Saturday, May 7, 2022

Controller Keyboards. Part Four. Arturia Keylab Essential Series.


Arturia Keylab Essentials Review

So next up in my closer look at usb and midi controller keyboards comes Arturia's Keylab Essentials Series of products. 

Here we'll look at the mid-range 49 and 61 key versions. We'll take a look at the 88 note and 'Mini' versions in some forthcoming posts looking at these sectors as a whole. 

I must admit, of the products in this market sector, I think these are the most aesthetically pleasing with their white fascias and wooden style end cheeks. 

The keyboards are velocity sensitive but with no aftertouch sensitivity which maybe a drawback for some compared to the Alesis and Akai products we've taken a look at.

The usual performance pitch bend and mod controls are joined by nearby keyboard transpose buttons so you can instantly adjust the range of the keyboard and a chord play/memory feature is included. I love chord memory features on synths and keyboards, so this feature is a winner with me. 

8 'Pad' controllers are provided which can 'triple up' as preset selectors or controller switches, with preset channel and note assignment. The pads are velocity sensitive. 

Eight each of 'knob' and 'fader' style controllers are provided. These output controller information to control your DAW's level and pan or as controllers for the bundled Analog Lab software, but if you want to re-assign these channels and control change assignments, again,  you'll need to use the bundled editor.

It should be said at this point that deeper programming of Keylab Essential Series' controllers is only achieved using the bundled Arturia MIDI Control Centre Software. So the Pad, Knobs, and Faders note and/or controller mappings can not be edited or changed directly from the front panel. However, any settings that you make using the MIDI Control Center software can be stored as presets within the keyboard for instant recall for live use or for studio controller maps. 

So whilst it offers instant integration with the supplied Analog Lab software (more later....) as a number of preset 'maps' are provided, universal integration with DAWs and other software instruments will require the use of bundled software editor. Whilst it's true to say, almost everyone choosing this type of product will be using a computer, how quickly and easily realtime controller channels and numbers can be assigned is compromised by the use of software rather than the front panel. 

The Keylab Essential Controllers also offer a DAW control section/command centre which offers stop play and record functions as well as forward, rewind and loop commands, all on single buttons, so you don't have to keep reaching for your mouse of computer keyboard. These function buttons follow the MCU/HUI protocol. 

Keylab Essentials Rear Panel. 

Around the back, these Keylab Essential keyboards offer USB connectivity, MIDI Out, sustain pedal (with switchable polarity) and an input for the optional DC power supply if you're using the keyboard purely as a MIDI controller with no USB bus power provided. 


Keylab Essentals Software Bundle. 

.....and that brings us to the software bundle which includes the aforementioned Analog Lab which includes thousands of sounds and presets from Arturia's V Collection of vintage software emulations. Also included is Ableton Live Lite which is an ideal introduction to what is probably now the most popular software DAW around, and UVIGrand Piano Model D virtual Steinway Grand Piano instrument. 

So with the possible exception of the grand piano plugin, I think it's fair to say that the Keylab Essentials bundle is tilted more towards electronica/EDM producers than, say, singer songwriters.

Arturia Keylab Essentials 49 / 61 Review Conclusion. 

Great looking, portable USB controller keyboards with lots of features and a great set of bundled software products, if they're the sort of thing you're after. 

Drawbacks include the lack of keyboard aftertouch, either channel or polyphonic, and channel, note, and controller assignments for the pads, knobs and faders is only available via the bundled software editor. 

Arturia Keylab Essentials Links.

STM Keyboard Controllers Links:



The information contained within this blog post is offered on an informal basis and is correct to the best of my knowledge. I accept no responsibility for outcomes arising from the mis/interpretation or use of this information and/or associated download files. Always download files via security/scanning software.

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