MIDI In-Out, Sustain & Expression Pedal, Footswitch, CV / Gate / Modulation 1 & 2, Clock Out | Energy: Electric network | 1415 x 340 x 142mm / 55.75″ x 14.44″ x 5.62″ | Weight: 16.5kg / 36.44lbs
Manufacturer Site: Roland
Korg Kronos 2 – Music Workstation
The Korg Kronos 2 is a very powerful keyboard that is used by many hip-hop producers today. It has 9 different sound engines and a nice feature is how easy the screen is to use. For musicians on tour, you can set up different playlists that contain all of your different sounds.
All drum sounds may seem a bit weak at first with this keyboard, but you can modify and edit them to your liking. The 88 hammer action keys are a big plus as they feel like a real piano. You can also try and install different sounds with this.
Price: $3,899 / £2,349 / €2,955 | Compatibility: PC, Mac | Number of keys : 73 | Key Size: Full Size | Key Type: Weighted, Velocity Sensitive | Controls: Modulation Wheel, 1 x 4-Way Joystick, 1 x Vector Joystick, 1 x Ribbon, 9 x Sliders, 8 x Knobs | Storage Medium: SD Card | Connectivity: USB, MIDI In-Out | Energy: Electric network | Size: 48.07″ x 14.61″ x 5.83″ | Weight: 46.52 lbs.
Manufacturer Site: Korg
Yamaha Montage 8
The Yamaha Montage is one of the best keyboards available for creating Beats. This is so powerful that it will take years to learn all the features and effects you can use with it. It has a fantastic keychain and purely analog circuitry. This is extremely rare on a workstation and one of the best things about it.
The Motif has an amazing interface that makes it extremely useful for putting together tracks. You can grab a few kits and be instantly immersed in your beat-making process.
This is an expensive option, but don’t rely on a new laptop to get great-sounding Beats and Rhythms.
It comes with 2 completely different sound engines for different styles of music. If you liked the Yamaha Motif, this is the next step in the Yamaha Workstation. It has similar sounds and plays similarly, but goes further with editing and controls at your fingertips.
Price: $3,999 / £3,399 / €3,999 | Compatibility: PC, Mac | Number of keys : 88 | Key Size: Full Size | Key Type: Weighted, Velocity Sensitive | Controls: Pitchbend, Mod Wheel, Ribbon Controller, 8 Rotary Knobs, Color Touchscreen | Connectivity: USB, MIDI In-Out | Energy: Electric network | Size: 1450 x 160 x 470mm / 57.06″ x 18.12″ x 6.68″ | Weight: 29kg / 63lbs.
Manufacturer Site: Yamaha
Things to Consider When Buying a Beats Production Keyboard
Price – Price will be important because there is a huge jump in price from MIDI controllers to workstations. Knowing your budget will allow you to determine which is best for you.
Experience: Do you have any keyboard or piano playing experience? If you’re coming from a classical or jazz background and you know how to play, you may want to look into workstations, as keybeds are usually better. MIDI controllers typically have a lower number of keys and can have weak key beds.
Music Production Experience – If you have production experience, you may want to use a controller as there are so many DAWs you can access and take advantage of. This is why I personally prefer them. Unlimited Sounds is really a hard thing to beat. If you’re on a budget and looking to create Beats, a free DAW might be a great option to try.
Number of Keys – Check how many keys are on the keyboards you are looking at. Some producers who make rhythms and Beats will actually prefer a lower number of keys with more pads.
We recommend that you take a look at the best free online drum machines.