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KeyLab 88 MKII Review – an Authentic Professional Full-Size Piano Keyboard for the Film Composer and Live Performance by Arturia

Thorsten Meyer

Senior Member
KeyLab 88 MKII Review – an Authentic Professional Full-Size Piano Keyboard for the Film Composer and Live Performance by Arturia

KeyLab 88 MKII Review – an Essential and Must-Have Keyboard by Arturia
In this review, we are taking a look at the full-size piano-like KeyLab 88 MKII Keyboard. We published the review of the KeyLab 49 MKII in 2018 with the outlook for an MKII Version of the 88 Key controllers. Now in 2019, the MKII version of the 88 Keys was released by Arturia. Arturia did send a review unit with no strings attached.

Many other smaller MIDI controllers include 25, 49, or 61 keys. A full-size Keyboard is the central controller of your setup when you score in the DAW. When getting a 88 Keys midi controller, you should look for a piano feeling when playing it. That piano-like character is driven by the applied keybed. Arturia selected with the 88 MKII version the excellent Fatar Keybed.

Arturia’s KeyLab 88 MKII offers an impressive workflow enhancement and advanced software integration via its DAW Command Center. Through the onboard CV/Gate connectivity, your favorite analog synths will integrate seamlessly with the Keyboard.




KeyLab 88 MkIIShipment – What is included
When the unit is delivered, you receive a rather heavy and large package. The package includes:

  • KeyLab 88 MkII unit
  • USB cable
  • Laptop plate
  • Musical sheet holder
You can style up your Keyboard with Retro Hardwood Legs.



Hardware
First announced in June 2019 KeyLab 88 MkII (see KeyLab 88 MkII ready for Summer of Eurorack Love) the full 88 Keyboard supports the full range of notes you can play on a traditional piano. Back in 2018 Arturia updated their smaller Keyboard range and launched KeyLab 49 MKII and a 61 MKII keys version. This year in 2019, it was time to release an updated 88 Key version.

These days 88 key Midi controllers are hard to get, most are produced in a smaller size with fewer keys. 88 key MIDI controllers are best suited for composer and musician who want the full access to their instruments. Several virtual software instruments are fine with fewer keys. In the end, it is down to personal taste.

My personal setup in my studio
My current central midi controller is the S88 from Native Instruments. Comparing the Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII to the KOMPLETE Kontroll S88, I can report that the keybed of the Arturia Keyboard feels better. Arturia has the edge over the Native Instrument high-end controller. Looking back at the past months there are plenty of NKS features on my Native Instruments S88 which I never use. The included fader and pads on the Arturia find more uses these days. Arturia is the clear winner here. I plan to replace the S88 with Arturia’s Keyboard.

Read the Full Review on StrongMocha:
KeyLab 88 MKII Review – an Authentic Professional Full-Size Piano Keyboard for the Film Composer and Live Performance by Arturia

 
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IFM

Senior Member
I have the original KL88 and am sick of the noisy keybed. How quiet is this one?
 
I've had real quality control and longevity issues with my Keylab88 (mkI). I do work a lot, so it gets a lot of use, but the first one I bought had to go straight back because there were some issues with the keys sticking. Exchanged it and then that one died 6 months in. Velocity sensors in the keys went. After a pretty long period of silence from Arturia, I they finally responded and shipped me a new one. When they got around to it they ultimately handled the situation well. There were clear improvements to the design/quality control by the time they sent the replacement. But, a year later the replacement unit started to slowly die. The LCD screen it dead. Some faders produce false data, making them useless. One of the toggle buttons (the one I use for Solo mode in my DAW) is complete toast. And some of the velocity sensors have started to go again.

It's a pretty nice keyboard when it worked, but at that price it should really last longer than a year. Again, no reponse from Arturia when I've contacted them. I do a few films and usually a season of TV (cable season) per year. Keyboards used to last me 10 years (Kurzweil was my last that lasted that long). Now they don't even last a year. Really frustrating.
 
It's a pretty nice keyboard when it worked, but at that price it should really last longer than a year. Again, no reponse from Arturia when I've contacted them. I do a few films and usually a season of TV (cable season) per year. Keyboards used to last me 10 years (Kurzweil was my last that lasted that long). Now they don't even last a year. Really frustrating.
Why did you switch away from the Kurzweil / will you consider going back to a Kurzweil? I wonder if the build quality of a high end workstation is higher and would last longer? I tried to research different options between workstations, electric pianos and 88 key midi controllers before I bought the NI S88 MKII. In the end the software/hardware combination won for me but I worry a bit about longevity and whether I’d prefer a different keyboard. The reality is that while NKS and controlling logic from the S88 is nice, there’s never enough knobs and I can (and do) control everything with the mouse.
 
The Kurzweil (K2600X) just eventually died after 10+ years. When I originally got it I was using it for sounds, etc. Gradually things went increasingly to the computer in those 10 years. So, when replacing it I just wanted a good controller. I had a Studio Logic VMK 188+. It was generally good, but after 3 years or so the faders and velocity sensors started to go. Also didn't like the mod and pitch together. Thus began the quest for a reliable controller with good features and feel..... Still looking. Might dive into the Physis K4
 

IFM

Senior Member
Got the MkII and it is a much better design than the original even though I was used to the feel of the MkI. Now I need to find some place to store it as a backup.
 

chimuelo

Star Of Stage & Screen
I’d buy one if they had sequencing onboard to go with the CV feature set.
Surprised really that it wasn’t included.

Appreciate your review.
 
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