When I decided to upgrade my production rig, I wanted a controller keyboard that could handle a wide range of functions, so I went withan Arturia KeyLab. In addition to the well-balanced semi-weighted keyboard, I have a whole set of controllers and pads right in front of me, and everything interface easily with any DAW I use. I'm also impressed by the include theAnalog Lab 2 soft synth, which includes high-quality sounds I can use in any genre.
Service was great. speedy shipment. and the candy was a pretty nice gesture. I guess there's something sweet in the water where you guys are.
Amazing solution for me
I woke up one morning with 4 midi controllers, none of them could
easliy control my soft synths. Sold them and picked up this beauty. Thank you Sweetwater
Solid, well designed controller and software
Yep, there are a lot of controllers on the market from which to choose.
For me, KeyLab represents the best combination of performance and value on the market.
What sold me on the Keylab was:
* Solid build
* Responsive keybed
* Logical, flexible controls
* Integration with the software Arturia includes and the quality of that software
In contrast to the myriad 'plasticky' controllers, the KeyLab has a metal frame that inspires confidence. Yes, it makes it heavier than others (the ones that people often describe as "toys"), but I use it on a table or a stand not as a remote axe so I appreciate its stability.
Keybeds are subject to opinion; what I like, you may hate and vice-versa. My training is in classical piano and I've yet to play a e-board that has the feel of a Steinway or Yamaha. So, adapt. To me, the KeyLab responds well to light and strong touch with decent feedback. I tried far more expensive boards that did not suit me as well though the KL88 was tempting. YMMV.
Sound controls are logically laid out and tightly integrated with Arturia software programs. Fine adjustments are easy to make and the pads are quite responsive.
Of course Arturia built its reputation on software so that may be the strongest point of this kit. Analog Lab is a monster, packed with a fascinating array of tweakable sounds from classic synths. Initially I found myself overwhelmed but as I methodically work my way through the library and rate each one, all kinds of ideas for composition are popping up. It's actually a lot of fun to explore.
My wish list is very short: CV/Gate outputs would be a cool addition but their lack certainly does not distract from all the plusses.
Arturia support has been very good, responding quickly to a few questions I raised.
Don't listen to anyone talking smack about the keys
Note: I owned the MKI version of this keyboard, not the MKII. I'm chiming in on the key action. The keys are SUPPOSED TO BE light weight, and y'all just aren't good at playing synths. These french synth geeks know how to make keys, and they are superior keys to other keyboard in this price range. Synth keys are supposed to be light weight so that you your timing is better for percussive sounds, and people who wrote bad reviews of the keys are not good synth players.
Some people wrote about the software being buggy and crashing... Yes all of my Aruria plugins were crashing for a while but they fixed it with an update. You need to update the software and firmware, and the crashing will stop... dirpa dirpa! Don't post a review before you updated the software. Almost every piece of music software I've owned has been plagued with crashes for a while; and I've been producing music since 2003.
Two people wrote about the keys failing, but that was only two people. I'm a computer engineer and make MIDI controllers, and that failure rate sounds about normal. I had two different Novation Remote SL's have keys go out on me in a row, so I'm not surprised. One reviewer wrote about the keys falling off, I'm pretty sure that he damaged the keyboard himself transporting it, because that's the mechanics of the keyboard don't support that being a typical failure pattern.
Mixed feelings, but good.
I love the design behind this keyboard. The price is really good when you consider everything you get including the software. My complaints are more in the hardware side of things. Here are some thoughts.
1. The keys do feel cheap. Just like the other reviewer mentioned. They are not horrible, but not amazing. Some of the keys are even a tad bit crooked. Still playable, but I'm not planning on this keyboard lasting more than 3-5 years before keys start getting stuck and having problems.
2. The build is solid, but the end wood pieces are not real wood. Their advertising on this is pretty deceptive. Some of their videos definitely hint to the fact that the end pieces are real wood. When I got it, I honestly thought it was real wood because it looks very believable. But I heard somebody else complaining that the wood sticker was peeling off. When I looked closer at the end pieces, I realized that they are in fact not real wood.
3. Pads. The pads just aren't working how I was hoping. There is software that comes with it that allows you to tweak it to your hearts content, but I feel like you have to hit them super hard to reach the 120's which you generally want for drum stuff. You can change the curves to make the velocities higher with the pads, but then it also brings up the volume of any mis-triggering caused by vibration of hitting the pads. I can easily get the drum velocities I want on the actual keys, but the pads are so much more work.
4. Look. This thing still looks amazing. As long as the stickers on the end pieces don't start peeling, it will continue to look nice.
5. The other knobs, wheels, buttons are great. The rest of this keyboard is fantastic and exactly what I'd expect in a great product in this price range.
Not so great
I purchased one of these to test because I am looking for a new 61 key controller. The best thing about this controller is the build quality of the BODY ONLY. It's made of some metal and the sides are some wood vinyl but seems decent. The knobs and faders are cheap. Two of the knobs on the one I had were uneven and the faders were bent and very flimsy. The keys are the weakest point as they are VERY light and FAST action. They are usable for synth parts but anything like piano or guitar is a no no. It works great with the V Collection software which is the other good thing.
Keys are very cheap feeling, scratchy noises when playing live
Keyboard works, however, I have had the keyboard introduce scratchy signal noise while playing live. If I'm recording into Logic and play back the recorded MIDI than it plays back fine. I'm not sure why I'm getting this scratchy noise when playing live, but for what I'm using it for mainly recording it will work. I'm just not happy to know that if I wanted to also use this keyboard in a LIVE setting that I would have to worry about the scratchy signal noise it introduces. I'm using the keyboard with its USB cable. I have not tried it with a MIDI cable yet.
Great for Analog Lab 2, So So for individual V Collection instruments
The keyboard itself is very nice when paired up with Analog lab 2 (although I can get it to work in standalone mode, but not inside Logic), but this keyboard doesn't have the great instrument level integration that the NI S-Series keyboards have with NI Komplete, where you have very high dynamic controller integration. The keyboard itself is nice enough - albeit slightly plasticky.
It'll work. But for the price, it's not the best out there.
Not very good
I have owned this controller for about 2 years and the keys are beginning to fail and pop up. Its as if they are attached by a string that has snapped. I have not used this product in anyway that I could imagine this happening. I have cheaper controllers that appear to be more sturdy than this one.
other than that the beat pads are great and fairly good with sensitivity. I enjoy the lights on them.
So I've had this thing for about 4 months and before I bought it I saw people complain about keys. Well first time I opened the box three of the weights fell of the keys. ( yes they hot gun glue chunks of metal under each key to make them "weighted" )
So an other problem with the keys Im not sure how to describe it but they are really sensitive. I play live most of the time and when I play something quiet notes jump out from the rest in velocity (very unpleasant) Anyways I don't like the keys if fact they are the worst that I've had and I had many keyboards go through my hands.
Finally after 4 months the display gets frozen after an hour of playing of so.
So they really tried, but fell short... Good looks good body, but keys and screen are disappointing .
Keyboard itself is crap
The keyboard did not play very well to begin with, but when the C keys (not only one) began to break with no mishandling; I knew I had purchased a turd. The software is okay and their hardware is prone to breaking even if it doesn't leave your home. Save your money.