MIDI pad controllers are a fantastic tool if you don’t know how to play the keyboard. Many pad controllers allow you to set individual pads to play whole chords, so you can easily write chordal music without any piano skills behind you.

Pad controllers come in so many shapes and size to suit any production or performance capabilities. From small to large controllers with 8, 16, 32 or 64 pads – pad controllers are fit for lots more than just tapping in beats and melodies.

Maybe you’re looking for a good MIDI controller for beginners or the best pad controller currently available to you? Either way, we’re exploring our favourite pad MIDI controllers and you can rest assured that what you’re looking for is below!

AKAI MPC One – $699

The MPC One bridges the gap between the MPC Live and MPC X but is much cheaper.

The MPC One works as a standalone unit or as a MIDI controller. The MPC One features the same multicore system as the MPC Live and MPC X to bring powerful audio processing and advanced editing capabilities.

Not only is the MPC One a great tool for audio editing, but it’s also superb for live instrument recording, beat making, and audio mixing.

The MPC One has line inputs, as well as four CV/gate inputs with eight outputs. This allows the MPC One to integrate easily into your existing setup!

When it comes to its MIDI controller capabilities, it functions with the MPC 2 software or even as a plugin inside your DAW. It may be a small unit, but it sports the same 7-inch multi-touch display found on the MPC Live.

Any MPC unit needs to have the famous 16 pressure-sensitive pads, the MPC One has them, but they are slightly smaller to make space for extra Q-Link knobs.

Maschine Mk3 by Native Instruments – $599

Maschine is much more than a pad controller. It has its own companion software, so you wouldn’t be wrong in calling it its own instrument. With the classic MPC blueprint’s workflow, Maschine Mk 3 offers a pad-based way of composing, arranging, mixing and performing entire songs and sets. 

The Mk3 model brings Maschine Studio’s flagship screens, so you don’t need to pay any attention to your computer with this bad boy. NI has built an onboard audio interface into Maschine with a 2-in/4-out setup. This enables Maschine of recording and playback at up to 24-bit/96kHz quality! 

Maschine Mk3’s biggest difference compared to previous models is the 16 velocity-sensitive pads are much bigger and brighter. They’re are more sensitive to lighter touches, so they’re fantastic for accurate finger drumming.

Maschine MK3 has all the features of a MIDI pad controller you need. Note repeat, fixed velocity, and so much more.

Use of the Maschine controller may be reliant on the associated Maschine software, but you’ll find it hard to find a more capable controller. 

Novation Launchpad Pro Mk 3 – $325.50

Launchpad Pro features 64 pad that is perfect for working with Ableton Live, as well as other external hardware.

Unlike the majority of other pad controllers, Launchpad Pro’s pads have polyphonic aftertouch for additional depth and dimension in your music and performance.

With a built-in four-track, 32-step sequencer with eight-note polyphony, Launchpad Pro is pretty much on par with Maschine Mk3. Its sequencer allows you to chain individual patterns together for longer sequences and transform them into full songs!

Scale mode also lets us build melodies or basslines while keeping us in the right key. Its chord mode also allows us to trigger complex chords from your chosen scale with one pad too!

On top of the pads come 42 tactile-click buttons. All backlit for great visual feedback and full of creative mapping options.

Ableton Push 2 – $694

Here’s one for the Ableton users.

Ableton Push 2 enhances your creative process and allows you to get ideas down in the blink of an eye. With 64 pads for a multitude of uses such as finger drumming, programming the step sequencer or playing instrument sounds; the pads themselves are small but very responsive.

Ableton Push 2 packs a whole lot of editing capabilities too. With eight super smooth assignable rotary knobs above its wide colour screen, we can manipulate all aspects of your sound including sample length to FX levels!

You can mix your track using the encoders and colour screen too. Ableton Push 2 goes deeper than just adjusting levels. We can edit pans, sends, and more with so much precision.

Maschine Mikro Mk 3 – $259

We discussed how Maschine Mk3 and its interface, and screens allow us to say away from our computer, right? Maschine Mk 3 makes it very easy to select, edit and play sounds without referencing your computer screen.

Well, Maschine Mikro Mk 3 doesn’t do that. It’s drastically downsized with a minimised screen which really limits what visual information is available.

With that said, Maschine Mikro is still a very handy tool. It packs a lot of the same features as its bigger siblings! You may need to reference your computer and the Maschine software a whole lot more, but the creative capabilities in front of you are still very much limitless.

That’s why we think Maschine Mikro 3 is one of the best MIDI pad controllers beginners!

Laying down phrases and creating beats has never been easier than it is with pad controllers. But to immerse yourself and have the best experience with a pad controller, it’s important to have great sounds loaded in your pad bank. Well, we know a place where you can find those great samples and more…

The sampling revolution has risen in popularity and shaped music since the early 1970s. Sample culture continues to transform how millions of artists and producers do their thing in DAWs.

You too can break conventional norms, challenge the status quo, and open Pandora’s box of sound design.

Mixxed works with a growing number of sample labels and contributors to provide you with a premium sample subscription service that’s more accessible than any before.

You’ll have access to our growing catalogue of loops, one-shots and sound effects that you can browse, download and keep forever for less than $3 a month.

Sign up today to find your sound!