What are the Best MIDI Drum Pads?

IMAGERECOMMENDED PRODUCTSPRODUCTFEATURES
  • 16 pads and 50 control buttons
  • High-resolution displays
  • Comes with Komplete Select effects package
  • 16 velocity and pressure sensitive pads
  • Touch screen for easy editing
  • 4GB internal storage for sounds
  • 16 velocity and pressure sensitive pads
  • Sold with Studio One and Ableton Live
  • Eight pad banks for 128 different sounds
  • 16 velocity and pressure sensitive pads
  • Excellent compatibility options
  • Randomizer, looper and swing settings
  • 16 MPC pads with three control levels
  • Six control knobs
  • Small, simple and portable
  • 64 velocity and pressure sensitive pads
  • Touch slider for pitch bends
  • Comes packaged with Live 10 Intro
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MIDI Drum Pads Reviews

Native Instruments Maschine MK3 Production and Performance System

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FEATURES
  • 16 pads and 50 control buttons
  • High-resolution displays
  • Comes with Komplete Select effects package
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Native Instruments Maschine MK3 Production and Performance System Review

The Native Instruments Maschine MK3 is a comprehensive production and performance system and one of the best MIDI drum pads around.

Serving as both a software instrument and a hardware controller, it benefits from 16 large multi-colored, velocity-sensitive pads, as well as almost 50 buttons, giving you a huge amount of control.

Two high-resolution color displays make note editing and sound slicing easy, while the size of the MIDI drum pads makes it an ideal option for those looking to use two-handed techniques. More than 8GB worth of drum sounds, synth samples, and instrument loops come pre-installed and the MK3 offers full integration with a digital audio workstation.

Once your hardware is registered, you will have access to the Komplete Select instruments and effects package. Browsing through the available options is also quick and easy, thanks to the built-in tag system.

Akai Professional MPC One Standalone Sampler and Sequencer

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FEATURES
  • 16 velocity and pressure sensitive pads
  • Touch screen for easy editing
  • 4GB internal storage for sounds
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Akai Professional MPC One Standalone Sampler and Sequencer Review

The Akai Professional MPC One Standalone Sequencer and Sampler is one of the best pad controller options for beat-making. A 7″ touch screen allows you to easily edit samples, while your melodies, bass lines and programming of beats is aided by 16 velocity and pressure sensitive pads.

The music pad comes with 4GB of internal storage, as well as a range of pre-installed samples and loops, which have been created by top sound designers. On top of this, you are also able to add your own custom samples to the collection by connecting an external device via a USB cable, or by inserting an SD card.

One of the big plus points of the Akai Professional MPC One is its size, squeezing many features into a relatively small package. It also offers a huge number of connectivity options for those using it as part of a wider setup.

PreSonus ATOM 16-Pad Performance Controller

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FEATURES
  • 16 velocity and pressure sensitive pads
  • Sold with Studio One and Ableton Live
  • Eight pad banks for 128 different sounds
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PreSonus ATOM 16-Pad Performance Controller Review

For those who are seeking the best pad controller available for a more limited budget, the PreSonus ATOM 16-Pad Performance Controller is able to offer excellent value. It features 16 velocity and pressure sensitive finger drum pads, along with eight pad banks, giving you a total of 128 different sounds.

The beat pad comes with Studio One Artist and Ableton Live Lite digital audio workstation software packages, making it easier to mix or arrange your beats. Studio One detection is automatic, with no need to complete a setup process.

The various options on the pad controller allow you to change instruments, adjust the tempo of your beats, repeat notes or create loops, all using the hardware itself.

Aside from the software provided, the PreSonus ATOM 16-Pad Performance Controller is also fully compatible with other digital audio workstations through USB-MIDI link up.

Arturia BeatStep Pro Controller & Sequencer

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FEATURES
  • 16 velocity and pressure sensitive pads
  • Excellent compatibility options
  • Randomizer, looper and swing settings
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Arturia BeatStep Pro Controller & Sequencer Review

The Arturia BeatStep Pro Controller & Sequencer is a good mid-range MIDI drums option, combining solid build quality with a good range of features. It also offers impressive compatibility with MIDI, USB, CV/Gate, and DIN Sync.

A total of 16 pads provide you with the freedom to compose melodies or create drum sequences, while the other options on the hardware include a randomizer, a looper and swing settings. The pads themselves are durable and both velocity and pressure sensitive, while you have the ability to record from them in real-time.

The control mode allows you to play sounds from an external device, while support for a huge range of digital audio workstations is also available. Ultimately, it is the compatibility with other instruments that is the real plus point, making the Arturia BeatStep Pro one of the best MIDI drum pad options for those with a wider setup in mind.

Akai Professional MPD218 16-Pad MIDI Pad Controller

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FEATURES
  • 16 MPC pads with three control levels
  • Six control knobs
  • Small, simple and portable
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Akai Professional MPD218 16-Pad MIDI Pad Controller Review

Sometimes simplicity is key and the Akai Professional MPD218 16-Pad MIDI Pad Controller is likely to be the best MIDI drum pad for anyone seeking a straightforward controller and beat pad. It includes 16 MPC pads, which are LED backlit, along with three control levels, providing the equivalent of 48 pads in total.

The pads can be used to trigger MIDI drums, melodies or effects. Six control knobs are also provided which, when combined with the three control levels, takes this to the equivalent of 18 and gives you a huge amount of scope to adjust your sound.

Thanks to its small size, this MIDI trigger pad is extremely portable and ideal for anyone who wants to take their setup on the road with them. It also comes with free Ableton, Sonivox and Akai Professional software packages, allowing you to get to work with your new instrument right away, even if you have no prior experience.

Ableton Push 2 MIDI Trigger Pad and Controller

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FEATURES
  • 64 velocity and pressure sensitive pads
  • Touch slider for pitch bends
  • Comes packaged with Live 10 Intro
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Ableton Push 2 MIDI Trigger Pad and Controller Review

Finally, for those looking for a top-of-the-rage option, with as many features as possible, capable of professional use, a great choice when searching for the best MIDI drum pad is the Ableton Push 2. The controller gives you a total of 64 velocity and pressure sensitive finger drum pads, with the option to switch to a 16 pad setup if preferred.

You can load your own drum samples or access the huge range of sounds included in the Live 10 Intro software package. Those with the most advanced needs will also have the option to upgrade this to either Live 10 Standard or Live 10 Suite.

Aside from the drumming aspect of the Ableton Push 2, each MIDI trigger pad can also be used to sequence notes and chords, in order to create melodies. A touch slider is included, allowing for pitch bend, while you can also adjust the note length and velocity of each pad, enabling you to create extremely precise beats and loops.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Find the Best MIDI Drum Pad

A MIDI drum pad, sometimes known as a music pad or a MIDI trigger pad, is an instrument that works in a similar way to a MIDI keyboard, except it makes use of pads instead of keys in order to generate sound. However, many people are unsure of exactly what they do, how they work, and what they should look for.

In this buyer’s guide, we offer information so that you can find the best MIDI drum pad for your needs.

How Do MIDI Drum Pads Work?

MIDI drum pads are musical instruments commonly used in production, allowing users to control as much of their sound as possible from their MIDI instrument, rather than moving between their instrument setup and a computer. They can be used in studio or live settings and are mainly intended to create beats, loops, or melodies.

Many MIDI drum pads come with sounds pre-installed, allowing you to pick them up and create complex beats straight from the device itself. However, these drum pads are also compatible with digital audio workstation software, enabling far more complex editing of drum samples, beats, or melodies.

Who Needs a MIDI Drum Pad?

A MIDI drum pad is a good investment for anyone with an interest in music production. However, usage extends to the live arena too and these devices can be an ideal purchase for anyone with a desire to make beats in that setting.

One of the major advantages MIDI controllers and drum pads offer is the ability to create beats without having to sit at a computer and use a mouse and a keyboard. This helps to provide a more authentic experience for musicians who are used to playing live instruments, while also offering convenience and a greater sense of fun for producers.

What Features Do You Want?

When looking at MIDI drum pads, the main features to consider are compatibility with digital audio workstation (DAW) software, the size of the MIDI trigger pad itself, and the range of controls on offer. Ideally, the pads should be both pressure and velocity-sensitive, as this will provide the most flexibility.

While compatibility with software is important, it is also best if MIDI drum pads also include their own built-in samples or preset options. Additional controls should allow for loops to be created or notes to be edited easily.

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