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Arturia AstroLab Review - Stage & Studio Synth Keyboard

April 19, 2024

Today we are going to review Arturia AstroLab, a one-of-a-kind device. Arturia continues its development of stage keyboard instruments and introduces a brand new device AstroLab, which is a hardware implementation of the Arturia AnalogLab virtual instrument. AstroLab is based on virtually all the synthesizers and keyboard instruments included in the AnalogLab Pro software product. It contains 34 instruments and over 2000 presets from the popular Arturia V Collection, featuring original sounds and familiar controls.

Such a fully self-contained solution from Arturia was sorely lacking. Since Arturia AstroLab has all the features of AnalogLab, it can successfully replace a laptop with installed software, an audio interface and a MIDI keyboard. For stage purposes, AstroLab looks much preferable and is many times more reliable. We will look at all the features of this model a little later, let's start our Arturia AstroLab review with the device specs as usual.

Best Price on Arturia Astrolab Synthesizer

Arturia, known for its innovative music production gear, introduces the AstroLab, a versatile and feature-rich synthesizer designed to inspire creativity and push sonic boundaries.

Arturia AstroLab Package, Box Classic Package

Arturia AstroLab Specifications

  • Keys: 61-note semi-weighted keyboard with piano-size keys and aftertouch
  • Tones: over 2000 built-in sounds (piano, electric piano, organ, synthesizer, samplers, etc.) and over 7000 free sounds available from Analog Lab Pro and Arturia Sound Store
  • 10 Sound Engines: Virtual Analog / Samples / Wavetable / FM / Granular / Physical modeling / Vector Synthesis / Harmonic / Phase distortion / Vocoder
  • Effects: 2 slots with 12 effects to choose from and 2 buses with dither and reverb
  • Modes: dual-timbre mode with keyboard assignment to two zones / arpeggiator / scale and chord mode / Looper mode
  • Visualization: high-resolution color display / buttons with indication of the modes in use / multicolor indication for each key
  • Connections: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection / USB-C connector for computer or mobile devices / USB-A connector for external storage devices and MIDI controllers / MIDI DIN input and output / balanced line output on TRS connectors / headphone output on TRS jacks / 2 microphone/line inputs on XLR/TRS combo jacks / 4 pedal outputs (Expression, Sustain, Aux 1, Aux 2)
  • Powered by 12V power adapter
  • Dimensions (WxDxH): 935 x 99 x 330mm (36.81 x 12.99 x 3.89 inches)
  • Net Weight: 9.9 Kg (21.83 lbs.)
  • Set Includes: Arturia AstroLab unit, USB Cable (C/A), User Manual, Registration card, Power Supply, AnalogLab Pro, AstroLab Connect
  • Color Options: white housing with wood-styled inserts on the sides (we may see a black version in the future)


  • Round display puck for controlling and navigating the library and settings
  • Navigation and alternate mode Shift buttons
  • 11 shortcut buttons to the instrument category
  • 4 effect activation/edit buttons
  • 4 MACROS encoder controls
  • 4 FX control encoders
  • Overall volume control
  • Transpose/octave shift buttons
  • Pitch and modulation wheels

Overall Build, Design and Features

Arturia AstroLab 61 comes in a traditional Arturia shipping box made of cardboard. The package includes a power adapter, USB cable for connecting to a computer, printed manual, and codes for activating the software - Analog Lab Pro program and AstroLab Connect mobile application. Unfortunately, we have not yet purchased Arturia AstroLab for our review and SoundGale studio, but we have studied all the information about the device in detail and can tell you about all the features.

Arturia AstroLab pic 1

The design of AstroLab 61 is very bright and attractive. The special originality of the appearance is given by the snow-white color of the case, beveled edges, and wood-styled side elements.

The arrangement of controls is concentrated mainly on the right side of the device. There is a space on the left side, probably for placing a smartphone, a hard drive (storage device), or an additional MIDI controller.

Arturia Astrolab display controller

The main tool for interacting with the library and all available settings of Arturia AstroLab is the original round-shape controller. In the center of the control wheel, there is a high-resolution color display. It shows instrument presets, various settings and parameters that are currently being changed quite conveniently.

Rotating the outer contour of the wheel controller moves the cursor through the preset list or settings menu. Pressing the wheel activates the selected option. For ease of operation when moving the cursor, a slight vibration of the wheel controller is provided, allowing you to additionally detect switching by touch. This function can be disabled in the settings if desired.

The selected instrument preset can be loaded automatically when you switch between presets, which is very convenient for quickly selecting the most suitable tone. Or by pressing the slider, which is more appropriate when selecting a particular tone from a large list of presets. That is, at the beginning, we scroll through and find the desired preset and then press the slider to load it.

For convenience of navigation, there are duplicated buttons under the screen, which scroll through the presets one by one. Sometimes it is more convenient to navigate through the menu using the buttons, especially when switching timbres one by one. Loading of presets is not instantaneous, but with a slight delay. However, it is not critical at all and depends on the complexity of the algorithm used in the preset. Some presets are ready immediately, some are active after a second or two.

Arturia AstroLab Display pic 3

The display used is not the largest by modern standards. However, it is sufficient for legible display of lists and various menus, and even for graphical display of presets. Just as in AnalogLab, the sound library is very well structured. All presets are grouped by tags, which allows you to instantly sort presets by characteristic features and narrow down the search area. Presets can be sorted by category, instrument, artist, user tagged (Liked Preset), creator, playlist, and various combinations of these tags.

Arturia Astrolab pic 2

Arturia AstroLab has separate buttons (on the right side) for quick access to the tones of specific instruments. Pressing one of them loads the most characteristic preset from that category and allows you to continue searching for a suitable sound within the selected tone group.

The AstroLab, like the software version of AnalogLab, supports multi-timbral operation. There are many ready-made two-layer presets in the collection. But it is also easy to create a two-instrument tone yourself.

Arturia AstroLab Display Pic 4

The power of the used DSPs is sufficient for the trouble-free creation of any, even the most resource-intensive combinations of instruments. The most complex calculations are optimized in favor of stable and uninterrupted operation of the device, so there should be no difficulties. We have specially put the CPU load indicator on the main screen of the device and in the work of two-layer presets it did not cause any concern.

Separately we should tell you about creating playlists. Since Arturia AstroLab has a very large number of various presets (only more than 2 thousand built-in presets and up to 10 thousand numerous extensions) you need some convenient system of operative access to certain sounds. Playlists, in this case, are this access tool, allowing you to combine only necessary presets into user-defined lists (Playlist). It is noteworthy that within such a playlist, in addition to the general list, you can create additional subsections (Song) with specific presets. For professional work, especially in stage use, such a feature is extremely necessary and AstroLab has realized it perfectly!

Creating and editing playlists from the Arturia AstroLab keyboard is not always quick and convenient. That's where one of the device's greatest strengths comes in - full integration with AnalogLab Pro and the AstroLab Connect mobile app. Of course, we can't ignore the software part in our Arturia Astrolab review, as it is probably one of the most important features of the device.

Analog Lab Pro with AstroLab

Two-way communication allows you to conveniently use applications to change various parameters and settings of the hardware device. Moreover, all changes made on external devices are synchronized with the AstroLab keyboard in real-time, allowing you to use them not only for creating or editing playlists, but also as an assistant directly during the performance.

AstroLab Connect App screen

AstroLab Connect mobile app is supported for both iOS and Android devices. The application requires iOS operating system version 13 and higher, Android - version 8 and older. Connecting devices is possible both by wired traditional method and via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. Moreover, no additional adapters are required to connect or purchase. In Arturia AstroLab keyboard the wireless module is already built-in by default.

By connecting via Bluetooth you can even stream audio to AstroLab. You can't process the sound of the streamed audio using the synthesizer's tools, but you can play over the phonogram.

Wi-Fi connection is possible via an existing network or directly to the device via an access point. AstroLab works with both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks. It's worth clarifying here that a Wi-Fi connection is only for synchronizing settings, managing presets and playlists. Using a wireless connection does not imply the transfer of MIDI messages between devices. For this purpose, it is better to use a more reliable wired USB, MIDI connection, or at least Bluetooth.

Analog Lab Pro Bass 808

The keyboard comes with a full version of the AnalogLab Pro program. As you probably already know AnalogLab Pro works as a standalone application or can be used as a VST, AU, or AAX plug-in in any DAW. In both cases, the AstroLab device has full integration with the application and will allow you to use it simultaneously with the keys.

This is great, especially when working in a studio environment or on a project over an arrangement. Playing on Arturia AstroLab hardware instrument you will always have zero latency regardless of computer power, buffer size, and project filling in your DAW. Everything that was played on AstroLab will be correctly recorded to a track with the same preset in AnalogLab Pro.

For those who are not familiar with AnalogLab Pro, it should be explained that this application is a kind of initial version of the popular Arturia V Collection library, with the possibility of further upgrading. The fact is that the instruments included in AnalogLab Pro have limited functionality. In particular, only some parameters are available for adjustments, assigned to four hot macros. If you purchase the full version of an instrument you like, it will be available here in the AnalogLab interface, just like any other instrument. It will appear as a fully-fledged product with additional presets, full control and detailed settings that can be recalled at any time.

Arturia AstroLab instrument encoder controls

Four macros are already assigned to all AnalogLab Pro presets. These are usually the most tone-altering parameters, such as resonant filter, envelope, modulation, and so on. As a rule, several synthesizer parameters are assigned to a single macro, and for simplicity, the macros have simple names: Brightness; Timbre; Time; and Movement.

With these four macros, you can dramatically revitalize your sound and give a monotonous tone a boost. Macros cannot be reassigned in AnaloLab presets, but if you have a full version of the virtual instrument you are using installed in your system, reassigning parameters is possible. For convenience, all encoders are designed to be frictionless and equipped with an LED scale that displays the current value. When switching between presets, the parameters set will be different, and thanks to the indication you can see their value even before adjusting.

Arturia AstroLab FX section

The effects section includes four types of effects. The effects are already assigned in the presets, but can be easily changed to more suitable ones. This can be done either from the AstroLab keyboard or via connected applications.

In the first two effect slots FX A and FX B you can change the type of effect used. The following options are available: Multi Filter; Parametric EQ; Compressor; Distortion; Chorus; Chorus; Flanger; Phaser; Stereo Pan; Analog Phaser; Wah; Twin Amp; Rotary Speaker.

The detailed settings of these effects can be found in the menu, and only the intensity of the effect can be controlled from the keypad. On the keyboard display, the settings appear as a list of parameters with numerical values. Therefore, it is better to use AnalogLab Pro with a graphical display of effects in the form of guitar pedals.

Analog Lab Pro Effects guitar pedals

In the Delay and Reverb slots, you can only change the processing algorithm, but not the effect itself. While the first two slots are implemented as inserts, Delay and Reverb work as FX buses with send level adjustment.

When using the two-layer preset as an alternative routing, the first two effects can be applied to separate layers. FX A will only process the first layer, and FX B will only work on the second layer. This can be useful for harmonizing or identifying differences between timbres.

Arturia AstroLab's wired connection options are also fine. The switching panel is located on the front side of the case and occupies half of the device.

Arturia Astrolab Outputs

The tool is powered by an external 12V adapter. To prevent accidental disconnection, the power connector is secured with a threaded nut. The On/Off button is recessed in the body and requires a long press to disconnect.

USB ports are available for connecting the unit to a computer or mobile device (USB-C), as well as external storage devices and MIDI controllers (USB-A). The balanced line output and the headphone output are on traditional TRS connectors. Somewhat surprisingly, there are two microphone/line inputs on XLR/TRS combo sockets. As we've already written, the incoming signal can't be processed by conventional synthesizer tools, but it can be used in the Vocoder V. It is quite likely that future firmware will add more ways to use these inputs. The number of pedals that can be connected is also impressive. There are up to four connectors for all types of pedals. For working with external synthesizers and controllers, there is a full MIDI DIN input and output.

Each key has its own LED above. Depending on the setting, the LEDs can light up permanently or only when the corresponding keys are pressed. In Dual Layer Instrument mode, they provide a handy indication of zone separation. In Arpeggiator or Looper mode, they illuminate the notes being played. The backlighting can be switched off as required.

Arturia AstroLab front view

So let's continue our Arturia AstroLab review and take a look at the most important control unit - the keys!

The device uses a five-octave semi-weighted keyboard with aftertouch. The keyboard looks very similar to the KeyLab Essential MIDI controllers. The white keys have a glossy finish, while the black keys are matt and piano-style with a flat, wide pad. The KeyLab Essential also uses a semi-weighted mechanism, but the AstroLab has a more interesting look. The keys are more stable, more firmly locked in place and noticeably quieter. There is an additional felt pad in the base which helps to soften the impact of the keys. Arturia AstroLab keys also have a slightly shallower stroke, which we feel is more appropriate for this mechanism. Tactilely, the action is very comfortable, pleasant and predictable. Playing on the AstroLab is a pleasure. The sensitivity of the action can be adjusted in the machine's menu. There are three options: "Easy", "Normal" and "Heavy". All three modes are very different, so you can choose the one that suits you best.

The AstroLab uses the traditional robust pitch and large modulation wheels. Modulation adjustments are accompanied by an LED indicator. Beneath the wheels are octave shift buttons, which allow you to transpose the string by half a tone.

Almost all Arturia MDI keyboards have integrated arpeggiator, scale, and chord modes. Arturia AstroLab has all these features as well. They are not fundamentally different and are implemented in the same convenient way. We would like to tell you about an interesting new mode called "MIDI Looper". It allows you to create MIDI loops of 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 16 or 32 bars, recording all MIDI events except notes. Recorded loops can be saved and used later for creative purposes or as a source of continuous playback when setting up equipment for soundcheck.

As for the sound quality of the AstroLab 61 device from the line outputs, it fully corresponds to stage instruments of its price category. In a direct comparison between the sound of AstroLab presets and similar AnalogLab Pro presets output via the studio interface, the keys appear to be at a decent level.

Final Verdict on Arturia AstroLab

Arturia has once again succeeded in creating an excellent device that meets the expectations and needs of today's musicians and sound producers. With AstroLab, the manufacturer has finally succeeded in combining the flexibility of software plug-ins with the reliability of a hardware instrument. Deep integration with the AnalogLab software and the AstroLab Connect mobile app greatly enhances the ease of operation, allowing them to be used as an additional real-time control tool. Importantly, Arturia AstroLab perfectly combines the capabilities of a traditional stage piano with a simple and user-friendly interface and an advanced studio instrument, with a wealth of additional AnalogLab features, including editing full versions of V Collection instruments. In this regard, it is worth noting the large number of diverse connectivity options and the possibility to regularly update and replenishing the collection of presets from the official shop, including free ones.

Compared to alternative stage pianos, the advantages of AstroLab are expressed, first of all, in full-fledged synthesis of timbres, rather than playback of recorded samples. The use of powerful DSP, which allows the use of high-quality algorithms that guarantee the relevance of the device for a long time. In the huge amount of regularly expanding library of various sounds. The familiar and convenient Arturia ecosystem. And of course, the beautiful key mechanics.

Our editorial team hopes you enjoyed our detailed Arturia Astrolab review. Feel free to leave your comments, questions and suggestions in the section below, we'll be happy to answer them all.

  • Unique in its kind digital synthesiser
  • Build quality and nice design
  • Intuitive interface with extensive modulation options (User-friendly controls)
  • Versatile synthesis engine combining analog and digital technologies
  • Comprehensive selection of effects for sound shaping and processing
  • Built-in sequencer and arpeggiator for creating intricate patterns and sequences
  • Extensive connectivity options for integration with external gear and modular synthesizers
  • AstroLab Connect mobile app
  • The device itself is a quintessential part of the Arturia ecosystem
  • Hopefully in the future we will see this synth in an 88-key version
Our Score

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