As a producer, you are always trying to find new and more efficient ways to create. My journey started with using Protools as my main DAW to produce instrumentals. As many of you know, Protools is an incredible tool for tracking, mixing, and editing, but it leaves something to be desired regarding its MIDI interface.
However, the experience is not user-friendly, and the tracking part of recording MIDI is clunky and outdated. So, in turn, I searched far and wide for something to alleviate this problem, and that’s when I stumbled upon my tool of choice while interfacing with Protools and Ableton Live. The Arturia Minilab Controller.
This article will cover the features of the Arturia Minilab, its technical specifications, and sound quality. So you can make an informed decision.
The Minilab’s key features
The Arturia Minilab offers seamless integration with any DAW of your choosing and has been my daily driver for a few years. I will show you why the Minilab is a must-have for anyone that needs a portable MIDI controller and software synth library on a budget.
There are countless Arturia products out there, and they all function well. Arturia’s name is synonymous with high-quality products at a low cost. The Minilab is one of the best and most affordable products in the Arturia line. Not only does the Minilab function as a highly portable MIDI controller that can fit in almost any type of backpack or tech bag, but it also comes with a free download of Arturia’s Analog Lab, which offers classic synth emulations such as the Roland Jupiter and Sequential Prophet.
AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3
AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3
The Minilab offers eight pressure-sensitive programmable pads that work with two banks, which brings the total number of pads to 16. Although the pads are not quite up to par with Akai’s MPC line, they hold their own.
I have used this unit for over three years, and the pads work as well as the first day I bought the unit. In fact, like the MPC, the Minlab’s pads have adjustable velocity curves. The Pads also offer a nice color-backlit style that can be mapped with different sounds and functions.
The Minilab also offers keys that are a pleasure to play on with adjustable velocity. It also has touch-sensitive pitch control and mod wheels that function surprisingly well. I had a blast using the two touch-sensitive pads and found them to have less wear and tear on my hands and fingers than an analog wheel.
In addition to the touch-sensitive wheels, 16 programmable pan pots offer an amazing slight resistance to the touch that feels professional and very comfortable. As a bonus, Arturia has put a ¼” input for an expression or sustain pedal to get that “natural” sounding bliss out of your pieces.
While performing on the Minilab, there are little to no lag issues with the various presets. The Minilab performs just as well with third-party and proprietary software like Protools and Ableton Live. The Minilab was made for today’s multi-tasking producer/engineer, who is always on the move. Setup of the Minilab is as easy as a single connection with the included USB adaptor, which is not a new concept. Still, the size and button layout make the unit integrate perfectly with any setup.
The Minilab is the ultimate portable MIDI controller with a fully functioning 25-key set. At 14 inches wide and 9 inches deep, the Minilab will fit into any standard backpack or carrying case. I have had times while traveling with this bad boy, packed up, and forgot I had it in my backpack.
And with just a simple plug into your laptop, you are ready to work. The controller is also lightweight to the tune of 3.2 lbs, which is the weight of most laptops so that you won’t be bogged down with this beauty. That will boost the overall score of this Arturia Minilab controller review.
Arturia Analog Lab
Now comes the real value of this package. Arturia is known for its high-quality products, but I think its software emulations are often overlooked in its product line. The Analog Lab, offered with the Minilab, is a free download that can greatly expand your synth library. Offering over 5000 preloaded, adjustable sounds, they create a situation where you are never limited to having “the same ole” sounds when creating.
In fact, the analog lab’s sound quality and vast selection allowed me so much flexibility that I find myself working exclusively with this plug-in. It is an all-in-one software synthesizer that can modulate almost any sound, from classic to new age to contemporary. The Minilab is a powerhouse for a small price.
I highly recommend Arturia’s Minilab to people on a budget and professional musicians and producers alike. The Minilab is versatile enough to keep up with any type of recording environment, and the Analog Lab software sound is warm and adaptable to any type of recording. If you have yet to try this product, it is a must-add for anyone that loves to record music.
If you’re looking for more information on the classic minilab, here is an in-depth tutorial of the blessed thing called MiniLab Tutorial from the Arturia YouTube channel.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about the Arturia Minilab.
Is the Arturia MiniLab worth it?
Yes. Arturia, in our view, manufactures some of the greatest MIDI keyboard controllers. It’s been several years since the initial MiniLab release, which was a big success. The MiniLab MkII expands on that success by making several enhancements.
Is it possible to utilize Arturia MiniLab with an iPad?
Yes. The Minilab MkII is iPad compatible. The iPad itself can also power it. You’ll need an Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit to utilize it with your iOS smartphone.
Is it possible to utilize Arturia with FL Studio?
Yes. After signing into Arturia Software Center, you must “activate” the Arturia plugin. To do so, click on the “Activate” button. The Arturia Software Center’s Sync button will obtain any updated licensing information from your Arturia account.
The Arturia Minilab is a powerhouse at a small price. It is diverse and adaptable so that you can apply its use to any situation. The look and feel of the keys are comfortable to the touch, and the unit is also durable. What makes this unit stand out is the physical midi controller performance and the downloadable Analog Lab that can be used with any genre when producing.
This article covered the features of the key features of the Arturia MiniLab. Here are some key takeaways:
- The Arturia Minilab offers seamless integration with any DAW.
- Arturia’s name is synonymous with high-quality products at a low cost.
- The Arturia Minilab is a powerhouse at a small price.
- The Minilab is versatile enough to keep up with any recording environment.
So, are you planning on getting the minilab? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on home recording. Thanks for reading, and never stop making music.