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Just had to return this. In theory was exactly what I wanted. Taking it out of the box the unit as a whole is awesome, feels well built etc but then I started using it....and those rotary encoders (the knobs). Any rotation medium to slow and the values start jumping arround, sometimes as much as 10%. So bad it is unuseable. You can completely forget about doing a slow filter sweep. Quick search on the internet (and indeed in some of the negative comments here on Amazon) and I am clearly not the only one. The terrible thing about this is apparently Arturia have known about this for at least the last two years, and not just in this device. Needless to say I wont be touching any of their hardware again. Aside from the knobs, I also foud the pads to require too firm a hit to register anything, and sometimes they even played a sound twice from a single hit so beware. Its really wierd, as the unit as a whole feels like they really tried hard to deisgn it well and really put effort into building a good quality product but then put some of the cheapest comeonets in it they could find. What a shame
UPDATE 26/07/2020 Arturia have just released Firmware update 1.1 "We’ve adjusted MiniLab MkII’s knobs to be more accurate and sensitive to subtle tweaks ". This may have resolved the knobs issue.
Ok I bought this keyboard a few weeks ago, but I should have researched it more. It looks great, it feels great...but I reckon it ends all there. IF you are using Ableton than maybe this is a piece of kit you would be interested in but honestly if you are using Logic Pro X then I would say, give it a miss. The keys feel quite good and the size of the keys even though it's a MINI keyboard are very good, the potentiometers (knobs) feel quite good, but they could be better...the pads are too small and often not as responsive especially when play drum fills or similar things. Now let's go to the salient part...the software that comes with it to configure it and to do MIDI changes...MCC or Midi Control Centre...it is not as obvious as you might think to adjust and configure the knobs and pads to work with other VST plug ins...Ableton or Logic or whatever DAW you are planning to use. There is not much info online or for that matters on their website on how to do that...they kind of expect you to be a MIDI guru...it comes with a preset SHIFT+PAD1 that works with their plug in ANALOG LAB and for that plug in it works great (it has been programmed by Arturia and it is a READ ONLY file, you cannot change it) but from that to program the rest of the keyboard it has been headache after headache...I had to watch dozens of unofficial tutorials online to understand how to do that...their customer service keeps replying with custom made emails that say the same thing over and over. Also I thing that I didn't like is that you can program 7 different MIDI Profiles by pressing SHIFT+PAD2, SHIFT+PAD3 and so on....for each one of them you can assign the knobs and pads to a certain midi channel...but the keys stay assigned to Midi channel 1...so while you are expecting the knobs and pads to control one plug in..when you play the keys sends signals to other channels. After 7 days of setting it up and working here and there and then 3 knobs stopped working and after few days and several reset the all keyboard came back to life...I ended up RETURNING it to Amazon. I hope it helps.
This is a mostly decent second keyboard for a laptop-based musician because it's portable, and it also doesn't take up too much room on a desk. It does have one annoying flaw (see later). The unit comes with configuration files for Analog Lab and Ableton. This make it instantly useful with those two pieces of (supplied) software. People have made helpful midi maps for it for Reaper, check out the Reaper forum in the MIDI section. If you use a different DAW you may need to configure it yourself, as it does not have any other configuration files, nor does it support the standard MCU DAW control protocol. (Of course the keys work for playing notes without requiring any configuration).
Physical Appearance This unit is beautifully finished, and looks very good on a desktop with its illuminated pads. It has a metal base, which does make it heavier than you would expect. It's slightly wider than a 14 inch laptop, and it fits in my (large) laptop bag on top of the laptop. It would fit in a standard laptop bag by itself.
The Keys The keys are spaced at a pitch of 2.0cm, as opposed to the 2.4cm of a full sized keyboard. They are only 9 cm deep. There are only 25 of them. If you accept these limitations, they are nice keys with a good feel. The velocity sensitivity seems about right, and of course there are octave up and down buttons to reach any note. This is a good keyboard for one handed playing of synths and samplers. If you want to play a piano with both hands, you may wish to look for a full sized keyboard with 61 or 88 keys.
Sustain Pedal There is a socket for a standard sustain pedal, which is not supplied. This works as expected, and is much better than having a sustain button on the keyboard.
The Pitch and Mod Touch Strips These work very well, and seem just as useful as the wheels that are found on larger keyboards.
The Pads The pads are easily configurable, and work well as controls for the software. For playing drums, they require a firm hit, and I found it easier to use the keys.
Rotary Encoders. I discovered that there has been a problem with the encoders on this unit for a few years. There are complaints all over the internet. The company has recently released a new version of firmware (1.1.2) that is said to address the problems. Most of the time, the encoders now work well. However, there are circumstances where they are so sensitive that it is impossible to accurately select a value. Surprisingly, this applies to both Analog Lab, where it is hard to select a preset, and Ableton, where it is hard to select a row. I suspect that the controller scripts in these applications require further work. I would not choose this controller if my main purpose was to perform live with it using Ableton, due to the difficulty in selecting the required row, and consequent risk of playing the wrong loop.
Analog Lab 4 Lite Analog Lab Lite feels almost like a demo version of Analog Lab. It costs another $69 plus VAT (so about £65) to upgrade to the full version.
Ableton Live Lite Ableton Live is excellent for live performance of loop-based music. The limitations of this lite version are not too severe. If you only want to create non-loop-based music, there are better alternatives. If you don't already have a license, this is one way to obtain one.
UVI Grand Piano Model D I'm not sure why this full Steinway grand piano application is included with this keyboard. It is not possible to play a piano properly with only 25 keys. I didn't bother to load it as I don't need it.
Alternatives Most small keyboards do not have endless encoders. The few that do include the Worlde Tuna Mini and the Subzero Commandkey 25. I chose the Arturia Minilab because it comes from a well known supplier, and because it includes Analog Lab Lite software. The Arturia Keylab 49 comes with the full Analog Lab collection for not much more money than the Minilab plus the upgrade price, if you have room for it. Some M Audio keyboards come with support for multiple DAWs built in. The Behringer X Touch Mini is not a keyboard but it includes a set of endless rotary encoders that "may" work better than the Arturia ones, and it could be combined with any other keyboard, including a full sized one. It does support the MCU protocol for various DAWs. There are many inexpensive Ableton controllers, if that is what you need.
Conclusions If you can live with the occasionally dodgy control knobs, this is in other respects a nice small form-factor keyboard. If it supports the software that you want to use, it could be a decent buy.
Having started on the Korg 25 key and using demo's I felt I was ready to take the next step up. Arturia is popular for vintage Synth enthusiasts. Arturia minilab mk 2 looked good, 25 keys, pads and finger sliders to make reverb etc. I had problems down loading Analog lab lite but customer service helped me by giving me another link. Ive been checking out YouTube seeing how they loop music. I'll get back to you on if I can do it myself. Well I tried Ableton but couldn't get the hang of it I use Magix for my loops and recordings. But don't let that deter you, you might be Ableton work it out! 😂 Bad joke! The touch sensitivity strips were ok, but I felt I couldn't control them as much as the Korg joystick appragator. The keys are a good size but was wary when touching the keys didn't respond as quickly as the Korg, it's with in milliseconds but you can tell.
All in all great Software, nice sturdy controller but I'd rather have pitch wheels than strips, I'll be going back to the Korg Microkey 25.
Be aware that this is a midi-controller and not a keyboard with presets loaded into it. This means you have to connect it to a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and sync with the sounds and controls on the DAW. I bought this to replace my i- Rig mini keys and to be honest, my i-Rig does the job pretty well and was a lot cheaper. The advantage with the Mini-lab is that you can have full control of all your sliders and virtual knobs and this makes recording so much more convenient than using the computer or laptop keyboard. The software it comes with is really good - Analog Lab 4, which has lots of synths, pianos and organs on it. However, there is nothing in the package to rival my usual sounds on Logic Pro X, which is the DAW I use. It also comes with Ableton Lite. I don't know if I've done something wrong when I registered for the license but it won't allow me to save any recordings, which makes it pretty useless. Like I said, I could be doing something wrong, but last time I tried, it wouldn't let me save. No matter, I use Logic Pro X anyway but if you don't have this or something similar, you might find Ableton lite annoying. I also don't like the interface on Ableton - it looks like one of those DAWs that you got in the late 90s/early 2000s. Just kind of tacky and dated looking. I know I'm sounding negative. I do like the Arturia Mini-Lab mk 2 but I am just a little bit underwhelmed by it, having seen so many good reviews. One thing I will say is that the keys are nice and firm and springy and the unit itself is very well made and robust.
Feels like a heave steel plate is welded to this thing. The weight might make you think twice about carrying it a rucksack, but its good for a desk model. Key sensitivity is consistent and you can play soft and loud without wondering how the sensitivity might respond - as its consistent and you don't have to hammer the keys like those cheap keyboards.
The setting parameters are great out of the box - though there is a utility to set them and backup the various 'memories' of the device. All the knobs are mapped to the supplied sofware which includes 1) Analog Lab 4 and 2) Analog Lab V and 3) Ableton 10 live-Lite and a Midi Control centre (for tweeking parameters or moving track patterns from one project into another)
The fun you can have tuning old 1970's synths and spending an afternoon creating weird noises. All the presets can be saved. The Aturia Midi
The only downside is that all the software is about 4-5 gigs and requires a long setup procedure of using anti-piracy licence programs including Aturia Software Centre, UVI.com portal and of course iLok (the current version will work wirh Windows 10, not some bundled old package version). Following the online instructions just to get all the software and licenses installed took me a few hours. The Model D piano is something that 'appears' once you've connected iLock to UVI (just don't ask).
The number of synths and software is probably worth the price of the hardware (when you see how much the software is to purchase) . Many of the Arturia plugins are there to 'explore' as trial / demo pieces before you buy. But you do get quite a lot for free.
Ableton lite is probably in the same competetive area as FL Studio, but is easier to learn if you can put up with its fiddly piano roll. Having bought cheaper keyboards, I was struck about how nice looking, sturdy and how nice the keys are to play. The keys width is still smaller than a full size, but not as small and fiddly as the cheaper keyboards.
This will bring many hours of fun and experimentation. I love playing the piano but this brings so many variations to my playing and also a great tool to create unique material for soundscapes backing onto my colourful videos ... so really pleased I bought the machine along with the great combo of software included. Only moan would be that you can't edit the source synths in this version of the software but perhaps I may upgrade (also they include a leaflet for the upgrade which refers to version 2 and they are now on version 4). Did download the additional synths / presets and they are all excellent and weird in places which is great (worth getting those as well as the ones in the original software) and in future, I will perhaps buy some of the additional material to add to the device. Totally recommended