Best of 2013: Top 10 MIDI Controllers

Once upon a time MIDI controllers consisted of flimsy keys & a mod wheel... maybe. How times have changed! So, with so many quality options available, which one will best suit your needs?  

2013 saw the rise of the integrated  instrument/controller (Ableton Push, Arturia Spark, NI Maschine) and the DIY/customizable option (Livid Instruments’ Brain & Brain Jr.) 

In these exciting times for digital musicians there’s lots of gear to choose from... Here’s our top 10 MIDI controllers we reviewed this year (in alphabetical order).


Ableton Push

Ableton Push

Possibly the controller/instrument with the biggest impact ever for Live users has been Ableton’s Push. To explore just how good this revolutionary instrument is for beat making and melody creation, we asked certified trainer, Noah Pred to pull out all the stops in this in depth review.

Click here for full review


Akai Pro MAX25 Keyboard Controller

Akai Pro Max 25

At first glance you may think Akai's MAX25 is just another run-of-the-mill controller... But, you'd be mistaken! G.W. Childs discovers all the interesting possibilities with this cute & capable keyboard.

Click here for full review


Arturia Spark

Arturia Spark

Hardware / software hybrid drum machine, Arturia Spark works nicely straight out of the box. Mo Volans puts this luminous, rubber-buttoned piece of kit to the test.

Click here for full review


Keith McMillen QuNexus

Keith McMillen QuNexus

Well-built and attractive, the QuNexus compact controller by Keith McMillen Instruments includes some innovative features that may surprise. Mo Volans gives it a thorough work out in this review.

Click here for full review


Livid Instrument Base

Livid BASE

After much anticipation, Livid Instruments' Base finally reached our review labs... G.W. Childs experienced just how perfect the pressure-sensitive pads, touch sliders and buttons are on this controller/instrument.

Click here for full review


Livid Instruments Brain Jr.

Livid Instruments Brain Jnr

In the world of technology size is everything! And we were  particularly impressed with Livid Instruments' Brain Jr., "the easiest custom MIDI controller, ever."

Click here for full review


Maschine Studio

Maschine Studio

Since the first Maschine hardware, Native Instruments have captured the hearts and minds of musicians, producers & finger drummers! We discovered what new functionality Maschine Studio (and Maschine 2.0 software) bring to the table. 

Click here for full review


Novation Launch Control

Novation Launch Control

Novation's LaunchPad & Launchpad Mini are not mere stocking fillers, they're extremely capable MIDI controllers! But how does the Launch Control fit into a typical studio or live setup? The answer is... There’s a good reason it’s so popular.

Click here for full review


Numark Orbit

Numark Orbit

Buttons, pads, flashing lights. You've seen them all before in a MIDI controller, right? But Numark's Orbit controller brings a sense of unparalleled fun in its accelerometer-based game-controller style body.

Click here for full review


Pulse Controller

Pulse Controller

So, you've got a drum pattern in your head that you want to get into your DAW, but are lacking a drum pad / MIDI keyboard. Enter Pulse controller which can transform any surface into a MIDI controller - with impressive results.

Click here for full review


Did we not mention your favorite controller from 2013? Let us know in the comments below (or leave a mini-review in our new Users area!)

Rounik is the Executive Editor for Ask.Audio & macProVideo. He's built a crack team of professional musicians and writers to create one of the most visited online resources for news, review, tutorials and interviews for modern musician and producer. As an Apple Certified Trainer for Logic Pro Rounik has taught teachers, professional... Read More

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