After extensive research and comparison of MIDI controllers in the market, I’ve finally settled on the Arturia MiniLab MK II as my go-to portable music production controller. The MiniLab MK II is an incredibly versatile, compact, and well-built controller that shines in various music production environments. In this review, I will discuss its features, technical specifications, and how it compares to other popular MIDI controllers.
Features and Technical Specifications
The Arturia MiniLab MK II is a 25-key USB MIDI controller with velocity-sensitive keys and a slim profile, making it ideal for music producers on the go. The keys are mini-sized but have a satisfying and expressive feel to them. It comes with 8 RGB backlit drum pads, which are not only velocity-sensitive but also pressure-sensitive, allowing for more dynamic performances.
There are 16 rotary encoders (two of which are clickable) that can be easily mapped to control various parameters in your DAW or virtual instruments. The controller also features a capacitive touch strip for pitch bend and modulation, offering a smooth and precise control experience.
The MiniLab MK II is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems and includes an extensive software bundle with Arturia’s Analog Lab Lite, Ableton Live Lite, and UVI Grand Piano Model D.
Comparison with other MIDI controllers
In terms of size and portability, the MiniLab MK II is comparable to the Akai MPK Mini MK3 and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3. However, the build quality of the MiniLab MK II is far superior, with a solid metal casing that feels much more robust than the plastic constructions of its counterparts.
The 25 mini-keys on the MiniLab MK II have a better response than the keys on the Akai MPK Mini MK3, making it easier to play fast passages and intricate melodies. The Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 has a slightly better keybed, but the MiniLab MK II’s drum pads and rotary encoders make it a more versatile option overall.
When it comes to software integration, the MiniLab MK II stands out with its seamless integration with Arturia’s Analog Lab Lite. This gives you access to a vast array of high-quality synth and keyboard sounds, a feature that the Akai MPK Mini MK3 and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 cannot match out of the box.
Best Uses for the Arturia MiniLab MK II
The Arturia MiniLab MK II is perfect for music producers and composers who need a compact and portable MIDI controller without sacrificing quality and functionality. It’s also an excellent choice for those who want a controller that can be easily integrated into their existing setup or for beginners looking for an affordable yet powerful MIDI controller with a bundled software package.
In summary, the Arturia MiniLab MK II has proven to be a versatile and reliable MIDI controller that outshines its competitors in build quality, key and pad response, and software integration. It’s the perfect tool for musicians and producers looking for a compact, portable, and powerful controller for their creative endeavors.