Arturia KeyLab 88 MkI - 88-key MIDI Keyboard Controller (Discontinued)
Arturia are famed for their hardware synths and the KeyLab 88 comes bundled with their Analog Lab software which includes virtual versions of synths such as the Mini V, Modular V, CS-80 V, ARP 2600 V, Jup-8 V, Prophet V, Prophet VS, SEM V, Matrix-12 V, Solina V, B-3 V, Vox Continental V, Farfisa V - in all there are over 5000 sounds.
It also comes bundled with UVI Acoustic Grand Piano which is a Steinway Model D Concert Grand model and Piano V which has 9 acoustic piano models.
- Keys: 88 hammer-action Fatar keybed with velocity and aftertouch..
- Zones: No.
- Pads: 16 backlit pads with velocity and pressure sensitivity.
- Controls:2 clickable encoders, 6 transport switches, 1 modulation wheel, 1 pitch bend wheel, two banks of 10 encoders, two banks of 9 sliders, 1 volume encoder, 10 assignable switches..
- Automap: It automatically maps to KeyLab but you have to use the MIDI Learn feature for custom mapping.
- Power: Not specified.
- Connectivity: 5-Pin MIDI in & out and USB MIDI. It also has 1/4" jacks for sustain, expression, and aux footswitch pedals, and a 1/8" jack for a breath controller..
- Dimensions: 50.9" (L) x 13.7" (W) x 4.3" (H).
- Weight: 32.4 lbs.
- Bundled Software: Ableton Live Lite, Analog Lab, UVI Acoustic Grand Piano and Piano V.
- Compatibility: Windows 7 SP1 or later or Mac Os X 10.8 or later.
It has been praised by many experts and customers for its sturdy build and visual design, but the AutoLab software was the feature that gained the most positive feedback from users. It is also well regarded as a hardware synth controller - particularly with Aturia synths. In his review for Keyboard Magazine, Mitchell Sigman summed it up by describing it as, "A premium controller at a great price, with a ton of virtual instruments thrown in."
The Fatar keyboard got mixed reviews from acoustic pianists (although there were few complaints from synth players) - some thought it felt ok to them whilst others lamented that it didn't respond the same as a piano - but given that pianos don't have aftertouch, that's not entirely surprising
If you want to control Arturia synths, be they hardware or virtual, then this is definitely the way to go. Pianists will find it playable as is the case with many Fatar designed beds, but if you need a completely realistic piano action then you'll have to look at something like the Kawai VPC1.
This model has been superseded and we are now recommending its replacement: Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII.
Here's a good review by Matt Vanacoro from Ask.Audio: