Logic Pro X is a fantastic DAW for those using their Macs for multimedia creation. While I’m sure there will always be people out there hating on the “cult of Apple,” the fact remains that they excel at creating superb products with high processing capabilities
Logic Pro X is uncluttered, includes versatile plugins, and uses intuitive editing. All for the price of $200, this is a hard bargain to ignore!
As great as Logic is though, it’s even better when used with fully-integrated hardware. In the article below, I will take a peek at six MIDI keyboards that are designed with Logic Pro X users in mind.
By combining the intuitiveness of Logic with the power of a controller, the possibilities are limitless!
Best MIDI Keyboards / Controllers for Logic Pro X
Table of Contents
- Best MIDI Keyboards / Controllers for Logic Pro X
- Picking a Keyboard Controller that Works for You
1. Arturia KeyLab 61 MkII
The Arturia KeyLab 61 MkII includes some handy features well within the budget of many musicians. At one octave less than an acoustic, it packs its features in neatly organized groups.
The mandatory wheels are on the left. Sixteen pads are next door, followed by global controls, and ending with mixers and faders on the right side.
I was impressed not only at the tactile tools Arturia included, but also their well-thought-out DAW compatibility. It’s one thing to have a keyboard with cool features; it’s another thing entirely to use those features to directly control a DAW.
My favorite DAW-integrated features are the eight faders. I find that mixing music with an on-screen mixer can be time-consuming.
With real faders on a controller, you can physically adjust volumes without mouse-hunting or constantly glancing between your controller and screen. These small details make the creative process much more natural.
Paired with its universal controls and playing features, I consider the Arturia KeyLab to be two products in one: a full instrument and hardware mixer. Given this mindset, I treat it like an extended console.
If you enjoy the process of mixing but need a controller more, the Arturia KeyLab is a great solution. While it might be more expensive than others, its combined features make it well worth the expense.
2. Novation Launchkey 49 MK3
If the Arturia KeyLab 61 MkII excels with combining mixer functions with a keyboard, the Novation Launchkey 49 MK3 excels by combining live manipulation with a keyboard. If your creativity thrives on spontaneity, the Launchkey is a great match.
The Launchkey instantly maps to Logic, and its features are optimized for live sound shaping. Scale mode and its various chord options encourage melodic experimentation, and its encoders can be re-assigned to whatever function you need (via “pot mode.”)
Its transport controls (buttons that affect the entire DAW, like “play” and “pause”) also support live music making. Besides the expected buttons, others can be used to arm and navigate between tracks, lock and unlock, and even save MIDI solos that you didn’t think to record.
Its pads can also be used beyond sampling and finger-drumming. With some practice, you can also use them to solo, mute, and manipulate playback in real time.
The result is a streamlined product that “speaks” Logic natively, while still allowing customization and freedom within the creative process.
Some musicians, like Chopin, meticulously pored over every aspect of his compositions, analyzing everything. Others, like Miles Davis, recorded or played whatever he felt in the moment.
Both are equally valid ways to create. If you’re more like Miles Davis though, the Launchkey was made with you in mind.
3. Nektar Impact LX Mini
The Nektar Impact LX Mini is much smaller than the previous two keyboards. At two octaves, it leans closer to Logic manipulation than performance.
Alongside its transport controls, the Impact LX includes eight labeled encoders and pads. Nektar crammed in as many DAW controls as possible, and they did remarkably well.
First, the transport buttons do the typical things you would expect. They also include a SHIFT button, doubling their capabilities. You can switch between tracks, sections, and songs.
The Impact LX also houses a joystick and scroll wheel. While just one would have worked perfectly, I appreciate the added control they give. The joystick can be used for big-picture navigation, while the wheel can be used for finer selections.
From my time experimenting with it, I can see the Impact XL working well for DJs and EDM artists. Its pads respond great to nuanced playing.
But it also has advanced arpeggiator options, and the encoders can do extensive sound tweaking. Electronic musicians using it as a fully integrated Logic groovebox.
I will say that compared to other controllers, the Impact LX seems the cheapest. Its keys feel like thin plastic, and the two octaves are limiting for some.
However, its simple yet customizable usability will certainly appeal to musicians interested in sound design and beatmaking.
4. Arturia MiniLab 3
Wouldn’t it be great if a company made a product that fully integrated with Logic, but was jam-packed with other novel features too? Turns out, Arturia already has!
A friend of mine has an Arturia MiniLab 3, and I’ve talked about it before on Music Strive. If you’ve come across my other articles, you already know I’m a big fan.
First, the MiniLab has a solid design. And while this does add some annoying weight to it, I feel it’s worth the slight inconvenience.
Second, it comes with Analog Labs, which you can use with Logic. Analog Labs provides you with the sounds and “tweakability” of hundreds of classic instruments: Hammond organs, Buchla synths, Sequential Prophets, you name it.
Lastly, it comes preloaded with 500 sounds. This means you can use it by itself, without being plugged into a DAW. This is handy if you travel a lot or don’t have the time to set up with a computer.
Combined with those features, the MiniLab also comes integrated with Logic. For the purpose of this article, it fits the bill. But its increased versatility in other ways makes it a powerful workhorse in various ways.
If you are looking for a well-rounded product for Logic, but also want extra functionality in other areas, the MiniLab would be a great choice.
5. Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S88 Mk2
If you’re a Logic producer wanting the most authentic key feel possible, Native Instruments has got you covered! Full-sized and hammer-weighted, the Komplete Kontrol S88 Mk2 feels like plugging an acoustic piano directly into Logic.
A “hammer-weighted” keyboard uses a full lever system built into the machine. While it cannot replicate hitting real wires (and doesn’t need to, of course), it still has built-in weights and fulcrums.
The result is a keyboard with all the perks of electronic music-making, paired with the control of an acoustic.
But while the feel is inspiring, that’s not all it has going for it. After all, if you just want to record a great instrument, most digital keyboards plug straight into a DAW.
The Komplete Kontrol is great because it combines the feel of a performance keyboard with the functions of a controller. Like some of the others listed, Logic-centric keyboards excel when offering specific task-driven features.
The left side of the keyboard houses it’s “big picture” buttons, while the right side has buttons focusing on smaller details. Paired with the extensive parameters available on the screen, the Komplete Kontrol becomes a self-contained sound design tool in its own right.
The Komplete Kontrol’s features create an extension of Logic. Rather than simply manipulating the DAW, its built-in sound design capabilities truly augment Logic itself.
6. M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3
Lastly, we have the M-Audio Keystation 49 MK3, which is one of our budget options. Given its price point, it doesn’t have many of the features present on other keyboards listed.
However, it does provide the basics you need to streamline your use of Logic. For some users, that is all that they need.
When it comes to transport controls, the Keystation keeps it simple. M-Audio included Record, Pause, and Stop buttons alongside a volume fader and directional arrows.
Most are self-explanatory. The directional arrows allow you to move up/down and left/right through your tracks and settings – much like the four arrows on your computer keyboard.
Then there’s the “Advanced” button. Oooh, scary …
Not really! It simply allows you to repurpose the other buttons for your needs. In a sense, they provide the basics plus customizability without inundating you with extra, useless buttons.
No, it’s not as fancy as other controllers. But if simplicity is your thing, it’s perfect!
Besides transport controls, the Keystation makes Logic integration as convenient as possible without selling out.
It doesn’t require drivers, so you can just plug and play. As someone who just wants to get started playing, I appreciate this approach! Plus, it’s only five pounds.
If you want something basic to get you started, you should consider the Keystation.
Picking a Keyboard Controller that Works for You
When most people buy a controller, they buy it primarily for MIDI input via the keyboard. This makes total sense, and should probably remain the most important factor.
However, understanding how you can use them to “talk” to DAWs really elevates your creative experience. The less you have to point-and-click and touch your mouse, the more you can get in the zone.
Since we’re already focusing on Logic users, we don’t have to worry about compatibility or integration. Yaaay! Instead, here are several important factors for your final decision.
Factor 1: Think About How You Use Logic
Logic is one program, but a thousand writers use it to write a thousand different songs. It goes without saying that every user uses it in their own way.
Think about what features you use most often. How do you interact with them? Why do you use them, and for what?
How about the way you approach your creative process. Like earlier, are you a “Chopin” or a “Miles Davis?” Do you use Logic to capture live ideas as you have them, or do you meticulously record and mix everything?
How about the things that annoy you? Maybe you don’t like dragging faders up and down on a screen. Or maybe your workflow tends to get interrupted when you constantly switch between tracks, or arm them.
Most importantly, understand why and how you specifically use Logic.
Factor 2: What Features Would Improve Your Logic Experience?
In light of Factor 1, think about what controller features could improve what you already like about Logic. For example, maybe you like its Apple-esque simplicity, or its built-in effects.
How about DAW elements that bug you? How could you use a controller to minimize them? For example, say you don’t like mixing on a screen. You could use the Arturia KeyLab.
Whatever you pick, it is important to realize you aren’t picking the controller just because of the controller. Rather, you want to pick a controller that is an extension of your DAW.
You want a tool that will augment the strengths of Logic and minimize its problems. Your choice will be informed by the relationship between your DAW and hardware.
Factor 3: Feel and Layout
The first two factors are most important, but these last two are important to consider as well. Whatever features you prioritize won’t be very helpful if they feel cheap and break after a few weeks.
In terms of layout, you want to find a controller that works naturally with your workflow. Generally, you’ll adapt to whatever way they arrange buttons.
However, you won’t be able to add encoders or buttons. Whatever you choose, you want to ensure that you have buttons optimized for your workflow and encoders and/or faders that work for you.
Factor 4: Portability
Lastly, you’ll want to consider how much you move your controller. If you plan on using it while you travel, a small one is ideal. If you plan to keep it in your studio long term, you can afford to buy bulkier products like the Komplete Kontrol.
With the clean design and production value of Logic Pro X, it makes sense why so many producers use it on a daily basis. When you are lucky enough to find a controller that compliments it and improves your workflow, you can truly elevate your creative process.
I hope this article sparked some ideas for your next project and purchase! In the meantime, enjoy music making, and always, ALWAYS have fun!