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Arturia BeatStep Review - Compact MIDI Controller

February 22, 2024

Today we've prepared Arturia BeatStep review, so let's take a closer look at this compact MIDI monster from the French audio manufacturer. Arturia BeatStep is a MIDI controller and sequencer in one. Its compact size makes it ideal for use on the road or in the studio. The fact that you can use it to run clips in applications like Ableton Live, play drums with BFD or EZDrummer, adjust synth settings, or even do it all at once speaks to its versatility. But more on those features - later, let's take a look at the specs first, as always.

Best Price on Arturia BeatStep Controller

The Arturia BeatStep MIDI Controller and Sequencer is a versatile and compact device that serves as a powerful tool for music producers, performers, and DJs.

Arturia BeatStep package Classic Package

Arturia BeatStep Specifications:

  • MIDI controller mode (RED LED MODE)
  • Step sequencer mode (BLUE LED MODE)
  • 16 velocity and force sensitive pads with backlit
  • 16 encoders with 2 modes (MIDI CC & NRPN/RPN)
  • 16 MIDI controller presets
  • 16 sequencer presets
  • External and internal synchronization
  • CV/Gate outputs
  • USB input/output
  • MIDI output
  • Compatible with iPad via Camera Connection Kit
  • Works with MIDI Control Center Editor
  • Kensington lock
  • Standalone MIDI or CV mode when powered via standard USB power adapter
  • USB Class compatible (no drivers required)
  • Windows 7/8/10/11 and Mac OSX 10.7 or higher
  • Dimensions: 324 x 127 x 16mm (12.8 x 5 x 0.6 inches)
  • Net Weight: 0.9 Kg (3 lbs.)
  • Set Includes: Arturia BeatStep unit, quick start guide, USB cable, MIDI adaptor + (Ableton Lite, Analog Lab Intro software)
  • Color options: Classic White / Black Edition

Overall Build, Design & Features

Let's start our Arturia BeatStep review with the design and overall construction. The Arturia BeatStep is designed in the recognizable style of all Arturia devices. The plastic feels very nice to the touch, all buttons and encoders are of good quality, as is the overall construction of the device. At least we didn't get the feeling of cheapness when we held the device in our hands, on the contrary, we can safely say that the Arturia BeatStep is solidly built. The dimensions and weight of the Arturia BeatStep 324 x 127 x 16mm (12.8 x 5 x 0.6 inches) allow the device to be classified as portable. Yes, there are more compact and lightweight MIDI devices on the market, but they don't have as much functionality. It's worth mentioning that Arturia BeatStep is sold in two colors: classic white and black edition, but unfortunately the black edition is a bit harder to get.

A few words about the pads. For fans of fingerdrumming, the arrangement of the pads is not quite familiar (usually 4 pads in a row), but this is not critical at all. The pads themselves are very high quality, moderately dense and sensitive, so you don't have to hit them with all your might. The pads are very well balanced, so fans of finger drumming will appreciate them.

Let's get to the main part of our Arturia BeatStep review and see what this model can do.

MIDI Controller Mode

With 16 velocity and force-sensitive pads, the BeatStep is the ideal compact solution for percussion playback. The ultra-sensitive pads offer excellent dynamic performance. The 16 encoders can be assigned to adjust parameters and also be used for real-time control of drum sounds. Add 16 user presets and you have a controller for all occasions.

These 16 pads are individually configurable and can be used to: generate notes, MIDI CC buttons, and send program change messages. These ultra-sensitive, backlit pads transmit velocity and force information, and maintain gate and toggle modes. This means you can use them to play drum and percussion parts on a drum module, as well as pulse notes and hold a buzzing note in toggle mode on a synthesizer. In MIDI CC mode, the Pads can be used as assignable switches for DAW functions, or to trigger clips and effects in Looping DAW or DJ applications.

Step Sequencer Mode

The Step Sequencer mode makes BeatStep a completely new product and sets it apart from all others. The Step Sequencer is the basic type of music sequencer that was popular in the 60's and 70's. They have come back into fashion with the popular modular synthesizers. In sequencer mode, pads and encoders work together to set and activate steps sequentially, and to set the pitch for each step. A single press of a pad turns the current step in a sample melody on or off, while multiple presses allow you to create and modify musical patterns in real time. BeatStep lets you store 16 steps for instant recall. This allows you to play multiple patterns and create your own songs.

Setting pitches on a step sequencer is difficult, so to help you find the right tone, BeatStep has added scaling modes that quantize encoder pitches to a specific set of tones.

Arturia BeatStep MIDI Control Center
We recommend downloading Arturia MIDI Control Center. Software allows you to customize the assignment of all controller pads & encoders, perfectly integrated with all Arturia controllers and 3rd party software, keeps your controllers on the latest Firmware, and in addition will greatly expand the capabilities of your Arturia BeatStep.

What can you do with BeatStep?

BeatStep features 16 velocity and force-sensitive pads that can capture every nuance of your performance. In addition, BeatStep is the ideal control surface for drummers and percussionists using iPads or software such as BFD, Kontakt, Lives Drum Rack, EZ Drummer, Addictive Drums, Geist, and Reason Kong. To connect an iPad to Arturia BeatStep, a Camera Connection Kit is required.

In terms of functionality, the BeatStep is superior to regular pad controllers because it has a step sequencer. This is an opening for people who use MIDI modules, synthesizers like the MiniBrute and MicroBrute, and those who use plug-ins on the computer. While the sequencer is running, you can switch to controller mode and use the pads and knobs to turn on/off effects or filters, control the timing of plug-ins, etc. BeatStep helps you create new ideas and add limitless possibilities to your live performance.

Even if you're using software like Ableton Live, Traktor, Serato or others, the BeatStep pads are the perfect choice for triggering samples or effects, and the 16 encoders give you tons of options for assigning them to EQs, filters, dithers and other effects. The BeatStep is also a stylish and portable companion to your DJ controller, and it's perfect for entertainers who need to send midi signals and control gear and workstation settings.

Final Verdict on Arturia BeatStep

BeatStep is specifically designed to give you the control you need over your favorite DAW or loops, VST instruments or effects, drum software, DJ applications, MIDI keyboards, or CV/GATE-equipped devices. The possibilities are endless. BeatStep meets all the needs of musicians. It is a true chameleon that adapts to everyone. There is no other compact pad controller on the market that offers so many features at such an amazing price.

We hope you enjoyed our Arturia BeatStep review. Feel free to leave your comments in the section below and we will be happy to answer all your questions, suggestions and comments. We also recommend you to read our review on Arturia BeatStep Pro, an improved version of Arturia BeatStep.

  • Amazing Price/Quality Ratio
  • Versatile MIDI Control
  • Powerful Sequencing
  • Versatility and Connectivity
  • Comprehensive Software Integration
  • Portability and Workflow Enhancement
  • Attractive Design, Compact and Solid Overall Built
  • Learning Curve: While the BeatStep's interface is intuitive, mastering its advanced features and sequencing capabilities may require some time and practice for novice users.
Our Score

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