Review: Arturia Minilab MKII Portable MIDI Controller


I’ve reviewed the KeyLab series a few times here, the KeyLab 49 and the KeyLab 88. However I’ve never had a chance to review the Minilab series, until now.

Basically, it’s the scaled-down version of the KeyLab series. They all work with the Analog Lab software for a hybrid software hardware experience.

Actually Arturia were one of if not the first to actually create a fully integrated hardware controller with dedicated software…which seems to be the standard these days.

As usual, it comes with a version of Analog Lab, but it also includes a grand piano from UVI and the customary copy of Ableton Live Lite…aka…the “get you hooked on Live version”.

Quick Specs

  • hardware: 25 note slim keyboard, 16 rotary knobs, 8 RGB pads, USB, sustain pedal input. Pitch and Mod strips, Octave up/down buttons
  • software: Analog Lab Lite, Ableton Live Lite, UVI Grand Piano Model D
  • format: VST, AU, AAX
  • price: $129
  • product page:

So what’s the bottom line?

The Minilab is a great portable controller, the 16 knobs make it super useful in such a small package.

The fact that it works with both desktop and iOS applications makes for a versatile travel companion.

I give the Minilab MKII 4 out of 5 subs, it’s compact, portable, and has plenty of options for input with the keys, pads, AND knobs. 

I really dig the keybed, compared to other “mobile” keybeds, it has a nice feel. I tend to shy away from most mobile keyboards because the keys are generally stiff, not a lot of travel, so they don’t feel like a traditional keyboard.

The keys here have plenty of travel, so I wouldn’t feel limited in that respect if this was my travel controller. I also dig the fact that you get all of those knobs, the pads are velocity sensitive, which is cool, but I still wish they were more customizable. I’m very picky with my pad response and I wish you can go a little deeper than just the various preset velocity curves.

Overall, this controller along with the software you get is a good deal. Some may notice the inclusion of Analog Lab Lite as opposed to the full version of Analog Lab that usually comes with the Arturia keyboards. I’ll admit, I don’t know the exact number of sounds that come with Lite, I heard 500 but I could totally be wrong. I already had Analog Lab 2 installed so that’s what I tried this with.

Direct control over the Analog Lab software works without a hitch, throw in the fact that you get a lite version of Ableton Live along with a pretty nice grand piano from UVI, and I think you have a decent package for mobile production or even a first dive into music creation.

You can learn more about the software and the controller on the Arturia site:

Let me know what you think!



  1. I just got my own shipped to me, but I am struggling to change my pad functions. In Ableton, it seems the default settings are making the pads control recordings and clips. I’ve been looking everywhere but could not find how to make the pads play keys on the keyboard, thus play the drums. (for example: first pad plays C and so on. tried going through midi controller, changing channels, but no luck….) please help


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