Many people start with 25, 49, or 61-key keyboards, but within a short period of time, they find that there’s no replacing 88-key models. After all, 88-key keyboards provide a fully immersive experience of classical pianos combined with modern tech.
However, if you go with the wrong product, you can end up with low quality or a high cost for unnecessary specs. Thing is, the sheer number of options can be quite overwhelming.
When you’re choosing your next upgrade, you’ll have to base your choice on quality, specs, size, and cost. All of this demands extensive market research.
In this post, we go through the basics of keyboard shopping and we review the top five rated products out there. We’re certain that we can help you get the best 88 Key MIDI Keyboard for your needs!
What Is an 88 Key MIDI Keyboard?
88 MIDIs are the largest piano-style keyboards. They have weighted keys, or hammer-action, that replicate classical pianos. They typically have 52 white keys and 36 blacks; that’s a total of 88.
Regular keyboards are stand-alone instruments without any digitalization. MIDIs, on the other hand, are compatible with DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations.)
While MIDIs don’t create sounds on their own, they create MIDI data for your music. This data helps you control the gears, edit the notes, and alter the melody.
This digitalization is ideal for audio engineers, live musicians, and even hobbyists.
What Makes the Best 88 Key MIDI Keyboard?
If you take a look at musical keyboards in the market, there are a ton of options to choose from. This variety is a double-edged sword.
On the upside, there’s something for everyone. No matter what your needs are, there’s a MIDI keyboard out there for you. On the downside, you’ll need to be able to analyze the differences before you make a decision.
Thankfully, we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you and summed up the factors that you need to consider. These factors are as follows:
Knowing the dimensions is particularly important if you already have a set-up ready. You don’t want a keyboard that’s too big for your studio space. However, if space isn’t an issue, we recommend going with full-sized MIDIs.
Inputs and Outputs
All the products that we’ll be reviewing here are MIDI-compatible, so you don’t have to worry too much about that.
What you should keep an eye on is the compatibility with different software. A good keyboard allows you to work on a wider range of software options.
Other connectivity options like Bluetooth, are definitely a plus.
Weighted Keys or Hammer-Action
The key-bed feel is crucial for MIDI keyboards. You’ll want something weighted enough to feel like a real piano pad, but not too stiff that it jams.
Hammer-action keyboards are made to replicate the key action on regular acoustic pianos. They give a very authentic experience and offer nice responsiveness.
On a hammer action keyboard, the bass is heavier and the treble is lighter. Meanwhile, weighted keyboards have the same heaviness all over.
Aftertouch is the MIDI data that is translated from your touch on a key. Depending on the pressure and duration, the aftertouch controls parameters like vibrato and volume.
A good aftertouch response can make all the difference between regular and MIDI keyboards.
Knobs, Fade Sliders, or Buttons
If you’re used to fader sliders, you might be overwhelmed with a busy control pad. Don’t fret, using knobs is a lot like faders; clockwise increases the parameters value and vice versa.
Most keyboards combine knobs, buttons, and fade levers for optimum control. Alesis is a great example of a company that varies its controllers.
In MIDI keyboards, a bigger soundbank means more samples. Depending on what you’re using the MIDI for, you might need larger storage space. The preset samples can save you a lot of hassle when you’re mixing or editing.
Quality and Durability
We selected high-quality products specifically for this review. However, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” answer. Choosing the best 88 key MIDI keyboard for your needs helps you get a longer lifespan on the product.
For instance, using a heavier keyboard as a portable one will wear it out faster. Try to pick the most suitable MIDI to get the most out of it.
Portable (and even foldable!) Keyboards are available if you want something lightweight. If you want something sturdier, go for heavy-duty pro models. They work nicely for in-studio conditions.
Why Go for an 88 Key MIDI Keyboard?
You’re probably wondering why you should upgrade to 88-keyed keyboards. Why should you even choose MIDIs in the first place?
There’s a long list of reasons why musicians and producers rely on 88 key MIDIs. On the top of the list are the following reasons:
Switching From Pianos Is a Breeze
Many musicians who were used to playing classical pianos find using smaller keyboards a bit uncomfortable. That’s why 88-keyed keyboards are a better option. They can replicate the same experience of playing a full-sized piano.
You can switch between the piano and the keyboard without having a hard time adjusting to the size difference.
Not only can the 88 MIDI mimic the classical piano, but it’ll also impress you with its control tech.
With MIDI data, you can get custom sensitivity, weighted keys, audio filters, and so much more. In short, 88-keyed MIDIs are a studio tool that’ll save you time when editing or mixing.
You Can Play It Live
MIDI keyboards aren’t limited to studios for editing, you can also use your keyboard for live shows. You’ll only need a laptop, a MIDI connection, compatible software, your keyboard, and then you’re ready to go!
The 5 Best 88 Key MIDI Keyboards Today
Now that you know what to look for, you should be able to set a rough criterion for your next MIDI keyboard. Based on your budget, studio space, and intended use, you can go for products with different specs.
Without further ado, let’s check out our top five picks:
Alesis Recital Pro – 88 Key Digital Piano Keyboard
- Start playing professional keys today - the ultimate beginners digital piano loaded with 12 expertly crafted voices and powerful educational features
- Universal responsive feel - 88 premium full-sized hammer action keys with adjustable touch response to suit your preferred playing style
- Connectivity covered - built-in 20W speakers, ¼” Sustain pedal input (pedal not included), ¼” stereo headphone output for private practice, included power adapter and ¼” stereo outputs
- Powerful educational features - standard, split, layer, record and Lesson modes with 128-note max polyphony and built in FX: chorus, reverb, modulation
- Learn piano today - Includes skoove 3 month premium subscription for expert interactive online piano lessons
Whether you’re a pro or you’re still learning, Alesis Recital Pro is a great keyboard to start with.
The keys on the Alesis Recital Pro are semi-weighted, hammer-action. With this keyboard, you choose between acoustic, electric, organ, synth, or bass styles. The keyboard comes with a built-in metronome and a 128 polyphony.
Alesis offers 60 free lessons on Melodics when you purchase the keyboard. Not only that but when you buy the Alesis Recital Pro, you get a Skoove Premium subscription, too!
- USB / MIDI input
- ¼-inch sustain port
- Skoove Software
- Six D cell batteries (optional, since it’s also corded)
What We Liked
Musicians from different skill levels found this MIDI keyboard to be very user-friendly. You’ll also get a great touch response for this price range.
What We Didn’t Like
Live-playing on the keyboard may cause a clicking sound. However, the keyboard comes with a recording feature that cancels out this clicking.
Alesis Recital Pro offers great value for money for beginners and intermediate musicians. Its quality is impressive and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its durability.
Roland FANTOM-8 Music Workstation
- Fantom Series Limited Edition T-Shirt with Product Registration
- Acclaimed 88-note weighted keyboard with aftertouch
- Seamless workflow with no confusing modes
- Expandable sound engine delivers authentic electronic and acoustic sounds
- Fresh hybrid sounds combining modern PCM, virtual analog, and a routable analog filter
The FANTOM-8 is one of the best 88 MIDI keyboards out there and it’s definitely worth the extra bucks.
It’s a semi-weighted keyboard that comes with all the specs you could imagine! Think PCM, virtual analogs, routable filters, channel aftertouch, and V-Piano tech.
You’ll need to make space for it, though. The workstation measures 61.02 x 22.83 x 10.63 inches and weighs a little over 61 lbs.
- Dual CV/Gate outputs
- 16 stereo outputs
- 3 stereo inputs
What We Liked
One user review says that almost everything about the keyboard is customizable. The soundbank also caught the eyes of many users.
What We Didn’t Like
The Roland FANTOM 88 MIDI keyboard is more on the expensive side. Just keep in mind that you’re getting your money’s worth of quality, specs, and customer support.
This Roland is more than just a MIDI keyboard, it’s a full workstation that’s highly recommended for professional musicians. It’s suitable for heavy-weight audio editing and live shows.
If it weren’t for the cost, Roland FANTOM-8 would’ve been our first choice.
M-Audio Hammer 88 | Premium
- 88 fully weighted, hammer action velocity sensitive keys deliver natural piano feel, faithfully replicating every subtle nuance of your performance
- Driverless class compliant and USB powered specification provides seamless USB midi connection for playing virtual instruments, controlling recording software and more
- Conveniently located pitch bend, modulation, volume and octave controls for immersive, expressive performances
- Expanded control options for inputs for sustain, expression and soft pedals included
- Includes free 3 month subscription to Skoove; The easiest way to learn piano with interactive piano lessons for beginners and advanced players
The M-Audio Hammer 88-keyed keyboard is an expressive tool for detail-oriented production.
You can get the M-Audio 88 MIDI in two models: Hammer-Action and Graded Hammer-Action with Drum Pads. The hammer-action model’s dimensions are 55.8 x 11.88 x 5.04 inches and it’s way more budget-friendly than the graded model.
- USB Type-B MIDI
- 5-Pin MIDI
- 9V DC 800mA adapter (optional)
- Sustain 3 ¼ inches inputs
- Wide-range of software (Skoove, AIR Velvet, AIR DB 33, Sonivox, and Ableton)
What We Liked
The M-Audio keys are very responsive in terms of timing, spring action, and feel.
This keyboard is particularly impressive when switching from traditional pianos to MIDI keyboards. That’s because playing on it feels very authentic to classical pianos.
What We Didn’t Like
It’s not a very portable keyboard; it’s a solid 38.6 lbs. However, it’s sturdy and suitable for studios.
The M-Audio 88 MIDI is a good choice for intermediate and professional musicians who are looking for a sturdy and affordable option.
Studiologic SL88 Grand 88-Note Graded Hammer Action Keyboard
- 88-key graded hammer action keyboard
- Real wooden keys with ivory touch
- Three contacts per key with note-on and note-off velocity + after touch
- 6-way control knob; 3 function buttons; 4 programmable zones; 4 programmable pedals connectors; 3 programmable sticks controllers
- TFT Color graphic display (320x240) with intuitive navigation
Studiologic is a hardware master’s dream stuffed into a 50 x 12 x 5-inch keyboard.
This keyboard comes with three real-time controllers to adjust the mod, pitch, and crossfade. It also has a TFT graphic display screen near the control knob for easier navigation.
- USB MIDI (Type-A)
- 5-Pin MIDI input/output
- 9V DC power adapter
- Two regular sustain inputs
- Continuous controller input
- Multifunctional controller input
- SL Editor software
What We Liked
It’s super easy to use the keyboard with laptops since it has a magnetic rail system to rest the device on. On stage or in a studio, user reviews found this keyboard convenient.
What We Didn’t Like
The keys are fully weighted, making them stiffer than most MIDIs. Also, the stock velocity curve is a bit too soft for most people. You can still adjust the stock velocity till you’re happy with the setting.
This is yet another sturdy, heavy-duty MIDI keyboard for more advanced usage. It might not be a good option for beginners, but it’s great for more experienced musicians looking for a lot of features on a budget.
FVEREY 88 Key Foldable Digital Piano Keyboard
- 【Lightweight & Portable】This foldable digital piano keyboard can achieve the same performance as the Grand piano and saves space with folded size 24.8*8*4.7in.It weights only 8.8lb.Equipped with a built-in rechargeable battery and a carrying case,you can easily take it as you go, which is suitable for parties and outdoors.
- 【88 Premium Full-Sized Piano Keyboard】With standard 88 full-size and semi-weighted keys,the electronic piano has more sensible responses than full-weighted keys.The piano keyboard is exquisitely according to 1:1 piano key ratio.You can maintain correct hand shape and experience the heavy hammer feeling of a piano.It’s suitable for beginners.
- 【Lossless Sound Quality】Built in double HIFI stereo speakers,the digital keyboard presents 100% piano original sound.Its sound line is full,delicate, and three-dimensional, and it can produce shocking performance on the spot.By connecting with headphone,you can play the piano at night and experience the best sound quality.
- 【MIDI & Bluetooth Function】MIDI/USB interface allows you to connect computer and other intelligent deices to edit and create music.The Bluetooth function makes it simple for beginners to learn piano by following the piano apps like Garage Band,Perfect Piano and Pop Piano.The piano especially suits kids who have little or even no piano experience.
- 【Useful Features to Meet All Your Needs】128 rhythms,128 tones and 20 demos make learning more interesting.Also,recording, sustain, metronome, drum kit, dual voice, transpose features are indispensable for beginners.The electronic piano keyboard can be split into 44 keys,so whole family can enjoy playing.It’s perfect learning piano keyboard gift for your kids,music lovers friends and lonely parents.
FVEREY’s cordless foldable MIDI keyboard is excellent for musicians on the move.
It’s a full-sized keyboard. Yet, it’s highly portable and easy to assemble. When folded its dimensions are 24.8 x 8 X 4.7 inches.
This MIDI keyboard is semi-weighted. It also comes with built-in double HIFI stereo speakers.
- USB / MIDI port
- Many mobile apps (EveryonePiano, GarageBand, etc.)
What We Liked
The keyboard can be split into a 44-keyed MIDI, making it ideal for multi-purpose uses. Many user reviews praise the battery life as well. The battery’s capacity covers anywhere from five to eight hours of non-stop playing.
What We Didn’t Like
The keyboard doesn’t come with a latch to keep it closed, but you can put it in the carry-on case whenever it’s not in use.
We’d recommend the FVEREY 88 Key Foldable Digital Piano to beginners who are going to be moving a lot. Its portable structure makes it ideal to share between bands or friends.
MIDI keyboards are essential in any professional musician’s kit. Going for 88 keys comes with the added advantage of a full-size, immersive experience.
Choosing the best 88 key MIDI keyboard for you depends on your budget, skill level, and studio setting. Thankfully, many reputable brands offer a wide range of options to choose from.
Our top five picks were the M-Audio Hammer, Alesis Recital Pro, Studiologic SL88 Grand, Roland FANTOM-8, and Foldable FVEREY.
If we had to go with one keyboard, it’d be the Alesis Recital Pro. It’s very versatile and suits different skill levels. There’s a lot to love about this MIDI keyboard, but the quality and the responsiveness just seal the deal for us.