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Arturia adds an 88-key option to its KeyLab Essential mk3 line of MIDI controllers

There’s a semi-weighted keybed, eight drum pads and plenty of knobs and sliders to control virtual instrument parameters.

Arturia

Arturia just announced the KeyLab Essential 88 mk3, a larger sibling to the previously-released Essential 49 and 61 MIDI keyboards. As the name implies, this is a full-size 88-key controller that allows you to play the entire note range of a piano at the same time. There’s no need for changing octaves here.

Just like the other entries in the KeyLab Essential line, the 88 mk3 is intended to be a budget-friendly alternative to the flagship KeyLab controllers. The build is solid, with semi-weighted keys, though slightly less premium than the standard KeyLab 88. There’s also a reduced number of hands-on controls when compared to the flagship, though there’s still plenty to tinker around with.

To that point, the KeyLab Essential 88 mk3 includes the same screen as the smaller keyboards, for navigating presets. There are also nine knobs and nine faders for controlling parameters across Arturia’s line of softsynths.

Additionally, you get built-in control scripts that work with a number of popular DAWs, like Ableton Live. This allows you to do things like mix tracks using the built-in faders or stop and start recordings from the controller itself.

There's also a contextual button below the screen that offers even more control over your plugins and virtual instruments. You may notice there’s only eight drum pads, but the KeyLab Essential line lets you switch to a second bank for the full 16. The keyboard features a hold function, new scale and chord modes and an arpeggiator.

Finally, this keyboard comes with plenty of software to get started with. The included bundle features Native Instruments’ iconic The Gentleman piano, the UVI Model D recreation, a two-month subscription to Loopcloud and a subscription to the Melodics tutoring software. Like always, you also get Ableton Live Lite and Arturia’s Analog Lab V.

We don’t know how much this will cost yet, but we reached out to Arturia for pricing information. As a comparison, the 61-key KeyLab Essential mk3 costs $249 and the 49-key version comes out to $199. Also, last generation's KeyLab Essential 88 costs $379, so expect it to fall somewhere in that range. The KeyLab Essential 88 mk3 will be available in both black and white.