FL Studio, previously known to the world as Fruity Loops, is a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). FL Studio is an easy-to-use music software with free lifetime upgrades and a pile of features, including a mixer, lots of instruments and effects, and a great-looking user interface. It’s an outstanding DAW for beginners and is available at several price tiers.
The caveat on FL Studios is that it isn’t fantastic for live recordings. Instead, it’s most often used for creating cool electronic beats. Overall, though, FL Studio is easy to use for beginners and professionals, and with unlimited upgrades, you won’t have to worry about the software getting outdated.
Of course, if you are using FL Studio, you’re probably going to want a MIDI keyboard controller to go with it. So in this article, we took a look at the best MIDI keyboards for FL Studio.
The MPK261 is a MIDI keyboard workstation that will easily work with FL Studios. The semi-weighted keys feature a natural piano feel that isn’t too heavy. There are multiple assignable controls and a bonus software package that you can use if you like. The extra drum pads and controllers give you plenty of controls to work with in FL Studio so that you can create drum rhythms, licks, and effects.
The Alesis V61 is a compact workstation designed to give you enough controls to take your ideas and make them into music. The assignable knobs and buttons make it a versatile controller, while its small size and light weight mean it is easy to store and easy to take along with you.
The MPK Mini MK3 is a compact, universally compatible midi keyboard controller that will easily integrate with FL Studio or some of the other included DAWs. It’s USB-powered so that you won’t be bogged down with extension cords, either. Just plug it in, and you’re on your way to creating new music. This controller is so compact you can easily stash it in a gig bag, a closet, or on your desk. It’s designed for beginners and professionals alike.
The Alesis Q88 MKII is a streamlined, down-to-earth MIDI controller that has all the essential functions you need to create your favorite music tracks. It has plenty of assignable controls, including stop, play, and record, so you can start your recordings without taking your hands away from the keyboard.
M-Audio’s Oxygen Pro Mini is a lot of power in a small package. With just 32 keys, this USB-powered MIDI controller gives you the option to make music in the studio or on the go. In addition, this particular MIDI keyboard offers an easy-to-read OLED screen with auto-mapping and smart controls.
The Arturia Keylab 88 gives you lots of value for the price. It is mapped to general MIDI standards, but everything about this keyboard controller is adjustable with your DAW. The full-size, 88 semi-weighted midi keyboard is especially well-suited to anyone looking to add extensive use of synthesizers to their music. The drum pads are easy to configure, as well.
This is a pair-down device without extra bells and whistles but works great if your music is synth-heavy.
Most of the time, a MIDI controller is a piece of hardware that sends information about what notes to play and how to play them to a Digital Audio Workstation, which can generate the sound and record the information. Usually, MIDI controllers are a keyboard, which is what we are talking about in this article, although there are interesting alternatives out there. The right controller for you depends on a number of factors, including the type of music, your budget, the connectors you need, and more.
One of the most important aspects of choosing a MIDI keyboard for FL Studio is what type of music you are going to use it for. For example, suppose your primary purpose is to record classical-style piano music. In that case, you’ll probably want to choose a MIDI controller with a full 88 weighted keys with the Graded Hammer Standard so you can maximize your musical expression through the keys. On the other hand, if you are looking to play more pop-style music, you might find a smaller keyboard with a few drum pads and assignable buttons will work better for your purposes.
Will you be using your MIDI keyboard for live music? If so, you may want something with a full-size keyboard so you can play everything you need to. But if you are only going to be making recordings, you might only record a line at a time, meaning you won’t need as many keys.
Keep in mind that FL Studio works best for electronic music applications and may not be perfect in a live setting or for live recordings.
MIDI controller keyboards range in size from just a few keys to a full 88-key keyboard. The size you choose may depend on how much studio space you have available and if you need to stash your keyboard away when you aren’t using it.
Do you want your keyboard to fit on your desk? If so, you probably only want one with 49 to 61 keys. But if you have room for a whole keyboard stand, then perhaps you’ll be happier with an 88 key controller.
If you are using lots of synth pads in your music or just prefer to play a widespread of notes at one time, you might need a full-size keyboard. On the other hand, if you prefer to break up your music into small sections at a time, you might only need a small one.
Again, the type of music you are looking to work on may designate the type of controller you need. For example, if you are looking to record piano music of any style, you’ll probably want a MIDI keyboard that gives you the most natural piano experience. On the other hand, if you aren’t interested in piano music but just want to be able to easily play the melody line or a few chords at a time, a MIDI keyboard with mini-sized, velocity-sensitive keys might be the right choice for you.
Check out our guide for selecting the best weighted MIDI keyboard
If you’re using FL Studios, you’re probably leaning more towards electronic music and dance beats than towards classical piano music. In this case, you’ll want to look at the number of drum pads and their sensitivity. Are the pads velocity-sensitive? Or just on/off? Can you adjust or control how sensitive they are?
On the other hand, you’ll probably want plenty of additional controllers, too, such as knobs, faders, and sliders. These will manipulate effects, control non-piano instruments, and increase the functionality of your controller.
Do you need a very portable keyboard? If so, you probably don’t want to purchase a heavy, weighted-key, full-size MIDI keyboard. Instead, you might be looking for something much smaller so you can carry it around in a backpack or gig bag.
Entry to mid-level MIDI controllers generally tend to be very reasonably priced since they don’t need to have onboard sound engines or sound banks. However, if you are looking for something that does both equally well, the price will jump up into a higher bracket. So overall, you need to consider what budget you have to work with and then prioritize the features you need for your price point.
More modern MIDI controllers often have USB-powered ports because they assume you’ll be using the MIDI controller with a laptop or computer. However, it can get a little trickier if you connect your MIDI controller to another keyboard or a tablet, or an iOS device.
For example, if you need to connect your MIDI controller to an iPad, you’ll need to purchase the correct cables because they generally are not included with your controller. If your controller has a 5-Pin MIDI port, you’ll probably need a hub and converter cable to lightening adapter to connect to your iPad.
On the other hand, if your controller is USB powered, your iPad may not have enough battery power to power it for long periods of time.
You may also want to consider if you need to connect your keyboard to another keyboard, which generally requires a 5-pin MIDI connector.
Most MIDI controllers are compatible with just about all DAWs, including FL Studio. However, if you are working with a PC, you may have some issues with the plug and play option on a lot of these devices. Therefore, you may need to download the accompanying free software so that you have the right drivers on your computer before your computer will recognize the MIDI controller.
You should be able to assign sounds and samples from your DAW right to your keyboard.
FL Studios is an excellent Digital Audio Workstation for beginners and experienced digital musicians alike. It is easy to learn, and once you know your way around it, it has plenty of capability and free-lifetime updates.
So naturally, you want to find the best MIDI keyboard to get the most out of your DAW investment. For us, it’s the M-Audio Oxygen Pro Mini. First of all, this compact MIDI keyboard is small enough to fit on your desk or into your gig bag. So even though it isn’t the smallest controller on our list, it is small enough to be portable but hefty enough for regular studio use. So this MIDI keyboard may be for you if you are a busy musician on the go or only have a small workspace.
Since FL Studio isn’t really aimed at classical musicians recording lengthy piano works (although you could do that if you wish), you don’t need a huge keyboard to operate it. So the 32 mini keys should be more than enough to create your licks, phrases, and synth beds. If it isn’t, there are other models of this MIDI keyboard with more keys to choose from.
We love the OLED screen and the automapping configuration, which takes care of all of the details for you so you can focus on making music. In addition, the drum pads are easily assignable and velocity-sensitive, so you can drop a beat that sounds just the way you want it to.
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