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Arturia KeyStep 37 Review - Ideal MIDI and Modular Controller

February 27, 2024

Today we are going to review the Arturia KeyStep 37. Arturia continues to impress with its new products, and after the flagship KeyStep Pro controller, the French manufacturer has introduced another model in this series, the Arturia KeyStep 37. The new device is a USB MIDI controller with a built-in hardware sequencer/arpeggiator and is actually an improved version of the well-known KeyStep controller (which we have a full review of).

The first KeyStep was a great keyboard with incredibly useful CV/Gate/Modulation outputs. It was a hit because it allowed you to instantly turn a familiar modular into something new. Except it was a bit simplistic. KeyStep Pro, on the other hand, with all its keys, 4 channels of polyphonic step sequencing, drum machine programming, and voltage layers, was a very powerful MIDI/modular sequencer, but it turned out to be too complicated for people who had a relatively small number of modules in their collection. Clearly, there was a missing middle ground, and it seems that the KeyStep 37 has decided to be that middle ground. So, let's see what the Arturia KeyStep 37 can do, but as always, let's start our review with the specifications.

Best Price on Arturia KeyStep 37 Controller & Sequencer

The Arturia KeyStep 37 is a versatile MIDI controller, combines the functionality of a keyboard, sequencer, and controller, which makes it a powerful tool.

Arturia KeyStep 37 Package Classic Package

Arturia KeyStep 37 Specifications:

  • Proprietary keyboard with 37 slim, velocity-sensitive aftertouch keys
  • RGB LEDs on each key for instant feedback on your sequence, arp, scale
  • Arpeggiator with 8 modes and chord playback mode (Modes: Up, Down, Inclusive, Exclusive, Random, Walk, Pattern and Order)
  • Built-in 64-step, 8-note polyphonic sequencer with rest, tie, and legato note entry
  • Rate Control and Tap Tempo: REC, PLAY, and STOP buttons for performance control over the sequencer and arpeggiator
  • Capacitive pitch bend and mod wheel strips
  • Sustain HOLD button
  • Advanced Chord mode with pre-defined or user Chords and strumming capability
  • SHIFT button selection: MIDI Channel selection, Gate length, Swing, Sequence Edit, Scale quantization, CC Bank selection
  • DC power jack for standalone operation
  • USB MIDI and MIDI in/out ports
  • Sync i/o ports
  • Sync source switch: Internal, USB, MIDI, Clock
  • CV/Gate outputs with configurable Pitch, Gate and Modulation formats.
  • Sustain pedal jack
  • Ability to connect to iPad via Camera Connection Kit adapter
  • USB bus power when connected to a computer or AC adapter (sold separately) for standalone use
  • Dimensions (WxDxH): 550 x 147 x 35mm (21.7 x 5.78 x 1.38 inches)
  • Net Weight: 1.6 kg (3.5 lbs.)
  • Set Includes: Arturia KeyStep 37 unit, quick start guide, anti-ground loop adapter, USB cable + (Ableton Lite, Analog Lab Intro software)
  • Color options: Classic White / Black Edition

Overall Build, Design & Features

The first thing you notice is the weight of the keyboard. This is a sturdy device with metal parts and a corresponding feeling of use. The rubberized grips seem reliable and remain firmly in place, which makes it easy to conclude that the assembly was not spared and that the device will last a long time with proper handling. Regarding the design, the entire housing is made in the trademark recognizable minimalist style of all Arturia devices.

Arturia KeyStep 37 pic

The KeyStep 37 uses the familiar Slimkey miniature keyboard, which is used in all of the manufacturer's compact controllers. It has proven to be quite a successful keyboard, with durable and comfortable mechanics, equipped not only with speed sensitivity, but also with aftertouch function.

The power supply is not included, but there is a connector. This isn't a big deal, as the keyboard can also be powered via USB. Arturia has replaced the micro-USB with a standard type-B connector and has emphasized this change as a positive one, from which we can conclude that the latter connector has proven to be more reliable.

Other connector options include Pitch, Gate and Modulation CV, which will be especially useful when working with modular and analog synths, Sync IN/OUT, Sustain pedal, and good old MIDI IN/OUT. Another nice thing is the presence of a power button - it's strange, but many USB-powered keyboards don't have one, which makes them burn like stars at night, which may well disturb your sleep.

Arturia KeyStep 37 Connections

Compared to the 2016 model, the new Arturia KeyStep 37 controller has a three-octave keyboard and key display, a new chord and scale mode, and additional encoders for controlling external synthesizers. At the same time, the KeyStep 37 remains a fairly universal controller that not only allows you to conveniently control hardware synthesizers but also works well with a computer as a traditional USB MIDI keyboard. It's also worth mentioning that it can be used with Arturia's iMini, iSem and iProphet mobile apps on the iPad via the Camera Connection Kit adapter.

One of the most noticeable changes is the backlighting of the keys. Each key has its own indicator that lights up when you press or play notes in Sequences and Arpeggiator. This makes controlling and editing much easier, as you can see sequences instead of relying solely on hearing.

The backlighting also allows you to instantly see the current settings of the unit. The point is that each button in the advanced settings mode corresponds to a specific parameter. For example, MIDI channel, swing shift parameter, gate, selected fret. With the previous controller, you often had to press the buttons repeatedly to be sure that the selected settings were correct. The backlighting allows you to see at a glance what values are currently set and make the necessary changes accordingly.

Another important feature of the Arturia KeyStep 37 is the display and the new knobs. The display shows the value of the parameter being adjusted. The knobs can be used to set the "CHORD" mode and control external synthesizers via MIDI.


"MODE" mode on the original KeyStep was the basic ability to memorize chords and play them using the corresponding keys. On the KeyStep 37, this capability has been given 4 new buttons and a display. The idea behind Chord Mode is to take a single note and build a chord from it. You can now use your own and 11 built-in chord types. The chords include octaves, power chords, lowered/raised tertian, minor, major, seventh chords, ninth chords, and 11th chords - all this variety is selectable with the first knob. A slightly fancy display shows what is currently selected. The Notes knob is responsible for the number of notes in a chord - from 2 to 16. It's quite interesting to play around with it, as it sometimes turns out to be quite interesting.

Arturia Keystep 37 Chord

Next is the VEL>NOTES knob, which is a bit confusing at first, but then you realize that it is responsible for the volume of individual notes in the chord - the harder you press the chord, the stronger the individual notes appear. If you set the knob to 99%, then only the tonic will sound clear when you press it lightly. This is a rather unexpected and interesting feature.

The last Strum knob is responsible for the chord progression effect when playing chords. The speed of the strumming can be adjusted from almost instantaneous to an arpeggio synchronized with the tempo. This seems like it would be useful on modulators or monophonic synthesizers where the Chord mode would otherwise make no sense at all, but unfortunately, you can't let the notes from a chord played by a warble go through the CV output.

The Shift button allows you to turn these 4 knobs into 4 banks of 4 MIDI CC controls for mapping on any MIDI synthesizer - handy!


One of the most useful features to be found everywhere, although KeyStep 37 tries to show something new. Along with the classic up/down/sideways modes Arturia decided on a couple of fresh ones and they managed to make them really interesting.

The Walk mode is based on probability. 50% of the time it goes to the next note, 25% of the time it re-plays the same note and 25% of the time it moves in the opposite direction. This mode generates unexpected variations depending on the note pressed.

The Pattern mode creates a new random sequence with each subsequent press of a note. It is great for generating bass lines, melodies, and interesting sequences without much effort. The arpeggiator is often used to play along with sounds as you play, and the new Pattern mode does this in a particularly interesting way.

Arturia KeyStep 37 Arpegirator

Another nice thing is that you can pause the arpeggiator and restart it without having to re-type notes.


The Arturia KeyStep 37 has only one sequencer track and that's where it lags behind the KeyStep Pro. But KeyStep 37 has eight-note polyphony and can work with 64 steps. Unlike the Pro, the 37 doesn't have a metronome, so if you want to record a live sequence, you'll have to find something to play along with. You press "record", play, press "play" and the sequence starts, perfectly fitting the tempo. It's insanely simple. With the Tap Tempo button, it's easy to pause and transition into sequences.

As for polyphony, that means you can play multiple notes at once on the KeyStep 37. There's no way to edit them individually, but as long as the sequencer is in record mode you can layer notes on top. In mono mode, there can only be one note at a time, but in poly mode the notes will overlap. In this way, you can layer many different melodies, chords, variations. It's worth mentioning that KeyStep can simultaneously control CV/gate, MIDI and USB MIDI at the same time, and it's a lot of fun to use all this wealth.

You can transpose the sequencing with a single key press, and you can also enable "Keyboard play" mode, which allows you to play the keys without affecting the sequencing being played in parallel. This is a great feature for both polyphonic and monophonic synthesizers. There is also a function that allows you to change the MIDI channel while playing, allowing you to switch between sounds while playing a melody.

In Sequencer mode, the Arpeggiator mode knob becomes responsible for 8 sequences, which you can quickly and conveniently switch between. You can use the shift button to select sequences without starting them. Once a sequence is selected, release the shift button and it will start. Using the MIDI Control Centre application for your computer, you can change, save and load sequences, as well as customize other aspects of the Arturia KeyStep 37. That is, you can create a bunch of patterns in advance and load them as you go along.

Final Verdict on Arturia Keystep 37

The Arturia Keysptep 37 is an amazingly balanced MIDI and Modular controller. It has exactly the right amount of variety to please and not overload. The keyboard is small and not that amazing, but enough to create and work nicely with arpeggios and sequences. The extra range of notes is a joy, and the keys themselves are sensitive to pressure and have an aftertouch function. The display is excellent and shows tempo and knob readings. The LEDs above the keys are also a nice bonus. The arpeggiator and sequencer are a pleasure to work with. You could say that this is a device that is easier to perform with than the same Pro, and especially easy to pair with a drum machine.

The only thing that strains is the lack of development of the CV theme. With the advent of a better arpeggiator and sequencer, it's become more comfortable for everyone, but there's nothing like recording CV modulations, for example. Modulations send CV from the analog Mod output, and it would be great if these movements could be recorded in a sequencer, well, or, it would be great if Arturia added another CV output with an Alternative Gate Patterns knob.

By purchasing the KeyStep 37, you'll have a small but confident unit a level above the KeyStep, which is an excellent product in its own right. This new product is sure to please those who already have a small collection of MIDI and modular equipment. We also hope you enjoyed our Arturia KeyStep 37 review. Feel free to leave your comments in the section below, we will be happy to answer all your questions, suggestions, and comments.

  • Good Price/Quality Ratio
  • Slimkey Keybed: The 37-note slimkey keybed strikes an excellent balance between portability and playability.
  • Integrated Sequencer: The onboard sequencer is a standout feature of the KeyStep 37, offering up to four tracks and 64 steps per sequence. It's easy to use and provides ample creative potential for crafting intricate patterns and sequences.
  • Arpeggiator: The arpeggiator adds depth and movement to performances, with a variety of modes and parameters to explore. From traditional up/down patterns to more experimental modes, the arpeggiator is a versatile tool for generating musical ideas.
  • Assignable Controls: With a range of assignable controls including knobs, pads, and touchstrips, the KeyStep 37 offers hands-on control over external hardware or software instruments. This flexibility allows for customization to suit individual workflow preferences.
  • Versatile Connectivity: MIDI, CV/Gate, and clock sync outputs, as well as USB and MIDI inputs, for integration with hardware and software devices.
  • Build Quality: The KeyStep 37 feels solid and well-built, with sturdy construction that instills confidence during use. The backlit LED display is clear and provides essential feedback on settings and parameters.
  • No Cons, but can be a complexity for beginners (While the KeyStep 37 offers a wealth of features and functionality, beginners may find the learning curve steep, especially when delving into the intricacies of sequencing and MIDI mapping. But still Arturia provides comprehensive guides on how to set up the device and on the official website you can also find a lot of video tutorials).
Our Score

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