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Best MIDI Pad Controllers

You see pictures and videos everywhere of beatmakers in their studio and on the go and they always have some sort of MIDI controller with them. Sometimes you can tell the brand and model by the photo but sometimes it’s impossible to tell. Well, here in this list we put together some of the absolute Best MIDI Pad Controllers out there. This will make it super easy to find just the right controller for you. 

Over the span of a decade fewer people have felt the need to get an MPC or groove box, instead opting for a digital step sequencer and a MIDI drum controller. This is due in great part to what we’ll call the FL Studio generation. With the cost of entry to music production hitting an all-time low, the rise of the drum pad controller was imminent. Everyone from Ableton to Akai has tried their hand at gaining market share in this ever-growing crowded market. So where do you start?

Quicklook at the Best MIDI Pad Controllers

1. Akai Professional LPD8
2. Korg nanoPAD2 Slim-Line
3. Akai Professional MPD218
4. Arturia BeatStep
5. PreSonus Atom Controller
6. Novation Launchpad X Grid
7. Arturia BeatStep Pro Controller and Sequencer
8. Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK3
9. Native Instruments Maschine MK3

What To Look For When Choosing a MIDI Pad Controller

When you are looking for the best MIDI pad controller for you, there are multiple factors to take into account. Are you looking to be portable, do you want to have as many buttons as possible, are you looking for simplicity, there are many different factors to take into account. Looking through these choices we have put together, think about if those features are what you need in your controller. Sometimes it is as simple as, “Is this in my price range?” Luckily we have pulled many different price options in as well as different companies and skillsets. 

8 Best MIDI Pad Controllers

So you want to take your production workflow to the next level? These MIDI pad controllers go beyond standard drum triggers to dynamic sample editing and sound creation. Every one of these pad controllers brings a unique perspective to MIDI drum programming.

1. Akai Professional LPD8

Akai Professional LPD8

This is one of the simplest designs from Akai, but simplicity still gets the job done. It’s extremely portable and you can assign each of those 8 knobs to control different parameters of each of your plugins and VSTs. It also has 4 programmable memory banks so you have as much diversity in the one tool as possible.

  • Best For: Portability
  • Price: See on Amazon
  • Number of Pads: 8
  • Connection Type: USB
  • Power: USB bus Powered

2. Korg nanoPAD2 Slim-Line

Korg nanoPAD2 Slim-Line

Korg is known for its incredible synths, DJ equipment, and general music tools. The Slim-Line is no exception to their quality. It has 4 pages for your triggers (which there are 16 of). You also have a built-in X-Y touchpad for a unique way to control the parameters of your VSTs.

  • Best For: Unique Controls
  • Price: See on Amazon
  • Number of Pads: 16
  • Connection Type: USB
  • Power: USB Bus Powered

3. Akai Professional MPD218

Akai Professional MPD218

The MP series from Akai has some amazing tools that are all customizable. Not only do you have 16 pads, but you also have 6 knobs that turn 360 degrees with 3 separate banks to save features and functions. The same goes for the pads, you have 3 pages of saveable material essentially giving you control of 48 pads.

  • Best For: Cost Efficiency
  • Price: See on Amazon
  • Number of Pads: 16
  • Connection Type: USB
  • Power: USB Bus Powered

4. Arturia BeatStep

Arturia BeatStep

One of those brands that I just instinctively trust is Arturia. They have some fantastic plugins and software but also some amazing hardware. From controllers to actual synthesizers and interfaces, Arturia can do it all. This is their simple MIDI pad controller that is sleek and professional while delivering responsive results.

  • Best For: Professional Sound and Look
  • Price: See on Amazon
  • Number of Pads: 16
  • Connection Type: USB
  • Power: USB Bus Powered

5. PreSonus Atom Controller

PreSonus Atom Controller

I am honestly impressed with this piece of equipment from PreSonus. Not only can this be a great tool for creating beats and triggering samples, but it also can be a helpful tool for editing. You have 8 assignable pad banks to save your functions on each button, as well as multiple modes for velocity and repetition. And it works on all popular DAWs not just Studio One from Presonus.

  • Best For: Creating and Editing 
  • Price: See on Amazon
  • Number of Pads: 16
  • Connection Type: USB
  • Power: USB Bus Powered

6. Novation Launchpad X Grid

Novation Launchpad X Grid

When it comes to MIDI controllers, Novation is a name that you will hear often. Their products are up there with the best and they build them to fill any need you have in the studio or live. Not only are you getting a fantastic controller, but when you purchase the Launchpad X, you get access to a 2-month membership to Splice Sounds

  • Best For: Highest Number of Pads
  • Price: See on Amazon
  • Number of Pads: 64
  • Connection Type: USB C
  • Power: USB Bus Powered

7. Arturia BeatStep Pro Controller and Sequencer

Arturia BeatStep Pro Controller and Sequencer

We looked at the Arturia BeatStep earlier and now we see the BeatStep Pro. This tool not only functions as a MIDI controller pad, but it also can be used for analog sequencing. Take a look at this video and you will be blown away by just how many features are held by this awesome controller.

  • Best For: MIDI and Analog Controls
  • Price: See on Amazon
  • Number of Pads: 16
  • Connection Type: Micro USB
  • Power: USB Bus Powered

8. Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK3

Native Instruments Maschine Mikro MK3

Native Instruments has become one of the biggest names in digital instruments and have released some of the most creative tools to use those sounds. With the Mikro MK3, you can control a multitude of parameters not only for samples but also for the session overall. You can use the pads to create chords, pads, patterns, and much more all at the press of a button. 

  • Best For: Technical Work
  • Price: See on Amazon
  • Number of Pads: 16
  • Connection Type: USB
  • Power: USB Bus Powered

9. Native Instruments Maschine MK3

Native Instruments Maschine MK3

This is the big brother of the Mikro MK3. Everything that the Mikro can do, this version can do, and even more. It can work as a MIDI pad but can also store its own sounds and output them through multiple 1/4″ connections. If you have the ability, this will be one of the absolute best choices for your studio.

  • Best For: All the Bells and Whistles
  • Price: See on Amazon
  • Number of Pads: 16
  • Connection Type: USB
  • Power: 15V

The Perfect Pick

These choices show that while there are many companies and different characteristics, they all have essentially the same functions (at least until the last 2). Higher price points will obviously raise the standard as well as the functions. But like I said earlier, what fits your need the best? When in doubt, look up videos and tutorials on Youtube regarding these awesome MIDI pad controllers. Not only will you determine if they are the perfect choice for you, but I guarantee you will learn new functions of each of them as well. 

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