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What Is The Difference Between A MIDI Keyboard And A Keyboard?

The difference between Midi Keyboards and Keyboards is a very common question in the music production community.

To cure yourself of misconceptions, you need to understand the premise within which they both work and have an understanding.

The difference between a Midi Keyboard and a Keyboard is that a Midi keyboard acts as a controller for sounds derived from an independent sound source, while a keyboard is a standalone instrument that doesn’t require an external sound source.

Midi Keyboard

This is basically a keyboard that is able to transmit and receive midi information from an external sound source.

On it’s own a midi keyboard doesn’t come with pre-loaded sounds.

Most of the times a midi controller will be hooked to a computer to be able to edit sounds that are created with software.

My most preferred midi keyboards are ones that utilize a USB connection,

because it makes it much easier to be able to simply connect directly to a computer without needing an audio interface to act as an intermediary between the two.

A Digital Audio Workstation or DAW will be necessary when working with a midi controller because you’ll need it to be able to produce midi data

Furthermore, Midi Keyboards are ultimately controllers,

this means that they enable you to change the tone of a particular sound and how intense or soft you press the keys is ultimately non important.

With Keyboards on the other hand, the intensity/ease with which you play a key will be reflected by the intensity or ease of the sound.

Therefore the keyboard on a midi keyboard simply receives and sends out midi information, which essentially means that a midi controller with no sound source is ultimately useless.


In the simplest definition,

a keyboard is an instrument that has an internal sound source and can be played independently with no help of an external sound source or controller.

This is what mainly differentiates it from a midi keyboard.

These are very similar to pianos, which makes a good keyboard a good tool for any body that doesn’t mind an electric feel.

Keyboards just like pianos are by design sensitive to how much pressure you expend on a key.

Which means that a quick hard strike of a will have a loud sharp sound,

while a much softer press will have lower blunt sound response,

if you’re hoping to basically improve your keyboard playing capabilities an electronic keyboard is the way to go about achieving that.

Benefits of using a keyboard

the electric keyboard is highly portable which means you can take it with you when you travel.

you can easily go from one session to the next without feeling the stress of moving equipment around a lot.


a keyboard allows you to play live on stage because it has an onboard sound source which saves you time and hassle as compared to a midi keyboard.

Plus having an internal sound source is good because it allows you more options and controls than a midi controller.

Midi Vs. Keyboard

With a basic electronic keyboard,

you have more room to work with because digital pianos are designed to to emulate the features of a piano which gives you over 88 keys to play with.

Furthermore, a midi keyboard is not able to produce sound on it’s own because it has no speakers and relies on an external output,

a keyboard on the other hand comes equipped with speakers which allow you to play it standalone,

using an external sound system is an option you get to have.

A midi keyboard suffers a short life span of approximately 3 years while a keyboard has longevity that can span over 10 years.

Furthermore some keyboards can be used to play the role of a midi controller.

which gives the user ultimately more power.

Check out this post detailing the lifespan of a piano.

Do I need a midi controller if I have a keyboard?

You would typically only need a midi keyboard if you intend to use software and employ a midi keyboard as a controller, other than that, a good keyboard is all you need.

Especially one that can be easily used as a midi controller too.

Can I use my Casio keyboard as a MIDI controller?

If your Casio keyboard is one that features midi controller features then yes you can use it as a midi controller.

Therefore check the product specifications of your keyboard to ensure its supports midi.


It’s easy to understand that the major difference between a keyboard and a midi keyboard is in their application.

A midi keyboard is simply a controller with no internal sound source,

while a keyboard has an onboard sound source that allows you to play it without relying on external software.

Related Articles You Should Read

Is Switching From Keyboard To Piano Hard?

Are Digital Pianos Expensive?

Do I Really Need A Synthesizer?


Midi Controller vs Keyboard | Rimmers Music | Blog

What’s the Difference Between A Keyboard & MIDI Keyboard? – Producer Society

Should I Buy MIDI Controller Or Keyboard? Cons, Pros & Tips – IntegraAudio

MIDI Controllers VS Digital Pianos – Which To Choose – Keyboard Craze

What Is The Difference Between A MIDI Keyboard And A Keyboard?

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