Test-Driving Arturia’s KeyLab 49 Keyboard

Arturia had ambitious goals when they designed the KeyLab. They wanted the keyboard to be a one-stop solution to creating music, convenient enough to enjoy straight out of the box but sturdy and feature-rich enough for experienced producers to use and love.

The result is an instrument with vast possibilities that inexperienced players may need time to unlock.

Before making keyboards that exist in our material world, Arturia spent years crafting emulators of classic analog synthesizers. Then they drew on their master of recreating vintage sounds to build high quality but affordable hardware synths like the MiniBrute, MicroBrute and MatrixBrute, analog beasts.

I’m an unabashed Arturia fan. My MiniBrute and my DrumBrute are the core of my home recording set-up.I don’t know all of their nuances but they’re so easy to play and sound so great I’ve never felt like I needed to spend hours poring over the manual. I was excited to get my hands on the KeyLab. It was hard to stay patient while my computer loaded the software required to get the keyboard ready to play.

Arturia’s KeyLab 49 MKll had automation and intuitive controls. But its array of features require time for discovery.  The keyboard has a vast library of adjustable sounds (which is what we concentrated on in the video) and a virtual studio, which is its most intriguing but most elusive feature for me.

The KeyLab’s Digital Audio Workstation (that’s the series of words that DAW is an acronym for; I fail to remember in the video) controller lets you play, pause, stop, record, change tempo and navigate through a recording project right from the keyboard and without having to divide your attention between your computer and your instrument.

It’s a beautiful instrument that was a pleasure to play. As you’ll see in the video, I felt like I only scratched the surface of its capabilities even after exploring it for hours.