Both KeyStep and MiniLab from Arturia are popular keyboards that are designed specifically for making music. Besides sequencing, they can also be used for controlling MIDI. KeyStep has more keys, but MiniLab provides more assignable controls. So, which model is better for you? Read the comparison between Arturia KeyStep vs MiniLab below to find out!
What we will discuss below include:
– The size and weight of each unit
– The keyboard features on each model
– The additional controls available on each model
– The connectivity features of Arturia KeyStep vs MiniLab
– The power requirement of each model
– Whether Arturia KeyStep or Arturia MiniLab is better
Size and Weight
In general, both of these two models are quite portable. They are quite compact and lightweight. So, you can easily bring them along when traveling. See also: Audient iD14 vs iD22.
Arturia KeyStep has a longer yet slimmer shape. This model measures 19 inches long, 6 inches wide, and 1.5 inches thick. The long shape may make it difficult to fit into a small bag. However, it can still get into a large backpack. The weight is about 3 lbs.
Arturia MiniLab is not as long, but the body is wider. Still, the shorter body means that it is easier to fit into a backpack. It measures 14 inches long, 9 inches wide, and 1.5 inches thick. It can get into an average laptop compartment of a typical backpack for daily commuting. The weight is just a bit heavier at 3.2 lbs.
As a matter of fact, Arturia KeyStep vs MiniLab are actually equipped with similar key beds. They both use the company’s Slimkey key beds, which are supposed to be lightweight and responsive. However, there are two important differences that set them apart.
First, the obvious one, the number of keys. Arturia KeyStep comes with 32 keys. There are two full octaves and a half of an octave on the left. With these many keys, you can easily use the keyboard for playing a simple piano part, making arpeggios, and controlling MIDI.
Meanwhile, Arturia MiniLab only has 25 keys, or two full octaves. You can still use it for similar purposes, but it won’t be as flexible and versatile as the KeyStep. After all, this model is geared more towards sequencing and working with a DAW.
Second, the feature of the keyboard. This is very important, but unfortunately many people have failed to notice the difference before it is too late. Arturia KeyStep has velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch. In other words, the keys can still leave sounds or effects for some time after you stop pressing them. This feature is essential in some software applications for making music.
Meanwhile, Arturia MiniLab only has velocity-sensitive keys without aftertouch. Some people who purchased this unit without reading the specs have been disappointed. Since aftertouch is needed for the full potential and capabilities of some software applications, Arturia MiniLab won’t work well with those apps. Still, if you don’t actually need the aftertouch feature, this model remains as a viable choice.
Arturia KeyStep is equipped with some on-board controls that can enhance your workflow. It has a built-in sequencer/arpeggiator that has 8 memories (the top buttons are mostly for controlling the sequencer/arpeggiator), the Chord Play mode for playing chords or arpeggios with just a single key, and octave shift buttons for changing the octaves up or down quickly.
On the left, there are two capacitive strips for controlling the pitch bend and modulation.Plus, there is a Hold button for a sustain pedal operation. A Shift button is available for setting Gate and Swing times of the sequencer/arpeggiator, while the top Tap button is for entering rests and note ties.
Arturia MiniLab come with a bunch of more controls. There are similar capacitive strips for the pitch bend and modulation, as well as octave shift buttons. However, on the top, you can find 16 rotary encoders, two of which are clickable. These rotary encoders are very handy for controlling your DAW. They already have pre-mapping for Analog Lab Lite and Ableton Live Lite, but you can customize them as needed.
In addition, there are 2 banks of 8 velocity and pressure sensitive pads with colorful backlighting. So, you can have control over up to 16 drum sounds or audio clips. The colored backlighting allows you to identify easily whether you are currently playing drum sounds, launching clips, or tweaking presets.
Arturia KeyStep can connect to a wide range of devices. It has decent connectivity options, including a USB-MIDI port for a computer or the MCC editor, MIDI I/O ports, a sustain pedal jack, and CV/GATE outputs that are compatible for vintage and modern external gear. There are sync I/O ports, too, with sync select switches for internal, USB, MIDI, and clock.
Arturia MiniLab has much fewer connectivity options. There is only one USB-MIDI port for connecting to your computer. In addition, there is one sustain pedal jack. It doesn’t have dedicated MIDI ports or CV/GATE outputs, so it won’t work with external gear. Nevertheless, it is sufficient if you only need a simple controller that connects only to your computer.
Last but not least, when choosing between Arturia KeyStep vs MiniLab, keep in mind that they are powered in different ways. Depending on your needs and purposes, you may need a USB-powered device.
Arturia KeyStep is not USB-powered. It requires a dedicated power outlet and a power adapter that provides DC voltage. Hence, it is not very practical for traveling. But, if you only use it at home, this is not a problem.
Arturia MiniLab is USB-powered. In other words, it draws power from the USB connection to your computer. This is convenient for traveling because you don’t need to worry much about finding a power outlet and a suitable power adapter.
Arturia KeyStep vs MiniLab
|Arturia KeyStep||Arturia MiniLab|
|Key features||- KeyStep is a new breed of portable musical tool combining the functionalities of a keyboard controller with a polyphonic step sequencer to control both analog and digital devices||- The most responsive keyboard experience in its category
- 500 of the V-Collection 6 presets / 21 Keyboard Instruments and Synthesizers / fully mapped right out of the box|
|Customer ratings*||4.2 out of 5.0 stars||4.5 out of 5.0 stars|
|Best deal*||Save Money Please click here||Save Money Please click here|
NOTE : Product prices, availability, ratings and save money information are accurate as of the date/time indicated on post time (as seen right bellow the tittle) and are subject to change. Any price, ratings, availability and save money information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
All in all, Arturia KeyStep is more recommended. This model has better features. It comes with more keys. The velocity-sensitive keys also have aftertouch. It has a built-in sequencer/arpeggiator and more connectivity options.