Which MIDI Controllers do pros use?
Professional producers would usually have a number of MIDI controllers so that they can use the right one for the task. Sometimes they’d need a piano feel and so might use an 88 keyed controller from Novation or Arturia whereas at other times they need the speed and convenience of something small like the Kontakt A25 or Arturia KeyStep. Professionals will often use their favourite electric piano or synthesizer as a MIDI controller if they find the playability superior to regular controllers. What’s important is that it has the features and the connections they need to produce the music they’re making.
Can you use any keyboard as a MIDI controller?
If it has a MIDI or MIDI/USB output then yes you can. However, the layout or mapping of a synthesizer or electric piano might not very efficient for controlling other synthesizers or your DAW. As you’re controlling the other synth you’re also changing the sound of the synthesizer you’re using when moving the knobs and sliders – that might or might not matter. MIDI keyboard controllers are designed to offer clear and easily definable control over MIDI gear and software so are ideally suited to the task.
Can you use a MIDI controller without a computer?
It depends on the controller but usually yes. If the MIDI controller only has a USB connection on the back and no regular MIDI ports then it’s designed solely for computer use. However, if it has a MIDI output port then you can connect it directly to another MIDI synth or device and control it. Some MIDI controllers have to be powered by USB but you can always use a powered USB hub or USB charger to provide the power if there’s no computer to hand.