We’ve reached a time where it’s hard to keep track of all the controllers and accessories being released for iOS devices to assist you with music production. And with the latest iPads slowly crawling towards a worthy laptop replacement for serious producing I think it’s time to recap the latest and greatest keyboard controllers that you can pair up with your iPad.
Korg MicroKey 25
While the 37-key version is the sweet spot for key real estate, the Microkey 25 can draw its power from just an iPad and is therefore the one we’d take with us. The elegant black keyboard has great, playable keys that we’d pick over say the classic LPK25.
With its Octave Up and Down buttons and a joystick for controlling the built-in arpeggiator the MicroKey 25 doesn’t feature too many bells and whistles, but if you’re looking for a good set of keys to start playing with, the MicroKey 25 comes out as a top, affordable choice.
If you’re able to get hold of the all-black anniversary edition, then you definitely got a keeper.
When you are looking for more bells and whistles the Arturia Minilab might better fit your bill. With additional rows of drum pads and rotary knobs that you can freely assign in your favourite Core-MIDI apps this may very well be the all-in-one controller you can pair with your iPad.
While the wooden sides and the pad layout might not be everyone’s cup of tea, this keyboard remains a popular choice among iPad musicians. Maybe it’s the touch-strips for pitch bending and modulation or the programmable memory presets.
For a price of below $100 it’s another solid choice.
Novation Launchkey Mini
Another keyboard that has it all is the recently released Launchkey Mini by Novation. While also doing a good job as a clip launcher in Ableton, the Launchkey Mini is really tailor-made for the iPad, especially when paired with Novation’s Launchkey and Launchpad apps. These apps work seamlessly with their controller counterparts which makes for a great experience.
Of course you’re free to use the Launchkey Mini with any of your favourite apps. What’s great is that unlike the Launchpad Mini, the pads on the Launchkey do have velocity sensitivity, so you can put some expressiveness in your finger-drumming.
Keith McMillen QuNexus
And now that we’re on the topic of expressiveness, it’s a good time to mention the QuNexus from Keith McMillen. The Smart Sensor Keyboard controller gives you multiple modes of expression. Not only through velocity, but finger pressure (with polyphonic aftertouch) and tilt control are also recognised.
With the QuNexus you’re able to grab an expressive synth like Animoog and be in full control of everything, allowing you to play it like no other keyboard can.
Add to this the extra in- and outputs for CV/Gate and this is the true geek-keyboard out of this list, which is also reflected by the price.
Did we leave out your favourite iPad MIDI keyboard? Let us know below.