Arturia’s MIDI controller line-up has grown considerably in recent years, from the affordable Keylab Essential 49 and 61 to the compact MiniLab MkIIs. The company’s flagship KeyLab controllers, launched way back in 2013, were perhaps due for an update then, but the MkII models recently announced by Arturia are more than just a cosmetic update. Available in 49‑ and 61‑key formats, the Keylab MkII controllers feature a host of upgrades, including multi-coloured backlit pads, five expression control inputs and four CV outputs.
While the Keylab MkII’s complement of controls is as generous as ever — with nine faders, nine rotary controllers and 16 performance pads, which can also trigger pre-programmed chords — Arturia are keen to stress that they haven’t forgotten about the keyboard element of this controller keyboard. The MkII models come equipped with the same keybed as the exalted MatrixBrute synth, offering velocity and aftertouch and what Arturia describe as a luxurious playing feel.
In addition to the new CV outputs (pitch, gate and two modulation controllers) and expression control inputs (sustain, expression and three configurable aux inputs), Arturia have expanded the DAW control section, with 10 buttons that access common global and track-specific functions and a full set of transport controls. Arturia say that magnetic overlays will be included, allowing users to customise these controls for 10 of the most popular DAWs.
The Keylab MkIIs feature an all-aluminium chassis, with the same aluminium pitch bend and mod wheels seen on the MiniBrute 2 and real wood side panels. As we’ve come to expect, the new keyboards come bundled with some of Arturia’s own virtual instruments, with both Piano V2 and Analog Lab 3 included. Due out in August, the Keylab MkII 49 will cost £399 and the Keylab MkII 61 will cost £439.