TOP 5 DAW CONTROLLERS FOR MUSIC PRODUCTION
The Digital Audio Workstations(DAW) are very much popular among the composers and music producers. DAWs are considered a very powerful tool today. Although, there are certain limitations. The experience of working with a computer screen and few keys & clicks can’t be compared to the analog consoles that were used in studios.
Over time, music production schools have opted for MIDI-enabled DAW controllers since they are somewhat affordable when compared to consoles in studios. DAW controllers have become more advanced and affordable at the same time. Music enthusiasts with limited budgets can get the latest and best DAW controllers easily today. Here in this article, we will compare top 5 best DAW controllers that are popular with music schools in India as well as music producers:
1. ABLETON PUSH 2
Push 2 comes bundled with any of the three versions of Ableton Live. Push 2 is so far one of the best MIDI controllers which is why it deserves a top place in our list. It does a thorough job for music producers which is out of the box. With zero setup time, Ableton Push enables users to play instruments or launch clips with the pads. You can use the knobs to adjust the instrument and effects.
– The best controller for Ableton Live
– Advanced technology that gives you an experience beyond DAW.
– Slightly on the expensive side
– Works only with Ableton
2. ARTURIA KEYLAB MKII
If you are looking for a MIDI keyboard that also works as a DAW controller, then the Arturia Keylab Series is made for you. Arturia Keylab Mk2 comes in 3 versions – 49, 61, and 88 Keys.
KeyLab MkII comes with three distinct modes – DAW, Analog Lab, and third is User that contains ten user-configurable presets and can be selected via dedicated mode buttons in the centre. All the pads, sliders, and knobs of Keylab MkII are mappable to your DAW.
Overall, the KeyLab MkII is a brilliant controller keyboard that not only offers the best playability, but also tackles DAW controls and synth editing.
– Well-executed operational modes including the integration with Analog Lab.
– Get free access to Arturia VSTs
– Expensive, but you can consider buying slightly less expensive ones from the Arturia series.
3. ICON QCON PRO X
Icon QCON ProX turns your DAW setup into a professional-looking studio that looks quite similar to the vintage Neve console. Icon QCon Pro X 9 full-sized motorized faders, 8 rotary dual-function encoders, 2 backlit LCD screens, LED-enabled volume metering, a jog wheel and many other buttons for controls.
Built-in Mackie Control is available for all DAWs. Also, it comes bundled with ICON edition Cubase LE and Samplitude LE. The firmware upgrade is easily available via USB connection and iMap software.
– Sturdy build with very little setup required
– USB expansion units are made available if you need to add more faders, responsive controls, swappable button label templates for various DAWs
– Best Controller for FL Studio
– Few limitations of the Mackie protocol (depending on DAW)
– Limited display on LCD
– Very Expensive
4. NOVATION LAUNCHPAD PRO
Novation Launchpad Pro has the same look and feel of Ableton Push 2. Therefore, it is considered as the predecessor of the latter. It’s the simplest and easiest controller to create expressive performances in Ableton Live and many other DAWs. Using an 8×8 grid of RGB velocity-sensitive pads to trigger and combine clips, Launchpad Pro lets you create dynamic beats, melodic lines and control your external hardware.
It houses important buttons that map to different functions like a sequencer, chord mode, pan, sends, etc.
– It is good for beginners
– Affordable alternative to Ableton Push 2
– Endless possibilities with sounds, and other settings
– It is complicated to set the pad up at first
– Not powerful enough as Ableton Push 2
5. MPK MINI MKII
MPK Mini is one of the more popular DAW controllers, and the reason for it is that it offers many capabilities at a very affordable price when compared to its competitors.
MPK Mini comes with eight mappable knobs and eight drum pads. With anyone who has experience with keyboard or controller experience, the sensitive pads and keys are easy to use. For people without much experience of using controllers need just much less practice to start making music.
The arpeggiator sequencer makes it very useful for working with hardware synths. Overall, the Akai MPK Mini MKII is perfect and quite easier for a producer who has just started with music.
– Easy to use
– No external power supply required. Plug and play in iOS, Windows, and Mac
– Uses MPC drum pads
– Keyfeel and controller stick is good
– Best DAW controller for FL studio and Logic Pro X
– Build quality is not good. Plastic body used all around.
– Knobs are quite small. They are not dust-proof and spill-proof
– Does not have an internal fan so overheating can be a problem