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Review MIDI keyboard Arturia KeyLab Essential 61

Arturia is a company based in Grenoble, France, specializing in the development of music software and hardware, with products aimed at both amateurs and professionals. I’ll tell you how this post is built. First I list the features of this Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 keyboard. Then you have a video or two, purchase links and useful comments from other users and then you have one of the most useful parts; comparison tables with similar keyboards so you can compare.

  • 61 speed-sensitive keys
  • 8 speed-sensitive pads with Aftertouch
  • 1 pulse able encoder
  • 9 rotating knobs
  • 13 assignable buttons
  • Transport section with four function switches
  • LCD screen
  • Tone and modulation wheel
  • Mode of interpretation of chords
  • Compatible with Mackie/HUI protocol
  • USB port
  • Midi output
  • Connection for sustain pedal
  • Input for power supply (not included)
  • Native USB support
  • Includes Arturia Analog Lab two software, Ableton Live Lite and UVI Grand Piano
  • Dimensions: 882 x 76 x 248mm (width x height x depth)
  • Weight: 3,3Kg
  • Attention: Internet connection required to authorize the product.

review arturia-keylab-essential-61
This MIDI keyboard usually costs around €239/£215/$239 and has 61 full-size, speed-sensitive (intensity in MIDI language) keys, which will allow you to sing melodies, chords, arpeggios, and so on.

It also has 8 speed-sensitive pads with Aftertouch, 1 pressable encoder, 9 assignable knobs, and 13 buttons as well, and together they will allow you to have full control over the parameters of your DAW or any plugin you are using.

It has a chord performance mode, it is compatible with Mackie/HUI protocol, USB port, so we also have a connection for a sustain pedal. It also has an input for power supply.

Finally, we can mention that it includes Arturia Analog Lab two software, Ableton Live Lite and UVI Grand Piano. And it measures: 882 x 76 x 248mm (width x height x depth).

Now that we have seen the features of this Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 keyboard, watch these related videos to learn more.

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Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 vs Novation Launchkey 25 MK2

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 MIDI Keyboard is priced at €239/£215/$239 and the Novation Launchkey 25 MKII is priced at €157/£144/$159. We will see their comparison:

  • The Arturia offers 61 speed-sensitive keys, and the Novation offers 25 speed-sensitive keys.
  • The Arturia offers 8 sensitive pads with Aftertouch, 1 assignable encoder, 9 assignable knobs, 13 assignable buttons, and 4 switches in the transport section. While the Novation offers 16 RGB (RedGreenBlue) sensitive pads, 2 Launchpad control buttons, 8 assignable knobs, transport control, pitch bend and modulation wheels, mode buttons and 8 mute/solo buttons and 1 control fader (always useful for processes such as mixing)
  • Both have a USB connection and the Novation is powered by the same means. The Arturia can be powered by an external power supply.
  • The Arturia includes Arturia Analog Lab 2 software, Ableton Live Lite and UVI Grand Piano, and the Novation includes Novation V-Station software, Bass Station, Loopmasters sample pack and Ableton Live Lite.

Let’s put the features of these keyboards in a table so you can compare

Arturia KeyLab Essential 61

Novation Launchkey 25 MK2

  • With 61 speed-sensitive keys
  • 8 speed-sensitive pads with Aftertouch
  • 1 pulse able encoder
  • 9 rotating knobs
  • 13 buttons
  • Transport section with 4 function switches
  • LCD screen
  • Tone and modulation wheel
  • Mode of interpretation of chords
  • Compatible with Mackie/HUI protocol
  • USB port
  • MIDI output
  • Connection for sustain pedal
  • Input for power supply (not included)
  • Native USB support
  • Includes Arturia Analog Lab 2, Ableton Live Lite and UVI Grand Piano software
  • Dimensions: 882 x 76 x 248mm (width x height x depth)
  • Weight: 3,3Kg
  • 25 keys
  • 16 color touch-sensitive launch pads with RGB LEDs
  • 2 Launchpad control buttons
  • 8 control potentiometers
  • 1 fader
  • Led display
  • Transport control
  • Transposition buttons
  • Pitch and modulation wheels
  • Mode buttons
  • 8 Mute/Solo buttons
  • Connections: USB and sustain pedal
  • Includes Novation V-Station software, Bass Station, Loopmasters sample pack and Ableton Live Lite
  • Dimensions: 505 x 120 x 320mm
  • Weight: 1,8kg

We found an interesting comparison, the Arturia has a wider keyboard that allows you to have greater comfort in the interpretation, with all controls that we have already mentioned. While the Novation has 25 full-size keys, and more functions, including a fader, which as we always comment is very useful to control the mixing parameters or other plugins. If you have the budget, go for the Arturia and if you need a 5-octave keyboard. If not, Novation is not a bad option.

And here’s a video of the Novation Launchkey 25 MK2

If you want to know more about this option, click on the following link to see the Novation Launchkey 25 MK2 review.

Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 vs Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 MIDI Keyboard is priced at €239/£215/$239 while the Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII is priced at €875/£789/$867, with a relevant difference of 110 euros. Let’s go with your comparison:

  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 has 61 speed-sensitive keys while the Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII offers 88 speed-sensitive keys.
  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 offers 8 sensitive pads with Aftertouch, 1 assignable encoder, 9 assignable knobs, 13 assignable buttons, 4 switches in the transport section and pitch bend and modulation wheel, while the Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII offers 8 assignable pads, 1 assignable encoder, 9 assignable knobs, 9 assignable faders, 13 assignable buttons, and 4 switches in the transport section and pitch bend and modulation wheel.
  • Both offer a chord performance mode and are compatible with Mackie/HUI Control.
  • Both have connection for sustain pedal, input for optional power supply (not included)
  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 includes the Arturia Analog Lab 2 software license, Ableton Live Lite and UVI Grand Piano, the Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII includes Arturia Analog Lab 3 software license, Ableton Live Lite license and UVI Model D Piano license.

Let’s put the features of these keyboards in a table so you can compare

Arturia KeyLab Essential 61

Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII

  • With 61 speed-sensitive keys
  • 8 speed-sensitive pads with Aftertouch
  • 1 pulseable encoder
  • 9 rotating knobs
  • 13 buttons
  • Transport section with 4 function switches
  • LCD screen
  • Tone and modulation wheel
  • Mode of interpretation of chords
  • Compatible with Mackie/HUI protocol
  • USB port
  • MIDI output
  • Connection for sustain pedal
  • Input for power supply (not included)
  • Native USB support
  • Includes Arturia Analog Lab 2, Ableton Live Lite and UVI Grand Piano software
  • Dimensions: 882 x 76 x 248mm (width x height x depth)
  • Weight: 3,3Kg
  • With 88 speed-sensitive keys
  • 8 speed-sensitive pads with aftertouch
  • A ‘clickable’ encoder
  • 9 rotating knobs
  • 9 faders
  • 13 buttons
  • Transport section with 4 function switches
  • LCD screen
  • Tone and modulation wheel
  • Mode for playing chords
  • Compatible with Mackie/HUI Control
  • Connections: USB, MIDI out, connection for sustain pedal, input for optional power supply (not included)
  • Native USB support
  • Includes Arturia Analog Lab 3 software, Ableton Live Lite license and Model D Piano UVI license
  • Dimensions: 1260 x 63 x 260.6 mm (width x height x depth)
  • Weight: 8.48 kg

As we had said from the beginning, we found two models that are brothers, they share almost the same characteristics and functions, always those of the Arturia Keylab 88 MKII are something better, counting that it is a superior model and by its price we also recognize it, it was conceived for pianists or keyboard players who need the 88 keys of a grand piano, and if you are one of them, this one will be for you. If, on the other hand, you feel that 61 keys are right for you, the Arturia Keylab 88 MKII will be your perfect choice.

And here is a video of the Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII

If you want to know more about this option, click on the following link to see the Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII review.

Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 vs Nektar Impact GX 49

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 MIDI keyboard is priced at €239/£215/$239 while the Nektar Impact GX 49 is priced at €79/£73/$81. We will see their face to face in the next section:

  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 has 61 speed-sensitive keys while the Nektar Impact GX 49 offers 49 full-size, speed-sensitive keys.
  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 offers 8 sensitive pads with Aftertouch, 1 pushable encoder, 9 assignable knobs, 13 assignable buttons, 4 switches in the transport section and pitch bend and modulation wheels, while the Nektar Impact GX 49 offers 14 assignable buttons including transport buttons, octave up and down, transpose, a volume control and pitch bend and modulation wheel.
  • The Arturia offers a chord performance mode and is compatible with Mackie/HUI Control. The Nektar offers advanced transport functions: Loop On/Off, Tap On/Off, Go to Locator and Undo, and deep DAW integration.
  • Both have a sustain pedal connection, the Arturia has an input for an optional power supply (not included), and the Nektar is USB powered
  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 includes the Arturia Analog Lab 2 software license, Ableton Live Lite and UVI Grand Piano, the Nektar includes the Bitwig 8-track software (license per download).

Let’s put the features of these keyboards in a table so you can compare

Arturia KeyLab Essential 61

Nektar Impact GX 49

  • With 61 speed-sensitive keys
  • 8 speed-sensitive pads with Aftertouch
  • 1 pulse able encoder
  • 9 rotating knobs
  • 13 buttons
  • Transport section with 4 function switches
  • LCD screen
  • Tone and modulation wheel
  • Mode of interpretation of chords
  • Compatible with Mackie/HUI protocol
  • USB port
  • MIDI output
  • Connection for sustain pedal
  • Input for power supply (not included)
  • Native USB support
  • Includes Arturia Analog Lab 2, Ableton Live Lite and UVI Grand Piano software
  • Dimensions: 882 x 76 x 248mm (width x height x depth)
  • 49 speed-sensitive ‘full size’ keys with ‘synth action
  • 4-speed curves
  • A total of 14 assignable MIDI buttons
  • Transport Controls: Play, Stop, Record, Rewind and Fast Forward
  • Advanced Transport Functions: Loop On/Off, Tap On/Off, Go to Locator, and Undo
  • Transposition and octave shift button backlit
  • Deep integration with the DAW including track volume/track selection, patch selection and more
  • Volume control of the mixture using the knobs
  • USB powered
  • Plug and play compatible
  • Connectors: Sustain pedal (6.35mm), USB
  • Includes Bitwig 8-track software (license per download)
  • Compatible with Windows 7, 8, 10, Mac osx 10.5 or higher, Linux Ubuntu 4.14
  • Compatible with ios with the Apple Camera Connection Kit (not included)
  • Compatible with all popular DAWs including Cubase, Nuendo, Logic, Reason, Bitwig, Studio One, Cakewalk Sonar, Digital Performer, Fruity Loops, Garageband and Reaper
  • Dimensions: 803 x 197 x 70mm

It is an interesting comparison, where we find the Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 that we have already analyzed before, with its functions and price, and we also have the Nektar Impact GX 49 that is 1 octave less, but certain functions that come very well when using a DAW, for example, the advanced transport functions (controls to go forward, backward, etc), where we can go to a locator, turn on/off loops and so on. To be honest for the price of the Nektar I wouldn’t expect much from the quality of its keyboard, but if you have the chance to try it out and it works for you, you can give it a try, if you want to go to a higher level with the features it offers, you can skip to the Arturia KeyLab Essential 61.

And here’s a video of the Nektar Impact GX 49 keyboard

If you want to know more about this option, click on the following link to see the Nektar Impact GX 49 review.

Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 vs Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 MIDI Keyboard is priced at €239/£215/$239 and the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25 is priced at €135/£125/$137. Let’s go to the head to head:

  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 has 61 speed-sensitive keys while the Native Instruments has 25 full-size keys with semi-weighting and sensitivity.
  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 offers 8 sensitive pads with Aftertouch, 1 assignable encoder, 9 assignable knobs, 13 assignable buttons, 4 switches in the transport section and pitch bend and modulation wheels, the Kontrol A25 offers a 4-way push encoder, 8 encoders with sensitivity to control more specifically the parameters of the DAW in general or some plugin and pitch bend and modulation wheels.
  • The Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25 has intuitive control over Logic Pro X, Ableton Live, Garage Band, Cubase and Nuendo. This means that it is compatible with
  • The Kontrol is USB powered, which means that it does not need any external power source. The Arturia has an input for power supply. And both have a jack input for sustain pedal.
  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 includes the Arturia Analog Lab 2 software license, Ableton Live Lite and UVI Grand Piano, and the Kontrol A25 includes Komplete effects and instruments: The Gentleman, Monark, Scarbee Mark I, Reaktor Prism, Reaktor Blocks Wired, Reaktor 6 Player, Kontakt 6 Player, Guitar Rig 5 Player, Komplete Kontrol Software, Maschine Essential.

Let’s put the features of these keyboards in a table so you can compare

Arturia KeyLab Essential 61

Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25

  • With 61 speed-sensitive keys
  • 8 speed-sensitive pads with Aftertouch
  • 1 pulse encoder
  • 9 rotating knobs
  • 13 buttons
  • Transport section with 4 function switches
  • LCD screen
  • Tone and modulation wheel
  • Mode of interpretation of chords
  • Compatible with Mackie/HUI protocol
  • USB port
  • MIDI output
  • Connection for sustain pedal
  • Input for power supply (not included)
  • Native USB support
  • Includes Arturia Analog Lab 2, Ableton Live Lite and UVI Gra snd Piano software
  • Dimensions: 882 x 76 x 248mm (width x height x depth)
  • Newly developed semi-weighted keyboard
  • 25 keys
  • 8 touch-sensitive encoders, tone and modulation wheels
  • Push-button 4D encoder
  • Smart Player
  • Integration with Maschine
  • Intuitive control over Logic Pro X, Ableton Live, Garage Band, Cubase and Nuendo
  • USB powered
  • 6.3 mm input for pedal
  • USB port
  • Dimensions: 488 x 257 x 89 mm
  • Weight: 2.4 kg
  • Includes Komplete effects and instruments: The Gentleman, Monark, Scarbee Mark I, Reaktor Prism, Reaktor Blocks Wired, Reaktor 6 Player, Kontakt 6 Player, Guitar Rig 5 Player, Komplete Kontrol Software, Maschine Essential

This time we have a somewhat unfair comparison, where our Arturia faces a Native Instruments Kompletete Kontrol A25, of 25 keys that although they are counterbalanced and sensitive, are only two octaves of keyboard, compared to the 5 of the Arturia, in addition in its other functions the Arturia generally exceeds. An important point of the Kontrol is the effects and instruments it offers, and they are not few. The choice will be according to your budget.

Here is a video of the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25 keyboard

If you want to know more about this option, click on the following link to see the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol A25 review.

Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 vs M-Audio Code 25

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 MIDI keyboard is priced at €239/£215/$239 and the M-Audio Code 25 is priced at £160, with a difference of €79. Let’s move on to the face-to-face:

  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 has 61 speed-sensitive keys while the M-Audio has 25 full-size keys with aftertouch and sensitivity.
  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 offers 8 sensitive pads with aftertouch, 1 assignable encoder, 9 assignable knobs, 13 assignable buttons, 4 switches on the transport section and pitch bend and modulation wheels. The M-Audio offers an assignable XY pad control, 4 assignable 360 encoders, 5 assignable faders and 5 assignable buttons and pitch bend and modulation wheels.
  • M-Audio is USB powered, which means it does not require an external power supply (although it does have input and may be purchased separately). The Arturia has a power supply input. And both have a jack input for the sustain pedal.
  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 includes the Arturia Analog Lab 2 software license, Ableton Live Lite and UVI Grand Piano, and the M-Audio includes Ableton Live Lite, Hybrid 3.0 and Loom by Air Music Technology.

Let’s put the features of these keyboards in a table so you can compare

Arturia KeyLab Essential 61

M-Audio Code 25

  • With sixty-one speed-sensitive keys
  • Eight speed-sensitive pads with Aftertouch
  • 1 pulseable encoder
  • Nine rotating knobs
  • Thirteen buttons
  • Transport section with four function switches
  • LCD screen
  • Tone and modulation wheel
  • Mode of interpretation of chords
  • Compatible with Mackie/HUI protocol
  • USB port
  • MIDI output
  • Connection for sustain pedal
  • Entrance fee for nutrition source (not included)
  • Native USB support
  • Includes Arturia Analog Lab two software, Ableton Live Lite and UVI Grand Piano
  • Dimensions: eight hundred and eighty-two x seventy-six x 248mm (width x height x depth)
  • Weight: 3,3Kg
  • Attention: Internet connection required to authorize the product
  • 25 full-size keys
  • Speed sensitive with aftertouch
  • 4 assignable zones for divisions and layers
  • Assignable XY control pad for HID control
  • 16 fully assignable speed-sensitive trigger pads
  • 4 encoders 360 assignable
  • 5 assignable faders
  • 5 assignable buttons
  • Transport control via Mackie/HUI protocol
  • LED providing an instant display of each parameter
  • Input for volume and sustain pedal
  • Operates via USB power with 5-pin MIDI input and output
  • Software included: Ableton Live Lite, Hybrid 3.0 and Loom by Air Music Technology
  • Power supply not included optionally available
  • Minimum requirements: Windows 7 (32 and 64 bit) and Mac OS X 10.7.5
  • Dimensions: 528 x 257 x 73mm (width x depth x height)

Again we have an interesting comparison, with the Arturia KeyLab Essential 61 already analyzed before, and the M-Audio Code 25, which has useful and interesting features, such as the XY control which is a pad that allows you to control parameters or functions in two dimensions in real-time, and is useful for improvising with it, plus only 25 keys that if you settle for it is very good. If you need a MIDI controller with 5 octaves (for two-handed playing, which will be complex and uncomfortable in M-Audio) and moderate control functions, the Arturia is your choice. Both are good for the price.

Here’s a video of the M-Audio Code 25 keyboard

If you want to know more about this option, click on the following link to see the M-Audio Code 25 review.

Which is the best of these MIDI keyboards if I am a beginner on a budget?

While the answer to this question lies mostly in what specific need you have, for example, if you want to have a keyboard with the widest range of notes possible, or if you want to have as many control features as possible, or perhaps a mix between the two, that is without leaving behind the different connections and software licenses that most MIDI controllers offer, we will give an objective opinion according to our experience in music production and thus also with the price demanded by the controllers, a kind of value for money.

In this post we find great price differences in the controllers we have, however and to answer objectively the question in this section, we can mention that the Novation Launchkey 25 MK2 along with its control functions that include among others: pads, buttons, knobs and 1 fader, plus a 25-key keyboard, a two octave range that is acceptable and useful to start with, as well as a sustain pedal input and certain licenses included that are really valued by beginners. All this adds up to a very targeted controller for beginners.

Where to buy the Arturia KeyLab Essential 61

Amazon

  • Free Shipping and the possibility of shipping in one day with Amazon Premium.
  • Full Guarantee but they are no experts in music equipment.
  • Sometimes a better price.
  • He’s got worse stock than Thomann.

 

Thomann

  • Free Shipping.
  • Full warranty. If you have any problems, they take care of everything.
  • 100% reliable payment.
  • A leader in trouble-free shipping.
  • Usually the Best price.
  • Best Reputation: They are the leading online store in Europe and have the best catalog and information.

Also, look at these models with a similar price and features:

Jaime Echagüe

Hi! I'm Jaime Echagüe, a musician and an authentic fan of musical instruments. With this blog I want to give general information about musical instruments in an easy, direct and honest way. I hope you enjoy my website and that you find it very useful.

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