Arturia Keylab MKII

I know there are forum members who have Arturia KeyLab controllers. I searched for and found converstions regarding stuck notes, but I am interested in opinions, good and bad. I am looking at the Arturia KeyLab MkII 61. Everywhere I read reviews, they are all good, but I wanted to solicit the opinions of my fellow forum folks (say that 5X fast). I will be playing a variety of things, but most notably, I will be playing piano on it. Though not ideal, it will fit my new rig. Some hand surgery (2nd time on the same hand) has left me with an uphill climb, and a lighter weight keybed, may extend my playing while rehabbing. No telling how well it will heal, but for now, some adjustment must be made.

I would appreciate any experienced + or - opinions on this controller

Not quite what you asked, but I got the Mk1 last year on a pretty good deal (new, b-stock on Reverb). I love it-- definitely feels like a keyboard vs. the old fully-weighted Kurzweil I was playing, but with Cantabile routing and bindings it has all the controllers I need and the keybed is fine for getting through a whole gig without strain. Plus it was a few hundred less than the MkII.

I played a bit the KeyLab Essential 61, terrible keybed. Hope the MKII is better.

It may not be totally what I asked, but I very much appreciate the input. I currently have an Roland RD2000 and a Hammond XK1c, along with a Roland Integra 7 module. I am attempting to upgrade the XK1c to an SK Pro, and use the Keylab as an all purpose keyboard or 2nd manual (depending on the routing) for the SK. I have a Code 49 controller, but want to move to 61 keys to match the SK Pro. Not sure if you have played one of those, but if it is close to that, I can work with it.

cpaolo Can you elaborate a bit more? When you say terrible, can you be more specific? Spongy…super stiff?

That’s pretty much just what I do-- Hammond XK1c is organ/multi-purpose 2nd board, and the Keylab is my Piano/Clavi. I have a setup where it’s routed as a second manual, but that’s pretty much just for me practicing and trying to learn “real” organ skills. The keybed is not great for organ feel, in my very un-informed opinion, but it’s a fine slightly-spongy piano bed for me.

I have the controllers on the Keylab mapped to transport, song states, default sounds, etc. (there are a ton of buttons to map!), and I have the sliders mapped to small volume adjustments if I need to do a bit of one-stage mixing on the fly.

jtillinghast That is pretty much what I will be doing. Before I packed up my keys (I have them listed 4 sale) I played some piano on my XK1c. While not ideal, I could surely get by. If I don’t regain full dexterity of my fingers, hammering away on a fully weighted keybed won’t be ideal. Can you compare your XK to the Keylab? I have done some searching on the keybed, and found several topics on the improved keybed on the MKII models. My closest music store is a Guitar Center 40 min away, and they don’t have any currently (MKII) to play on.

I’d say it’s not bad for organ and synth, but it’s definitely too light for piano. The feeling of a cheaper M-Audio Keystation MK3 keybed is better.

cpaolo I just breezed over to Sweetwater for a second to check out the Keystation MK3. I have a Keystation 49, and while it would work for organ/synth, that would be my last controller to play piano on. The reviews on the M-Audio keybed were good, but saw it lacks an expression pedal input. Since the controller will also be used for non-piano related workl, an expression pedal is a must.

The two don’t really compare in feel at all-- they’re very different styles. The Keylab is definitely not the synth/organ lightweight keys like the Hammond. It’s piano action, and like I said, it’s a little spongy, but I find it much easier to play than my old Kurzweil. I’ve never played the Roland Rd2000, so I can’t compare there, unfortunately. But just in terms of key weight, the Hammond and the Keylab are very different beasts.

I don’t think the KeyStation MK3 49 and 61 share the same keybed. The 61 looks like a bit more “weighted”.

My 2 cents.

I have the Keylab 61 MKii. I am a fan of it. Lots of CC options like drabars, buttons, and rotary knobs.

I like the “weighty-ness” of the keyboard as a good compromise. I use it as my 2nd keyboard for synth and organ parts, but not for piano parts where I want a fully-weighted keyboard. Not that it’s totally unusable in that context, but would take some practice

Like some others, I did have a problem with stuck notes, especially organ-style glissandos. They released a firmware update that seemed to help. I have not had any such issues for several months.

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cpaolo I surely hope not. The Keystation 49 would only be playable for piano in a life or death situation

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@Roland_Robertson I hear you. I do love the options and the fact it has both sustain and expression inputs, as it won’t always be a piano…just depends on the song. It has to be playable as one though for sure.

I know this is not what you asked, but, have you considered the Nektar Panorama T6?
I love the feel. The velocity sensitivity is exceptional for piano, and the action is fine for most organ and synth chops.

@Jtoth John…I would have to check that out. I have a Nektar Impact LX25, and am not fond of the keybed. I don’t know if they have improved it since I got mine, but based on the one I have, it would have to be a major upgrade over mine to consider playing on it every night

The T6 has a brand new keybed, nothing like the Impact series. Check out the reviews on Youtube.

@Jtoth. That’s good to know. I will surely check it out. Thanks

I have a Keylab 61 MK1 (three, actually - one for home, one for greenroom, one for stage). I use an M-Audio Code 61 as my second controller (3 as well). If you want weighted, the Keylab isn’t for you. I would call it “spongey”, and much more like a synth than a piano. If I’m playing any type of organ or anything else that doesn’t rely too much on velocity, I’ll use the Keylab. It does fine on glissandos. I use the Code 61 for anything I need weighted (in my case, my band has a piano player on a Nord Stage 3 - I almost never play piano). It’s not something a piano player would like either. I would call it more “bouncy”.

I’m not really picky about keybeds because I’ve learned that if I play one long enough, I can adapt to it. What I hate is the velocity curves of some keyboards (looking at you, Alesis V61). So, the actual electronics and firmware are just as important as the keybed in some cases.

The Keylab MKII looks like the keys may be more weighted than the MKI, but I haven’t been able to get my hands on one. And my Sweetwater rep won’t check it out for me (understandable). But, man, those expression pedal jacks! I would probably use four. But no $$ right now anyway.

Good luck!

Pic of my stage setup:

@Synchrony Tim…I was actually expecting that. If there’s one thing I have learned…manufacturers description of semi-weighted cuts a very wide swath. I really like my Code 49 and it is what I will use until I can find a suitable 61 key. Unfortunately, they stopped making the Code series. I am upgrading ($ willing) to an SK Pro to use as a controller for my VST’s and the other controller for my piano. If I can get a buyer for my RD2000, I can make that happen. Nice rig