Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 MK3

Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 MK3 Review: A feature-packed controller on a budget

French synthesizer stalwart Arturia has unveiled the latest addition to its popular KeyLab controller series – the KeyLab Essential 49 mk3. This compact yet feature-rich MIDI keyboard packs a punch, offering producers, beatmakers, and performing artists an affordable way to take hands-on control of their music production. The Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 mk3 is the newest MIDI device in line with the company’s controller series.


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Look & Feel

Housed in a sturdy plastic casing with Arturia’s signature wood side panels, the 49-key KeyLab mk3 keyboard features the company’s acclaimed synth-action keybed with no aftertouch. The velocity-sensitive keys provide a responsive playing feel, while the 16 rubber performance pads are ideal for finger drumming or launching clips.


An array of rotary knobs and faders offer tactile control over parameters in your DAW or external instruments. The custom-made knobs and sliders are smooth and precise, making it easy to dial in the perfect sound.


Although the plastic casing feels durable for travel and performance, the rubber pads lack tactile feedback when pressed. They are highly sensitive to touch, so you must be careful to avoid accidental triggering.


Compared to the more cushioned pads on keyboards like the M-Audio Oxygen Pro 49, the KeyLab mk3’s pads have a slightly stiff, rigid feel. The keys are also thinner and less raised than some comparable keyboards, with a shorter key travel distance. This minimizes the velocity range across the key span.


The keybed prioritizes simple playability over a realistic piano feel. While ideal for playing chords to complement a mix, it may not suit playing intricate piano parts.


Overall, Arturia opts for a static, precise touch, unlike M-Audio’s focus on emulating true piano performance. This comes down to personal taste but is worth considering if seeking an authentic piano-playing experience.


However, for producers and electronic musicians, the MiniLab mk3 offers responsive, durable controls.

Arturia Keylab Essential 49 Mk3Arturia Keylab Essential 49 Mk3


Years of technical improvements and refining their product lines have paid off for Arturia when it comes to usability and workflow. The KeyLab mk3 integrates seamlessly with any DAW, including FL Studio, Ableton, Logic Pro, Nuendo, and Cubase. The keyboard enables vast creative possibilities through its intuitive mapping capabilities.


Simply enable mapping within your DAW and you can start routing paths for the performance pads, dials, and sliders. Connect them to anything desired, hit record, and all MIDI and automation data will be captured in real-time.


Arturia has done an excellent job incorporating visual feedback directly on the device. An onboard bigger screen tracks every control movement, both on the keyboard and in your DAW. Tweaking sounds is streamlined, without the need to constantly look back to the computer.


Every action has been minimized to a single step, allowing for efficient operation directly from the keyboard. The refined workflow and seamless DAW integration make the KeyLab MK3 an extremely versatile production and performance tool.


Arturia Keylab Essential 49 Mk3



Arturia has outfitted the KeyLab mk3 with a range of standard and new features. On the top left are octave and transpose controls, MIDI channel selection, and a bank selector for the 16 velocity-sensitive performance pads.


You can assign any drums, synths, basses, or effects to these pads to start building your tracks. Ableton Live users will appreciate the unique Clip and Scene Launch functionality.


Beatmakers will enjoy the transport controls for playback, recording, tempo, loop functions, rewind/fast forward, and metronome. You can even save, quantize, and undo/redo beats on the fly. The large central screen displays your actions for enhanced production control.


Four function buttons switch between Track and Device modes and arm/select tracks. The 9 sliders and 9 knobs provide typical routing but also give quick access to your active track parameters – ideal for live performance.


New features benefit piano players too. The Chord mode assigns preferred chords to single notes. You can access combinations by long-pressing the dial or creating your own chords as the keyboard records your playing.


Scale Mode locks you into chosen scales, preventing wrong notes. The digital keybed shows the scale, and you can choose root notes, major/minor, and added intervals. Easily arpeggiate chords using the Arp mode, with adjustable tempo, mode, and gate.


The included Analog Lab V software provides a library of over 2000 pianos, synths, basses, drums, and effects. Lush instruments add color, clarity, warmth, and depth to productions. Search, favorite, and edit presets, adding effects like chorus, amp and delay.


“Prog” mode transforms the MiniLab into an Analog Lab controller for browsing and tweaking sounds. The main screen becomes a search function. Chord, Scale, and Arp modes enable real-time music creation.


On the back are USB-C, MIDI Out, and a footswitch connector. With creative features and seamless software integration, the KeyLab mk3 empowers music production and performance.


Included within are:

  • Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 mk3 unit
  • USB-C to USB-A cable
  • Analog Lab V software
  • Ableton Live Lite
  • Native Instruments’ The Gentleman
  • UVI Model D
  • 2-month Loopcloud subscription
  • Melodics subscription
  • Registration Card


The Essential mk3 is a compact, all-in-one keyboard, sequencer, pad controller, and beatmaker combined into a single tool. It is a hybrid of analog functionality and modern technology. The newly added features elevate it to meet Arturia’s reputation for innovation. Musicians are offered every feature needed at this price point.

Compared to analog devices, multiple units would be required to match the Essential mk3’s capabilities. As a digital device, it may not replicate the nuanced quality of analog gear. However, Arturia comes close, especially with the included analog-sounding library.

Currently available in black or white for €199, the Essential mk3 provides exceptional value. No other similarly priced multifunction keyboard offers comparable features and creative possibilities. It is great for beginners seeking an affordable option and professionals wanting key production features without overspending.

In summary, the Essential mk3 packs premium features into an accessible package. With versatile controls, seamless software integration, and an inspiring sound library, it empowers music creators. This compact keyboard upholds Arturia’s reputation for fusing innovation with affordability.



Have a closer look at the unit down below:

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Image Credits: Arturia



- DJ/Producer from the Netherlands. - Graduated from the Conservatory in Amsterdam. - Currently working as the technical writer at We Rave You