Keyboards vs. MIDI controllers

Keyboards and MIDI controllers look quite similar. They both feature keys resembling that of a piano and they both use electricity to work. So which one should you choose? Well, that mostly depends on what you are going to be using it for. Keyboards Overview An electronic keyboard is a standalone instrument that plays the […]

Keyboards and MIDI controllers look quite similar. They both feature keys resembling that of a piano and they both use electricity to work. So which one should you choose?

Well, that mostly depends on what you are going to be using it for.

Keyboards

Overview

An electronic keyboard is a standalone instrument that plays the prerecorded sound of a real piano whenever you press a specific key. Its popularity stems from its compact shape and portability. Keyboards can fit into any home more easily than a grand piano or an upright piano. They can be put away whenever not in use so they don’t take up permanent space at home. Professional musicians can just throw them in the trunk on their way to the next gig. Keyboards are truly a wonder of modern technology and they make learning to play the piano more accessible to anyone.

Size

Most electronic keyboards come in one of the three sizes: 61, 76, or 88 keys. More keys mean the keyboard’s range is greater – it can play more octaves. Which keyboard you will choose depends mostly on your space restrictions and your skill level. If you are just beginning to learn how to play then a 61 key keyboard is more than enough. It will allow you to study the basics of piano with ease. One more octave will extend your playing range even further. 88 keys is the size of a real piano. An 88 key keyboard can get quite big but if you plan on someday transitioning to an acoustic piano then it’s worth it to start practicing now.

MIDI controllers

Overview

A MIDI controller won’t work without some additional equipment – a computer with MIDI software installed. They are also called MIDI keyboards. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. This standard regulates how computer devices ‘understand’ the sounds we play on instruments. You might remember some simple MIDI ringtones of popular song hits from the era before smartphones. You press a key on a plugged-in MIDI controller and the computer records the sound as MIDI. This allows you to further customize the sound digitally later. MIDI controllers are used for digitally recording and mixing music rather than simply playing. They are mainly used in home and professional music studios.

Size

MIDI controllers tend to be smaller than usual keyboards although you need to account for the size of a computer needed to use it. The number of keys on a MIDI controller ranges from just 25 keys to 88 keys, which is the size of a real piano. The smallest size is fine if you don’t have a lot of space and only want to record simple melodies for bass or leads. If you feel confident using more keys then a 49 key ones is the best choice for most players. 61 keys and more MIDI controllers are usually reserved for people who need to imitate a piano’s real range.

Check out these reviews by Mr. Pianist to find out about different models and see what is best for you.