Anyone fancy a versatile controller keyboard with the tip of the Arturia software iceberg included free?
Arturia’s Lab range marries hardware keyboard controllers with the company’s extensive soft‑synth portfolio. Their Analog Lab V plug‑in deploys the engines of the mighty V‑Collection as a unified sound module that integrates with the keyboards. MiniLab is a portable and significantly more affordable alternative to the larger KeyLab master keyboards. As well as the compact controller, MiniLab 3 comes with a pared‑down version of the sound suite, dubbed Analog Lab Intro.
The MiniLab 3 controller maintains roughly the same shape as the MkII, with its deep panel giving it the same footprint as a 15‑inch laptop. I had the white model and thought it looked like a cute tiny Mellotron that had sprouted controls, or the synth edition of Is it Cake? Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s a lovely form factor. Previous MiniLabs had 16 encoders and eight pads with a two‑octave mini‑keyboard. For this iteration Arturia’s designers have replaced eight of the encoders with four sliders, perhaps thinking to trade off the total number of controls for some versatility, and tick off more boxes for people shopping around.
Encoder count aside, the 3 has levelled up as a controller, gaining stand‑alone capabilities. A DIN MIDI out port has been added to the rear panel alongside the USB‑C connection, and there’s now an onboard arpeggiator. In the last couple of years a MIDI out has become a significant differentiator in the small controller market: it’s great to have the option to work host‑free and plug straight into a hardware module.
I’m not normally one for an unboxing paragraph, but special mention should be made of the MiniLab’s eco credentials. Not only is the packaging 100‑percent recyclable, the unit itself is constructed from 50‑percent recycled plastic. Thinking outside the box (sorry), Arturia are providing the MiniLab 3 with a five‑year warranty, promoting longer product lifecycles as part of the bigger sustainability picture. Bon travail Arturia!
Included in the package is a software bundle that will get anyone new to computer‑based music up and running. As well as Analog Lab Intro, you get two piano plug‑ins: UVI’s Model D and Native Instruments’ The Gentleman. Then there’s the ubiquitous but perfectly capable Ableton Live Lite.
A smart move is the inclusion of a subscription to Melodics, an online interactive music learning service. There’s some really cool apps and sites springing up like this, which make learning an instrument like a game. This one looks particularly intriguing, as in addition to...