Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 vs Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2: Detailed Comparison and Review

You're ready to make a big purchase, but you're having trouble deciding between these two powerhouses, the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 and the Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2.

Trust me, I know how difficult that decision is… especially if you have no plans on whipping out that dreaded return postage label!

I've got you covered.


I've broken down the good, the bad and the ugly of these babies, so providing you have a clear idea of exactly what you plan on doing with it, you will have a clear idea on which one is best for you, by the end of this article.


Let get into it…

At A Glance:


Arturia KeyLab Essential 49





Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2



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Key Differences Between The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 And The Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2

Key Differences Between The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 And The Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2

The main differences between Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 and Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2 are their features, size, feel, durability, and price.

The KeyLab Essential 49 is smaller and more compact than the Mk2 model due to its fewer number of keys. Hosting only 49 synth-action keys,, it covers 4 octaves. This model has been reported to have a better pad feel because the pads stick out more compared to the Mk2.
Moreover, it comes with Analog Lab software, which includes an extensive range of synth sounds. In terms of price point, this model is comparatively less expensive at around $249 for a new unit.

On the other hand, The KeyLab Mk2 is available in both 49-key and 61-key configurations but offers additional features such as Arturia's Pro-Feel action which was also used in models like MatrixBrute and MiniBrute.

Reviewers have praised this series for having a better keybed feel than the essential version. While it is slightly larger due to these additional features, it stands out in terms of durability amongst similar category keyboards.

However, these added enhancements come with an increased cost – with pricing starting from $499.

  • Differences:
  • The number of keys (Keylab Essential has 49 while MK2 has options for either 49 or 61)
  • The feel of the pads and keybed (Essential reportedly has better pad feel while MK2 has better keybed feel)
  • Durability (MK2 is reported as being significantly more durable)
  • Price (MK2 is more expensive with prices starting at $499 whereas Essential costs around $249)

Your final choice will ultimately depend on your personal needs– whether you're looking for a specific keybed feel or size– along with considerations like durability requirements and budget constraints.

 Arturia KeyLab Essential 49Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2
Number of Keys4961
Type of KeysSynth actionSemi-weighted
SoftwareAnalog Lab, Ableton Live Lite, UVI Grand Piano Model DAnalog Lab, Ableton Live Lite, Piano V, Wurli V, Vox Continental V
Power SupplyUSB bus powerUSB bus power/AC adapter

What You Need To Know About Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 is a must-have for any music enthusiast or professional. This state-of-the-art keyboard comes packed with 2000 synth sounds from the included Analog Lab V software, offering a variety of tones for every mood and genre.

What makes this keyboard stand out is its hybrid synth-piano feel. The 49 keys are velocity sensitive, meaning they react to how hard or soft you play them, making your music sound more realistic and dynamic.

This keyboard also boasts many controllers to help you tweak your sound. There's a clickable encoder, nine encoders, nine faders that are each 30mm long, six switches for transport, another four switches for commands, a wheel each for modulation and pitch bend, plus eight pads that respond to touch and pressure.

The KeyLab Essential integrates perfectly with the Analog Lab software allowing you to select sounds, toggle through presets and switch parts easily. It offers standalone or plug-in operation compatible with most music producing softwares including VST, VST3, AU and AAX.

Are tons of presets more your thing? This keyboard has you covered with over 7000 TAE powered preset sounds sourced from Arturia’s multi-award-winning V Collection.

The aim of the KeyLab Essential is simple – make music accessible. It streamlines your production process so that finding your sound quickly becomes intuitive rather than a chore.

With its responsive keyboard keys coupled with easy-to-use DAW commands and quick preset browsing capabilities – it's all about providing an uninterrupted musical experience.

Lastly but importantly: Ableton Live Lite (a popular digital audio workstation) along with UVI Grand Piano Model D software are also included delivering even more value in terms of tools at your disposal.

If this sparked your interest don't forget to check the product at its official page here. The Arturia KeyLab Essential can truly enhance your music production journey whether beginner or expert alike.

My 1 Month Review Of The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 vs Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2

Initial Impressions

Alright, so it's been a month since I got my hands on the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49. Right out of the gate, I was pretty impressed. The build quality looked solid and it was visually appealing with its sleek black and white design.

The Feel and Playability

Now onto how this baby actually feels. One of the first things you'll notice about this keyboard is its semi-weighted keys. I have to admit, they feel great under your fingers, giving you that nice tactile response.

They're not as heavy as fully weighted keys (like those on a piano), so if you're used to synth action keys or just getting started making music, these are a good middle ground.

The pitch and mod wheels are also pretty smooth. They offer just the right amount of resistance—you won't accidentally send your sound soaring off into pitch bend oblivion.

The Control Options

I absolutely love having all these control options at my fingertips. This keyboard includes:

Nine faders: These can be assigned to anything, but they're particularly useful for controlling track volume when mixing.
Nine rotary knobs: Again, highly customizable. Great for tweaking synth parameters.
Eight RGB back-lit performance pads: These are very responsive and perfect for drum programming or triggering clips.

The Software Integration

One thing that really knocked my socks off was how easily this controller integrated with my DAW (Ableton Live). Setting up was a breeze thanks to Arturia's MIDI Control Center software which made mapping controls super easy.

The keyboard also comes bundled with some top-notch software including Arturia's own Analog Lab; where you get access to literally thousands of classic synth sounds.

A Minor Quibble

Here’s where I get real though – one small gripe I had was with its size. It’s slightly bigger than other 49-key controllers out there which can be an issue if you have limited desk space like me.

However, given all the control features packed into it plus those semi-weighted keys—it's kind of worth sacrificing a bit of desk real estate.

In summary, after spending a month with the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 – it has become an integral part of my studio setup. For any producer looking for an affordable yet feature-rich MIDI controller—I’d say go for it!

What You Need To Know About Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2

The Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2 is a superb choice for digital musicians, given its premium-grade 61-note keybed. It's the same keybed used in Arturia’s MatrixBrute synthesizer!

With this keyboard, you can easily express every detail of your music because it has velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch. Plus, it also includes a modulation and pitch bend wheel for added live play control.

You'll find some amazing features on this keyboard. There are 16 RGB backlit pads perfect for finger drumming and triggering samples.

It also comes with 9 large faders and 9 rotary knobs that are really useful when you need to control automation and other parameters. One unique feature is the magnetic overlays which can be used to mark the 16 transport controls – no more fumbling around when you're playing!

What's even better is that the Arturia Keylab MKII comes with a V Collection 9 Software Bundle worth Rs. 50,000 as an exclusive offer for Indian customers! You’ll have over 8,000 sounds from vintage keyboards and synths at your disposal.

Another great thing about the Keylab MKII is its seamless integration with various digital audio workstations (DAWs) such as Ableton, Reason, FL Studio, Logic etc. This means less hassle and more time making music.

The design of this keyboard is both stylish and practical. Its sturdy aluminum chassis combined with real wood side panels gives a pleasing aesthetic appeal without compromising on durability or portability.

When it comes to connectivity, the Keylab MKII shines again by featuring sustain and expression inputs along with three configurable AUX inputs ideal for both studio use or live performances. Here's what sets it apart further: modular connectivity offering connections for CV pitch, gate & two modulation controls making it equally suitable for external synths & Eurorack modules as well.

In conclusion, if you are serious about your music production or performance then investing in the Arturia KeyLab Mk2 is definitely worth considering.

My 1 Month Review Of The Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2

My 1 Month Review Of The Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2

Initial Impressions

From the moment I first laid my eyes on the Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2, I knew I was in for a treat.
The keyboard looked shiny, professional and extremely inviting. Let's not forget the impressive packaging that assured me of a quality product right from the get-go.

The Build Quality

Straight up, let me tell you – this stunning piece of gear boasts of excellent build quality.
A month into using it and it feels just as good as when I first unboxed it, still exuding that new gear smell.
The keys? Those semi-weighted beauties are a delight to play on; they provide just the right amount of resistance for my liking.

The Features

What struck me most about this apparatus after a month's use, is its extensive feature set.
It's not just another MIDI controller – no sir! The KeyLab 61 Mk2 comes packed with an array of features that make creating music truly enjoyable.

– To start with, there are plenty of faders and knobs which have proven themselves to be highly responsive and accurate overtime.
– What really took me by surprise were the 16 RGB back-lit performance pads. They're not only responsive but also ideal for drum programming or triggering samples.
– The DAW command center is something every modern musician would appreciate.

The Software Bundle

To top off these awesome features came an even more exciting software bundle – Arturia’s Analog Lab and Ableton Live Lite.
If you're anything like me who enjoys experimenting with different sounds, then you'll love having 6000 synth sounds at your disposal straight outta box!
Ableton Live Lite is another great addition for composing music directly.

User Experience

One thing remains certain after using it extensively over a month – its user experience is spot-on.
The navigation remains intuitive throughout use. And let's talk about integration! This bad boy integrated seamlessly with my DAW setup – didn’t take more than few minutes to get everything up & running.

In Conclusion…

So here's what all this boils down to…
The Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2 isn't just any ordinary MIDI controller.
This powerful beast has definitely leveled-up my studio game in ways more than one.

Is there room for improvement? Sure.
No product is ever perfect. But hey, this one comes pretty damn close!

Who The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2

Who The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2

Who is the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 for?
The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 is ideal for musicians seeking a compact, lightweight yet high-quality MIDI keyboard. This model is particularly suitable if you're looking for a cost-effective option that still offers robust functionality.

It's an excellent pick for those who appreciate synth-action keys and don't mind having fewer keys compared to larger models.

Why choose the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 over the Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2?

Budget-Friendly: With the price starting around $249, it makes a great choice if you're budget-conscious.
Compact Size: The smaller footprint of this model makes it ideal for musicians with limited space or those who travel frequently.
Key Action: If you prefer synth-action keys, this model may be more to your liking than Mk2 versions which feature Pro-Feel action.
Better Pad Feel: According to some reviews, the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 has superior pad feel because they stick out more.
Analog Lab Integration: The included Analog Lab software offers thousands of synth sounds at your fingertips.

Choosing between these two models depends on what matters most to you as a musician– whether it be keybed feel, size, durability or budget. The main difference in functions between these two models stems from their number of keys – with only four octaves (or 49 keys) in this model compared to larger versions.

Who The Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2 Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

Who The Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2 Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2: Who's It For?
Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2 is best suited for musicians, producers and studio engineers who place a high value on quality, durability, and authenticity. This MIDI keyboard caters especially to those who prefer a larger key range and a better keybed feel.

Why Choose Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2 Over Arturia KeyLab Essential 49?

Durability: The Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2 is significantly more durable than many other keyboards in its category, including the Essential 49.

Key Range: The KeyLab Mk2 offers both 49-key and 61-key versions. This gives you more key range options compared to the Essential 49's fixed 4 octaves (49 keys).

Better Keybed Feel: According to some reviews, the Mk2 provides a better keybed feel compared to the Essential version.

Familiarity: If you're already used to or prefer Arturia's Pro-Feel action from their MatrixBrute and MiniBrute models, you'll find this feature in the Mk2.

However, these premium features come with a higher price tag – MK2 series starts at $499 compared to $249 for an Essential unit. Ultimately, your decision will depend on your specific needs and budget.

If the comparison in this review of Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 vs Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2 didn't quite help you find your perfect match, don't worry. I've done a bunch of other similar product comparisons that might be useful for you.

For instance, my post comparing the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 to Novation 61SL Mk3 could offer some insights.

If you're intrigued by Native Instruments, check out my comparison of the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 with Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61.

Or perhaps you're considering staying with Arturia but looking at other models – then my Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 vs Arturia KeyStep Pro post might fit the bill.

Lastly, if Nektar Impact has caught your eye, I've also compared the Artutria KeyLab Essential 49 with Nektar Impact LX88+.

So feel free to browse through these reviews – there's definitely something for everyone!


What specific features does the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 offer in terms of its synth-action keys and how does it compare to the MK2 series?

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 offers u003cbu003e49 synth-action keysu003c/bu003e, which are lighter and faster than weighted or semi-weighted keys. This makes them ideal for fast, repetitive playing styles commonly found in electronic music genres. It also includes an Analog Lab software with thousands of synth sounds, providing a wide range for digital music production. However, compared to the MK2 series, some users have noted that the keybed feel is not as good.

How do users perceive the durability of Arturia KeyLab Mk2 as opposed to other keyboards in its category?

Users have reported that u003cbu003eArturia KeyLab Mk2u003c/bu003e is significantly more durable than many other keyboards within its price range. This can be attributed to a robust build quality incorporated into both their 49-key and 61-key versions. As such, this MIDI keyboard series offers long-lasting use value for musicians who require equipment that can withstand heavy or prolonged use.

In what ways do prices differ between the Arturia KeyLab Essential and Mk2 models given their respective features?

When it comes to price comparison, u003cbu003ethe Arturia KeyLab Essential model is cheaperu003c/bu003e, retailing at around $249 for a new unit while pricing for MK2 starts at $499. Despite this difference in cost, both models offer good value depending on individual requirements due to their varied features – like number of keys (for example: 49 vs 61), keybed feel etc.

If my preference inclines towards a better pad feel over additional functionalities provided by MK2 series, should I choose The Essential model?

Yes! If your preference leans more towards a better pad feel rather than additional functionalities then u003cbu003eThe Arturia Keylab Essential modelu003c/bu003e could be an appropriate choice as some reviews mention it has better pad feel compared to MK2 series since they stick out a bit more.

Buyer's Guide: Important Things To Consider & Look Out For When Buying A Midi Keyboard

1. Identify Your Needs as a Musician and Producer

For a musician getting into music production, it's vital to identify your needs before buying a MIDI keyboard online. Are you a beginner searching for an essential tool to start your journey, or are you an expert looking at upgrading your gear?

For instance, if you're less experienced in music production, the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 might be ideal for you. On the other hand, if you're more advanced and looking for extensive control capabilities and features, the KeyLab 61 Mk2 is an excellent option.

2. Look for Easy Music Software Integration

You don't want to spend hours figuring out how to integrate your new MIDI keyboard with your music software. That's why it's crucial to choose one that boasts flawless ease of integration with various types of music software.

Arturia keyboards are known for their remarkable music software integration capabilities, making them some of the best choices on the market.

3. Consider Digital Piano Functionality and Keyboard Feel

If having access to authentic digital piano sounds is critical for your music style, ensure that any MIDI controller you consider has this feature set. Also pay attention to what musicians call “keyboard feel”.

Premium models like the KeyLab 61 Mk2 mimic the feel of traditional pianos with their velocity-sensitive keys – offering soft or loud response depending on how hard you strike them.

4. Investigate Product Reviews and User Feedback

Online communities are invaluable when shopping online – especially for something as complex as a MIDI controller or keyboard controller! Go through customer reviews carefully and examine user feedback about device performance in real-world situations.

5. The Versatility of Synthesizer Sounds

The versatility is one major factor when buying a MIDI keyboard online–particularly when it comes down to synthesizer sounds availability! Check out whether any prospective purchase offers robust synthesizer functionality like Arturia does – particularly if electronic music production is your forte!

6. Keyboard Size Matters: Choose According To Your Space And Portability Requirements

When choosing between different models like KeyLab Essential 49 (with 49 keys) versus KeyLab 61 Mk2 (with 61 keys), remember that size matters.MIDI Controller's portability , fit in studio space & number of octaves available at hand can significantly impact usability & comfort during long sessions.

7.Check For Added Software Packages

Check if there are added extras such as bundles software packages offered by manufacturers along with their product – this could be an exciting bonus!

For instance- Arturia’s ‘Analog Lab’ Software Bundle packs more than six thousand classic synthesizer sounds into its library-an enormous amount of extra value bundled along with their premium MIDI keyboards.

Choose wisely based on these guidelines; remember what works best for others might not necessarily serve perfectly well for YOU- because every musician’s requirements are unique!

About Author

Arielle P

Arielle P

Songwriter | Music Producer | Engineer.

With a background in music production and a strong passion for education, Arielle is dedicated to helping emerging artists navigate the music industry. She has worked with a diverse range of artists, from indie rock bands to well-known hip-hop and grime artists. Arielle's unique approach to teaching focuses on empowering artists to take control of their brand, ensuring they retain creative ownership throughout their journey. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting with new sounds in her home studio and sharing her insights through music production tutorials and workshops.

📧 Email Arielle