Keyboard vs Synthesizer vs MIDI Controller: Differences

In the intricate world of music production, it's easy to get lost in a sea of terminologies and technical nuances. Terms like "keyboard," "synthesizer," and "MIDI controller" are often used interchangeably, causing confusion among beginners and even some seasoned musicians. With our expert guidance, we'll untangle these threads and help you clearly understand the differences.

What is a Keyboard?

A keyboard is a musical instrument that consists of a set of keys or buttons. When you press a key, it produces a specific sound or note. Keyboards can be acoustic or electronic. Acoustic keyboards produce sound mechanically, while electronic keyboards generate sound using digital technology.

You can check the Music Keyboards Collection At

What is a Synthesizer?

A synthesizer is a type of electronic music maker that can generate and change different types of sounds. It's not like a keyboard which only plays certain sounds. With a synthesizer, musicians can make new sounds and adjust them with different features like oscillators, filters, and envelopes. This instrument is super flexible and can make all sorts of sounds, from something as common as a piano note to weird futuristic noises.

You can check the Synthesizers Collection At

What is a MIDI Controller?

A MIDI which is a short for Musical Instruments Digital Interface is a controller that helps musicians manage other music gear or computer programs that are MIDI-compatible. Usually, a MIDI controller comes with keys, knobs, sliders, or pads that send MIDI information to adjust things like the sound's pitch, how loud it is, and its special sound effects. Important to note, MIDI controllers don't make sounds themselves. Instead, they're used to handle other equipment or software that does produce the sounds.

You can check the MIDI Controller Collection At


Key Differences

While all three instruments are used for creating music, there are some key differences between keyboards, synthesizers, and MIDI controllers:

Sound Generation

A keyboard produces sound by physically striking or plucking the keys, which then resonate to create sound waves. A synthesizer, on the other hand, generates sound electronically using oscillators, filters, and amplifiers. A MIDI controller does not produce sound on its own but sends control signals to other devices to generate sound.

Sound Manipulation

Keyboards usually have limited sound manipulation capabilities, focusing more on playing pre-set sounds. Synthesizers, on the other hand, offer extensive sound manipulation options, allowing musicians to shape and modify the sound in various ways. MIDI controllers primarily focus on controlling the parameters and settings of other devices or software.


Keyboards can vary in size and portability. Some keyboards are large and heavy, making them less portable. Synthesizers can also vary in size, but there are compact and portable options available. MIDI controllers are generally more portable and lightweight, designed for easy transportation.


Keyboards are primarily designed for playing melodies and chords. Synthesizers offer a wider range of functions, including sound creation, manipulation, and sequencing. MIDI controllers are versatile and can be used for various purposes, such as playing virtual instruments, controlling software parameters, or triggering samples.


Keyboards and synthesizers can be standalone instruments or integrated into larger setups. MIDI controllers are often used in conjunction with other devices or software, allowing for seamless integration and control.


In summary, keyboards, synthesizers, and MIDI controllers are all valuable tools for musicians, but they serve different purposes. Keyboards are primarily for playing, synthesizers for sound creation and manipulation, and MIDI controllers for controlling other devices or software. Understanding their differences can help musicians choose the right instrument for their needs.