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7 Best MIDI Keyboards/Controllers for GarageBand (2023 Updated)

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When talking about the best beginner DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations), Apple’s Garageband will often make it to the top of the list. 

Released for macOS in 2004 and brought to iOS in 2011, Garageband is one free beginner DAW that will offer functions that are only available in the paid versions of some DAWs.

It even offers you the option of releasing your music to the world after creating it. 

On the other hand, to create music as a beginner on Garageband or any other DAW, you will most likely need to use a midi controller.

It is not as if you cannot create music without a midi controller on Garageband. As a matter of fact, you can. 

However, the truth remains that music creation will be a lot more fun with the use of a midi controller.

Midi controllers offer you tonnes of options and versatilities that you normally would not get by drawing notes in your piano roll or punching your Mac keyboard. 

There are so many advantages of using a midi controller, some of them include, better articulation of notes, more freedom of expression, human touch to your music, ease of play, humane-sounding musical phrases and lines, etc. 

There are several other advantages, these are just a few I can remember. That being said, choosing the right midi controller for your Garageband is as important as getting Garageband or even creating music and learning the curves of the DAW. 

Because Garageband is a free and beginner DAW, the best midi controller for Garageband would be that which is compatible with the DAW, affordable for most people, portable enough for a beginner, ergonomically designed, and durable. 

Also, having some nice midi features and tonal modulation capabilities might be another advantage. This would add some more fun to your Garageband journey and your beginning days of music production. 

In this article, we will discuss 7 amazing midi controllers we feel would be awesome for your Garageband. Even if you are a professional who is looking to transit from another DAW to Garageband or its elder brother, Logic Pro X, this article will still be of great help to you. 

7 Best Midi Controllers for GarageBand 

Review of 7 Best Midi Controllers for GarageBand 

M – Audio Keystation 49 Mk III

M-Audio Keystation 61 MK3 – Synth Action 61 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with Assignable Controls, Pitch and Mod Wheels, and Software Included
  • Ultimate Expression – 61 full-size velocity-sensitive semi-weighted keys provide a natural feel that captures every subtle nuance of your performance
  • Total Control – Volume fader, transport and directional buttons for easy control of your software, plus ergonomically-designed pitch and modulation wheels, Octave up and down buttons and sustain pedal input for expressive performances
  • Immediate Creativity – Easy plug-and-play connection to your Mac or PC—no drivers or power supply required; compatible with iOS devices via the Apple to USB Camera Adapter (sold separately)
  • Your Studio Centrepiece – Compact design fits any desk, studio or stage setup perfectly and advanced functionality customizes your controls for your recording software

M – Audio Keystation 49 mk3 is one of the best controllers recommended for piano players using GarageBand. The feel and look of the M – Audio Keystation 49 mk3 are designed to mimic a real piano. 

This makes the controller the best option for GarageBand users looking forward to playing with the DAW’s sound pack. M – Audio Keystation 49 mk3 also features a fader, pitch bend, and mod wheel for dynamic use. 

This feature automatically aids creative possibilities and effective recording in GarageBand. The fader when assigned may be used to toggle functions inside Garageband for more precise control. 

The pitch bend and modulation wheel are handy for more expression and adding some character to your play and are also assignable for fun or easy usage. Also, with all these features, the M – Audio Keystation 49 mk3 is very affordable and easy to use. 

Watch more about the M – Audio Keystation Mk III here

ProsCons
Plug and play No drum pad
Portable 
Affordable

Arturia Keystep 37 pro

Arturia Keystep 37 pro

The Arturia Keystep Pro is another best controller for producers using Garageband as their DAW. 

This 37 keys controller features incredibly powerful performance abilities that most midi controllers with the same number of octaves are lacking. 

The Arturia Keystep 37 pro offers a dedicated 16-track drum sequencer and a 4-track polyphonic sequencer that is assignable to Garageband. 

Although it is a little bit expensive, it is the dream controller for producers and is recommended for Garageband users. 

Watch more about the Arturia Keystep pro

ProsCons
Easy to use Expensive
Lightweight 
Portable 
Aftertouch and velocity-sensitive
Metronome out

Nektar Impact LX 61

Nektar Impact LX61+ Keyboard Controller, MultiColored,Dark Grey
  • High quality MIDI controller keyboard designed for performers and producers wanting tactile instrument control. 61 full-size synth-action velocity-sensitive keys, 8 back-lit hyper-sensitive drum pads, 9 faders, 8 knobs, 6 transport buttons, pitch bend, modulation + octave & transpose buttons + sustain pedal socket.
  • Nektar DAW integration for most popular DAWs with Mixer and Instrument modes
  • Comprehensive MIDI functionailty. Compatible with all MIDI music software applications
  • Mac, PC and iOS Compatible

Nektar Impact LX 61 is popularly known for its affordability and is recommended for Garageband users. The 5-octave controller features solid keys and controls to work with in Garageband. 

The 61 keys will help you record incredible solos within a large range of octaves, pitch bend, and modulation wheel. You can change tracks in your Garageband project by simply using the arrow on the impact LX 61.

The Nektar Impact LX 61 controller can also be used to control the Garageband mixer control. The first 8 faders will regulate the channel volume while the 8 pots will control the channel pan. 

The Nektar Impact LX61 operates by default in Garageband but can also be assigned by users. 

Watch more about the Nektar Impact LX 61 here

ProsCons
Easy to useThe feel of the keys is not really great
5 octave full-size keys 
Eight pads 
Nine faders 
Lightweight
Full transport button 

Novation Mk III mini 

Novation Mk III mini

The functionality of the Novation MK III mini in DAWs earns it a reputation of being one of the best midi controllers for Garageband. The integration of this user-friendly Novation MK III mini is flawless with Garageband. 

The controller also offers 16 pads and 8 knobs which are assignable with Garageband. These faders and knobs will send out midi CC messages and also fixed note data in Garageband. 

If you are making music with Garageband and you are out for a controller that is simple but sophisticated enough for modern music production, the Novation MK3 mini is great for you. 

Watch more about the Novation Mk III mini  Here

ProsCons
Easy to use Small keys
Budget-friendly 
Velocity Sensitive pads 
8 rotary knobs 

Alesis V49 MKII 

Alesis V49 MKII

The Alesis V49 MKII features almost all the functions needed to work with Garageband. The 49 full-size control comes with 8 pads that can be used with Garageband. 

The features of the Alesis V49 MKII are not too excessive making it hard for non-professional producers to use. The Alesis V49 MK2 is plug-and-play. If it does not play after connecting it to your Garageband, all you have to do is reset your midi driver. 

To do that, go to preference in Garageband, click on audio/midi, and then click on the reset the MIDI drivers button. 

Watch more about the Alesis V49 MKII here

ProsCons 
Easy to use Dual triggering problem for pads
Blue light from pads 
Inexpensive
Pitch flex 

AKAI professional MPK Mini MK3 

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3 – 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller With 8 Backlit Drum Pads, 8 Knobs and Music Production Software included, Black
  • Music Production and Beat Maker Essential – USB powered MIDI controller with 25 mini MIDI keyboard velocity-sensitive keys for studio production, virtual synthesizer control and beat production
  • Total Control of your Production – Innovative 4-way thumbstick for dynamic pitch and modulation control, plus a built-in arpeggiator with adjustable resolution, range and modes
  • The MPC Experience – 8 backlit velocity-sensitive MPC-style MIDI beat pads with Note Repeat & Full Level for programming drums, triggering samples and controlling virtual synthesizer / DAW controls
  • Complete Command of your Virtual Instruments and FX – 8 360-degree knobs assign to all your music studio plugins for mixing, tweaking synth controls and more

The AKAI professional MPK mini MK3 controller is one of the best controllers recommended for Garageband users. The Mini MK3 is not difficult to use and to make music with as you learn the basics of Garageband. 

The assignable knobs can be used to control and manipulate Garageband. The eight pads of the AKAI professional MPK mini MK3 can sync with the Garageband virtual drum. This makes it very easy for Garageband producers to make beats with it. 

Watch more about the AKAI professional MPK Mini MK3 here

ProsCons
Easy to use Small in size 
Velocity sensitive keys 
Assignable knobs 
Affordable

AKAI LPK25 

AKAI Professional LPK25 – USB MIDI Keyboard controller with 25 Velocity-Sensitive Synth Action Keys for Laptops (Mac & PC), Editing Software included,MultiColored
  • 13-Inch, Slim-Line Laptop Performance Keyboard With 25 Velocity-Sensitive Mini-Keyboard Keys For Playing Melodies, Bass Lines, Chords And More
  • Dedicated Octave Up And Down Buttons To Increase The Keyboard To The Full Melodic Range Plus A Sustain Button For Expressive Performances
  • On-Board Arpeggiator Steps Through Chords Automatically And Generates Inspiring Melodic Ideas Quickly
  • 4 Programmable Memory Banks For Instant Recall Of Mappings For Daws, Virtual Instruments, Effects And More

AKAI LPK25 is one of the smallest yet coolest controllers by AKAI that is awesome for music production with Garageband. 

It is affordable and features quite an ergonomic and superb design. It can also be used with Garageband on Ipad because of its size. 

Although it is small with limited keys, the octave up-and-down features allow users to toggle the keys with Garageband. It also features 25 velocity-sensitive keys with a great feel and response with Garageband. 

Watch more about the AKAI LPK25 here

Pros Cons 
PortableThe size may be a limitation
Easy to use 
Good design

What Characteristics Should the Best Midi Controllers for Garageband Have?

The whole essence of getting a midi controller is to be able to control your digital audio workstation. However, there are some characteristics they should have to earn the award of the best midi controller for Garageband. 

The following will be characteristics of the best midi controller for Garageband: 

Compatibility 

The midi keyboard should be compatible with GarageBand for easy connection. If you have to install a driver for it to be connected, then it is not the best. 

Size

Consider a portable size midi controller for your Garageband. Since you are going to be using it quite often and might likely want to travel with it, then, portability is important. 

Intuitiveness 

Mastering a DAW is time-consuming already, the midi controller should be intuitive for easy use. The features should be a go-to deal, you don’t want to be distracted from your project.

Function/Features 

The knobs on the midi controller should be able to control reverb, delay, wetness, dryness, and other FX on the fly. The controller should also have a midi pad. They fasten the process of making beats. 

Durability 

The best midi controller would be able to stand the test of time. Whether it is kept in one spot in the studio or it is used for gigs, it should last longer.

Can you Use Any Midi Controller for Garageband?

Yes, you can use any midi controller to make music with any DAW. This is one of the benefits of technology. All you have to do is follow the manual that came with the midi controller. 

And No, do not use or just get any midi controller for Garageband. Endeavour to get the best midi controller that is compatible and will aid easy workflow while working with Garageband. 

Midi controllers are designed differently and with a variety of functions. Getting the best midi controller for GarageBand that will work for you is essential. 

What Midi Controllers Do Most Garageband Users Use?

Most Garageband users use the following midi controllers; 

Anthony Khan and Stephen Sedgwick, the producer, and engineer for the Gorillaz virtual band, used Garageband for the fall album. The album titled Fall by Gorillaz was produced using Garageband on iPad. 

The Akai Professional MPC is seen in the recording studio and Anthony Khan confirmed jamming with it. 

Conclusion 

The midi controller is one of the physical instruments in the music studio. Sometimes it is even the first physical instrument. Choose among these 7 best controllers which you will use to make music with your Garageband. 

These midi controllers are for you, whether you are a producer or performing musician looking at using Garageband. 

If you are more of a beat-making person, your priority should be controllers with pads. However, if you are a performing musician or piano player, consider the keybed of the controller. 

Regardless, any midi controller you end up settling for among these 7 controllers will be just amazing for Garageband.