Arturia MiniLab, USB Controller Keyboard, 25 Mini-Keys velocity sensitive, 16 Encoder, 16 Pads (two banks of 8 pads/buttons), Touchstrips for Pitchbend and Modulation, Sustainpedal-Connection, USB-Connection, bus-powered, works with iPad via Camera Connection Kit (not included), incl. Analog Lab Software license with 5000 Sounds from the Arturia Synthesizer and Keyboards - requires download from Arturia, Dimensions: 373 x 191x 50 mm, Weight: 1.03 kg
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5 of 40 feedback textsRead all reviews
A small box that packs a big punch!
First of all, the build..it's really good and solid, though..like any electrical item, I wouldn't go hopping it off the floor to see just how solid it is, but..in general..it's a nice solid build that comes in just over 1 kg.
It's worth mentioning I had read some horror stories online regarding the Arturia MiniLab, issues that included computer crashes..freezing DAWs and dodgy encoder responses..but I didn't encounter any issues at all personally.
You need to be connected to the internet to set the MiniLab up and get it authorized correctly. Regarding this, I think their website could be a bit more "clear", as it took a while to find the up-to-date software needed..and, to be honest, I found the experience a little frustrating. But once I completed that stage of the setup, everything else was fine.
I should point out that I updated the unit's firmware the moment I had it connected to my PC, which is a Windows 7 64bit system with an i7-3770 3.40GHz CPU and 32 GB RAM..so that might have made a difference..not really sure. But I would suggest this might not be the best option to go with if you have an older, more slower machine.
The only thing I did find that supported one of the above mentioned reported issues I read about had to do with the encoders. For some reason they don't really turn in sync with those that appear on your screen. The ones on the actual hardware need to be turned a little more, which could be an issue for those working with this live..but in a home studio it isn't really much of an issue at all, but worth mentioning for obvious reasons.
On this point, you should also be aware that the unit comes with 2 settings..and if you have the unit set to the wrong setting, then the encoders on screen will act in a really erratic way..something you really need to keep in mind..and perhaps the basis for many of the encoder issues you might read about, as I did.
On the plus side, the encoders are very well spaced, which is great when compared to other controllers on the market these days.
The hardware unit comes with the Arturia AnoaLog Lab included in the price..and where the hardware unit may or may not have issues..the Analog Lab shines and makes everything else worthwhile.
There are just over 5000 analog synth presets with this program, that do an extremely good job of capturing the true analog feel of a number of classic synths, such as the Mini V, Modular V, CS-80 V,J upiter-8V and Prophet 5 to name a few...all of which sound really rich and great.
Another thing about this which is a small thing, but something really cool, is the midi control center software that comes with it let's you map settings from your PC and then keeps these stored on the hardware itself, which makes it easy to switch between computers and programs. It will even work with iPads via the iPad camera connection kit!
All in all, this really is a great little bit of kit.. both useful in a homes studio setup or for out-and-about, as it is clearly designed with portability in mind. It's feature-set is pretty good considering it's size and relatively low price tag. The Analog Lab software (..which needs to be downloaded from the Arturia site) is outstanding and only added to the value of this item.
In short, I LOVE it and love using it every day. I would certainly recommend it to anyone. For the price, I think you would be hard pressed to find something similar.
Not the best experience with Arturia
These sounds have the usual problem of a limited set of patches, in that half of them are often difficult to find a use for, some are good but hampered by the lack of editability that AnalogLab allows us (only some aspects of a sound can be changed, e.g. filter resonance and LFO speed). So the Analog Lab software also has problems of scope, and you'd probably be better off getting Arturia's software-only products such as the VST Jupiter 8 etc. for better patch editing options. You'll also be spared long battles with the controller since they are not hybrid instruments.
The mini keys take a bit of getting used to. They are a bit spongy, but I expect that is a problem with all these cheap controller keyboards, so I'll give Arturia the benefit of the doubt in this respect.
I know that my old-school approach to music making, using dedicated hardware, is comparatively rare these days, but SparkLE got me into the idea that I could involve a computer in my recording process. Sadly the MiniLab tells me that I need to stick with bulky dedicated hardware, and the legions of postings online about obscure faults you only get with computers tell me that I will relegate my computer to supplying drum sounds synched to my multitrack and forget the idea of recording in a DAW, in my experience it is just too fraught with system problems.
I will be returning this to Thomann and trading in for an Akai MPC keyboard that I will then gift to a nephew in the hope that he'll thank me for not giving him a hybrid Arturia device (their MiniBrute is great, no computer involved!).
I would recommend that you give this a miss. If you already manage to get SparkLE working on your system perhaps you'll have better luck than I do, but a system that works on the same reliability as a lottery win is, for me, a bad idea.
On a Budget
I am not a particularly good keyboard player, and mostly wanted the MiniLab to be used in conjunction with my DAW's to create full synthesized tracks for more electronic music styles - so they smaller keys and restricted range was not really a problem to me, though I would advise that if anybody is looking at this and wants more creative freedom in terms of piano - look elsewhere.
When my MiniLab was delivered I was pleasantly surprised, I had seen only good reviews for it and remained skeptical based on it's price, but it's a very solid keyboard. Not to mention the Analog Lab software it comes with, which is good quality.
Now, the setting up process (licensing etc.) was slightly tedious, but nothing too difficult or laborious - and was worth it in the end.
Overall I would definitely recommend the Arturia MiniLab to anybody who is looking for a smaller, MIDI keyboard with some great additional software.
(It is also worth pointing out that this keyboard can be used in a live setting too, which was a bonus).
Just what I needed
Had no problem setting it up with Logic Pro X, comes with a great VST as well (not my favorite but it's always a plus having all these analog presets) !
A lesser Arturian legend
Then I read every pdf and webdoc & forum post in sight regarding the Arturia installation hoop-las and woes. I next registered the Minilab itself on Arturia's site, downloaded whatever midi and synth software they suggested on the registration webpage, installed it on Win7 fine. My USB eLicenser is NOT the new i-Lok version, but a proper old school Steinberg one which actually lists Arturia on it's packaging. I chose to put the my Arturia software e-license authorisation on the dongle. Fired up the software, it all works fine. Haven't needed Arturia support so can't comment on how useful/useless/caring/aloof it may be.
The Minilab package is a no brainer really, as it includes a 5000 sample selection of Arturia synths too. Effectively you're buying the software (it costs more on it's own) and they're chucking in the Minilab hardware controller into the bargain. Minilab integrates seamlessly with the Arturia software. Really nice.
£ price - guideline price only
|sales unit||1 piece|
|available since||June 2013|
|in this category||Rank 15|
|at thomann.de||Rank 2795|
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