The 5 Best Keyboards for Hip Hop Production Reviews

With the best keyboards for hip hop production it’s now possible to edit, mix, record and produce tracks at home. Having MIDI controller keyboard gives you greater flexibility than before, plus they’re more affordable.

With a keyboard you’ll have an easier time mixing, editing and recording tracks. In just a few seconds you’ll be able to add melodic, beats and rhythms to your music.

And if you’re in the market for a hip hop keyboard, I have here a selection of the top 5. I spent hundreds of hours researching these products to ensure only the best made this list.

Top 5 Keyboards for Hip Hop Production: Comparison Chart

Products
Number of Keys
Bundled Software
Other Features
View On Amazon
49
SONiVOX Eighty Eight, Air Music Tech’s Xpand!2, Ableton Live Lite
transport and directional controls, pitch-bend and modulation wheels
25
Akai Pro MPC Essentials, SONiVOX Wobble, Hybrid 3 by AIR Music Tech
8 backlit pads, assignable knobs, modulation control
25
LPK25 editing software
4 presets, sustain button, arpeggiator
37
N/A
6 kinds of Arpeggiator, 8-Band Vocoder, 128 customizable presets
49
V49 Editor
8 LED drum pads, mod and pitch wheels

 

Best Picks of Keyboards for Hip Hop Production

#1: M-Audio Keystation 49 II | 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with Pitch-Bend & Modulation Wheels

The Keystation 49 II is designed not just for hip hop but all kinds of music creation. This MIDI controller allows you to play virtual instruments and sequence music on a PC, iOS or Mac.

The 49 key controller is sensitive and responsive, ideal for on the road musicians who want full control. These are also perfect if you produce music and want your tracks to sound natural.

M-Audio, 49-Key, 49 Keys (Keystation 49)
  • 49 full-size, synth-action velocity-sensitive keys
  • Pitch bend and modulation wheels provide dynamic performance capabilities
  • Transport controls let you control your DAW without reaching for the mouse
  • 6.3mm (1/4-inch) sustain pedal input for expressive performance
  • Now Includes Pro Tools | First and Eleven Lite for all new and existing customers, as well as SONiVOX Eighty-Eight Ensemble
  • M-Audio (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update on 2020-03-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Keystation II has built in wheels and buttons for modulation, pitch bend and direction. Going back to the keys they’ve got USB support, class compliant and runs on different computer systems.

The buttons for direction and transport allows you to run a DAW from this Keystation II. Along with the other controls you’ll discover different ways to create hip hop music.

The package includes the multitimbral AIR Music Tech Xpand!2 workstation and the SONiVOX Eighty Eight Ensemble, a virtual 9 ft CD327 Steinway piano. The package also comes with Ableton Live Lite, software developed specifically for music editing.

The Keystation II supports plug and play so you don’t need to install drivers. Just plug it in a USB port and it runs automatically.

If you want to run this on your iOS, just use the camera connection kit for your mobile (sold separately).

One of the best keyboards for hip hop, the Keystation 49 II is also available in

32, 61 and 88 keys. The keyboard runs on a USB so there’s no need for a power supply.

Highlighted Features
  • SONiVOX Eighty-Eight Ensemble Piano Instrument
  • Compatible with Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit
  • Ableton Live Lite creation software
  • Plug and play support for PC and Mac
  • Octave, modulation and pitch bend controls
  • DAW control buttons
  • USB MIDI virtual instrument support
  • 49 full size keys

#2: Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII | 25-Key Ultra-Portable USB MIDI Drum Pad & Keyboard Controller

The Akai Pro Mpk25 is built expressly for those on the go. Weighing just 1.6 lbs and 12.3 long, the keyboard fits snugly in your bag.

The Mini MKII is equipped with standard keyboard controller features. Its thumbstick combines mod and pitch controls for better control and efficiency.

There are 8 control knobs which you can assign for specific tasks. Along with the thumbstick you have greater control over its use.

Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII – 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller With 8 Drum Pads, 8 Assignable Q-Link Knobs and Pro Software Suite Included
  • Total Control Wherever You Go USB MIDI keyboard controller with 25 velocity sensitive keys and octave up / down buttons to access the full melodic range perfect virtual synthesizer control
  • Express Yourself Innovative 4 way thumbstick for dynamic pitch and modulation MIDI control, plus a built in arpeggiator with adjustable resolution, range and modes
  • Plug & Play No drivers required, USB powered and ultra portable design lets you create anywhere
  • Beat Maker Essentials 8 backlit velocity sensitive MPC drum pads with Note Repeat & Full Level for programming drums, triggering samples and controlling virtual instrument / DAW controls
  • Take Command of Your DAW 8 fully assignable Q Link knobs for mixing, tweaking plug ins and more

Last update on 2020-03-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

There are octave up and down buttons so you can increase the range. Its also got an onboard arpeggiator so you can make new melodies quickly.

Its 8 MPC type rubber pads ensures the controller can keep up with your work. Since it’s plug and play there’s no need to install drivers. Just hook this up to a USB port and it’s ready to go.

You can download the following music creation software – AIR Hybrid 3, SONiVOX Wobble and MPC Essentials to enhance performance. With its responsive keys you’ll get a lot more music done faster.

Setting up isn’t that hard. Plug the keyboard in your computer’s USB port, download the software and load the pads with sounds. The keyboard looks good, with a streamlined design and responsive to each press.

Compatibility isn’t an issue since the controller runs on Windows XP and higher and Mac OS 10.5 and later.

A common problem with controllers is lack of features, but the Akai Mpk25 Mini manages to cram a lot of useful features while still being compact.

Highlighted Features
  • Bundled with VIP 3.0 music creation software
  • Custom control knobs that you can assign
  • 8 rubber drum pads
  • 25 synth keys
  • USB support
  • Free virtual instrument download
  • Compact design
  • Thumbstick for modulation and dynamic pitch

#3: Akai Professional LPK25 | 25-Key Ultra-Portable USB MIDI Keyboard Controller for Laptops

The LPK25 combines ease of use with powerful features to meet the needs of different musicians. Its portable design makes it easy to carry for your next gig and it weighs less than a pound.

The LPK25 supports PC and Mac plug and play compatibility so connect to your computer’s USB and it’s good to go. There’s a built in music editor but you’ll have no problems using other music creation programs.

Akai Professional LPK25 | 25 Key Portable USB MIDI Keyboard Controller for Laptops (Mac & PC)
  • 13 inch, slim line laptop performance keyboard with 25 velocity sensitive mini keyboard keys for playing melodies, bass lines, chords and more
  • Dedicated octave up and down buttons to increase the keyboard to the full melodic range plus a sustain button for expressive performances
  • On board arpeggiator steps through chords automatically and generates inspiring melodic ideas quickly. 4 programmable memory banks for instant recall of mappings for DAWs, virtual instruments, effects and more
  • USB powered and plug and play setup for Mac and PC
  • Works with all popular applications including GarageBand, Logic, Sonar, Cubase, Ableton Live, ProTools, Reason, Fruity Loops, Digital Performer, and more

Last update on 2020-03-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Some of the more important features are its octave up / down toggle, tap tempo and sustain controls and an arpeggiator. There are a lot of features but they complement the keyboard and the layout is clear.

The arpeggiator works well and complement the program and sustain buttons. Even if you’re used to modulation and pitch wheels, the controls are intuitive.

There are four memory banks that you can program, and the help guide makes it easy to use. The keyboard is easy to operate, perfect if you want to try out new things and ideas.

Being light makes the keyboard easy to handle. Because the keys respond with velocity you can prepare a lot of hip hop music without stress.

The LPK25 is good enough to be used as a standalone product, but you can use it with a 49 or 88 key controller. The keyboard is a comfortable to use and won’t compromise your ability to create hip hop.

In other words you’ll get excellent performance from the LPK25.

Highlighted Features
  • Mac and PC editing software included
  • Tap tempo controls
  • No need for power cable, USB powered
  • Compatible with Ableton, Digital Performer and other music creation software
  • Arpeggiator built in
  • Keyboard keys are velocity sensitive
  • Wireless and non-wireless version available
  • Less than 13 inches long

#4: Korg microKorg 37-Key Analog Modeling Synthesizer with Vocoder

The Korg 37 makes my list of the best keyboard to make hip hop beats, combining ease of use and a great sound. With its 37 keys, selectable-step arpeggiator and a built in vocoder, you can create more in less time.

There are no complex menus to navigate as the parameters are easily accessible. It’s compact and easy to set up so you can start immediately.

The Korg 37 has half a dozen arpeggio patterns –  trigger, random, ALT1/2, up and down  – so you can modify the notes’ resolution and length. By adjusting the switch steps on and off you’ll generate patterns faster.

Sale
Korg microKorg 37-Key Analog Modeling Synthesizer with Vocoder
  • Sound Generation Method: Analog Modeling Synthesis System
  • Synthesizer Program: Multi Timbral=2 (max, Split/Dual Mode)
  • Voices: 4 voices. Power Supply- DC 9 V (AC adapter), or six AA alkaline batteries (sold separately)
  • Arpeggiator: 6 types. Outputs: L/MONO, R, Headphones
  • Compatibility : Windows - 98 Second Edition, Me, 2000 SP2, XP. Mac OS - OSX10.6.8 or later

Last update on 2020-03-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The microKorg uses a dual-oscillator synthesis engine so it produces over 70 unique waveforms such as sine, pulse, vox wave and cross wave. There’s also plenty of instruments, emulations and sounds to go along with 4 filter modes.

There are 128 editable programs and a couple of audio inputs for instrument processing. An 8 band vocoder and a microphone are included complete with effects and various features.

You can hook up a microphone on the audio in 1 jack and enhance vocal input tone. Using this feature it’ll make the person sound like they’re singing or talking.

The real strength of the microKorg is its ability to work with a wide array of sounds. Equipped with more than 60 DWGS waveforms you can use the microKorg to emulate various instruments.

The microKorg comes with a lot of features but it’s easy to use. If you’re into hip hop production and don’t want to compromise, the microKorg is a good choice.

Highlighted Features
  • 4 voice analog synth engine
  • 6 types of arpeggiator
  • Multitimbral
  • 37 keys
  • 8-Band Vocoder
  • 3 Delay Modes
  • Ensemble, phaser and Chorus/Flanger
  • 2 band EQ

#5: Alesis V49 | 49-Key USB MIDI Keyboard & Drum Pad Controller (8 Pads/4 Knobs/4 Buttons)

The Alesis V49 music production keyboard is compact but packed with features that hip hop producers will like. With its octave up and down keys and 49 full size keys you’ll get maximum melodic range.

The MIDI controllers comes with two pitch modulation wheels for greater control and precision. You can connect the V49 to any computer USB port and it’s ready to use.

Alesis V49 | 49 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with 8 Backlit Pads, 4 Assignable Knobs and Buttons, Plus a Professional Software Suite with ProTools | First Included
  • MIDI Keyboard with 49 full sized, velocity sensitive square front keys, perfect for playing Virtual Instruments
  • 8 velocity and pressure sensitive back lit pads for beat production and clip launching
  • 4 assignable knobs and 4 assignable buttons interface with your music software. Seamless, visual feedback via illuminated buttons and knobs
  • Octave Up and Down buttons let you access the full keyboard range and Pitch and modulation wheels deliver expressive, creative control
  • Premium Software Included Includes ProTools | First Alesis Edition, Ableton Live Lite 9 and Eleven Lite, plus Mini Grand, DB 33 and Xpand 2 virtual instrument software by Air Music Tech

Last update on 2020-03-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The V49 includes the Ableton Live Lite 9 software so you can create music right away. However it is also compatible with popular music applications so you can mix, record, edit and remix hip hop music.

The V49 includes the virtual instrument program Xpandl2. This program is filled with several effects and sounds that complement the Ableton Lite.

While you can use other music software, Ableton Lite and Xpandl2 provide plenty of sounds and effects. Size wise it’s not as compact as other keyboards but it’s still portable.

The 49 full size keys are sensitive to velocity, and when combined with the other buttons you’ll have no trouble adding melodies, chords, bass lines and other sounds. Feedback is very good and intuitive.

The knobs and buttons are illuminated so you can create music anytime. With its backlit pads you’ll be able to finger drum and launch clips with ease.

The V49 can be customized to suit your needs. By assigning the buttons and knobs to specific functions you’ll be more productive and have better results. Since it’s plug and play for the PC and Mac it’s easy to use.

Highlighted Features
  • 48 full size keys
  • Sustain pedal with USB support
  • Pitch and mod wheels
  • 4 buttons are assignable
  • 4 knobs are assignable
  • 8 drum trigger pads
  • Intuitive control layout
  • Easy to use

What is a MIDI Keyboard?

It is an electric keyboard that transmits MIDI signals on a MIDI or USB cable. The signals are relayed to other devices which are linked and on a similar protocol.

A MIDI keyboard does not generate sound by itself. What happens is information is transmitted to another device that’s capable of producing sound.

The recipient device is usually a digital audio workstation (DAW), a synthesizer or sound module. MIDI keyboards come in various styles but the most commonly used are designed like a piano. Buttons and knobs are available or performing other functions.

Things to Consider Before Making a Purchase

The best keyboard for making beats is not the most expensive, but the one that allows you to produce hip hop music the way you want.

Number of Keys

Most keyboards come with 32, 25, 37, 49, 61, 73, 76 or 88 keys. The more keys, the greater the functionality. However the extra keys make the keyboard bigger so you have to balance portability and versatility.

Keyboard Action

This refers to how a key responds when you press it. 3 options are available, weighted hammer, semi-weighted and synth action.

Weighted Hammer

These replicate the feel of a piano when you press a key. It’s hard to pull off since a MIDI keyboard doesn’t have the same features as a piano. For these reasons weighted hammer action is usually found in 88 key MIDI controllers.

Semi Weighted

This is similar to weighted but has more spring and reduced key resistance. These are ideal for players who don’t need the same feel of pressing a real piano key but don’t like synth action.

Synth

This is similar to an electronic organ, with easy to move keys and very light. The keys return to their original location rapidly and is more suitable for those who aren’t pianists.

I/O

All contemporary MIDI keyboards have USB support, and for most hip hop production that will be enough. But for complex musical arrangements you may need 5 pin MIDI DIN jacks and Gate or CV outputs.

A Gate or CV allows you to modulate and play older, non MIDI synth hardware. A 5 pin MIDI DIN jack lets you manage external MIDI synth.

Performance Pads

Most MIDI keyboards have 6, 8 or more pads for playing loops, drums and other instruments. Too many pads will increase the keyboard’s size however.

How to Choose a Keyboard for Hip Hop Production

The best keyboard for music production, for hip hop or other genres, depends on a lot of factors. Yes you’ll be using it for hip hop in this case, but you need to be more specific to get maximum value for your money.

If you’re going to use the keyboard for production at home or the recording studio, size won’t be an issue. If the keyboard is going to remain stationary, get a feature packed MIDI keyboard controller without worrying about the size.

But portability will be an issue if you’re going to use it for live shows. In this case look for a compact MIDI keyboard that still has the controls and features you need.

The MIDI keyboards in this review are for hip hop production, but I also made sure they are portable in case you need to go on the road.

When you search for a beat making keyboard Amazon, you’ll also need to consider the level of interaction you want.

The bigger the keyboard the greater the interaction, but this also means the keyboard will be larger. Think of the level of portability you want and the features you want.

You may also want to look for a keyboard that is velocity sensitive as it’ll let you add various elements while mixing a track. Sliders and faders are recommended for speed adjustment, pitch distortion, using samples and so on.

Feedback from users is also essential. Buy your keyboard only from a reputable brand so you get your money’s worth.

Other features you should take into consideration are the number of pads, if the knobs and controls are assignable and the warranty coverage. These features determine what the keyboard can really do.

Final Verdict

Producing hip hop music isn’t as difficult as it used to be with the proliferation of portable MIDI controllers. The 5 products here epitomize the best keyboard controllers can do, but for overall performance and capabilities I give the nod to the MicroKorg.

Korg has made a name for itself by manufacturing some of the finest MIDI controllers and the microKorg synth showcases their very best. Compared to other controllers the keys are more responsive and the effects easier to implement.

Its compatibility with different types of music programs makes a huge difference, not that the bundled software isn’t any good. Overall, it’s easy to say the microKorg is the best keyboards for hip hop production.

 

 

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply