Categorized | Hardware, Plugins

Arturia KeyLab 49 hybrid synth controller review

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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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23 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.

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