The 5 Best 88 key MIDI Controller Keyboards [2022 Buyer’s Guide]

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It’s safe to assume that if you’re looking for an 88 key MIDI Controller, you’re somewhat of an adept keyboard/piano player. I would also assume you’re looking for the same features that a 49 or 61 key MIDI Controller offers, but you just want the full-sized instrument.

Well, if that sounds like you then you’re in the right place. Given the fact that we all have different tastes and preferences, not every option on the market is made the same. There are a few things to consider when looking around for the right option with the right features for your home studio setup.

Now, there are certainly some benefits that come with buying the an 88 key MIDI controller, but there are some downsides as well.

It’s up to you to decide if an 88 key MIDI keyboard is actually what you need.

In this article, we will go over everything there is to know about these devices. After that, I’ll give you my top picks of the best 88 key MIDI controllers on the market today.

Quick Picks

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 Mk2
Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 Mk2

Type of Keys: Fully-weighted, Fatar Keybed — Aftertouch: Yes — Other Controllers: Pitchbend, Mod Wheel, Touch Strip Controller — Dedicated Transport Control: Yes (DAW dependent)

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M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3
M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3

Type of Keys: Semi-weighted, Full-sized — Other Controllers: Pitchbend, Mod Wheel — Faders: 1 x Volume — Pedal Inputs: 1 x 1/4" TS (sustain), 1 x 1/4" TRS (expression)

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Arturia KeyLab 88 Essential
Arturia KeyLab 88 Essential

Type of Keys: Semi-weighted — Pads: 8 x Back-lit Performance Pads — Other Controllers: Pitchbend, Mod Wheel — Encoders/Pots: 9 x Rotary Knobs, 1 x Clickable Jog Wheel — Faders: 9 x Faders

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Roland RD-2000 88-key Digital Stage Piano
Roland RD-2000 88-key Digital Stage Piano

Type of Keys: PHA-50 keybed (weighted Progressive Hammer Action) — Other Controllers: 2 x Mod Wheels, Pitchbend/Modulation lever — Polyphony: 128 Notes — Presets: 1,100 tones, 200 rhythm patterns — Effects: Reverb, Delay, Resonance, Tremolo/Amp simulator, Modulation FX, 3-band compressor, 5-band EQ

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Roland FA-08
Roland FA-08

Type of Keys: Ivory Feel G, fully weighted with Escapement — Other Controllers: 1 x Pitchbend/Mod Wheel, 1 x D-Beam, 1 x S1, 1 x S2, 6 x Control Knob, Sample Pads — Polyphony: 128 Notes — Number of Presets: 2,000+ — Number of Effects: 16 x MFX, 6 x COMP+EQ, Chorus, Reverb, Master EQ+COMP

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Why Go For 88 Keys?

88 keys is as big as it gets among MIDI keyboard controllers. 96 keys are what you’ll find on a traditional acoustic piano, but that’s not what MIDI keyboards set out to be. They are made for digital music production, and they exist among a long list of studio equipment.

88 keys is till plenty big enough for experienced pianists though, and they still come with a lot of onboard control features that you’d expect in a MIDI keyboard.

That said, there are some inherent benefits that come with a full-size, 88 key MIDI controller for veteran piano players who are stepping into the world of music production..

Benefits Of A 88 Key MIDI Keyboard

For one, you pretty much have the entire octave range at your fingertips (7 and a quarter octaves to be exact) which gives you total freedom in your writing process. This gives you the ability to compose complex chord progressions with enough spread for both hands.

Secondly, full-size MIDI keyboards like these are undoubtedly expensive, but you’re getting a device that’s extremely versatile. You can split and layer multiple zones on one single keybed and control parameters in your DAW.

49 key MIDI keyboards are great in their own right, but they are more limited for players who need more spread.

61 key MIDI keyboards offer more octave range than 49 keys, but why not just go for gold with an 88 key MIDI controller right? This is especially true if you have a specific play-style that works better on a more full-size device.

Disadvantages Of A 88 Key MIDI Keyboard

Firstly, it should come as no surprise that if you’re an inexperienced player, an 88 key MIDI controller might be overkill. They are definitely great to learn on, but the price-tag of most of these devices makes it hard to justify if you’re a beginner.

You can just as easily learn basic chords and scales on a smaller MIDI keyboard first, then upgrade to a bigger one as your skills improve. Moreover, you even get an 88 key digital piano to learn on instead of a MIDI keyboard and you’ll save some cash.

Second, 88 key MIDI controllers have a very large footprint. If you have a small bedroom studio, then you’ll probably have a hard time cramming this thing on your studio desk.

What Are Your Plans For The Future?

It’s always wise to think down the road when buying new studio equipment.

If you think you’ll still be active in your productions a year or two years from now, then investing in an 88 key MIDI controller. Also, as you expand your list of studio gear, you’ll have to take into account the sheer size of a device this size.

All I’m saying is that it’s a good idea to make sure an 88 key MIDI keyboard is the right choice for right now, and for the future. If so, then let’s move on to the buyer’s guide.

Factors To Consider When Looking At 88 Key MIDI Controllers

We’re going cover a lot in this article, but if you want to learn more about this topic as a whole, then head over to my Ultimate Guide to MIDI Controller Keyboards.

In this case, we’ll be focusing on 88 key MIDI controllers and the factors to consider before buying one.

Like we talked about before, 88 key MIDI keyboards are full-sized options for those of you who are serious players. With that comes a long list of features to consider as you’re doing your research.

With that, let’s break everything down piece by piece.

Key Weight & Action Type

The number one factor to consider with 88 key MIDI keyboards is the type of keys that it comes with. In this case, most 88 key devices will come equipped with full-size keys. What you need to consider is the weight you want as well as the action type.

Let’s talk about the most common key weights and action types in more detail.

  • Fully-Weighted Hammer Action: these types of keys are the closest thing to how an acoustic piano feels. They use a lever system instead of the spring-loaded system found on synth-action or semi-weighted keys. Experienced pianists should feel more at home playing on fully-weighted hammer action keys. They are less common to find on 88 key MIDI controllers, but it’s not impossible.
  • Semi-Weighted: these types of keys will be more common among 88 key MIDI keyboard options. They have a great overall feel seeing as they sit between fully-weighted and synth-action keys. They still use a spring system to return to rest, but they have some added weight to mimic the feel of an acoustic piano.
  • Synth-Action: these are the lightest of the bunch. These keys are very responsive and offer little resistance. Beginners will enjoy learning on these types of keys, but experienced players might find them to be uncomfortable. You might find some 88 key MIDI controllers with synth-action keys, but they’re more often found on lower key count devices.

The type of keys you need depends entirely on your play-style. If you’re more comfortable with a particular key weight, then that’s obviously the best route to go.

Controls (Mod/Pitch Wheels, Pads, Etc.)

The next consideration is the amount of control options you need. Not only that, but what type of control options you need.

All of this depends on what your plans are with your studio productions. Basically, if you want to be able to control a lot of parameters in your DAW, then give yourself as many control options as you can. In fact, that’s really what you should do anyway.

More control options means less interruptions to your workflow. If you can manipulate parameters on-the-fly, then you don’t need to pause and look up at your DAW.

To better understand this topic, we need to break down the various types of onboard controllers found on an 88 key MIDI controller and talk about them individually.

  • Knobs: these are rotary controls that can mapped to certain parameters on your DAW. You can use them to control low/high-cut filters, volume levels, and more! A total of 4 rotary knobs is a good number to shoot for.
  • Faders: faders are mechanical controls that slide up and down on a track. They are mainly used for EQing volume levels, but they have can provide other benefits as well. Usually a total of 2 faders is plenty.
  • Drum Pads: A MIDI keyboard wouldn’t be a MIDI keyboard without onboard drum pads. These are tactile pads that can be mapped to sounds and samples through your DAW. When pressed, the pads will reproduce whatever sound is linked to it. On your keyboard, you should look for as many pads as possible. The more the merrier here.
  • Transport Controls: these handle of your most basic functions like play, stop, pause and record. They are absolutely essential on any MIDI controller keyboard.
  • Mod/Pitch Wheels: you can really get creative with these guys. These are motorized wheels that can be used to modulate and manipulate sounds in real-time. One of each is just fine.

Now it’s up to you to decide what you need for your productions. Like I said before, you can never have too many onboard control options on an 88 key MIDI controller.


I mentioned this briefly before, but certian 88 key MIDI controller is the ability to split the keybed into multiple zones. When split, each zone transmits MIDI data on a different channel. With this feature you can really let your creativity flow.

For example, in your left hand you can have a synth that plays a bell sound. In your other hand, you can have a bass synth loaded up. Now, imagine all of the possible combinations that you can come up with.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a feature that’s found on all 88 key MIDI controllers. You’ll have to check the specifications of the device and make sure it has zones if it’s a feature you want.

Auto-Mapping & Software Integration

The next factor to keep in mind is the MIDI keyboards compatibility with your DAW. While it’s true that most modern MIDI devices integrate well with most of the major DAWs on the market, some are still more seamless than others.

It’s super important that you make sure your new 88 key MIDI keyboard will work with your software though. If it doesn’t, then it’s a painstaking process to manually map everything.

Now, some MIDI keyboards are specifically made to integrate with certain DAWs out of the box.

For instance, the best MIDI keyboard for FL Studio will automatically map itself to the software with no hiccups.

Interestingly enough, there is a line of MIDI keyboards for Ableton made by Novation with an auto-mapping feature built-in.

So, check your computer specs and the specs of your 88 MIDI keyboard to make sure everything will work smoothly. It will save you a lot of hassle.

Power Supply & Connectivity Options

Most 88 key MIDI controllers are powered via USB bus power. That said, if you want to control hardware synths through the MIDI keyboard or any other external component, then you might want to look for a device that offers a 12V power adapter port.

In addition to that, you might want to look for a device that has some additional inputs and outputs. For example, CV and Gate outs or 5-pin MIDI outs will allow you to connect to certain vintage hardware instruments.

Included Software

MIDI keyboard manufacturers now love to give you bundles of software along with their device. These can be great for beginners who are looking for a way to kick start their music-making journey.

The most common thing you’ll find in these bundles is a starter version of a DAW. Ableton Live Lite is a very simple version of the software, but it’s still fully functional. This will give you a chance to try it out and see if you like it.

Outside of that, most bundles will give you a few VST plugins like synths or effects packages.

Double-check the bundle that’s included with the 88 key MIDI controller that your interested in and see if it’s to your liking.

Best 88 key MIDI Controller Keyboards List

Alright guys. Now that we’ve covered the important stuff, it’s time to dive into my list of the best 88 key MIDI controllers on the market today.

As long as you keep everything we’ve talked about in mind, then you’re sure to make the right decision for your specific needs.

So, without further ado, let’s get into the list.

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 Mk2

9.7/10Studio Frequencies Score


Type of Keys: Fully-weighted, Fatar Keybed — Velocity Sensitive: Yes — Aftertouch: Yes — Other Controllers: Pitchbend, Mod Wheel, Touch Strip Controller — Dedicated Transport Control: Yes (DAW dependent) — Pedal Inputs: 2 x 1/4" (sustain/expression, assignable) — MIDI I/O: In/Out/USB — USB: 1 x Type B — Computer Connectivity: USB — Software: Komplete Select, Komplete Kontrol (downloads) — Format: NKS, VSTi, VST — Hardware Requirements - Mac: Intel Core i5 or higher, 6GB RAM or more recommended — Hardware Requirements - PC: Intel Core i5 / AMD Quad Core or higher, 6GB RAM or more recommended — OS Requirements - Mac: MacOS 10.12 or later — OS Requirements - PC: Windows 10 Anniversary Update or later — Power Supply: AC adapter power supply (included) 

Reasons To Buy:

+ Very powerful

+ Keys feel great

+ Onboard digital screens are super helpful

Reasons To Avoid:

- There’s a bit of a learning curve

- No drum pads

9.5out of 10

Key Feel9.5
Build Quality9.5

The Native Instruments S88 MK2 MIDI Keyboard is a top-notch controller option. With it’s fully-weighted, hammer action keys it has a satisfying and realistic feel when you play it. It also features aftertouch, which is always a huge plus.

On top of that, it has multiple built-in sound controls. This allows you to fine-tune all of those necessary parameters like EQ adjustments, attack, release, and other specific tonal settings. Native Instruments is somewhat of the new kid on the block when it comes to hardware. But this MIDI keyboard doesn’t leave much to be desired.

This device includes a feature seldom seen at this price point: auto-mapping. This keyboard smoothly auto-maps to multiple DAWS including Cubase, KOMPLETE, Ableton Live, and more!

There is also precise pitch-control, mod functions, and lighting zones. All of your essential information is displayed on dual color screens for seamless navigation.

The one main drawback to this keyboard is the missing drum/sample pads. This is certainly peculiar considering NI has their Maschine line. If you already have a Maschine system, or don’t absolutely need the pads, then this shortcoming doesn’t ruin just how great this keyboard is.

M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3

9.3/10Studio Frequencies Score


Type of Keys: Semi-weighted, Full-sized — Velocity Sensitive: Yes — Other Controllers: Pitchbend, Mod Wheel — Faders: 1 x Volume — Pedal Inputs: 1 x 1/4" TS (sustain), 1 x 1/4" TRS (expression) — MIDI I/O: Out/USB — USB: 1 x Type B — Computer Connectivity: USB — Software: Pro Tools First M-Audio Edition, Ableton Live Lite, MPC Beats — OS Requirements - Mac: macOS 10.13 or later — OS Requirements - PC: Windows 10 or later — Power Supply: 9V DC 500mA power supply (sold separately) / USB bus powered 

Reasons To Buy:

+ Very affordable

+ Small footprint

+ USB and external power supply

Reasons To Avoid:

- Average build quality

- Not feature-rich

9.3out of 10

Key Feel9.2
Build Quality9.4

The M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 is a great option for budgeters or someone looking for a starter MIDI keyboard. It has a great compact size as well as USB and external power supplies allowing for some portability if needed.

This keyboard also has a great array of included software like Ableton Live Lite, MPC Beats, Pro Tools First M-Audio edition, and 6 virtual instruments with 1000+ sounds.

All in all, the 88 MK3 sits comfortably at the top of the list of affordable keyboards for a reason. Try not to be too hyped about the Pro Tools thing though, it’s a highly watered down version. Nonetheless, it can be great for beginners!

It is worth noting that the MK3 suffers from an average build quality across the board, which is to be expected at this price. The keys are semi-weighted and most of the device is made of plastic. The features are nothing to write home about either.

Pretty much the bare essentials, and not much more. You’ll have your standard pitch and mod wheels, octave range buttons, transport controls, volume and fader controls. That being said, it does it’s simple job very well.

The MK3 is a reliable, albeit, modest device. Great for beginners or students, this M-Audio keyboard won’t disappoint in the few features it has to offer.

Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII

9.8/10Studio Frequencies Score


Number of Keys: 88 — Type of Keys: Weighted, Fatar TP/100LR Keybed — Velocity Sensitive: Yes — Aftertouch: Yes — Pads: 16 x Backlit, Velocity-sensitive — Other Controllers: Pitchbend, Mod Wheel — Encoders/Pots: 9 x Rotary Encoders — Faders: 9 x Faders — Dedicated Transport Control: Yes — Zones: 2 — Pedal Inputs: 1 x 1/4" (sustain), 1 x 1/4" (expression), 3 x 1/4" (aux pedals) — MIDI I/O: In/Out/USB — USB: 1 x Type B — Other I/O: 1 x 1/8" (CV in), 4 x 1/8" (CV out, gate out, mod 1, mod 2) — Computer Connectivity: USB — Software: Ableton Live Lite, Analog Lab Software — Format: Standalone, VST2.4, VST3, AAX, AU, NKS — OS Requirements - Mac: OS X 10.11 or later, 64-bit — OS Requirements - PC: Windows 7 SP1 or later, 64-bit — Power Supply: USB bus power, 9-12V DC power supply (sold separately) — Height: 4.40" — Width: 50.90" — Depth: 12.70" — Weight: 32.4 lbs.

Reasons To Buy: 

+ Extremely versatile

+ The keys feel amazing to play on

+ Loads of onboard controls

Reasons To Avoid:

- Large footprint

- Expensive

9.2out of 10

Key Feel9.4
Build Quality9

The Aruturia KeyLab Essential 88 is a simple, yet effective keyboard. Though the keys are semi-weighted, the keybed doesn’t feel horrible. If you are looking for semi-weighted keys specifically then this is a comfortable feeling keyboard.

It has 9 rotary knobs, 9 faders, pitch and mod wheels, and full transport controls as well. It does feature aftertouch, which is a pleasant surprise given the fact that this is a mid-range keyboard. It only has 8 drum pads though. We will get into that later. The overall look is clean but won’t be turning any heads.

The KeyLab 88 has a refreshing vintage synthesizer sound to it, while also giving you the ability to opt for a more classical approach. It’s very versatile when it comes to its general sound. This is all possible via the Analog Lab software with over 6000 presets included. Those 6000+ sounds do auto-map to assignable controls which is a plus.

Overall, this keyboard integrates quite easily to whatever DAW you use with all of it’s essential control options.

So, I mentioned that the KeyLab 88 has 8 drum/sample pads instead of the usual 16. On top of that, the pads are small. Unless you’re looking at this thing being your go-to for all drum pattern purposes, then 8 pads will be sufficient.

This keyboard sports all of the essential features you’d look for in a MIDI controller, though some folks might need a little more. It has an intended purpose, and it does it well. The KeyLab 88 really is a solid option for those looking for great bang for your buck value.

Roland RD-2000 88-key Digital Stage Piano

9/10Studio Frequencies Score


Type of Keys: PHA-50 keybed (weighted Progressive Hammer Action) — Other Controllers: 2 x Mod Wheels, Pitchbend/Modulation lever — Polyphony: 128 Notes — Presets: 1,100 tones, 200 rhythm patterns — Effects: Reverb, Delay, Resonance, Tremolo/Amp simulator, Modulation FX, 3-band compressor, 5-band EQ — Audio Recording: 2 channel record/playback (WAV format) — Audio Inputs: 1 x 1/8" (aux in) — Audio Outputs: 2 x XLR (main out), 2 x 1/4" (main unbalanced), 2 x 1/4" (sub out), 1 x 1/4" (headphones) — USB: 2 x Type A, 1 x Type B — MIDI I/O: In, Out, Out/Thru — Pedal Inputs: 2 x 1/4" (foot controller), 2 x 1/4" (damper, external) — Expansion: 2 x internal wave expansion slots via USB port 

Reasons To Buy:

+ 8 fully assignable zones

+ Loads of connectivity options

+ Great modulation FX

Reasons To Avoid:

- High price point

- Screen can be hard to read


9out of 10

Key Feel9.1
Build Quality9

The Roland RD-2000 88 key Digital Stage Piano is certainly not only for stage use. This is a beast of a device. Roland is obviously one of the most reputable instrument brands on the market, and this keyboard lives up to their name.

There are a plethora of connectivity options such as USB Type A and B, 1 MIDI in and 2 outs, Stereo ¼” phone type outs, 4 pedal inputs, and a few more.

The PHA-50 keybed features weighted Progressive Hammer Action and is made of hybrid wood. This keybed simply feels great. There are also 2 mod wheels,  a pitch lever, 8 knobs, and 8 assignable zones with faders. The build quality is excellent and looks are what you’d expect from Roland.

The RD-2000 includes over 1100 sounds with SuperNATURAL sound engine that features a 128-voice polyphony limit. There are also 2 wave expansion slots available so you can access additional sounds from Roland’s Axial website.

The amount of effects on this puppy is impressive as well. That list of effects includes reverb, delay, resonance, tremolo/amp simulator, 3-band compressor and a 5-band EQ. Simply put, this thing is packed with features.

It goes without saying that this monster doesn’t include all of these features without coming with a hefty price tag. This is a high-end keyboard that caters to the truly enthusiastic professional. It’s fair to mention the fact that the LED screen can be hard to see at certain angles.

Honestly, the main reason this guy isn’t higher on my list is because of that daunting number next to it. I’m hard-pressed to find a lot of negatives about the RD-2000 though. It’s an excellent keyboard from a very respected brand.

Roland FA-08

8.7/10Studio Frequencies Score


Type of Keys: Ivory Feel G, fully weighted with Escapement — Other Controllers: 1 x Pitchbend/Mod Wheel, 1 x D-Beam, 1 x S1, 1 x S2, 6 x Control Knob, Sample Pads — Polyphony: 128 Notes — Number of Presets: 2,000+ — Number of Effects: 16 x MFX, 6 x COMP+EQ, Chorus, Reverb, Master EQ+COMP — Effects Types: 16 x MFX Engines, 6 x COMP+EQ Processors for Drums, TFX, EQ, Chorus, Reverb — Arpeggiator: Yes — Sequencer: 16-track — Sampling: Yes — Audio Playback: Yes — Audio Inputs: 1 x 1/8" (Line), 1 x 1/4" (Guitar) — Audio Outputs: 2 x 1/4" (main), 1 x 1/4" (sub) — Headphones: 1 x 1/4" — USB: 1 x Type A, 1 x Type B 3 — MIDI I/O: In/Out — Pedal Inputs: 1 x Hold, 1 x CTL 1, 1 x CTL 2 — Expansion: 2 x Virtual SRX Slots, Thumb Drive with 11 additional Patch Libraries — Power Source: 9V DC power supply (included)

Reasons To Buy:

+ Great DAW integration

+ Great hardware synthesizer feel

+ Cool vintage sound quality

Reasons To Avoid:

- No aftertouch

- Limited with features

8.7out of 10

Key Feel8.7
Build Quality8.9

Yes, another Roland product. The FA-08 88 key music workstation is quite similar to it’s more comprehensive RD-2000 cousin, but offers some different features. This keyboard is considered to be more of a synthesizer that parallels the Fantom G8.

There are 16 modulation effect engines included with 6x COMP+EQ processors for drums, total effects, multiband EQ, chorus, reverb, and more! There are also 2 wheels, 1 mod and 1 pitch, 6 control knobs and 16 drum/sample pads. There is an arpeggiator as well as a 16-track pattern phrase sequencer.

DAW integration is easy with its full transport controls. Connectivity is adequate with a MIDI in/out, USB Type A and B, ¼” headphone jack, and all of the standard audio ins and outs. The expansion slots are “virtual” though you can still access more sounds from Roland’s Axial website with this method

The features of this device don’t stop there. There is trigger sampling, integrated vocoder voice capturing, dual sequencer mods (linear and step). I could keep going for a while here. It’s a versatile keyboard that you can use in any way you see fit.

It is a shame that the FA-08 is lacking aftertouch though. This might be due to the fact that it is a synth with a ton of effects. Aftertouch would have been a very welcome addition nonetheless.

That being said, the Ivory Feel-G keybed is quite firm and naturally weighted, not fully-weighted. It still feels good to play. There are no faders on this keyboard as well with no assignable zones. This is less of a downside than the lack of aftertouch honestly.

At the end of the day, the FA-08 is still an excellent workstation. It fully integrates with your DAW, and is loaded with some cool features. It is missing a few essentials that would have set this thing above the pack. But, it somewhat makes up for this with its easy-to-use interface and versatility. Of course, any option from Roland is always worth considering.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many octaves is 88 keys?

88 keys = 7¼ octaves.

Are weighted keys better?

Yes, weighted keys are better in general. For most piano players, fully-weighted keys are more comfortable and more natural to play on. For beginners, it’s best to learn to play on fully-weighted keys due to the fact that they closely resemble the responsiveness of a traditional acoustic piano.

That said, for beginners and veterans alike, weighted keys are the most sought after type of key on a MIDI keyboard. Semi-weighted keys are a great fallback option as well though.


The 88 key MIDI keyboard field is tight with good options being few and far between. The clear winner in my eyes is the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 Mk2 Keyboard. It is a great feeling keyboard with awesome control options. It easily integrates with your DAW and gives you a ton of freedom in the studio. It’s just a quality option that will likely have an impact on your workflow.

Being able to have a full-sized instrument at your fingertips with all of the features of a MIDI controller is a great feeling. True inspiration comes from top-notch equipment and these devices have all it takes to help you feed your creativity. I hope this guide has helped you on your quest for the best 88 key MIDI keyboard.

Jeremy Bongiorno
I have been a musician and producer for over 15 years. My goal is to provide reliable, honest information and hopefully help to improve the quality of life in your studio. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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