Arturia Minilab MKII by Synth Guru
Product: MiniLab MkII
Arturia introduces the MiniLab MkII, a 2 octave keyboard controller with 16 Multi-Function Encoders, 8 Multi-color velocity and pressure sensitive Pads, 25 velocity sensitive Slim-Keys, Pitch Bend and Modulation touch strips, Octave Transpose buttons. With a touch of a button, an additional bank consisting of 8 pads (Pad 9-16) becomes accessible. A “Shift” button is available to select MIDI presets and MIDI Channels. Additionally, there’s a Footswitch Input that sends MIDI Note & CC data. This input can also be programmed for Gate or Toggle Operation. The Full-sized USB 2.0 port is Bus-powered and class-compliant. No drivers are needed.
The MiniLab MkII feels nice and solid. I was quite pleased with its build quality. The keybed is well balanced and the keys feel neither too springy or too stiff when played. The assignable encoders feel uniform in tension when turned in comparison to the rest of the knobs, which is something that a lot of users come to expect in a controller. The Pitch Bend and Modulation touch strips are very responsive and are of high quality. They reacted well under my fingertips when used. Connecting the controller is a breeze via USB cable which is provided. There’s seamless integration with Analog Lab Lite which is included and it sounds awesome! For this review, I used Analog Lab 2 but the Lite version is definitively not undernourished. It contains over 500 of the best classic synth and keyboard sounds from Arturia’s V Collection. With UVI’s Grand Piano, also included, you have instant access to the classic sound of a Steinway Model D grand piano. It’s sample based and it sounds beautiful! Ableton Live Lite, also included, provides an easy way to write, record audio, and produce great sounding tracks.
Sound Quality: Sound quality doesn’t really apply to a keyboard controller since it actually does not produce sound of its own however, UVI Grand Piano & Analog Lab Lite, which are included, sound both realistic and outstanding.
Ease of use: Extremely easy to set up, just plug in the USB cable and you’re ready to go. I used Arturia V Collection, UVI Grand Piano, as well as several other soft synths and had absolutely no trouble in mapping any assignments.
Features: One of the features that I especially liked, is the seamless integration and functionality that the MiniLab MkII has when connecting to Analog Lab. I have Analog Lab 2 so I didn’t install the Lite version, but I’m sure the results are equally the same. All the instruments in Analog Lab Lite are pre-mapped giving you more time to focus on music creation instead of spending extra time in configuring all the Pads and Encoders. With the included UVI Grand Piano and Ableton Live Lite package, you have all the tools you need to get you up and running.
Bang for buck: Excellently priced and included are Analog LAB Lite, Ableton Live Lite, and UVI Grand Piano. Priced separately, you’d pay a lot more for all that’s included in this hardware package.
Overall: The MiniLab MkII is quite versatile for being only a two octave controller. It’s ideal for small studios without a lot of surface space or for those that prefer instant accessibility to all their electronic gear. Recommended for musicians of all genres that require a keyboard controller as part of their studio setup. I also highly recommend the MiniLab MkII to anyone just starting out in music production. It has all the tools you need to get you started without breaking your wallet.