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Review: Keylab Essentials 61 MIDI Keyboard by Arturia

Arturia KeyLab Essential 61

I’m pleased to introduce you and review a new controller that has fallen into my hand recently, it’s Arturia KeyLab Essential 61, a more compact and fun-to-use version of KeyLab61.

For years, Arturia has been striving to make its authentically emulated vintage instruments easy to play and to control thanks to specially designed midi-keyboards. We have already tested many of their software synthesizers launched by this company due to the courtesy of Arturia’s team, who have always offered us products for testing.

Musikmesse 2017 KeyLab Essential by Arturia

For those who have not yet had the opportunity to test / own Arturia’s controllers, they must be aware that they are part of the premium category, with very good materials and innovative features at very affordable prices for all producers.

As the name says, KeyLab Essential offers all the essential elements a producer needs in both studio and live performances.

Arturia KeyLab Essential

The keyboard comes in two versions with 49 or 61 keys. I have the big version, the 61 key. I can say it looks very good. Ever since I opened the box, I was impressed with the modern design. It weighs no more than 3 kilos, so it’s very easy to carry.

If on the initial KeyLab version we found harder materials, such as aluminum and wood, here we have plastic but good quality plastic. This gives it a small weight but also a lower price for construction.

It can be clearly seen that this controller is divided into several intuitive sections.

The eight freely programmable pads, which are touch-sensitive, are located above the keyboard. With the pads, for example, percussion samples can be triggered and played in a DAW.

Arturia KeyLab DAW Controllers

In addition, you’ll find nine rotary knobs and nine faders to control your DAW. The KeyLab Essential keyboard will turn into the switching center for your music production software such as Ableton Live, Steinberg’s Cubase, Image-Line’s FL Studio or AppleLogic.

With buttons such as Play, Record, or Loop, you get direct control over the essential controls of a conventional DAW.

The keys are very handy, big enough for those with thick fingers, and very silent when you press them.

The newest Arturia range of smart controller keyboards is now available in stores. Whether at the center of your home studio or live setup, the KeyLab Essential will make your life as a music creator easier than ever.

However, the pads are also used for other functions, such as activating MIDI mappings for the DAW control and so on.

Arturia is well known for the good tuning of its controller to the in-house software. This has not changed with the “Key Lab Essential”.

Arturia included the in-house software “Analog Lab 2” in the package. Analog Lab can be used as a plug-in in stand-alone mode as well as in a DAW environment.

Analog Lab 2

The sounds of “Analog Lab” resemble the original, realistic, powerful, and detailed hardware synthesizer sounds.

It offers almost five thousand presets from classic vintage synths, a Hammond B3 organ up to the Yamaha grand piano.

However “Analog Lab 2” is more like a “Lite version” of the larger “Arturia V Collection“.

Arturia V Collection 5

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The presets can be edited internally or via the controller and saved as new sounds.

Two sounds can be played and mixed, as well as the midi ranges of the individual sound “parts”.

Analog Lab software also includes some internal effects such as flanger, chorus, overdrive, or even a bit crusher.

In the software package is also included a license for Ableton Live Lite. It sounds so good, right?

Ableton Live Lite
Ableton Live Lite

Looking at the rear of the controller there are classic controller connections like midi-out and a sustain pedal input.

The power supply is made via USB but you can also power it via a 9V power supply, which is not included in the box.


Arturia combines only the best of all features in these two new Keylab Essentials models.

KeyLab Essential makes the most used functions of your DAW directly accessible via the controller. You will love your new workflow!

KeyLab Essential is an all-in-one package – perfect for musicians who want to expand their creative horizons without having to attack a bank!

The Arturia KeyLab Essential controller is available both on Arturia’s official website and at official distributors at the price of 249 EUR for the 61 keys version and 199 EUR for the smallest version with 49 keys.

More Details: Arturia KeyLab Essential 61

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