Review: MiniLab MkII by Arturia


Arturia’s MiniLab MkII is an affordable, sturdy controller with a lot of great features and a focus on portability . . . plus it’s just fun to play.

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Review: MiniLab MkII by Arturia


With Arturia MiniLab MkII controller, Arturia set out to create a high-quality portable keyboard controller and has succeeded. The controller combines two octaves of a ‘slim’ key keyboard, RGB backlit performance pads, 16 rotary knobs, and included a bit of software with the kit.

This affordable controller is very sturdy, comes with lots of control features and made for portability.

MiniLab MKII sells for $129 from Arturia



For several years now I haven’t left my zip code without a mobile production rig.  I have tried to keep my mobile rig very simple using just a MacBook Pro, a couple external USB drives, a mini keyboard and headphones. I choose my current mini keyboard based on it’s very small footprint. My mobile production setup isn’t fancy but it’s gotten the job done and I’ve completed some scores for national ad campaigns and tracks for films with this little setup.

That said, I’m always on the lookout for something to improve my mobile rig, especially looking at what additional changes might give me more midi controls so I could sculpt my music at input stage and spend less time clicking around the mouse.

That is why I was very excited to hear about MiniLab MkII from Arturia. The footprint of the Minilab MkII is just a bit smaller than my current MacBook Pro. It is constructed of a hard plastic that feels very sturdy and the additional controls ( 16 knobs, and 8 drum pads) feel like they are designed to stand up to the demands of traveling in a briefcase.  Luckily, my nicely padded laptop carrying case has just enough room to fit the both my Macbook Pro and the MiniLab MkII.


The MiniLab MKII’s footprint is just under the size of my MacBook Pro

The keyboard contains 25 velocity sensitive “slim” keys. I’m not a classically trained pianist myself so I find working with mini keys an acceptable solution and have no problem trading down in size from a full sized keyboard for a mobile production setup.


MiniLab MkII comes with UVI Grand Piano, Ableton Live Lite and Analog Lab Lite software

The MiniLab MkII comes with software including UVI Grand Piano, Ableton Live Lite and the highlight in my opinion Arturia’s Analog Lab Lite software. The Analog Lab Lite software is a slimmed-down version of Arturia’s Analog Lab 2.

I became a fan of Arturia’s Analog Lab 2 software earlier this year when I reviewed the V Collection which contains the software.
The main difference between the two versions is that Analog Lab Lite comes with 500 presets compared to that of the 5000+ that you get with the full version.

The MiniLab MkII seamlessly integrates into controlling Analog Lab as the knobs correspond to the controls of the software. Arturia also offer an upgrade path from the Analog Lab  Lite to Analog Lab 2 for just $29 US.


The MiniLab MKII is supports software control for PC, Mac, Laptop and iOS systems

I was also pleased to see that it was just as easy to control other sample libraries dynamics, vibrato, expression etc by using the MIDI Learn functionality.

I was pleased to see there was a sustain port in the rear of the keyboard, although I would have loved to have seen an expression port as well. So many composers like myself rely heavily on using both modulation and expression to sculpt our performances that the lack of pedal expression input will have me taking another pass at my midi data or grabbing my mouse.

I also would have personally liked to have seen the USB and Sustain pedal connect in the side of the instrument as my OCD really wanted the controller to line up flush to my MacBook.

I can see how the MiniLab MkII is going to be a welcome addition to my mobile rig. Only time will tell how well the controller holds up in transit but like I mentioned before, it feels very sturdy. I can also see how I might utilize the MiniLab MkII in the studio. I bet the knobs and pads will be a welcome addition to composers and music makers. For me personally, I may set the MiniLab MkII up as a second controller dedicated to triggering key switches – especially useful as more and more software developer use lower keys for articulation switching and the like.




The MiniLab MkII contains a 25 note velocity-sensitive slim keyboard, 8 RGB backlit performance pads,16 rotary encoders and has octave up and octave down buttons for full range supports as well as the ability to store 8 user presets.

The controller connects and is powered through USB and is USB/MIDI class compliant (no drivers needed). The controller connects to PC, Mac, Laptop or to iOS.

Additionally the MiniLab MkII contains a Sustain pedal jack, Kensington Security Slot

Instrument size : 14 x 8.7 x 2 inches (355 x 220 x 50mm)
Instrument weight : 3.3 lbs. (1.5 Kg)

MiniLab MKII sells for $129 from Arturia


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