Looking for MIDI controller keyboard recommendations

I have a less than ideal budget and looking for something that is around the 49 key range and can take control over elements of Cubase to speed up my workflow.

The ones I have in mind are:

  • M-Audio Axiom 49 2nd Generation
  • Nektar Impact LX49
  • Novation Launchkey 49
  • M-Audio Oxygen 49 4th Generation

I have also considered two separate controllers, such as a basic 49 key keyboard and something like an Akai APC Mini for the buttons and faders.

I mainly produce electronic based music, so something with buttons, faders and rotaries would be perfect for controlling mixer and instruments.

Grateful if anybody could provide recommendations, or alternatives in a similar price range.


Just a thought… If you are on a real serious budget and you really don’t need another keyboard then check out the reasonably priced Korg nanoKONTROL2. (8) sliders, (8) rotary and a few other buttons/gizmos. Just right for the budget minded but, if you do need a new keyboard then this one is not for you.

Have fun choosing :wink:

Regards :sunglasses:

I had considered that but need a new keyboard too. Could do with a 25 or 49 key, but as I don’t generally “play” (as in playing a piano), I don’t need anything bigger. Ideally want one USB device rather than multiple devices too.

Heard good things about the Nektar Panoramas - worth a look - I’m tempted myself.

The Nektar Panoramas do look nice! The P4 is tempting but out of my range, hence why I was considering the Impact LX49.

I know money is always an issue but I bought a Panorama and I am so pleased with how well it works with Cubase and most of my VST´s. Really worth spending the extra.

I think it’s worth calling out a powerful feature of the LX49 which is often overlooked. The Impact LX49 has a unique feature called ‘grab’ which is using the same technology as Panorama’s plugin map system:

With Instrument Mode active, hold [SHIFT] on the LX49 then use the mouse to select the plugin parameters you want to map on the Instrument plugin. Release [SHIFT] and move controls on the LX49 in the order you want to map them to your selected parameters. Then you have the choice of either storing that mapping as the default for the instrument, or you can just use it as a temporary override to your default mapping.

How many times do you find yourself staring at a plugin GUI and thinking “I just want to control that parameter right there with this knob”. LX49 makes that simple now with grab. I think it’s a far quicker way to get tactile control of a software parameter than a lot of the more expensive controllers which require that you scroll through page listings of parameters to find the one you want.

For the other controllers you list above, there is no intelligent system for instrument parameter mapping as far as I know so you only really get basic mixer and transport mapping (which you also get on the LX49 ofcourse). Instrument parameter mapping you would have to set up yourself.

Indeed, the Nektar LX has great mapping abilities with Cubase, highly recommended. No other midi controller compares.

Yes, I’ll agree on this too. I’ve been using Nektar Impact LX88 (non plus version) for more than 6 months & deeply satisfied !

In fact, I made a video of setting n using this with Cubase Pro 9.0.1, please have a look at :


Thanks AudioSuperSite and BluePlanet. My home studio will only support the 25 key version. I will look into purchasing the Nektar LX as I cannot get the Akai MPK Mini MKII to work correctly with Cubase AI 8. Also, I like the idea of having dedicated play/record/etc buttons along with the keys, pads, and knobs.

Good luck then & let us know if you need help from using it !


This one has motorised faders and is CHEAP!

I need to considered thi soon as i can, but we need great keyboard too.

I’ve been almost entirely satisfied with the Novation 61SL Mk II. There are 3 primary reasons:

  1. The keyboard action. Similar to a Yamaha, synth action is less stiff than a Roland. The keys also have great lateral stability – they don’t wiggle left and right much at all. Very smooth.
  2. Keyboard sensitivity. It has aftertouch, which I’ve been able to link it to a CC in Steinberg softsynths. Also, it picks up velocity differences very nicely compared to other controllers I’ve tried.
  3. Cubase integration with transport controls, which are dedicated buttons on the SLMKii give very good workflow. I don’t have to keep running back to the DAW. Quickcontrols map OK. You can also run the mixer faders, mute, solo, etc…

Automap can be frustrating and confusing, and the DAW integration could be better, but I find it’s not really an issue. If I really want to work with the DAW, it won’t be from the MIDI keyboard. Being able to do routine adjustments to synth parameters and transport is quite sufficient for maintaining emotional momentum while laying down a track. (It breaks my stride to change back and forth between performer and engineer roles more than about once per minute.)

Obviously, my driving concerns were how it plays an an instrument, and how accurately it captures a performance. I purchased it without being able to try it (as no showroom carried it in my area). I had noticed that it has a different keyboard than the Novation Impulse, which i found to be a little stiff and cumbersome, but still better than most. (Arturia Keylab wasn’t bad, but doesn’t feel like it has the build quality I want.) My fallback plan was to “return” the SLMkii when it arrived, before leaving the store, if it disappointed me. But I was very pleasantly surprised.

I regret that I was unable to find a showroom with a Nektar in it, for that was another serious contender.

The SLMkii is Novation’s flagship. It has been around for something like 8 years, and used to sell for twice the price of the Impulse. I paid the same price as an Impulse, perhaps because the SLMkii is now so old. I think ye will find similar pricing. It was a much better value for the money IMHO.