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MIDI is short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It is a protocol that enables musical instruments to communicate with each other. It also allows for connection with other devices like effects processors and computers or laptops.
A MIDI controller is an equipment that is used to send commands to a MIDI-compatible device. The commands can trigger playing notes on a piano keyboard workstation, changing presets on an effects processor, switching between functions in a computer program, among other applications.
It is one of the most important equipment for music producers and musicians alike. It is because MIDI Controllers can be used to record and produce music as well as used in live performances.
Uses in music production and live performances
MIDI accesses and controls software used for producing music. It essentially means that a MIDI controller records how long a key is pressed and at what pitch. It then assigns that information to your digital audio workstation or software instrument. A MIDI controller has either a MIDI out socket or USB connection that enables a user to connect to the computer or laptop. Therefore, any tweaks performed and key presses on the hardware are picked up in the software.
For instance, the commonly used MIDI controller is the keyboard controller or often referred to as a MIDI keyboard. Some come with the keyboard only, although the best ones have real-time controllers like wheels, sliders, and knobs. They also come with connections for expression pedals and sustain.
Therefore, a music producer is capable of splitting the playing area into zones of desired sizes. These can also overlap with each other. The producer can assign each zone to a different MIDI channel and can play any range of tones. Therefore, the MIDI controller can control several different devices to produce quality sounds.
MIDI Controllers cannot and do not produce sound on their own. They are generally used as input devices for other musical instruments. For example, the M-Audio keystation is used to play synthesizers, software instruments, sound modules, and other MIDI-compatible instruments. Other controllers that don’t have piano keys, such as the Novation Launchpad X, have an array of buttons. These buttons control percussion instruments such as drum machines and can also play synthesizers.
Apart from keyboard controllers, there are wind controllers that mimic actual clarinets and guitars. A music producer can, therefore, produce a clarinet sound digitally without having to use a real clarinet.
Most people think that MIDI Controllers are only useful to trigger musical sounds and communicate with musical instruments. That’s far from it as MIDI Controllers come in handy during live performances as well.
MIDI controllers can also control other compatible devices like digital audio mixers, stage lights, and intricate guitar effects units. Therefore, you can light up a concert or event using MIDI controllers.
Some of Our Top Selling MIDI Controllers
1. Akai Professional MPC Live
The Akai Professional MPC Live is a perfect MIDI controller for making an entire track with one system. This standalone system comes with 16 MPC pads, 4 touch capacitive Q links, transport controls, full monitoring control and a 7-inch high resolution display. MPC Live and MPC X now come pre-mapped to Ableton Live for an instant performance and production setup.
2. Arturia KeyLab Essential 61
This controller is exactly what you need if you want to hop right on into a track and put your ideas down without any extra hoopla. Between the controller’s top-notch keybed, comprehensive hands-on controls, and total integration with the thousands of sounds in Arturia’s Analog Lab 2 software, KeyLab Essential just plain works. It’s an amazing experience that lets you take your ideas and turn them into fresh tracks in no time.
3. M-Audio Keystation 49 Mk3
M-Audio’s Keystation 49 Mk3 is a simple set up that let your get your progressions and melodies down with ease. Thanks to easily-accessible play, stop and record controls and directional buttons, experience an unprecedented, enhanced recording workflow – play, perform and record with music software without the nuisance distraction of a mouse or trackpad.
4. Novation Launchkey Mini Mk3
If you are looking for a nice portable MIDI controller that will allow you to have full access to Ableton Live, this is for you. Launchkey Mini is our most compact and portable 25-mini-key MIDI keyboard controller. It has everything you need to start creating in Ableton Live – and it’ll fit in your bag. Make tracks anywhere with the intuitive Live control, arpeggiator, fixed chord mode, MIDI out, and sounds in the box.
MIDI controllers enable you to play digital musical instruments in a similar way as actual instruments. MIDI mimics how real instruments are played and allows producers and musicians to play them digitally. Therefore if you are an aspiring musician or music producer, investing in a MIDI controller will be a significant first step in launching your musical career.