Nektar Impact LX49+
Once you make the step up to full-size keys and more professional features, prices can escalate quickly. At the lower end of the range, Nektar’s Impact LX range shows that you can get a surprisingly good MIDI keyboard on a budget. There are more comprehensive options (such as the Panorama models) higher up the Nektar range, but the LX49+ is a great all-rounder for the money.
Other than the full-size keys, the main draw here is of course the fact that you also get pads, slider, rotary pots and transport controls. That makes it excellent value at this price point. Of course, the build quality and feel of the controls aren’t quite as good as you’d find on more expensive models, but they’re not a problem.
There’s only one significant downside: Nektar’s software support is strong in some cases, with neat automapping of device parameters in DAWs like Logic and Reason, but if you’re an Ableton Live user you’ll be disappointed. The keyboard still works perfectly well, but you’re not getting the full benefits of the integration other DAW users might be enjoying.