Our Favourite MIDI Keyboards for Virtual Instruments

MIDI keyboards today are chalk full of specs and features that help producers create vibrant music with a truly human quality to them. Whether you need to lay down a groove like a session drummer or orchestrate a 90-person orchestra, MIDI will get you there.

What’s imperative about the MIDI workstation you decide to use is that the response of either the keys or drum pads fully represents the feel of the real deal. A composer on a grand piano has a totally different experience if trying to orchestrate on a 49 key MIDI controller with only semi-weighted keys.

For large orchestral arrangements, many composers choose working on a large keyboard workstation like the Yamaha MOXF8 88-key Synthesizer seen here:

Yamaha MOXF8 88-key Synthesizer Workstation

Yamaha MOXF8 88-key Synthesizer Workstation

Such workstations incorporate all of the parameters of classic synthesizers and incredibly realistic pianos. These are often found in the studios and on the stages of big name session players that need a complete combination of synths, pianos, strings, and pads that can be synced to other devices and programmed on the fly.

For more contemporary productions that incorporate drum programming and sampling, we like more compact but versatile models like the Akai Professional MPK261 Keyboard Controller:

Akai Professional MPK261 Keyboard Controller

Akai Professional MPK261 Keyboard Controller

As you can see, the wide selection of sliders, dials and drum pads make for a much more contemporary production, where artists are often performing, looping, and sampling on the fly. Import drum and vocal samples and sync up with your DAW and have a wildly diverse performance covering all rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic aspect of the song from one machine.

What’s more about these types of MIDI keyboard controllers is that they are relatively cheap. Compared to the workstation, they get their sounds from within the DAW instead from being stored inside on an internal disc or drive. This means there is less computing going on internally, and instead more conversation or transferring of data. This also keeps them light in weight; great for touring.

Moving on down the line we get rid of the keys completely but keep the philosophy of the MIDI keyboard controller with the Akai Professional APC40 MKII Pad Controller. This acts like popular MPC (music production centre) which were heavily popularized by Akai in the 80s. This is when sampling other peoples records become huge in pop culture and much of this was thanks to the MPC. The idea continues today but with much more options.

Akai Professional APC40 MKII Pad Controller

Akai Professional APC40 MKII Pad Controller

Chords are often sampled and imported where they can be pitched up and down. So though it lacks keys, the artist can still create a heavily harmonic performance. Types of music associated with pad controllers typically focus on new ways of looking at the overall production but have a major lack in the craftsmanship of songwriting. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. New style of music like this typically focus on beat and rhythm with sonic textures rather than harmony and melody. This introduces new sounds that are typically adopted in other genres of music.

So we hope you got some good tips here. If you want to learn more about MIDI keyboard controllers, visit Hollagully for a complete buyers guide and list of top models perfectly fit for the home studio and on the road.


Seaboard Grand by ROLI

New musical instruments are hard to market and sell. Especially instruments that are a variation of or play on a classic. So when we heard about the Seaboard by ROLI we were a bit skeptical and unsure of whether there would be much of a market for such an ambitious instrument. But with a little investigation you’ll quickly find that some of the features of the ROLI Seaboard are so mesmerizing that we’ve certainly begun to think twice.

ROLI is a design-led technology start-up based in Dalston, London that started in 2009. Their objective is to make new musical products that transform the way that people and technology interact. They’re out to make products that are intuitive and feel like a natural and intuitive extension of the body.

Where the Seaboard stands out and differentiates itself from a regular keyboard is that keyboards of the past took their velocity from the pressure at the point of contact which would fade out over time. The Seaboard acts on gestures such as presses, bends and slides opening new avenues to musical expression.
Key expressions are:
Continuous Touch – enables you to sound a note and then modulate its volume and timbre through one continuous motion. Keywaves offer precise tactile feedback, making it easy to sense the slight changes in pressure, resulting in a far more organic experience than traditional aftertouch found on common electronic keyboards.

Intuitive Pitch Control – This adjusts the pitch in a glissando fashion, allowing the keyboard to function similar to a stringed instrument. Add vibrato to this performance and you have a mighty orchestral sound station at your fingertips.

You’ll notice that despite the sheer versatility of the Seaboard, there is only one button. This SoundDial is the only control you need to adjust the sound. Shift between sound presets using the continuous rotary control, while the subtle LED ring shows you exactly which preset is currently being played.

The Seaboard Grand ships with Equator, ROLI’s proprietary full-featured audio engine that provides multidimensional control over your performance.

ROLI has developed many intuitive products beyond just the Seaboard. To discover more, check out their Youtube channel or follow them on Facebook.



Audio Juggler


Record and convert audio between 5 formats, grab and burn CDs.

Audio Juggler is the set of 5 premium audio utilities (recorder, grabber, converter,vocal remover, burner) which is must-have for every musician or music lover.

With Sound Card Recorder you can record high quality audio in MP3, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, Wave from internal or external sources. You can record audio when you play games, watch movies, or listen to music even if it is protected. You can digitize LP records and tapes, record voice from microphone, or other source such as MIDI, VCR, Internet audio streaming. You can do speedy recording by hot keys or signal detection, or scheduled recordings by timer.

Audio Grabber gets music from audio CDs to 6 major audio formats: AAC, MP3, MP4, WMA, OGG and WAV. It has clean, rich,CD audio quality results, nice-looking interface, full CD audio playback control function and very fast encoding. You can choose between various bit rate, sample rate and channel settings for every grabbed file.

Convert your music between 6 major audio formats: AAC, MP3, MP4, WMA, OGG and WAV through Audio Format Converter. Converter has clean, rich,CD audio quality results, very fast encoding. AAC format,supported by this utility is used by major products like iPod and iTunes.

You can even reduce vocal part from music and prepare it for karaoke fun through vocal remover module. Vocal remover supports every important audio format as input and 6 output, exporting formats.

Finaly, write audio and data CDs, write files to CD images and burn CDs from them. You can continue previously written discs with additional tracks,quickly or fully erase rewritable discs. You can also control behavior of your CD drive (open, close, lock and unlock drive tray).Software supports majority of modern IDE/USB/SCSI DVD/CD writing drives. It supports buffer protection (BURN-Proof) technologies for error free writing process.

AACoder Plus

Batch convert your music between 5 major audio formats, including amazing AAC Mp4 audio.

AACoder Plus provides an easy and complete way to convert between most of the popular audio formats. With AACoder Plus users can batch convert music between 5 major audio formats: Wave, Mp3, Mp4 (AAC), WMA, Ogg Vorbis.

Product supports AAC Mp4 file type – probable inheritor of Mp3 due to its crisp, rich, clean audio quality rivaling that of uncompressed CD audio. AAC also has much more efficient compression resulting in smaller file size and very fast encoding. AAC Mp4 audio format is supported by major hardware and software products like iPod and iTunes.

AACoder Plus is very easy to use. Just add the files you want to convert to the list, conveniently listen audio preview of the selected file, select the format you want to use, and then click the convert button. You can easily convert your existing music by adding whole folders and sub folders containing audio files to conversion list. High converting speed and batch conversions result in a simple and boredom-free process. Besides all this, AACoder Plus can even automatically shut down your computer, so you can leave it running while you go out or go to bed! Software performs fast automated conversions due to its advanced encoding technology and lack of intermediary files.

DJ Mix Master

Dj mix master

With DJ Mix Master you can easily make your own music mixes, apply various effects, and transpose or change music speed independently. You can also create song remixes through multiple cue points and warm the mood by inserting scratches, vocal scats, raps, and other funny and interesting. sounds

DJ Mix Master is fully featured DJ music mixing software packed with extra features.

With DJ Mix Master you can easily make your own music mixes, apply various effects to music, and transpose or change music speed independently. You can also create song remixes through multiple cue points, and warm the mood by inserting scratches, vocal scats, raps, or other funny and interesting sounds.

Our goal was not to create the best DJ mixing software just for DJ specialists (although there are some features like semitone transpose or simultaneus sample playback which are not presented elsewhere).

With DJ Mix Master our goals were:

– a reliable and affordable music mixing solution

– a mixing software with a simple and understandable user interface. No more unclear situations; the first song is playing, the second song is loaded in a second player waiting to be played, and another song is on the top of list also waiting to be played. Which song is going to be played next? DJ Mix Master keeps confusing two player mixing systems behind the scenes. You will always know which song is playing and which will be played next. This software has a simple, intuitive single player user interface. DJ Mix Master is easy to use, even for people with only rudimentary computer experience. You and your friends will love this approach.

– a hassle free automated mixing software. You don’t have to specify automatic mixing as an option, it will always be there when you get tired of scratching and want to dance or chat with friends at a party.

– simple and effective mood enhancing through multiple, simultaneous sample playback technology. You can use preworked sets of sounds and vocal samples, or import and play your own samples.

With DJ Mix Master you can build an inventory of presented audio files on your computer. You can add single songs or entire folders of songs with the same ease. You can also create, rearrange, save and re-open previously prepared custom music play lists.

The software supports playing the major audio formats: MP3, WMA, Wave, and Ogg Vorbis audio files.

Pulse Master


Manipulate audio with this award winning tool that can slow down MP3, transcribe, transpose, and alter tempo speeds. Mutate the audio however you like!

Pulse Master is a neat Audio player which supports most of the popular audio formats.
Features include:

– Increasing/decreasing audio tempo (speed) without distorting the pitch.
– Increasing/decreasing audio pitch without changing the tempo.
– Record your changes and encode it to a new file in MP3 format!

The purpose of this software can be either for fun or professional use. Some fun ways to use this MP3 player can be:

– Speeding up your favorite song to get you in a fast paced mood, or slowing down a song to achieve a relaxed atmosphere.
– Play jokes on your friend by distorting a singer’s song of whom you don’t really like.
– Letting your kids play with “chipmunk” and “bear” voices or let them relax with a tempo-decreased song.

Some suggestions for professional use are:

– You can slow down MP3 and other audio formats, and/or repeat parts of music which are too fast to be recognized and transcribed correctly.
– Transpose music in a different key so you don’t have to retune musical instrument.
– Singers may change pitch to correspond with their vocal abilities, as well as slow down music to comprehend words and/or pronunciations in different languages.
– Music teachers can show their pupils the real techniques of great musicians by slowing down the music, thus giving them a more accurate interpretation of it.
– Dancers and choreographers may easily adjust music’s tempo depending on their skill.
– Could also be used as an adaptable dictation tool for all kinds of typing jobs.

Pulse Master performs all of the changes in real time without the need to create or preprocess existing audio files. Supports playing of all important audio formats – audio CDs, MP3 , WMA, AAC, M4A, MP4, FLAC, WAV , Ogg Vorbis..


Pulse Master comes in 5 versions :

· (US$29.90) Pulse Master Standard version features: unlimited playback duration, loop playback with looping window adjusting controls, modification result export to Wave audio format and encoding to MP3 . No playback support for audio CD tracks, AAC and MP4 audio formats.
· (US$39.90) Pulse Master Pro version features: Standard version features, beats per minute calculator, transpose calculator. No playback support for audio CD tracks, AAC and MP4 audio formats.
· (US$49.90) Pulse Master Pro EQ version features: Pro version features, playback support for audio CD tracks, AAC and MP4 audio formats, modification result direct export to MP3, WMA, OGG, 10 band equalizer with 17 presets, fade in and fade out controls, vocal remover, audio mark system availability
· (US$59.90) Pulse Master Pro WR version features: Pro EQ version features, audio CD writting capability
· (US$69.90) Pulse Master Pro RC version features: Pro WR version features, 6 audio formats sound card recorder with silence detection, modification result direct export to AAC, MP4, music capture from movies and protected audio files