With the craze of a lot of producers making music without a midi keyboard, you are probably wondering “Do I need a MIDI keyboard?”.
If you want to grow your skills and become a better musician and producer then YES you need a MIDI keyboard.
…btw If you have a keyboard with MIDI OUT or a USB option then congrats – you have a MIDI keyboard!
Perks of having a MIDI Keyboard
The main perk of having a MIDI keyboard is that its more portable than a regular keyboard! MIDI keyboards come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and its very easy to find one that fits your needs. They also come in various configurations as well – 25 key, 49 key, 61 key and 88 key configurations.
As for me personally, I have multiple midi keyboards for different uses.
If I want to make music on the go where ever I am at, I will keep my Arturia 25key Minilab MkII in my backpack. When ever I have the itch or if I am in another studio, I can easily pull it out and get straight to playing.
Another key perk is the weight differences between a MIDI keyboard vs a real piano. I can easily move my MIDI keyboard around the studio in any configuration I want because its not as heavy as a regular mechanical acoustic piano.
Plays all kinds of instruments
Due to the nature of MIDI itself, it allows me to play any kind of instrument I want depending on the virtual instrument I am using. This is powerful because I am essentially a one man band! Right after laying down some keys, I can become a “drummer” and lay down a drum rhythm. Once thats done, I can lay down some bass, percussions and so on. You simply can’t do this on a regular piano.
Why a MIDI keyboard is necessary
A MIDI keyboard is necessary because it will help make music production quicker in addition to building actual playing skills.
Although you can easily draw in MIDI notes in what ever DAW you are using, it will take some effort for you to make it sound like “real playing”. You will have to mess with the velocity, introduce some strumming algorithms, and mess with more MIDI parameters.
You can easily play what ever you want to play and it will sound realistic (from a playing perspective).
When you are playing a MIDI keyboard, you are getting better and better each time you play. If you have the right size keyboard as well, you can even learn how to play piano from an actual teacher, youtube etc.
Playing over and over will build your skill level and confidence and it can even teach you better ways to play the other instruments that aren’t piano. Maybe when you “play” guitar via a virtual instrument you will learn certain tips and tricks on playing that will help it sound more like a real guitar. Or maybe if you are playing drums on your keyboard, your finger position matters so that you can mimic a real drum fill.
Ease of Use
A MIDI keyboard is extremely easy use. You just plugin the USB to the computer and then you are off to the races. There is no need fiddling with complicated software or anything like that as a majority of them are just plug and play.
Having a MIDI keyboard is essential to learning and improving on your music production.
Now that we know that though, what are the pros and Cons of a MIDI keyboard?
Pros and Cons of a MIDI keyboard
- Relatively light weight compared to a regular acoustic piano. Like we learned above, a regular piano is way to heavy compared to a MIDI keyboard. You can easily get a MIDI keyboard in any configuration that fits you and plug it in to your computer and begin playing.
- COST. The cost differences are night and day. A MIDI keyboard is way cheaper than an acoustic piano.
- Play Any instrument. Like we also said above, with the right VST you can play an unlimited amount of instruments via a MIDI keyboard
- Just like a regular piano. The midi keyboard is just like a regular piano. You can even get weighted keys that feel like the real thing. There is no need to go to a virtual instrument or program that mimics a keyboard when you have one right in front of you.
- Future Proof. MIDI is not going anywhere and we can see the widespread use everywhere.
- Plastic feeling. If you are a seasoned piano player, you will notice that a MIDI keyboard just feels different in a bad way. The keys are lighter and easier to press down and this can throw you off. Luckily, there are MIDI keyboards with weighted keys.
- Some virtual instruments don’t sound real. Because of this, you can get a sound from a virtual instrument that sounds like a cheap piano. Plugins like Keyscape by Spectrasonics save the day by providing real sounding pianos.
- Requires a computer or playback system. MIDI keyboards can’t play sound on their own so they will need to be connected to an external device such as a computer, phone or other device that can read and play MIDI.
So…. Do I need a MIDI keyboard?
If you want to take music production seriously, speed up your workflow and get better at playing while you are doing all of this then a MIDI keyboard is necessary.
You can try to get by without a MIDI keyboard and I am sure you will make great strides but you will always hit a roadblock or a plateau. Plugins and programs only go so far without a MIDI keyboard so its best to pick one up.
As we seen in this article, the pros outweigh the cons and having a MIDI keyboard will only help you out in the long run.