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Music Production

Best Sampler Keyboard & Where To Buy

Photograph of the blog post author, Annika Hope

Annika Hope


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If you’re looking to get into music production, having the right equipment is essential. A good sampler keyboard can be a great investment for any producer, allowing you to create and manipulate samples with ease. But with so many options on the market, it can be difficult to know which one to choose. 

To help you make the right decision, we’ve put together a list of the best sampler keyboards you can buy for music production. We’ll take a look at the features and specs of each keyboard, so you can find the one that’s perfect for your needs. So let’s get started!

The Early Years of Sampler Keyboards

Samplers were a key component in early music production, giving producers the ability to capture sounds from a variety of sources and then manipulate them to generate unique and captivating soundscapes. 

Samplers were also utilized to craft drum patterns and melodies, which were fundamental to the emergence of early electronic music genres such as hip-hop and house. By providing producers with the ability to effortlessly manipulate and combine sounds, sampler keyboards opened up a wide range of possibilities for music production.

Early sampler keyboards such as the Fairlight CMI, the Emulator, the Synclavier, the Akai S900, and the E-mu SP-1200 were the first to enable musicians to digitally capture, sample, and manipulate sounds. These samplers were popular among producers and musicians in the 1980s and 1990s for creating unique sonic landscapes and textures.

The Fairlight CMI was the first commercially available sampler and is considered to be one of the most influential electronic instruments of all time. The Synclavier was the first digital synthesizer and sampler and was used extensively in the 1980s. 

The E-mu Emulator was the first affordable sampler and was popular in the 1980s and 1990s. The Akai S-900 was the first affordable 16-bit sampler and was used extensively in hip-hop and other genres. All of these samplers helped to revolutionize electronic music and have had a lasting impact on the sound of modern music.

If you’re looking for the best sampler keyboard for music production, then you’ve come to the right place. Sampler keyboards are a great way to add extra depth and texture to your music, and there are a variety of models available to suit any budget and style.

The Top 3 Samplers for Modern Music Production 

The Akai Professional MPK249

The Akai Professional MPK249 is a professional-grade sampler keyboard controller that combines a wide range of features and performance capabilities. It features 49 semi-weighted keys with aftertouch, 16 RGB-illuminated MPC-style pads, 8 assignable knobs, 4 assignable buttons, and 4 banks of assignable controls. It also includes MPC Note Repeat, MPC Swing, and MPC Full Level for a truly professional feel. It also has a built-in arpeggiator and a 4-way joystick for expressive control. 

The Akai is perfect for producing music in any genre, from hip-hop to EDM to rock and is one of the best sampler keyboards on the market. This keyboard has a full-size semi-weighted keybed with aftertouch, as well as 16 RGB-illuminated MPC-style pads and 8 assignable knobs.   It also comes with a comprehensive software package, including Ableton Live Lite, ProTools First, MPC Essentials, and more. The MPK249 is a great choice for producers who want to add an extra layer of control to their music.


1. 49 semi-weighted, full-size keys with aftertouch

2. 16 genuine MPC Note Repeat pads with RGB backlighting

3. 4 banks of pad control with Q-Link knobs

4. 8 assignable Q-Link faders

5. 24 assignable Q-Link buttons

6. 4-way joystick for pitch and modulation control

7. Built-in arpeggiator

8. LCD screen for easy parameter access

9. USB-MIDI with 5-pin MIDI input and output

10. Comprehensive transport and parameter controls

11. Comprehensive production software package included

12. Comprehensive editor/librarian software included

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Korg MicroKorg XL+

Another great option is the Korg MicroKorg XL+. This sampler keyboard has a 37-note mini-keyboard with velocity sensitivity, as well as 4 assignable knobs and a built-in vocoder. It also comes with a comprehensive software package, including Korg’s Legacy Collection M1 software synthesizer, and a variety of effects. The MicroKorg XL+ is ideal for producers who want a compact and affordable sampler keyboard, that offers a powerful synthesizer engine with 8 voices, a vocoder, a 4-band EQ, and a built-in step sequencer. 

The Korg also provides 128 onboard programs, 128 user programs, and 128 arpeggiator patterns. Furthermore, the 16-track sequencer makes it easy to compose complex musical pieces. Moreover, it has a sampling capability that enables you to sample and manipulate sounds from external sources.


1. 37 full-size, velocity-sensitive keys with synth action

2. 8-band vocoder with gooseneck microphone

3. 128-voice polyphony

4. 4-part multi-timbral capability

5. 4-way joystick for real-time control

6. Over 400 sounds, including newly added drum and percussion kits

7. 128 programs and 128 combinations

8. Built-in 16-track sequencer

9. Onboard pattern-based drum machine

10. Built-in arpeggiator

11. Built-in effects, including reverb, delay, chorus, and more

12. USB MIDI for connecting to computers and other MIDI devices

13. Audio input for external audio sources

14. External output for connecting to amplifiers, mixers, and more

15. Built-in audio recorder for capturing performances and ideas

16. Sampling capability with 16-bit/44.1kHz resolution

17. Built-in 4-channel mixer with EQ and effects

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Roland Fantom

Finally, the Roland Fantom is a great choice for producers who want a top-of-the-line sampler keyboard. The Roland is a professional-level sampler keyboard designed for use in the studio and on stage. It features a 61-key velocity-sensitive keyboard with aftertouch, 16-voice polyphony, and a powerful onboard sound engine. It has an array of onboard effects, including reverb, chorus, and delay, and a built-in sequencer for creating and recording your own music.

It also has an extensive library of sounds, including a variety of acoustic and electronic instruments, as well as drum and percussion sounds. It is compatible with a number of external hardware and software devices, allowing you to expand your sound palette.

This keyboard has a full-size 88-note hammer-action keyboard, as well as 16 velocity-sensitive pads and 8 assignable knobs. It also comes with a comprehensive software package, including Roland’s ZenCore sound engine and a variety of effects. The Fantom is an excellent choice for producers who want a professional-level sampler keyboard.


1. 16-track audio recording and playback

2. 16 pads for triggering sounds and samples

3. Over 1,000 sounds and samples onboard

4. 16-part multi-timbrality

5. Onboard effects including reverb, chorus, and EQ

6. 6-track sequencer for recording and playing back performances

7. USB and MIDI connections for connecting to computers and other devices

8. Expandable memory for storing samples and sounds

9. Built-in arpeggiator for creating complex rhythmic patterns

10. Comprehensive editing capabilities for tweaking sounds and samples

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No matter what your budget or style, there’s a sampler keyboard out there for you. With the right model, you can add an extra layer of control and texture to your music. So, if you’re looking for the best sampler keyboard for music production, take a look at the Akai Professional MPK249, Korg MicroKorg XL+, or Roland Fantom.


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