Mixed feelings, not a great all puprose controller sadly
Reseñado en los Estados Unidos el 24 de noviembre de 2019
Got this to be my master midi controller for Studio One, Cubase and Logic. I use mostly VST from Arturia (collection V), NI (Komplete 12) and some other companies.
First of all, this keyboard is gorgeous to look at, in black and faux wood trim, and it is built like a tank. Once you place it on your desk or table, it won't move. It is heavier than you may think, and most of it is made of metal. The keybed is not super but for the price range it is great.
Buttons, faders and knobs feels decently solid; they wobble a bit and some are a bit loose, but in general everything seems OK. The 16 velocity sensitive pads are good; you can use them easily, once you set your favorite velocity setting, and they are pretty responsive. On the left of the 16 pads you have buttons to enable chord and transpose mode, which is great. Just beware that the pads are locked to a midi channel, so if you want to use the chord mode on an instrument that has multiple midi channels, you have to change the settings in the menu; while for the keybed you can use a simple button press to switch to any of the 16 midi channels, with the pads you have to menu dive, which is bothersome.
You will get Analog Lab included; which has a ton of presets, although you can change a limited amount of parameters, unless you own the full Arturia Collection V, which I do. Macros are already assigned in analog lab mode, so you can browse presets and modify parameters directly from the keylab. One thing that is borderline ridiculous, is that there is no way to mark presets as favorite from the keyboard. You have to use the mouse, which is really mindblowing, considering that a Native Instrument S49 or even the M32 can do that with a key combination on the controller itself.
Integration with DAWs is guaranteed by presets; you will switch the controller to DAW mode, with a button press and once you select the appropriate profile, you can use transporter controls and more buttons on the left side of the keyboard, to control the DAW. The operations are the most common, and you even get a magnetic plaque that goes on top of the panel, for each DAW supported. The knobs in this mode control the mixer panning, while the faders control the volume of each channel, and you can move between channels with the arrow buttons.
The bad news is that even with a DAW mode, and 10 user preset you can customize as you wish; you still have limited amount of options for controlling your DAW. In DAW mode the faders, buttons and knobs are set to specific CC; the 10 dedicated buttons are not assignable so you have to use them for whatever they were programmed for, and the transport buttons are also not assignable, but that's fine, since you would not use them for anything else anyway. Faders are locked to volume controls and knobs locked to pan controls, you can't change that.
If you decide to use VST, prepare to not have mapping because Arturia did only a half job mapping things. If you use the analog lab mode, you have mapping, but you have access to one set of 9 faders and knobs; because the buttons are assigned to switch categories, so you have 18 controls total. If you use any of the Arturia collection synths, you will need more than that; and you can't assign anything when in analog lab mode, so that is the first issue you will face.
You may think that you can switch to User mode, and that is fair, since in that mode you have full control on all 3 type of controls (faders, buttons, knobs), and you have 3 pages available, which bring the grandtotal of assignable controls to 27x3 plus the 10 controls used in DAW mode, which can be assigned in user mode to whatever you like.
And you would think that being an Arturia product, there is a user mode for the Arturia collection synts; and the mapping is consistent among synts...well, no. You get random CC assigned to your keylab, and you have to make mappings manually for each synth you want to use.
In comparison, if you buy a Native Instrument keyboard, and use their Komplete Kontrol wrapper, you have everything assigned and infinite pages, although you get only 8 knobs, loosing the faders and buttons. Same for the Nektar products, which use Nektarine plugin; where you have infinite pages, and mapping out of the box.
This is one of the cases where your 299 keyboard from a 3rd party company, has better mapping that your own 499 midi keyboard controller. There is a big award for whoever decided that selling an Arturia midi keyboard without mapping out of the box with Arturia own plugin suit, was a good idea.
So, if you get this controller, get ready to compromise with controls, because you have only 3 pages of controls in user mode, and a handful in DAW mode and Analog lab mode; unless all you do is to use basic DAW features, and prefer to use your mouse. I was looking for something that would not interrupt me, by using a mouse and clicking on small little knobs and wheels, but clearly, Arturia does not have that as objective in mind, and decided to make a great controller that is only as good as the limited usage it allow.
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