Keylab 49/61/88 MKIII?

As many, I’m one of those who have been waiting for the MK3 version of the Keylab range. I had a 49 note midi controller from Nektar but it let me down a year ago, the USB socked just went dead, it actually broke up from within!
But to the main point, Arturia Keylab. The present MKII 49/61/88 note boards look quite convincing already. So, what would an MKIII version have over MKII? Hardly more built quality, as the MKII has aluminium housing and the non-wobbly knobs/sliders are considered top quality for midi controllers. Recently I watched a YT review on the Keylab49 MKII where the blogger said he considered almost all other 49 note controllers on the market made out of plastic, built like a “childrens toys” compared to Arturia’s Keylab, which in his opinion had more of the genuine synth look…

So, if we compare this to one of the main competitors, Native Instruments - Komplete control MKIII keyboards, what is Arturia likely to come up with on a new MKIII range:

  1. New hires color touch display
  2. Midi2 or even Midi out1+2 (ref. to Keystep Pro)?
  3. USB C socket
  4. Arpeggiator perhaps…
  5. What else? MPE, Polyphonic aftertouch…?

Is this worth it to wait for the MKIII? For all this? YES!.. BUT… Depending what you want from a midi controller. Well, let’s say they decide to downgrade on the built quality from aluminium to (hard) plastic, that would not go down easily with me. But if the built quality will remain same as MKII, then the price is bound to get up quite a bit, you need to dig deeper in you pockets.

Final point. Personally, if I look closely at the Keylab49/61 MKII, it ticks all the boxes for me as my main DAW source is Analog Lab, so I might as well end up with the MkII version!

I would appreciate some input, especially from those who still own Keylab 49/61 MkII? How has it been, still good?


I have the Native Instruments S88 mk3 and the Arturia Keylab mk2,

In a lot of ways I find the current Keylab to be far superior to both the current and previous versions of the Native instruments S series (used to have Native instruments s61 mk2).

I can go into Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol software and assign the Arturia Keylab to be the same as the 8 knobs on my S88 in seconds. Plus I can choose whether to use a knob or fader. Then I still have a load of knobs, faders and buttons to assign to what I want.

Sure browsing for sounds on the S88 is very nice and sure any instrument properly designed for Native Instruments latest NKS means it’s easy to jump to different sections of say the CS80 in seconds, meaning those 8 knobs can control far more then you might think.

But had Native ‘Instruments bought out their latest mk3 keyboard and it had all the controls my Keylab mk2 has, I would have had the perfect keyboard.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my mk3 S88 and over the coming year they plan a load more things for it, but I also love my Keylab mk2, I’ve only owned both since ‘January this year and so far have zero regrets from buying either.

I’m not really sure what Arturia could add to the 61 key mk3 to make me sell my mk2 (as in me seeing the mk3 specs, drooling and thinking “want, want, want”), polyphonic aftertouch, while I have it on the S88, having it on a synth style keybed would make more sense than having it on my weighted S88 (I usually use the Keylab for synth style sounds), likewise with my bad eyesight, a big colour screen giving me crisp clear info would be nice, but would both of those (or just one of those) give me the desire to upgrade, to be honest I’m not really sure.

If they decided to downgrade the build quality or numbers of buttons / faders etc, that would be a huge “no” for me.

I know the mk2 Keylab has been out for a few years, but why change something that works just for the sake of change. They would need to add a lot of useful things to make me consider it, and then it would depend on the price.

Your suggestions,

  1. New hires color touch display
    Yes very much needed, not to display pretty pics, but to display crisp clear text

  2. Midi2 or even Midi out1+2 (ref. to Keystep Pro)?
    Needs to have Midi 2 really to make it future proof, more things that have Midi 2, the faster everyone will start using it.

  3. USB C socket
    Couldn’t care less, as long as it works I’m happy with whatever, most of the problems Native Instruments have had with firmware updates to their new S series have been found to be caused by USB C problems on certain PCs

  4. Arpeggiator perhaps…
    If people aren’t using DAWs etc I can see a possible need, I have read complaints about the mk2 lacking it, but many of the V series synths have arpeggiators as do DAWs etc

  5. What else? MPE, Polyphonic aftertouch…?
    A lot of people want polyphonic aftertouch, its the new in thing, I had it on my Ensoniq SQ80 in the late 80s and they weren’t the first. That said, it is one thing that might make me upgrade at some point.

MPE would be nice

But, MPE, Arpeggiator, USB C and Midi 2 are not things that would currently sway me one way or another, mind you, I’m probably not Arturia’s average user.

That said, if they did announce the mk3, I’m 60 this year and could easily be tempted to get it for my 60th birthday :smile:


Many thanks for your input HobGoblyn, much appreciated! :slight_smile:

I had the MKII 61. I thought the channel pressure (aftertouch) was very poorly implemented, so it would be nice to see some big improvements there (including poly-aftertouch). I would like to see the faders moved to the left side of the keyboard, where they could function as organ drawbars (to be used with my left hand while playing). My wish list would also include endless encoders that have a LED ring around each indicating the position (like the old Nord Lead 3) and a small display beneath each knob and fader (like on the new Korg Keystage). Any improvements to the key action are always appreciated (quieter key action is important too). My current gold standard for a semi-weighted key action is the Casio CT-S1.


My MKIII wish list ranked in order of importance.

  1. Poly aftertouch. This one is non-negotiable. Many if not most of the current Arturia software instruments respond to poly aftertouch commands. The fact that Artruia does not currently produce a controller which can send poly aftertouch is almost criminal.
  2. Large hi rez color touch screen. Think small tablet built in to the top. Arturia, your controller displays suck. All of them. Its 2024. Enough said.
  3. Some level of NKS support. If I can buy an NI controller that automatically maps knobs to both NI soft synths AND Arturia soft synths, shouldn’t Arturia’s controllers do the same?
  4. DAW control that supports Mackie MPU mode. Every controller including the NI controllers claim ‘DAW support for brand A B and C with support coming soon for brands D E F and G…’ when all of those DAWs will happily work with anything that speaks MPU mode right now.
  5. Ribbon control
  6. Some MPE capability. The previously mentioned ribbon control would be great, as would support for key wobble and finger position/up down key slide.

I haven’t mentioned price point. I totally understand that all those wish list items will had cost to an already pricey piece of gear. It doesn’t matter. If you build it, they will come.

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@jsholz I doubt Arturia will be allowed to put NKS support into their hardware. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect they’re not allowed. Otherwise I’d expect to see numerous other manufacturers also release NKS keyboards.

One of the main reasons people buy the NI keyboards is because of their NKS integration. If other hardware manufacturers were also allowed to, I suspect the sale of NI S MK3 series would plummet.

NI haven’t made their keyboards and Komplete Kontrol Arturia compatible, they’ve allowed Arturia to make Arturias instruments NKS compatible.

I agree it’s one sided, but I can’t see what you want happening.

I would also love it to happen.

I love to both see these conjecture threads, and to contribute to them. I do wonder though if they are ever read by those within Arturia who are ‘in the know’ and they either think “boy are this bunch in for a pleasant surprise” or “Ah, sh*t, we’re about to miss the target by 100 yards.”


Arturia is announcing an event on Tuesday April 9th…!

Disappointing (for me) that there was no MkIII KL’s announced at this event. I really feel the current MkII’s are incredibly long in the tooth (six years old in June) and are missing features which premium midi controllers should now have, not least polyphonic aftertouch.

I’ve been faithful to Arturia for 10 years now but there’s only so much waiting I’m prepared to do when competitors already have products out there with the functions I want to see, chiefly NI.

Arturia just seems to have too many irons in the fire these days for a small company whose roots are in developing world-leading software instruments and tightly integrating those instruments with once state-of-the art midi controllers. But while I’m lamenting the rust that’s ravaged their KeyLab range there’s other pockets of users lamenting the lack of investment in the various Brute products etc, and it’s not possible for Arturia to please us all. Jack of all trades, master of none.

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Too many irons, they have… I agree to that… BUT… I think Arturia is doing the AstroLab thing on purpose, it’s a as much a “live-style” instrument as it is a live performance instrument. The next move must include Keylab Mk3 with integrated AnalogLab and polyfonic after touch, they will bury the competition on such a move. At least, that’s my feeling. For such a giant step, it’s worth the wait. For me, Arturia is the saviour of the analog sound, after the Japanes turned to digital… (maybe apart from Korg). Brute range is fine from my perspective, these are classic analogue istruments, you can’t upgrate on those forever… Therefor, I see this as a very POSITIVE move by Arturia. Like you, I’m still waiting for the big KL Mk3 announcement! :slight_smile:

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