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Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 mk3 Review - Full-Size MIDI Keyboard

March 10, 2024

Today we are going to do a short review of the Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 mk3. Not so long ago, in early 2024, Arturia announced on its official website the release of a new MIDI keyboard Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 mk3 (the device is on sale now). Compared to the mk2 version, the KeyLab Essential 88 mk3 features an updated look, improved control options, and several other changes.

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 mk3 expands the third generation of the KeyLab Essential series. The model offers the same features as the previously released KeyLab Essential 61 mk3 (read our review of that device here) and KeyLab Essential 49 mk3 (also available at the link), but features a semi-weighted keyboard that has been expanded to 88 keys. The full-size keys are pressure-sensitive. The enlarged semi-weighted keyboard and the larger dimensions are the only differences between the KeyLab Essential 88 and the KeyLab Essential 49 & 61, otherwise the devices have the same features.

Best Price on Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 mk3

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 MK3 MIDI Controller is a versatile and feature-rich tool for musicians, producers, and performers of all levels.

Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 mk3 package Classic Package

Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 mk3 Specifications:

  • 88-note velocity-sensitive semi-weighted keyboard
  • 1 clickable encoder
  • 9 rotary encoders
  • 9 x 30mm faders
  • 8 transport switches
  • 4 command switches
  • 1 modulation wheel & bend wheel
  • 8 touch & pressure-sensitive pads
  • 2.5” LCD display with contextual buttons (real-time feedback on tweaks and controls)
  • Smart Features: Multi-mode arpeggiator / Chord mode / Scale mode / Hold function / Semitone transpose
  • Seamless integration with all Arturia software instruments, including Analog Lab Intro: select sounds, browse presets, smart-assigned controls
  • Custom DAW scripts for FL Studio, Logic Pro, Ableton Live, Cubase, Bitwig Studio
  • Also compatible with MCU/HUI control
  • Up to 5 user presets for a totally customizable experience
  • USB-C connects to computers and MIDI Control Center
  • MIDI 5-pin DIN output for connection to external instruments, gear
  • Control input for pedal: sustain, expression, or footswitch
  • Powered by USB cable
  • K-Slot (Kensington Lock)
  • Dimensions (WxDxH): 1258 x 255 x 66.8mm (49.53 x 10.04 x 2.63 inches)
  • Net Weight: 8.2 Kg (18.08 lbs.)
  • Set Includes: Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 Unit, registration card, USB-A to USB-C cable + (software: Ableton Live Lite, UVI Model D, The Gentleman from Native Instruments, Analog Lab Pro with 2000+ sounds, Loopcloud 2month subscription with 1 GB welcome pack, Melodics subscription)
  • Color Options: Classic White / Black

Some Features

Therefore, we are not going to write a full review (the most detailed review is available at the link to the KeyLab Essential 49 above, where we tell you in detail about all the features of the device that you can familiarize yourself with). Nevertheless, we will tell you about the most important features of the Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 mk3.

Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 mk3 black and white

The keyboard can be operated in several modes. In addition to the traditional mode, musicians can switch to the gamma or chord mode. The first mode will allow you to always stay within a given sound sequence, while the second mode will allow you to play chords by pressing a single key.

In addition to this, a split keyboard mode has been added to the device. With its help, you can divide the main control element into two equal halves and attach different sounds to each of them. So, for example, the left side of the keyboard can play string sounds, and the right side - piano sounds.

As with the younger models, the controller has a large display showing the current status of the instrument and its controls, modulation and pitch wheels, and eight large rubberized pads. The pads are pressure-sensitive and equipped with RGB backlighting.

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 mk3 also houses the DAW control section, including playback, start recording, and project buttons. The elements are complemented by a set of faders and encoders that can be used to control tracks in DAWs, plugins and standalone music apps. Among the additional functions is the presence of an arpeggiator.

Presets for integration with the most popular workstations are stored in the controller's memory. It is noted that the base includes presets for Ableton Live, Logic Pro, FL Studio, Steinberg Cubase & Bitwig Studio, linking the most popular functions to the keys, pads and controls of the device. But before connecting the device don't forget to download DAW Integration Scripts from the official website and just in case look at a couple of manuals also on the official site.

Along with the controller comes a large software bundle, including software suites from Arturia and other companies. In addition, the manufacturer adds software for controlling the unit itself (MIDI Control Center), allowing you to create your own layouts, bind any functions, and change the behavior of the device.

Final Verdict on Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 MK3

In conclusion, the Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 MK3 MIDI Controller is a versatile and feature-rich tool for musicians, producers, and performers who demand precision, expressiveness, and seamless integration with their music production workflows. With its expansive 88-key keyboard, intuitive controls, extensive software suite, and sturdy build quality, the KeyLab Essential 88 MK3 offers everything you need to unleash your musical potential and bring your creative vision to life. Whether you're composing in your home studio, performing live on stage, or collaborating with fellow musicians, the KeyLab Essential 88 MK3 is sure to be your ultimate creative companion.

The Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 mk3 is on sale now in black and white case colors. The recommended price of the MIDI keyboard is ~ $399. We hope you enjoyed our short review on the Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 mk3. Feel free to leave your questions, comments and suggestions in the section below. We will be happy to answer all of them.

  • 88 Semi-Weighted Keys
  • One of the best MIDI controllers with 88-key in its price range
  • Comprehensive Control Surface
  • Functional 2.5inch LCD Display
  • Smart Integration to DAWs
  • Expressive Performance Features
  • Extensive Software Bundle
  • Sturdy Build Quality
  • USB and MIDI Connectivity (USB-C connector)
  • Read the quote in the LCD Display and Buttons section of our Arturia KeyLab Essential 49 mk3 review. There is a small problem with the screen.
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