Approximate reading time: 2 Minutes
Arturia MiniLab MkII top

Arturia MiniLab MkII top  ·  Source: https://www.arturia.com/minilab-mkii/overview

Arturia MiniLab MkII angle

Arturia MiniLab MkII angle  ·  Source: https://www.arturia.com/minilab-mkii/overviewhttps://www.arturia.com/minilab-mkii/overviewhttps://www.arturia.com/minilab-mkii/overviewhttps://www.arturia.com/minilab-mkii/overviewhttps://www.arturia.com/minilab-mkii/overviewhttps://www.arturia.com/minilab-mkii/overviewhttps://www.arturia.com/minilab-mkii/overviewhttps://www.arturia.com/minilab-mkii/overviewhttps://www.arturia.com/minilab-mkii/overview

Arturia MiniLab MkII rear

Arturia MiniLab MkII rear  ·  Source: https://www.arturia.com/minilab-mkii/overview

Arturia MiniLab MkII with lights on

Arturia MiniLab MkII with lights on  ·  Source: https://www.arturia.com/minilab-mkii/overview

Arturia have released the MiniLab MkII, an updated version of their keys, pads and knobs MiniLab MIDI controller. They say they’ve listened to their community of users and believe the Mk II to be a significant upgrade to the original. Let’s check it out.

MiniLab MkII

To be honest the new one looks bigger and more plasticy. The Mk I had these nice wooden cheeks whereas the MkII has overwhelmed the body with plastic and left just a hint of wood veneered on the sides. Maybe the community hated the wooden ends – who knows? But otherwise the top down image on the website seems to show it in the worst possible light whereas in the promotional videos the MiniLab MkII looks all the more interesting, cool and usable.

The slim keys are not to everyone’s liking and in the videos they look a little bit clumsy. But they are a step up from the mini keys on the Mk I. Unless you’re a real player most of us cope with these sorts of things without too much trouble. The physical controls are very similar to the Mk I. You have the 16 rotary encoders, 8 pads, 25 notes, octave buttons and 2 capacitive strips where the pitch bend and modulation wheels should be.

Upgrades

Other than the keys upgrade there are some differences if you dig into the specs a little bit. Two of the 16 encoders are now clickable, meaning that you can push down on them to make a selection. The pads are now multi-coloured and response to pressure as well as velocity. That’s about all I can find. There’s an updated software bundle including Analog Lab Lite, Ableton Live Lite and a Grand Piano from someone else. Not sure why they didn’t use one of their own pianos – very strange.

At €99 this is an attractively priced little controller keyboard. It’s quite chunky, has tons of controls on it and fabulous RGB light up pads. It’s a decent update to the already decent MiniLab Mk I and all the bundled software is a nice bonus. I don’t think it quite lives up to it’s tagline of being the “Universal MIDI Controller” or the “portable solution for the modern studio” because in my book that would have to include Bluetooth MIDI, battery power and at least one CV/Gate output. Those pads could be a step sequencer, they could have included an arpeggiator mode. But for this price you can’t really argue for more.

More information on the Arturia website.

I know Arturia love their products but this video gives the impression it’s the coolest thing ever to exist – it’s a €99 controller keyboard, come on, it’s not a game changer!

 

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