Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 vs M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro: A 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 M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro.

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…

Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 vs M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro: A Detailed Comparison and Review

At A Glance:


Arturia KeyLab Essential 49




M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro


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Key Differences Between The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 And The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro

Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 vs M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro

The main differences between Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 and M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro are primarily found in their unique features and pricing.

Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 is a universal MIDI controller with software, boasting velocity-sensitive keys, a bank selector button, and weighted keys.

Its user-friendly nature caters to both beginners and professionals. This model is recognized as one of the best MIDI keyboards and controllers on the market. However, it is priced at approximately €399.

On the other hand, M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro, costing slightly more at about €499, offers a graded hammer action keyboard with aftertouch capabilities and assignable zones. It comes equipped with backlit, assignable, velocity-sensitive RGB pads.

This model also includes aftertouch that can be applied either globally or on a per-MIDI basis. Given its advanced keyboard features compared to its predecessor models, it is especially suitable for those interested in synth voices or experimentation.


  • The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 functions well for users needing versatile controls for various software integration.
  • The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro might be more suitable for users desiring superior keyboard playability courtesy of its graded hammer action feature.

Finally, another alternative such as the Studiologic SL88 Grand, which boasts of higher-quality keybeds along with wooden keys can be considered if you're willing to shell out more money for additional features such as weighted keys.

In conclusion, while both keyboards offer excellent value within their respective price ranges; your specific requirements regarding cost-effectiveness (€399 vs €499), desired functionality (‘synth control' versus ‘software integration') and tactile preference (‘hammer action' versus ‘non-weighted keys') should guide your decision-making process when choosing between these two models.

SpecificationsArturia KeyLab Essential 49M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro
Number of keys4988
Type of keysSemi-weightedFully-weighted, Hammer action
SoftwareAnalog Lab, Ableton Live LitePro Tools, Ableton Live Lite
Power SupplyUSB bus powerUSB bus power

What You Need To Know About Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 is a great tool for both beginner and seasoned musicians. It comes with a hybrid synth-piano feel 49-key velocity-sensitive keyboard, which responds to how hard or soft you play the keys, just like a real piano! But unlike a traditional piano, it's packed with modern features.

On this keyboard, you'll find lots of controllers – 1 clickable encoder, 9 encoders, 9 faders (30mm each), 6 transport switches for moving around your music software easily, and 4 command switches for controlling different settings.

Plus it has two wheels – one for pitch bending and another for modulation. On the side are also eight touch-sensitive pads that respond to pressure.

Now let's chat about software! The KeyLab Essential 49 comes with Analog Lab V which brings you more than 2000 synth sounds to choose from. And not just that – you can switch parts and browse presets smoothly within this standalone or plug-in operation system (VST, VST3, AU, AAX).

This magic keyboard also includes Ableton Live Lite for making music and UVI Grand Piano model D – a top-notch digital version of a grand piano sound!

What's really cool is the KeyLab’s smart-assigned controls function! It works perfectly with Analog Lab to help create your unique sounds faster without any hassle.

And if you're into exploring more sounds – there’s over 7000 preset ones powered by Arturia’s award-winning V Collection.

The goal? To enhance your music making process in an accessible way while removing all distractions! You get everything in one: responsive keyboard action; quick DAW commands; seamless browsing through presets.

So why wait? Check out the official page here: Arturia KeyLab Essential and start creating some awesome tunes today!

My 1 Month Review Of The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

My 1 Month Review Of The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

Initial Impressions

When I first came across the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49, I was immediately drawn to its sleek, professional aesthetics. Even before laying my hands on it, I could tell it was crafted with great care and attention to detail.

The Feel of the Keyboard

The moment I started playing, one thing became clear – the feel of this keyboard is unparalleled. The keys have a natural responsiveness that make them feel almost like an acoustic piano. They provide just enough resistance for expressive play, but are light enough for quick passages.

User Interface and Workflow

Navigating through the features and functionalities of the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 has been a breeze, thanks to its intuitive user interface. Its knob-based controls are simple yet effective and don't require a steep learning curve.

Assigning knobs and faders to different functions is so straightforward; it has really enhanced my overall workflow. And I cannot ignore how handy those transport controls have been! It's made recording sessions such an efficient process.

Durability and Portability

After about a month of use, one thing's for sure: this MIDI controller is built to last. Despite heavy usage – trust me, I've had some long sessions – it has held up quite well without any signs of wear or tear.

Not only that but also I appreciate its portability factor. It's lightweight yet sturdy design makes it easy to carry around without worrying about damaging it.

Here are some key highlights from my experience:

– Natural responsive keys
– Intuitive user interface
– Efficient control assignment
– Sturdy build quality
– Impressive portability

Synths and Software

With regards to accompanying software, let me just say—Arturia didn't hold back! The complimentary synths sound incredible and using them within the included Analog Lab software is seamless.

In conclusion,

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 has undoubtedly taken my music production game up several notches within this past month—it's reliable, user-friendly and packs in features perfect for any budding or professional musician alike!

What You Need To Know About M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro

The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro is a top-notch MIDI Controller that truly sparks creativity for music enthusiasts. It has 88 velocity-sensitive, graded, hammer action weighted keys with aftertouch and assignable zones. These features make playing virtual sampler instruments and synthesizer plugins a real game-changer!

If you're into beat production or soundboard triggering, this controller won't disappoint. It has 16 RGB backlit MIDI assignable velocity sensitive drum pads with Note Repeat. Yes, you can also use them for launching clips!

When it comes to the control of your music production, the M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro has got you covered. With its 8 assignable knobs & buttons and 9 assignable faders, it offers tactile MIDI control of virtual instruments, effect plugins and DAW controls.

But there's more! The controller is equipped with auto-mapping for DAW & plugin parameters; Smart Chord & Scale modes; an Arpeggiator; pitch & mod wheels; three foot switch pedal inputs and an expression pedal input; plus a 5-pin MIDI Output.

Now let's talk software: the M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro comes bundled with a complete software production package – that includes Pro Tools | First M-Audio Edition, MPC Beats, Ableton Live Lite – plus seven virtual instruments from AIR Music Tech and nine Akai Professional MPC Expansion packs.

Want to know more? Check out all the juicy details on the official page. This is definitely worth considering if you're looking for a studio equipment upgrade!

Who The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro

Who The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro

Who Is The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 For?

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 is a fantastic choice for both beginners and professionals. It offers a host of features, like velocity-sensitive keys, a bank selector button, and weighted keys that can significantly enhance the user's music production experience.

Why Choose the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49?

• The KeyLab Essential 49 is known for its user-friendly nature, making it incredibly intuitive to use. Its easy-to-understand interface makes it an excellent choice for beginners.

• With price at around €399, it offers excellent value compared to other MIDI keyboards in the market.

• This universal MIDI controller comes with software integration offering users versatile controls.

M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro vs Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

While both these keyboards are popular choices amongst music enthusiasts, they cater to different needs.

• The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro is slightly more expensive than the KeyLab (€499) but shines when it comes to advanced features like aftertouch (global or per-MIDI basis), backlit pads and assignable zones. This keyboard might appeal more to those interested in synth voices or experimentation due to its upgraded keyboard features.

However, if cost-effectiveness and versatile control for various software integrations are high on your priority list you may find more value in the Arturia Key Lab Essential.

Remember: When choosing between these two you should consider your specific requirements regarding cost-effectiveness, functionality (synth control versus software integration), and tactile preference (hammer action vs non-weighted keys).

Who The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

Who The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro Is For & Why You Might Choose It Over The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49

Who is the M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro for?
The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro is an ideal choice for intermediate to advanced musicians who desire a more realistic playing experience. It's particularly suitable for those who are keen on synth voices or experimentation, thanks to its graded hammer action keys and aftertouch assignable zones.

Why buy the M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro over Arturia KeyLab Essential 49?
Here are some reasons you might prefer the M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro over the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49:

Graded Hammer Action: This feature imitates the feel of an acoustic piano, providing a more engaging playing experience. If you're particular about tactile response, this could be a key selling point.
Aftertouch: The ability to apply aftertouch globally or per-MIDI enhances expressive control during performances and recordings.
RGB Pads: These velocity-sensitive pads provide visual feedback and open up new possibilities in beat production and sample triggering.

It's worth noting that with these added features comes a higher price tag – the M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro costs approximately €499, compared to €399 for the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49.

Meanwhile, if you're mostly interested in versatile controls for various software integrations rather than superior keyboard playability, you might lean towards the Arturia model. As always, your specific needs and budget should guide your decision.

Hey there, if the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 vs M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro comparison isn't quite hitting the mark for you, don't worry—I've got more comparisons you might find helpful.

Check out my post comparing the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 vs Akai MPC Studio or perhaps the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 vs Arturia KeyLab 61 Mk2 could be of interest.

If you're keen on exploring further options, why not have a look at my post on Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 vs Novation 61SL Mk3, or even dive into the comparison between Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 vs Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol S61?

With all these reviews at your fingertips, I'm sure you'll find the perfect product for your needs!


What specific functionality does the u0022bank selector buttonu0022 on the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 provide?

The u0022bank selector buttonu0022 on the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 is a handy feature that allows users to switch between different sets or ‘banks' of presets or controls. These presets can be useful in creating various types of sounds, effects, and music styles. This feature enhances the versatility and flexibility of using this MIDI keyboard, enabling users to easily access their preferred settings at any given time.

In what ways does the M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro's aftertouch capability enhance its performance compared with keyboards without this feature?

The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro's aftertouch feature is a key aspect that sets it apart from other MIDI keyboards. Aftertouch refers to additional modulation applied based on how much pressure is sustained after initially striking a key. This can lead to more expressive play as it allows for real-time modification of sound like volume swells or vibrato depending once keys are pressed down fully. u003cbu003eAftertouchu003c/bu003e thus significantly enhances musical expression and dynamic control for performers.

How do weighted keys contribute towards an improved playing experience, especially in a keyboard like Studiologic SL88 Grand?

u003cbu003eWeighted keysu003c/bu003e, often found in higher-end models such as Studiologic SL88 Grand, are designed to mimic the feel and response of traditional acoustic pianos. They have resistance which gives them a substantial feel under your fingers – heavier touch in lower register moving towards lighter touch in higher registers just like acoustic pianos – providing tactile feedback that many musicians prefer for expressive playing. Thus weighted keys improve not just realism but also dynamic control while playing.

In terms of price-performance ratio, how do these keyboards compare?

While both MIDI keyboards offer excellent features and user experiences tailored toward their target user bases, they differ notably in pricing with Arturia KeyLab priced at €399 and M-Audio Hammer at €499 respectively. The u003cbu003eKeyLab Essentialu003c/bu003e, though less costly offers comprehensive software integration making it an excellent cost-effective choice for those needing flexible controls whereas u003cbu003eM-Audio Hammer 88 Prou003c/bu003e, although slightly pricier provides superior playability due its graded hammer action feature worth considering if budget permits.

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

1. Understand Your Needs and Expertise Level

Purchasing a MIDI keyboard online may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't need to be if you have a clear understanding of your needs and level of expertise. As a beginner in music production, you may want to opt for something less complicated yet versatile, like the Arturia KeyLab Essential 49.

Its user-friendly interface and feature-rich design make it an ideal choice for newcomers. On the other hand, professional artists might find more pleasure in the advanced features offered by other models such as the M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro.

2. Consider Keyboard Size

The size of your MIDI controller can drastically affect your music-making experience.

Some people prefer compact keyboards that are easy to carry around, while others might lean towards larger units with full-size keys for more accurate piano playing. It all really depends on how you plan to use it.

3. Check For Weighted Keys

Weighted keys can significantly enhance your playing experience by mimicking the feel of an acoustic piano. This is particularly important for pianists looking for an authentic touch response. The M-Audio Hammer 88 Pro is one fine model which offers fully weighted keys.

4. Velocity-Sensitive Keys Are Essential!

Velocity-sensitive keys, which respond based on how hard you press them – much like an actual piano – should be on everyone's checklist when purchasing a MIDI keyboard online! These give musicians more control over their performance and aid in creating dynamic tunes.

5. Pay Attention To Extra Features

While buying your new piece of studio equipment, don’t forget to look out for extra features that could enhance your music production process!


Some models come with additional software bundles or integrated pads that allow drum programming and loop triggering which could expand your creative palette substantially.

6. Examine Customer Reviews

Before making any major purchase online – including buying studio equipment like a MIDI keyboard – always delve into customer reviews!

These can provide valuable insights into the product's reliability, performance quality, durability and customer service from the manufacturer.

7.Return Policy & Warranty Matters

Last but certainly not least: always check what kind of return policy or warranty comes with your MIDI keyboard purchase! Items such as these are investments; therefore, having extended warranty or at least a reasonable return period can save you from unnecessary discomfort caused by possible product malfunctions or dissatisfaction down the line.

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