Arturia is embracing the joy of smallness with its latest cheap MIDI keyboard, the MicroLab. A super-portable, 25-note ‘board, this promises several features that set it apart from the rest of the mini crowd.
Let’s look at the velocity-sensitive keys first. These are of the same slim design as those on Arturia’s KeyStep controller, which we found to be reasonably playable, given their size. A Hold button can be used to add sustain, which is a nice touch, while a push of the Shift key takes you into Chord mode. This enables you to program a chord and then play it back with a single finger.
Modulation and pitchbend are covered by dedicated touch strips - these can also be used to browse and select presets - and you can switch MIDI channels using the dedicated knob and numbered keys.
There are also several features that have been included with an eye on portability. There’s a rubberised shell to protect the MicroLab from bumps and scrapes - and to ensure that the keyboard doesn’t slip about when you’re using it on a plane or train tray table - and the keys are slightly recessed so that nothing sticks out beyond the case. This should make it easier to pack the MicroLab away in a backpack.
What’s more, there’s a recess that can store the supplied USB cable, and because this doesn’t stick out when it’s plugged in, you can push the MicroLab right up against other gear.
Three software titles are included, too: Analog Lab Lite, which contains 600 classic synth, organ and piano presets; the UVI Grand Piano Model D, a sampled Steinway instrument; and an 8-track version of Bitwig.
Rather than release Yet Another Mini Keyboard, it looks like Arturia has really thought about the MicroLab, and at $79/€79, we think it could end up being a big seller. Offered in three colour options - black, blue and orange - it’s available now. Find out more on the Arturia website.