Categorized | Hardware, Plugins

Arturia KeyLab 49 hybrid synth controller review

ArturiaKeyLab49

Hey what’s good fam!

So it should be evident by now I’m a fan of Arturia, specially the hardware they are putting out…though I also love the sound of their software, including their iOS apps, really love iSEM and iMini.

However, today I’m checking out a product from their latest line of “hybrid synthesizers” the KeyLab 49

So enough with the intro, let’s check it out!

So what is the KeyLab 49?

keylab49If you were to say the KeyLab 49 is a 49 key MIDI controller, you would be correct.

However, it’s not “just” a controller, it’s also a fully integrated hybrid instrument.

It comes with Analog Lab, which is a collection of over 5000 sounds from the V-Collection products.

So think of it as a controller with it’s own software that is made up of all the awesome synths/instruments Arturia makes with total control over the sounds.

You can pull up presets with the controller, as well as tweak and edit them…all in addition to using it as a general MIDI controller with other software.

Quick Specs

  • hardware: aluminum chassis, wood sides, 32 digit LCD screen, 49 keys, 16 pads, 9 faders, 10 knobs ( with 2 banks),  MIDI in & out, USB, Sustain pedal, Expression pedal, Aux footswitch, Breath controller inputs
  • software: over 5000 sounds, 200 multis, quick preset sorting, quick editing with knobs and faders
  • format: VST, AU, RTAS
  • price: $399
  • product page: http://www.arturia.com/evolution/en/products/KeyLab49/intro.html

So how does it sound?

Reel to Reel Tape RecorderArturia has some of the best analog synth emulations around, and you get access to over 5000 of these sounds.

I think Analog Lab is a great way to access their sound technology (and makes me want to play with the Origin….)

The sound is rich, full, thick, fat, and any other adjective you can think of.

From deep bass to smooth airy pads, huge leads, even crazy fx, everything is covered well and super fast to get to thanks to the preset filtering.

You can browse by instrument, type, or sound characteristic, heck you can browse by all of the above!

I can’t say one type of sound or instrument stands out, and it’s great that you don’t really have to think about which instrument to chose if you don’t want to.

Just looking for a nice pad with an ambient sound? Dial it in and you will find pads from the entire V-Collection.

So yes, the synths sound great, but I think the “container” of Analog Lab makes it even more enjoyable to pull these sounds up.

So what’s the bottom line?

Arturia makes their controllers like actual instruments, I’ve always felt this way, their stuff is very high quality, robust, and feels like it would hurt someone if you threw it at them…not that you would, just saying.

4andhalfsubsI give KeyLab 49 a 4.5 out of 5 subs, the controller itself is very well made, and the integration with the Analog Lab software works really well.

Sure I’d like to have some cursor buttons or be able to trigger chords via midi, even some included templates would be nice, but the truth of the matter is that this thing is fun to use.

Again, if you’ve never touched their controllers you’re in for a treat, this stuff is metal, and build better than many synths or workstations of the day.

Remember they have a 25 key and 61 key version as well, so you can find one that fits your setup or needs.

You can also get the Analog Lab software on it’s own, and the price is crazy!! It’s only $89 if you just want the software…but trust me, using it with the KeyLab controllers is really a great experience.

Go on over and check them out: http://www.arturia.com/evolution/en/products/KeyLab49/intro.html

Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think

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34 Responses to “Arturia KeyLab 49 hybrid synth controller review”

  1. Pete says:

    I’m thinking of getting a new keyboard controller some time, I was thinking of the Akai Max 49 or something similar. Actually my old Edirol PCR M80 is a 61, and I’d really prefer a 76 (I play a bit of piano, not much but a bit!) – anyway 61 is cool, this here could be what I’m looking for – thanks for the revue! The integration with the software is very interesting. It seems to play well with Maschine.

  2. J.Ever says:

    Thanks so much for the review, I was just checking your website yesterday yo see if you did a review on it, and here it was today! Keep up the great work Bro. By the way Does this controller play well with Presonus Studio one. Is it hard to get it to work together?
    Thanks in advance.

    • saintjoe says:

      I’m just using it as basic midi so far, haven’t tried to do much mapping as I’m spoiled by products like Maschine, or even how this product works with Analog Lab lol.I would imagine it should work fine though, S1 is pretty easy to map stuff in. I mapped it to some plugin parameters in S1 quickly.

    • Mean Gene says:

      SJ, They ain’t ready for this, LOL. Nice review.

  3. Michael Parson-McNamara says:

    Very thorough review, Joe! I have the KeyLab61 in mind. I like this controller and love the sounds. You made a very good point about the quicker access…… maybe they will do an update.

    Michael

  4. steveonbass says:

    I just bought one of these and have been using it for the past few weeks. I love the hands on control with Analog Lab. I’d love to find a way to save my mappings for other software instruments I use in Ableton Live. Do you know if that’s possible?

    We need a new website… Artutorials.com ;-)

    • saintjoe says:

      Hahahaha, I believe you can save mappings with the midi control app, but not sure if you have to also save it in the daw as well.

  5. kook says:

    Thank you for the review!

  6. kook says:

    Thank you for the review!

  7. Mike Carey says:

    I’m new at music & feel like an idiot but I have a problem. I bought my son a keylab 49 for his birthday a week ago & thought I did everything correct by setting it up. But for some reason everything seems to work except the bottom keys no sound don’t know what to do

  8. Mike Carey says:

    The one that came with it

  9. Mike Carey says:

    It was the usp that suppose to automatically provide once you plug usb in

  10. Mike Carey says:

    The pads work but for the life of me can’t figure it out

  11. sap says:

    Hi, saintjoe. I love your reviews, and I found you have the new Arturia also. It’s very attractive, but I have some doubts regarding the “drum” pads. I know the Arturia people conceived them mainly thinking in chords triggering and so. I guess that obviously at a first approach they are configured to send simple midi note messages (using them easily for drumming purposes (with different presets for different VSTs? Geist, Slicex, Kontakt, Poise…?).

    But any of the reviews use them broadly,…to test their sensitivity and so. They are only velocity (not aftertouch-pressure) sensitive…but what are your impresions? They don’t have any kind of additional function also…like a note repeat or anything similar, arent them? I know that your Maschine Studio pads are better.,..but how you see these ones and their functionality? Could you please make a video using them vith some VST for drummin/slice triggering and the “chording” function also??
    Thank you in advance.

    • saintjoe says:

      They are really just basic MIDI pads, no built in functions of a sampler/sequencer like note repeat or anything. They currently only play chords in the Analog Lab software that comes with the KeyLab, other than that, it’s basic MIDI notes.

      • Jamie says:

        But how is the sensitivity? Are they like Korg PadKontrol pads? (that’s how they look to me) or do you have to hit them hard? Are they large enough to use for finger drumming, or is it better to keep an MPD or something like that around?

        I’m wondering if I can sell my MPD and get a KeyLab, or if I should keep it and get an m-audio key station 61/88? I had a minibrute and loved the keybed, so I figure it’s gonna be close to that, but I need proper transport controls and pads for playing out drum grooves. (if I just wanted the software I could get the keylab mini and a dif. full size keyboard)

        Thanks for your response!

        • saintjoe says:

          I’ve never been a fam of pads on a keyboard. They are fine but probably not as sensitive as a dedicated pad controller. It’s personal though you’d really need to try them yourself to see if you like them.

    • Jamie says:

      Right, and they’re implementing that kaoss pad and similar pads on the new Taktile line of keyboards. I tried on in Guitar Center yesterday, and the pad can play notes and function as a track-pad for the computer even. Simple, but innovative stuff. But the pads are layer out horizontally instead of in a square, so it’s not easy to play grooves one handed.

      I would look for a good deal on a Korg PadKontrol, except it has no transport :-(

      • saintjoe says:

        Maybe look into the trigger finger pro?

        • Jamie says:

          That thing does look interesting, but did you ever have a hands on with the PadKontrol? It’s just a totally different level of response. If it was in a metal chassis and had knobs faders and transport, it would have probably cost more than the MPD32 (and been better!)

          I haven’t tried cork under my pads, but when I had a Mikro it def had more sensitive pads than even the MK1 I had for a while. I only got rid of it because I was using too many different softwares, wanted to force myself to focus less on tools and more on music.

          I guess I never use the knobs or faders anyway, just the transport and banks, and there are banks on the PadKontrol – are there any Transport Control hardware out there that’s not like the NanoKontrol? I tried looking on google but google knows nothing about nothing. YOU know what’s good, Joe!

          (and a thank you for all the information you’ve shared over the years! Doing great work, and keep it up! Been subscribed on YT since forever!)

          • saintjoe says:

            PadKontrol was awesome, I just mentioned Trigger Finger because you said you wanted transport control. You could also look into like the Kontrol49, it’s old, but I would bet the pads are the same response as the padkontrol :)

            You could also look into something like the faderport for transport control http://soundsandgear.com/presonus-faderport-daw-controller-review/

            • Jamie says:

              Forgot all about that thing! Man, if only they made an 88 key version…

              And thanks for the tip on the fadercontrol, I saw that but it seems pricey for what it is – guess it’s the motorized fader. If they had that for 1/3 of the price with just the transport, I think people would buy it more than companies think.

              For not much more I might cop one of the new Behringer X-Touch surfaces, or save some bucks and get a cheapie Korg.

              I’ll see if I can get hands on with a Fadercontrol, though – thanks for the tip, in the video you made it seem like it’s actually useful, but I’m one of those people who want to not use the screen as much as possible haha (maybe I should just sequence in an MPC or a Roland MV and be done with it…)

  12. Arif says:

    Heyya St. Joe :D

    I’m all over your reviews here and on Youtube. Great stuff.

    And rightly, after going through them in detail, I went and picked up a KeyLab 49. Really impressed with the build quality and the speed at which I could start using it the moment everything was set up (didn’t take much time too).

    But I have two doubts.
    Aren’t there any preset maps available anywhr so that I can get this mapped in detail with Cubase? Or is there a way to go about it?
    And can this be used live? (i have two intentions with my purchase… live and studio.. hope this will deliver cuz I really like this machine). :(

    Thanks for the great reviews St. Joe. Hope to hear from you . :)

    • saintjoe says:

      Thanks for the comment. There aren’t many preset maps that I know of, sometimes they put them on their website, I know they did one for Ableton Live but I’m not sure about Cubase, you can check in their forums.

      You could use it live I would imagine, as long as you have your software running it should be good to go if that’s what you mean?

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