Arturia, NI or something else for 88 note

Hi, I’m struggling to decide which 88 note controller to buy, I appreciate this is Arturia’s forum, and I appreciate that what one person likes, another might hate, but. would like honest opinions if you can.

My main, well only keyboard connected to my PC currently is NI S61 mk2.

In another room I also have a Casio PX 870 digital piano.

I’m finding that 61 notes is not enough for me, coming from my piano to my S61, I miss the extra notes.

At the same time, when I’m playing certain sounds, especially organ, I want a synth keybed not a weighted one.

I own both the V collection and the Komplete collectors edition and I do love the way the S61 mk2 is integrated with both the NI and the Arturia products.

While when I initially bought my first (mk1) NI keyboard I thought the lights would be nothing more than a gimmick, they are very handy when using drums or instruments with articulation.

I can’t have more than 2 keyboards, and want one to be 88 note. Both must have full size keys.

The 88 note will go beneath my desk where my current 61 note is (or possibly a new desk, but that’s a subject for another time) the desk will need some rearranging as the 61 note (or maybe shorter) has to share with keyboard and mouse, and Maschine.

I have various choices. My short list currently is:

Arturia Keylab 88
Keep my NI S61

NI S88
Keep my Ni S61. (although I think I read somewhere that I can’t use two S controllers at the same time).

NI S88
Arturia Keylab 49/61

Studiologic SL88 Grand or maybe the non grand version
Keep my NI S61

Studiologic SL88 Grand or non grand
Arturia Keylab 49/61 which would mean a new way of doing things without my NI keyboard

And probably a load of other options too.

I’m not interested in discussing here the problems people are having with their NI s88 mk3 keyboards, I’ll decide whether to go the mk2 or mk3 route when I decide which pair of keyboards I’m going to end up with.

I’m not that far off retirement age and do suffer from arthritis. I used to own the Kawai MP10 which was a superb keybed but I found that due to my arthritis it would cause pain when I played for a while, it was probably the nicest weighted keyboard I ever owned, but too much pressure needed to play. I now have a Casio PX870 that I can play forever without it hurting.

On YouTube reviews they mention the Arturia 88 needs more pressure than the NI 88, but for all I know the NI one is much lighter than my Casio and the Arturia needs about the same strength to play as my Casio. Trouble is, it’s hard to find shops with both set up.

I do like being able to browse and select sounds from the NI keybed, if I went with an option that gets rid of NI altogether, unless Arturia or Studiologic can be set up to do similar (not bothered about lack of instrument pictures) I think I would miss that a lot, then again I didn’t have that option for years and managed perfectly.

If I had the NI 88, I would get more lights showing for articulations which would be nice, that said, not having lights isn’t a deal breaker.

I imagine I would be using the 88 note most of the time, just using the 49/61 when playing organs etc.

That’s about it, I’ve spent days watching reviews on YouTube and I simply can’t decide which route to take.

I realise this is a sort of how long is a piece of string question, I just wondered if any of you are in similar situations and what you use?

Also be nice to hear from people using Komplete with Arturia key lab, how well you get on with it?

If it makes any difference, my DAW is Studio one pro


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Ideally you really need to be able to try them. I’m from a generation where music stores existed and we could try a range of products before we bought. Now it’s about trusting the reviews and opinions of complete strangers and ‘influencers’ on the internet.

I sure miss ‘my’ days.


Yep, I’m from the same era and I miss it dearly.

Playing Devils advocate, I can sort of see why music shops don’t do this.

I went to my local music store as a youngster for the Korg Poly 6 release. (Andertons in Guildford, UK), they had virtually every current synth available on display.

But there wasn’t 100s to chose from.

Now just looking at Arturia

Mini Lab 3
Keylab Essential 49
Keylab Essential 61
Keylab Essential 88
Keylab 49
Keylab 61
Keylab 88
Keystep 37
Keystep pro
Keystep pro Chroma
Beatstep pro
Polybrute Noir
Rackbrute 3U
Rackbrute 6U
Minibrute 2
Minibrute 2S
Drumbrute impact
Microfreak Stellar
Microfreak Vocoder

Native instruments have 7 midi controller keyboards then there’s their Maschine and Maschine plus, then their Traktor hardware etc etc

There’s Novation, Akai, M-audio, Akai, Studio Logic, Korg, Roland and a fair few others.

The reality is, it would be impossible for 95%+ of bricks and mortar stores to have more than a fraction of what’s currently available on display in there stores.

So I understand why they don’t. I know Andertons will get products from their warehouse if you give them notice, sadly I live hours away from there now.

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I have a S88 mk2, but I’m likely selling it. Both that and the Arturia are way way to sluggish-feeling for my taste, compared to my acoustic piano. I find this to be a problem in general with weighted keybeds, they kind of feel like the keys move through mud or something, even though they’re not “heavy” per se, they feel “sluggish”, hard to describe.

So far, the only wighted keybed I’ve really liked is the Kurzweil PC88 (which doesn’t feel very piano-like at all, but I liked the action) and some of the nord piano keyboards (don’t know what specific keybed/tuning that is).

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Thankfully, I’m coming from a digital piano and haven’t touched an acoustic one for about 30 years.

I know we can never really beat an acoustic (well not at the moment) but as I haven’t had that luxury, going from my Casio to probably the NI hopefully won’t be that different.

Did you find the Arturia was heavier to play than the NI?

My current thought is getting Arturia 49/61 and NI 88, I do use Kontakt a lot so getting the NI 88 makes sense.

Also, teething issues aside, as the MK3 allows me to use Kontakt without Komplete Kontrol being loaded, that is also tempting me.

The only niggle I have is justifying the price to myself. Part of me thinks I’d probably be getting a much better quality keyboard if I went for say the Studiologic Grand which I can get for £650 compared to £1050 for the NI mk3. (Buying the mk2 second hand will be about a similar price to buying the sl88 grand new). But would I miss the Komplete integration. Would really like the Arturia as my second keyboard as I like having faders, especially for organ sounds.

So really it all comes down to whether paying an extra £400 to get Kontakt stand alone functionality is worth it or not, and whether I could soon get used to going back to the pc screen browser which really widens my choice of 88 note, or whether I need to keep using one of the mk2 or 3 NI controllers as I’m so used to using it to browse my sounds.

The other problem I have is space. My music setup is at the other end of our living room, next to my electronics setup (my other hobby) and I’m still working out how to accommodate my 49/61 keyboard and still be able to access the PC keyboard and mouse, only reason I’m even considering the 49 over the 61 is that it will give me a bit more space on the desk. Pics show what I mean (88 note will go where 61 note currently is)

Was quite a while ago I compared, so don’t really remember. But I don’t remember either being better/worse, the primary reason I went with the S88 was KompleteKontrol. (Which, by the way, now works with generic midi controllers as well,. Obviously you don’t get the browser display/integration, but I don’t use that anyway, pretty much only use the KK mapping to tweak/automate VSTi parameters).

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Hi. I own a keylab 88. It’s really a great controller for Arturia virtual synths and Analog Lab control, no question about it. It might e more confusing to adjust it for other devices but of course you can program anything using the user modes. The keyboard dynamics looks fine to me (but I’m not an actual piano player) however I find the touch is quite heavy and I have to hit the keys very firmly even for light touch sounds. Of course you can adjust the velocity curve but not sure about how it would be fine for you considering your arthrisis.

You should really test it in a store before buying.


Unfortunately no shop within a sensible driving distance has the Arturia keylab 88 mk2 in stock, Amazon only has it from 3rd party sellers at a greatly increased price.

Reading and watching further reviews today, especially the last sentence in the paragraph below from

“The 500-pound gorilla in the room is, of course, the keys themselves. This is always a matter of personal taste and playing style. Truth be told, we definitely felt that while the MkII has a sturdier, more robust-feeling keybed compared to the Mk1’s, it is definitely a heavy action. Besides synth playing, this reviewer still does Hanon piano exercises near daily (yes, on a piano), and still felt that the action was a bit heavy”

This has made me think the heavier action will be too much for me so I’m going to rule it out.

Have decided to buy the Arturia Keylab 61 mk2 tomorrow.

There’s a NI s88 mk3 in a shop 15 miles away so providing I like the action, I will buy that at some point in the next month.

The keylab s61 is 15mm thinner (height) than the NI 61, as said the NI 61 on my desk was too high.

So I’ll have a few weeks to work out where it’s going, my current thought (which may well change) goes as follows.

The pullout stand/table with my 61 note is fully adjustable both in length and height.

i could raise the actual desk somehow so it’s higher but the keyboard and mouse is still comfortable to use.

I could then put my new 88 note on the pull out table and rase the height so I have about 5mm clearance between the top and the desk.

i could then buy a similar table shorten it, place it underneath the other table and put the keylab 61 on it.

Not sure exactly how well that would work but I could play around with a tape measure over the weekend and see if it’s possible.

Another option is to do as above but instead of buying another extendable table, mount a sliding shelf to the underneath of the desk and put the Keylab on that (or possible the mouse and keyboard on it and see if I can lower the desk slightly)

on the plus side, I own the previous version of Piano V, presuming the latest version is the version that comes with the Keylab, that will be a nice bonus.

I did try selling both my Digital Piano and my NI s61 mk2 on Facebook, scammer after scammer responded, after about an hour I deleted both listings and put on Gumtree and EBay

New member here, new KeyLab 88 owner myself thanks to Santa Claus, lol. Just want to know more about your pull out desk under your other desk. DYI, or did you purchase it somewhere? Think something like that suit me well in my lab for my keyboard. Thanks in advance!!

I bought it from eBay quite a few years ago

I think I searched for over bed table or over bed laptop table, something along the lines of this but it’s not quite the same

Thanks much! Knowing it was store bought, I’ll go searching on Amazon or eBay and see what I can find. Thanks again!!!

solved :slight_smile:

Arturia Keylab 61 mk2 black.

Built angled shelf for Keylab.

New adjustable monitor arm.

New laptop stand for PC keyboard.

Native instruments S88 mk3 being ordered Friday which will sit nicely under the desk.


Looks great!

Even better now


Hey! Are you liking the weight of the keys on your new NI S88? Compared to the arturia KL 88 MK2, is the NI S88 lighter or heavier?

Hi, sorry I can’t answer that as there wasn’t an Arturia Keylab 88 for me to try out anywhere within a sensible driving distance of where I live.

However, a lot of the reviews I read commented on how the Arturia was heavier to play, that is what made me decide to get the NI S88 mk3 as my 88 note.

I’m very happy with how the NI s88 feels, that said, I just sold a Casio PX 870 digital piano and considering I paid over £300 less for the PX870 and that it contains an upright piano stand with built in speakers, triple pedals etc, and my PX 870 was over 3 years old, in all honesty the PX 870 felt much much much more like playing a real piano keybed whereas the S88 feels like I’m playing a weighted keybed.

Not sure if that makes sense or not, can’t think how else to explain it.

I like it, I’m happy with how it feels, it just feels completely different.

Having had both the Keylab mk2 and the NI S mk3 for a few weeks, if I was only having one keyboard, I think I’d chose the Arturia, just because of the amount of additional controllers on it compared to the very minimalist looking S series…

Again, very very happy with my S88, it’s just after using both the S88 and Keylab 61, I can see how great NI could have made their mk3 series.

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