Arturia has unveiled the updated Keylab 88 mkII controller keyboard. It still has the elegant looks and 88 weighted keys of its predecessor. But a quick glance at the front and rear panels reveals that there are many updates, including CV/Gate connectivity and workflow improvements. Let’s take a look.
First, the hard facts: The Arturia Keylab 88 mkII is a full-size MIDI keyboard controller with 88 hammer action weighted keys. As before, the keybed is the well-known Fatar TP/100 LR, which has a reputation for delivering a good compromise between playability and weight. The controllers on the front panel have been upgraded and shuffled around a bit. There are still 16 velocity and pressure sensitive pads, but they are now on the left and have gained multi-color RGB backlighting. Instead of the predecessor’s ten rotary encoders, the mkII version now features nine, which have moved to the fader section. And lastly, the Keylab 88 mkII has updated menu and DAW control sections.
CV/Gate and more pedals
Go to any modular synth meeting, and you’ll see Arturia Keystep and Beatstep Pro sequencer/controllers everywhere you look. Arturia must enjoy being so popular with the modular crowd, as they have now integrated CV/Gate outputs into the Keylab 88 mkII as well. I’m not sure how many of you modular synth enthusiasts out there are in need of 88 weighted keys (I suspect not too many). But if you run a DAW-based studio, play the piano, and own a modular rig, the Keylab 88 mkII has you covered with Gate, pitch CV, and two modulation CV outputs, as well as a CV input.
But those aren’t the only updates at the back. In addition to MIDI In/Out and USB, you can now hook up five pedals to the keyboard, including sustain, expression, and three assignable pedals. That’s three more than the previous version had to offer, which will be music to your ears if you have a complex live rig to control.
Three operating modes
The Arturia Keylab 88 mkII offers three operating modes. There’s the Analog Lab mode, which is tailored to the included Analog Lab software. It offers three layers of pre-mapped controls for Analog Lab, and preset browsing capabilities. The DAW mode is for controlling the DAW of your choice via the Mackie HUI protocol. You can control transport (including the jog wheel), use the faders and encoders to control the mixer, and select tracks. Arturia even includes magnetic overlays for Ableton Live X, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, Cubase, Studio One, and Reaper. Nice touch! Lastly, the Keylab 88 mkII also features a user mode, which allows you to program your own settings for every controller.
With Arturia’s software heritage, it’s no surprise that the Keylab 88 mkII comes bundled with a nice software package. There’s Ableton Live Lite, and Analog Lab, which contains thousands of sounds from Arturia’s many software synthesizers. They also throw in the Piano V, Wurli V, and Vox Continental V instruments.
Price and availability
The Arturia Keylab 88 mkII is now available for pre-order for USD 999. Arturia says that it will ship in July.