Arturia 230421 KeyLab 49 Hybrid USB/MIDI Keyboard Controller
- Includes Analog Lab software with 5000 synth sounds. All presets are carefully selected from the Arturia Classic Synths (mini V, Modular V, CS-80V, ARP 2600 V, Prophet V, Prophet VS, SEM V and Jupiter-8V) and from Wurlitzer V.
- Fast preset sorting so you quickly find your sound: by Instrument, by Type (Bass, Pads, Leads), by Characteristics (long, bright, dark ).
- In-depth preset editing available for the owners of the Arturia Classic Synthesizers (Mini V, CS-80 V, etc.). Edit your sounds on the original instruments within Analog Lab.
- Keyboard : 49 semi weighted keys with velocity and after touch
- Controls : 2 clickable encoders, 6 transport switches, 1 modulation wheel, 1 pitch bend wheel, 16 velocity and pressure-sensitive backlit pads, two banks of 10 encoders, 9 sliders, and 10 assignable switches.
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|Sold By||—||Amazon.com||AudioDeluxe||Sam Ash||DigitalDJGear||Amazon.com|
|Item Dimensions||33.3 x 4 x 14 in||33.46 x 4.72 x 12.6 in||14 x 9 x 1.5 in||38.19 x 4.76 x 12.4 in||34.72 x 9.76 x 2.28 in||28.3 x 6.29 x 15.1 in|
|Item Weight||15.6 lbs||8.16 lbs||—||7.05 lbs||7.28 lbs||14.8 lbs|
Keylab 49 is our professional-grade MIDI keyboard, combined with the powerful Analog Lab software. With 49 keys, 2 banks of 10 encoders, two banks of 9 faders, 10 assignable switches and 16 velocity and pressure sensitive pads, Keylab 49 is perfect for studio and live use. Add to this the included Analog Lab software with an integrated user interface and over 5000 sounds from our V-Collection line of products, Keylab 49 is more than a controller, it is an instrument unto itself.
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After comparing the many different options out there, I had decided on the Korg Triton taktile, but, close to the time that I was ready to pull the trigger, the price jumped up $50. So I decided that I wanted to re-review my options. After looking at the many great options on the market, the best option, for me, was the Arturia Keylab 49. I went ahead and bought the 2-year product protection based on the reviews of flimsy quality, though I don't feel like it's necessary.
I was shocked upon receiving the box. The box Amazon packed it in was HUGE. But, I guess they decided that a keyboard that can be held under an arm needed a shipping box as large as a guitarist's half stack. The box for the keyboard itself was about as expected, and the controller was packed very well in Arturia's packaging.
After opening up the box, the first thing I noticed was that it feels very substantial. It's heavier than I expected. I can't understand why people are complaining about the build quality, as it's built like a tank. To the person that said that they have weights glued to the top of the keys - that's how semi-weighted keyboards work! This could have been done a little better, and there was some glue that was not applied perfectly cleanly, but I could scratch off the excess with my thumbnail.
There were also a couple imperfections in the white paint, but it's incredibly minor.
The keybed itself feels nice. If you've ever played a microKORG, it feels like a full-size-key version of that, with a little added weight. Very synth-like action. Apparently the 88-key version feels much more like a grand piano (with fully-weighted keys and all), but I can't comment on that.
As far as the knobs (encoders) and faders, they feel and and work very smoothly. The faders aren't perfect, as they don't seem to be absolutely perfectly aligned, but it doesn't affect the movement.
The reason this device gets 4 stars instead of 5 are two-fold:
1. The "pitch" knob (which, it, and the "mod" knob, both feel really nice and rubbery, not cheap) does get stuck in the +100% position if pushed too hard. It's like the stop in the knob doesn't actually work properly. For casual playing, not a problem, but I could see this being a major problem in a live or energetic setting.
2. The drum pads are great. They feel good. But they could be designed a little better. You really have to hit right in the center of the pads, because getting too close to the edge can accidentally double-trigger the pads. I think this would be solved by a slightly improved mechanism underneath the pads and thicker, softer pads (Akai's design really is king here).
I also had an issue where the included software was actually not included. I purchased during a promotional period. The promo, when purchased, included more than just KeyLab - Full versions of UVI Grand Piano, Arturia Jupiter 8-V2, Arturia Mini V2, Arturia Vox V, Arturia Wurlitzer V, and Ableton Live Lite. However, I couldn't activate any of this software, because my controller arrived on Dec 31 (the day the promo ended), but wasn't registered until Jan 1. I'm loaded down with software synths and other plugins, so it wasn't a big deal, but I emailed Arturia anyway. They're not the fastest at responding to emails, but they do respond, and have been very helpful. They got me all set up, and while I'm still having a couple issues where some of the plugins still think they're demos, it's being resolved.
TL;DR: This is a solid, beautiful keyboard that has a few minor imperfections that prevent it from being absolutely perfect. For studio use and light touring, this is a fantastic keyboard. Using their MIDI Control Center software + some light key mapping in Logic, it's a solid controller for Logic. You can do everything you need and you shouldn't be afraid of the negative reviews here.
I needed a MIDI keyboard controller to replace a cheap plasticky M-Audio Oxygen controller (had it for about a year and a half before the faders started to go - they were sending phantom signals to Ableton). There are a ton of reviews absolutely berating this controller and so I was quite hesitant to purchase it. However, I went to my local equipment / retailer shop and couldn't get over the far-superior build quality of this controller over anything else in its price range. Still, I asked an ableton trainer about his opinion before purchasing. He said it worked fine with ableton now and it was hard to beat the build quality.
So, I took the plunge and ordered it. After spending some time with it, here are my thoughts.
Build quality was a priority to me after having to replace the M-Audio only a year and half after buying it. I'm a little old school and came up in the turntable DJ age (when equipment was made of wood and metal), so I tend to get turned off with the flood of plasticky audio equipment in the market. The build quality of the KeyLab 49 is unparalleled in its price range (or even above its price range) and is a welcome exception to all the plastic: it has a metal chassis (you pick it up and it feels like the real deal) with nice wood sides (don't know if its real wood or laminate, but either way, still better than plastic). Faders feel nice and smooth, pads have a nice feel, keys feel solid and responsive. With the white color and blue display and lights, its a beautiful addition to my home studio. Its surprising that its sold at the price point it is - it looks and feels like it would cost much more than $350.
The included analog lab software truly sounds like an old analog hardware synth - its fantastic. Even though I bought the KeyLab to use with ableton and logic, its just fun playing with this thing and coming up with ideas. Someone mentioned that they thought the sounds weren't good - i'd respectfully disagree; maybe people haven't used old analog synths before, but thats what this is emulating, and its perfect.
Now that I've gotten the glowing praise out of the way, here's where this controller is frustrating. Unlike other devices I've used, device setup is decidedly not plug and play with this controller (I'm focusing on Ableton here). With other devices and controllers, you plug it in, launch Live, and boom, you're in. On the other hand, the following is the actual process (I'm not exaggerating) that I had to follow to get the controller to work with my iMac: 1) went to Arturia's setup website and set up an account; 2) entered serial number from the documentation to register the controller; 3) tried to click a broken link from my user panel to download the Analog Lab software; 4) hunted around the Arturia site looking for another way to download the software and downloaded the wrong thing instead; 5) went back to the setup website listed on the documentation guide and tried to download the software from there (this worked this time); 6) entered my registration code from my user panel into the Analog Lab software to finally finish the authentication process; 7) opened Ableton and realized that it wasn't working right; 8) went back to Arturia's setup website to download the separate midi control software; 8) tried to mess with that software and realized it still wasn't working; 9) hunted through Google and Arturia's website for a solution to fix mapping with Ableton and found a posting by Arturia on their forums on getting it to work with Ableton; 10) downloaded the Ableton install guide and new firmware; 11) updated the firmware on the KeyLab; 12) downloaded and installed some scripts into Arturia's midi control software to match ableton; 13) went through my computer's User Library/Settings to copy Arturia's mapping into Ableton; and 14) updated Ableton's midi control settings to match the appropriate settings from Arturia. Total time? About an hour to an hour and a half.
Does it work now? Yes, it now works perfectly. Faders, midi assignments, drum pads, keyboards. All works great with Ableton Live 9. Was it a pain setting up? Yes, absolutely it was. If I could dock it half a star, I would. Arturia would be well-advised to improve its install process and work with Ableton to get some sort of plug-and-play functionality in place. Or at least some better documentation in the box or on the web.
But why do I still round my 4.5 stars up to 5? Because once the setup is done, I'm more concerned with the quality of the instrument. And, especially for the price, it is a 5-star device. I will update this review if I change my mind :)
*** 7/28/2014 Update ***
Two months in, the Arturia still works great. I find myself using Analog Lab to come up with ideas and riffs and then replicating them in Ableton. And I've updated Ableton and installed some other things, a new interface, etc. Still works, no problem, no adjustments needed. No regrets!
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