Keyboard vs MIDI Controller – Which One To Choose?

If you are stuck between a keyboard vs. MIDI controller and can’t choose one, don’t worry, it has happened to all of us!

More often than not, musicians and content creators have trouble deciding which is better than the other and where they should spend their money.

Since both of these technology pieces look very similar, and the terms are often used simultaneously, the selection process can be tricky.

However, being tricky doesn’t mean that it has to be bothersome!

There are certainly effective ways to make this selection process faster. The best way to make a quick and efficient decision is by learning more about both keyboards and MIDI controllers.

Understand what they are and discover their differences to decide which would be more suitable for you.

If you’re interested in knowing all of this, keep on ready and enlighten yourself!

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What’s A Keyboard?

Video: “Introduction to Keyboard”

Not that anyone needs an introduction of what a keyboard looks like, we’re still going to start with the basic definitions. A keyboard has a set of adjacent keys and levers that produce sounds when you press on them.

Keyboards are instruments on their own!

You don’t require extra or additional equipment to utilize them. The concept of a keyboard is quite similar to that of a piano, and if you’ve ever used one of the latter instruments before, you’ll be very comfortable using an electric keyboard.

Keyboards are pressure-sensitive, so the more pressure you apply on the keys, the more different the sound will be.

The several different types of electronic keyboards include beginner keyboard, digital workstation, synthesizer, hybrid, organ, digital piano, and some other popular versions.

What’s A MIDI Controller?

Video: “MIDI Explained for Beginners”

MIDI controllers are hardware and software that generate and transmit Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or MIDI data, to devices enabled by MIDI.

Their primary purpose and focus are to control the different electronic or digital musical performance parameters and trigger sounds.

MIDI controllers work by sending the MIDI data to a synthesizer or a computer. These receivers then interpret signals and produce sounds. A MIDI controller simply and effectively sequences music.

Plus, you can connect it to your PC or Mac, and it plays your virtual instruments on there. In simple words, a MIDI connects different devices that either control sound or make it and allows them to communicate via MIDI messages.

The Differences Between A Keyboard And A MIDI Controller

The ongoing debate on the keyboard vs. MIDI controller isn’t new, but it’s still very fresh. People still have strong beliefs and preferences for one over the other.

However, the best way to figure out what’s best for you is to know the difference between a keyboard and a MIDI controller.



As discussed before, a keyboard serves the purpose of direct musical creation. These are instruments that you can use to produce music since they have built-in sound. In contrast, the purpose of a midi controller is not making sounds.

Instead, this technology connects different instruments that DO produce sounds and allows them to communicate. Thus, naturally, they’re both for entirely other purposes.

You should also know that keyboards are great for practicing your skills, especially if you are a piano fan. These keyboards are also very versatile since you can plug in your speakers or headphones to control the noise level. In contrast, midi controllers are better for music production and alteration.


Appearance And Structure

There are numerous variations of a keyboard on the market. A standard keyboard has a set of black and white keys, an on and off button, and a variety of different sound settings and presets.

As you move towards the more professional and modern keyboards, you will see increasing complexity and variation in the design and structure. Some modern keyboards even come with an LED screen. In contrast, MIDI controllers aren’t that complex.

They have a straight plain set of black and white keys and typically an on and off button. Even the most advanced and modern MIDI controllers are not as complicated as a keyboard.


Feels And Velocity

This one might sound awkward to some people, but professional musicians understand the importance of how an instrument feels. Most modern keyboards are pressure-sensitive.

It means that your pressure on the keys will decide what kind of sound the tool produces. Plus, the instrument’s response to your touch is also essential; the shorter the response time, the better the accuracy of the final result.


Prices and Costs

MIDI controllers are generally cheaper compared to electronic keyboards. Why? Because of the difference in the construction and components of the two.

Since keyboards have built-in sound systems, they are generally more expensive. Thus, if you are on a budget, keep the price range in mind while selecting one of the two options.


Availability and Accessibility

MIDI controllers generally have more available, so you can choose from a variety of different options.

Even though keyboards have a wide variety of beginner-friendly and professional versions, the former instrument’s market wins in terms of availability and accessibility.



If you’re constantly on the road and plan to take your music equipment along, keyboards will be a much better option since they are more travel-friendly and portable. You can take them along, play, and create music anywhere and anytime.

You can take them to live performances and while you are traveling on airplanes, trains, buses, and even cars.

A MIDI controller doesn’t allow you to do that. (Disclaimer: make sure you ask the travel agency or company before you take any instrument along since every business has its separate sets of laws and restrictions.)

Their Advantages And Disadvantages

Video: “MIDI CONTROLLER vs KEYBOARD: Which one is better? “

The best way to find a suitable answer to the keyboard vs. MIDI controller debate is by weighing the advantages and drawbacks of each.

Advantages Of A Keyboard

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  • Keyboards have built-in sound. As mentioned earlier, they are instrumental on their own, which means you don’t require plugging it into any kind of external sound source.
  • You find more controls and options to personalize and customize the sounds that a keyboard creates.
  • You can create new, unique sounds and chords using a keyboard. A MIDI doesn’t let you do that.
  • You can use keyboards for on-stage performances since they are more versatile and convenient.
  • Electronic keyboards are portable. You can travel with them, change locations, and they’re not hard to take along for performing live.

Disadvantages Of A Keyboard

  • Certain keyboards can be very complicated. A specific example would be a workstation. Learning, understanding, and figuring out how the instrument works can take some time, and not every beginner has that kind of patience.
  • Electric keyboards, obviously, work on electrical power. Thus, they either require direct access to a plug or a fair amount of batteries. If you plan to use the keyboard frequently and heavily, all these batteries and electrical input can be quite costly.

Advantages Of A MIDI Controller

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  • When you connect a MIDI controller to an external sound source, like a computer, you can easily create new sounds.
  • Once you get comfortable with this technology, you can start playing with several different kinds of music and create your unique masterpieces.
  • These controllers make music creation and sequencing a lot easier since you can use a bigger screen, a keyboard, and a mouse.
  • They enable exporting projects and files into audio formats that are easily streamable. If you make musical content that you want to share or upload on the internet, a MIDI controller will help.
  • If you like to process and re-edit your audios frequently, MIDI controllers will allow you to bounce tracks and manipulate them the way you want.

Disadvantages Of A MIDI Controller

  • These controllers don’t consist of built-in sounds, which means that they don’t produce any, and you have to connect them to an external sound source.
  • You will always need access to a fast and efficient computer for MIDI controllers. Whether you want to edit, play, or record anything, you will always have to go through the hassle of turning on a computer.
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Is A Keyboard Better Or Worse Than A MIDI Controller- The Final Verdict

To conclude the debate on the keyboard vs. MIDI controller, let’s sunrise the entire comparison article and see which is better than the other.

If you’re looking for a sound-producing instrument that allows you to practice and create unique kinds of music, a keyboard board is a much better option than a MIDI controller.

In contrast, if you want a sound-altering system that allows you to connect different instruments and software and manipulate sounds to your liking, you find that MIDI controllers are a much better option.

All in all, which of the two is better depends on what you can afford and what you need. The purpose you are trying to achieve will decide whether you need a MIDI controller or a keyboard. And the only way to make the right choice is by understanding both and knowing their differences.

If you’ve read the entire guide above, the selection process should hopefully be much easier for you now!

Juan Stansbury
Juan Stansbury

I'm Juan Stansbury, author and owner of Homerecordio – your ultimate destination for everything about homerecording. With hands-on experience, courses, workshops, and industry research, I offer tips on selecting the best equipment, and mixing and mastering your recordings to achieve professional-quality results at home. Join me on this journey to explore the world of homerecording and music production.

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