Arturia MiniLab mkII Review 2021

BPM Skills is reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

midi controller cartoon image red backgorund

Arturia MiniLab MkII

If you’re looking for a high-quality, well-built, compact 25 key midi controller to take on the road or use in the studio that doesn’t take up too much room then this Arturia minilab mkII review has all of your bases covered.

Arturia is known for building high-quality controllers, that have a unique design, and are built to last and the Arturia minilab Mk ii is no exception.

Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 Slim-Key Controller

Buy on Amazon

Pros 

  • High build quality
  • Low price
  • Slim and compact built
  • 8 pressure sensitive pads
  • 2 banks
  • 16 endless assignable rotary encoders
  • 2 touch sensors strips for the mod wheel and pitch control
  • Analog lab lite VSTs

Cons 

  • No external power input
  • Only midi over USB

Arturia Minilab Mkii Features

At first glance, the Arturia Minilab MkII could be mistaken as just another midi controller in what feels like an infinite sea of mini midi controllers to choose from. So why consider this mini midi controller as your new studio and travel companion?

First things first, if you are considering buying a controller for mobile use, to drag around in your backpack on planes, trains and automobiles you are always facing the possibility that you will snap off a rotary encoder, knock a mob wheel or even just drop the damn thing from your lap while crafting bass lines at the bus stop.

Luckily Arturia has thought of a few of these situations during the design process of the re-release of the Minilab mk2.

  • Hi build quality on a low budget
  • Plug and play
  • Stealth design

Arturia MiniLab Mk ii – Hardware

The first step Arturia has taken in creating this rugged, portable midi weapon was totally removing the mod and pitch wheels and replacing them with touch-sensitive strips.

Now with the absence of the traditional mob and pitch wheels protruding from the controller the minilab is now a breeze to slide in and out of your backpack and you have one less thing to worry about damage when you’re in transit.

Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 Slim-Key Controller

Arturia Minilab Mk ii – Encoders

We all know that playing with the rotary encoders on some of the midi controllers on the market can feel cheap and flimsy. Arturia has heard your cries and can feel your pain, the fat, grippy high-quality rubberized knobs on the minilab mk2 make you feel in control of our sounds when getting your effects freak on.

You no longer have to tweak with the tips of your fingers and worry about getting your knuckles getting caught up in your midi controller like a 19th-century Chinese finger trap.

The 16 endless rotary knobs that live at the top of the Arturia minilab mk2 to are nicely spaced apart allowing fat-fingered producers like me the ability to get in and tweak and manipulate sounds, effects, and parameters without accidentally adjusting the other setting on the neighboring rotary knobs.

Pressure Sensitive Pads

The 8 velocity sensitive pads above the synth styled key section are slightly bigger that Novation’s Launchkeys  RGB pads and are just big enough to tap out finger drumming and beat patterns with flow and ease.

The 8 pressure sensitive pads are accessible by 2 banks, which allows users to assign and access 16 pads from the controller itself without having to change instruments or refer to the laptop via the mouse. The 8 pads give you the ability to trigger midi notes, launch clips (Ableton Live Lite) and tap out drum patterns right from the controller.

Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 Slim-Key Controller

Minilab Mkii – Slim keys

The 25 note keys on the Minilab Mk ii are great for playing out bass lines and chords. Let us not forget that this is still priced as an entry-level mini controller, so the keys may not be completely like a state of the art synthesizer, however, they are highly playable, responsive and spring back, allowing you to get your groove on, and bring ideas to life.

You don’t have to be a midi tech nerd to get started. The main features on the Arturia Minilab Mk2 are compatible with all the major DAWS and even with some of the beat making and synth apps available on IOS.

To get deeper and really start to automate and maximize the functions and workflow capabilities of any of Arturia’s midi controllers you will need to install and map your DAW and, or VSTs and effects by using Arturia’s custom-built software Midi Control Center.

What’s the deal?

The Minilab Mk ii comes bundled with the lite version of two extremely powerful and professional electronic music production suites. The first cab off the rank is the Analog Lab lite. Arturia has included a taste of the award-winning sounds and synth recreations of some of the world’s most iconic sounds from a vintage synth, to retro organs, strings, and pianos.

Arturia has taken the liberty of pre-mapping out the main midi feature and controls for Analog Lab Lite the free VST software that comes included when you buy the minilab mk2. So, simply register your products via the Novation website then install the software by following Arturias in-depth setup tutorial, then plug and play the soft synths and piano Vst’s on Minilabs keys and controls.

The second freebie that has been thrown in to sweeten the deal when you take this baby home is UVI virtual grand piano. Have full access to one of the Steinway Grand Pianos with this fully playable VST at your fingertips. Last but not least is Ableton Live Lite has been included.

This is the perfect Digital Audio Workstation for some new to computer-based music production. Even seasoned music veterans who want to try out the functionalities and unique workflow of Ableton will get a lot out of the lite version of the DAW before making the decision to invest in the complete Ableton Live Suite.

So is the Arturia Minilab Mk2 worth the money? Hell yes, this piece of studio equipment has a been built to last, includes multiple playable features and has been crafted with the mobile beatmaker and producer in mind.

Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 Slim-Key Controller

Is this the right controller for you?

If you have been making electronic music for a while and you need a 25 key midi travel buddy or even a strong responsive key-based controller with a small footprint for your studio desk then this is some of the best value on the market, not to mention Arturia gear looks super stealth sitting in your studio.

If you don’t intend on traveling with your midi controller or you’re new to the world of music production then the Novation Launchkey 25 Mk2 might be more up your alley. This midi keyboard and pad controller has a built-in connectivity and navigation abilities with Ableton Live and is also shipped with Ableton’s lite software and a bundle of sounds and samples to get you started.

Check out our full review and find out if the Novation Launchkey 25 Mk2 is your future midi controller of choice. Another alternative to the Arturia Minilab Mk2, with a slightly less expensive price tag and some unique feature in the Akia Mpk Mini Mk2.

Akai is a name that has been one of the cornerstones of hip hop and urban music production for decades. If you are looking for a small 25 key midi controller with 8 velocity pressure adjustable Mpc style beat making pads is the Akai Mpk Mini Mk2 might be for you. Check out our full review on this  25 key / 8 pad midi controller to find out the pros and cons of the popular Akai Mpk Mini Mk2.

cartoon crew of people hipsters hip hop

Conclusion

Now is this the right 25 key midi controller for you? Well, that depends. If you have been making electronic music for a while and you need a 25 key midi travel buddy or even a strong responsive key based controller with a small footprint for your studio desk then this is some of the best value on the market, not to mention Arturia gear looks super stealth sitting in your studio.

If you don’t intend on traveling with your midi controller or you’re new to the world of music production then the Novation Launchkey 25 Mk2 might be more up your alley. This midi keyboard and pad controller has a built-in connectivity and navigation abilities with Ableton Live and is also shipped with Ableton’s lite software and a bundle of sounds and samples to get you started.

Check out our full review and find out if the Novation Launchkey 25 Mk2 is your future midi controller of choice. Another alternative to the Arturia Minilab Mkii, with a slightly less expensive price tag and some unique feature in the Akia Mpk Mini Mk2.

Akai is a name that has been one of the cornerstones of hip hop and urban music production for decades. If you are looking for a small 25 key midi controller with 8 velocity adjustable Mpc style beat making pads is the Akai Mpk Mini Mk2 might be for you.

Check out our full review on this  25 key / 8 pad midi controller to find out the pros and cons of the popular Akai Mpk Mini Mk2.

Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 Slim-Key Controller
  • Portable and Compact - MIDI Controller
  • The most responsive keyboard experience in its category
  • 500 of the V-Collection 8 presets / 21 Keyboard Instruments and Synthesizers / fully mapped right out of the box
  • The perfect solution to get started with music production
  • 16 Assignable Encoders to control your DAW

About the author

Daniel Douglas

Daniel Douglas

After becoming obsessed with the beats that were the soundtrack to his youth, Daniel became a student of hip hop, digging for vinyl records, looking for the perfect break. Before he got his hands on an MPC sampler, he would mash these records, beats, and breaks into mixtapes and live DJ sets.