The best MIDI keyboard for Cubase

If you are a creator of music, it is highly likely that you are using top-quality DAWs like Cubase. In addition to top-notch software, you also require a functional and versatile MIDI keyboard to take your tunes to the next level.

As one of the most complete and well-rounded DAWs available in the market, Cubase boasts of impeccable audio quality and editing features. Its MIDI and programming functionality is top-notch, regardless of whether it is your first time using the platform or not. With that being said, you need to find an ideal MIDI keyboard that works well with this software. The best MIDI keyboard for Cubase is one with proper functionality when integrated with the DAW, as well as several controls that increase said functionality.

Here is a list of the best MIDI keyboards for Cubase. We have keenly picked those that are portable and have excellent functionality with the platform.

The best MIDI keyboard for Cubase

Model name
Number and type of keys
Connectivity
Check on Amazon
Nektar Panorama P4
49 semi-weighted and velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch
USB
Akai MPK249
49 semi-weighted and touch-sensitive keys with aftertouch
USB MIDI
Novation Launchkey 49
49 velocity-sensitive and synth-action keys
USB
Native Instruments Maschine 3
none
USB
Komplete Kontrol S49 MK2
49 semi-weighted keys with aftertouch
USB

Nektar Panorama P4 – A versatile MIDI keyboard with seamless integration with Cubase

The Nektar Panorama P4 and P6 (its 61-key counterpart) are the only mainstream MIDI keyboards that natively support Cubase. Not only does the Panorama P4 easily integrate with the DAW, but it also has some fantastic features.

Specs

  • 49 velocity-sensitive and semi-weighted keys with aftertouch
  • Modulation and pitch blend assignable wheels
  • Octave shift buttons
  • 16 encoders
  • 12 velocity and pressure-sensitive pads with 7 velocity curves
  • 11 assignable function keys
  • USB bus-powered
  • Dimensions of 33 2/8”*13”* 3 6/8” and a total weight of 14lbs

The Panorama P4 has a crystal clear 3.5″ color TFT display to deliver all the information you require for each menu and mode. It has 49 velocity-sensitive semi-weighted keys that are a joy to play. The keyboard also hosts an impressive amount of controls, including 17 knobs, 12 pads each with pressure and strike components, 10 faders, modulation and pitch blend wheels, a footswitch jack, and an expression pedal jack, among many others.

With the Panorama P4, you get immense control over how you navigate through Cubase, and you do not have to sit through a long and tedious process of mapping each button and key to their function. The keyboard integrates seamlessly with Cubase, Nuendo, Reaper, Logic Pro, and Reason.

Pros

  • 49 semi-weighted keys that give you the real feel of a piano
  • An incredible keybed with velocity-sensitivity and aftertouch
  • An impressive number of control options
  • USB-powered and Class-Compliant
  • Aesthetically-pleasing design

Cons

  • Its tiny 3.5” display is low resolution

Verdict

If you are looking for a MIDI keyboard controller with fantastic features and one that effortlessly integrates with Cubase, the Nektar Panorama P4 is the ideal choice. The Panorama P6 is similar to the P4, the only difference being that it comes with 61 semi-weighted and velocity-sensitive keys.
 

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Akai MPK249 – A multipurpose MIDI keyboard

For the last several decades, Akai is known for making drum machines, keyboards, and production tools. Similarly, the Akai MPK249 is an independent music production house with in-built DAW controllers.

Specs

  • 49 full-sized semi-weighted, and touch-sensitive keys
  • Total mass weight of about 13lbs and dimensions of 29”*12.25” (L*W)
  • 16 pads with 4 sound banks
  • 8 sliders and 8 knobs
  • It has a variety of DAW controls
  • USB MIDI ports
  • iOS compatibility via Apple Camera Kit

The Akai MPK249 offers you everything you wish for from a MIDI controller. Whether it is its full-sized and semi-weighted keys or its aesthetically pleasing design or tons of control options, this MIDI keyboard has it all. It hosts 49 full-sized and touch-sensitive keys with aftertouch, 16 RGB MPC pads, a backlit LCD screen, MPC-style note repeat and 24 Q link controllers, including knobs, faders, and switches.

The MPK249 integrates fairly well with Cubase. Unlike the Panorama P4, where integration is instantaneous, this MIDI keyboard requires you to preset its settings to ‘Cubase’ and then select ‘MPK249’ from the Cubase database. More so, this device from Akai also integrates well with other DAWs, like Ableton and Logic Pro.

Pros

  • Keys are wide and comfortable to play for long periods
  • MPC-quality pads that enhance the music production experience
  • Plug-and-play functionality due to its DAW controls and high-quality LCD screen
  • Affordable
  • Impressive build quality
  • Integrates well with Cubase

Cons

  • Its semi-weighted keys are somewhat tough to press, and its aftertouch is not very responsive
  • small size of pads

Verdict

The Akai MPK249 has an excellent keyboard and is well-built. Its fantastic features ensure you have all you need to create the ideal home music studio.
 

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Novation Launchkey 49 – A powerful and advanced MIDI keyboard

If you are looking for a more advanced, powerful, and affordable MIDI keyboard for music production, the Novation Launchkey 49 is an ideal choice.

Specs

  • 49 velocity-sensitive and synth-action keys
  • 16 RGB backlit velocity-sensitive pads
  • Transpose and octave buttons
  • Eight knobs and nine sliders
  • USB-powered
  • Modulation and pitch wheels

The Novation Launchkey 49 is one of the best-selling mid-tier MIDI keyboards available in the market and for a good reason. Although it has plastic keys, they are full-sized, velocity-sensitive, and synth-action, making them stable and sturdy enough to handle hard strikes and hammering. The keyboard also features 16 RGB backlit drum pads, as well as a variety of control buttons, including octave up/down, track buttons, and modulation and pitch wheels.

By connecting the Launchkey 49 to your computer, either Mac or PC, via a USB cable, it seamlessly connects to most music software, including Cubase and Ableton. It has an In Control mode that allows you to use your keyboard controller with certain DAWs easily. With these InControl settings, you can automatically map all the controls in Launchkey onto DAW parameters. However, if your DAW software is not compatible with Launchkey, you may opt to use the Basic Mapping Mode.

Pros

  • Premium quality build
  • Affordable
  • Responsive RGB pads and sliders
  • Excellent software integration

Cons

  • Spring-action keys

Verdict

The Novation Launchkey is one of the best MIDI keyboards available for live performances as well as music production in the studio. It comes packed with amazing features and loaded with software bundles that are perfect for both the novice and experienced music producer.
 

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Native Instruments Maschine MK3 – A high-end pad controller that works well with all DAWs

Ideal or both creating music and live performances, the Maschine MK3 from Native Instruments is a versatile controller compatible with all music software.

Specs

  • Dimensions of 12.6”*11.85”*1.61” and a mass weight of 4.85lbs
  • 16 large and ultrasensitive drum pads
  • 8GB Maschine library with various sample, instruments, presets, songs, and drum kits
  • Two high-resolution color RGB screens
  • Touch-sensitive knobs
  • USB-powered
  • 25 pro quality creative and studio FX including delay, reverb, EQ, compressor, and filter

The Maschine MK3 features two high-resolution color screens that display small text very clearly. The screens have the primary role of tweaking effects and browsing sounds as they work together with the controller’s eight knobs. The controller also features large drum pads that feel better to play regardless of whether you want to drum out rhythms with one or both hands.

Another feature of this controller is its touch strip that hosts various dedicated buttons for different functions, including effects, notes, pitch, and modulation. Maschine 3 has top-quality pads that feel realistic when playing. Its interface is also laid out well and is easy to use.

Pros

  • Incredibly intuitive interface
  • High-quality colored screens
  • Easy integration with Cubase and other DAWs
  • A wide range of features for a versatile live performance
  • s Small device with a wide range of capabilities

Cons

  • Switching between listening on speakers and headphones is a process that is time-consuming

Verdict

The Native Instruments Maschine 3 MIDI keyboard is an excellent and highly intuitive device for both pros and beginners. It is exceptionally functional, offers unlimited possibilities in creating music, and has nice feeling pads as well.
 

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Komplete Control s49 MK2 –A pro-grade MIDI keyboard

Despite its huge price tag, the Komplete Control S49 MK2 MIDI keyboard offers incredible performance due to its superior build quality and exceptional features.

Specs

  • 49 semi-weighted keys with aftertouch
  • Large mod/pitch wheels
  • Unique touch strip for expression control
  • Two high-resolution screens
  • Seamless integration with the most popular DAWs, including Cubase
  • Smart backlit function keys

The S49 MIDI keyboard has two attractive high-resolution displays that make it easy to browse through monitor key parameters, sounds, or make changes at a glance. Its keybed consists of 49 semi-weighted keys with, particularly responsive aftertouch. Its keys are also backlit, allowing you to easily create different ‘zones’ on the keybed depending on your play style.

With this MIDI controller, you will feel the premium build quality on different components, like the pitch/modulation wheels, are ergonomic and of rubber, making them smoother and sturdier when using them. More so, the keyboard integrates easily with popular DAWs, including Ableton, Cubase, Nuendo, Garageband, Logic, and MASCHINE.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Two bright and useful screens that aid with immense utility
  • Smooth and sturdy keys

Cons

  • Limited Cubase support
  • Expensive

Verdict

If you are looking for a powerful and long-lasting MIDI controller for your studio, the Komplete Kontrol S49 MK2 MIDI keyboard is an ideal choice. However, due to its vast dimensions, it is best to get it up in your studio permanently.
 

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Few MIDI keyboards integrate easily into Cubase, making the process of buying such MIDI keyboards a lengthy and challenging one. However, if you try any of the choices mentioned above, you will not be disappointed.

Reviewing the best MIDI keyboard for Cubase

What do you look out for before putting your money down?

Number and type of keys

Generally, MIDI keyboards come in variations of 25, 49, 61, or 88 keys. You can decide on the kind of MIDI keyboard you prefer depending on your play style and whether you want a portable or a standalone controller. If you want a portable controller, it is best to choose one that is compact enough to fit in your backpack and USB powered.

Different keyboards come with different key actions, which refer to how the keys respond to you playing them. Whether you are songwriting in the studio or up on stage, you must be comfortable with the keys of your controller. There are three main action types on MIDI keyboards; semi-weighted, weighted, and synth action. Pianists prefer using weighted MIDI keyboards as they give them the real feel of a piano’s keys.

Software

If you are going to integrate your controller to Cubase or other popular DAWs, it is advisable to choose a MIDI keyboard with additional VSTS. It is also essential to know the type of bundled software in your preferred controller.

Performance drum pads

If you plan on triggering samples or creating beats on your keyboard, you will want pads to trigger loops and play drums. Many controllers offer eight or more pads, with some of them even sporting aftertouch functionality.

Conclusion

Depending on the type of music you want to produce, there is a large variety of MIDI keyboards that integrate well with Cubase. Picking the best one that meets your needs might be challenging, but it is definitely a worthy cause. However, by deciding the number and type of keys you prefer, and the functionality specs of your preferred keyboard, you are guaranteed to make the right choice.

Peter Smith

Welcome to MusicGearAdvisor! 4 years ago I rediscovered my passion for making music and began building my own home studio. As I have gone through my journey I realized that I am just as passionate about the equipment as I am about the music. I started MusicGearAdvisor as a way for me to share my learnings with others so you can get started making music that you dream of.

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