Arturia KeyLab 49 Black Edition Bundle [Review]

Arturia KeyLab 49 Black Edition Bundle [Review]

Arturia has announced the KeyLab 49 Black Edition, a revised version of its KeyLab 49, with a new coat of paint. Not only does it look great, but it works great too, and comes with a number of virtual instruments to add to your library.

Because of the fact that the KeyLab 49 Black Edition is the same as the KeyLab 49, and we’ve already reviewed the KeyLab 49, we decided to take a look at the virtual instruments in the bundle rather than the controller itself.

Arturia Prophet V

The Prophet V is Arturia’s emulation of the classic Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, and has largely been hailed as one of the best emulations of the classic synth that there is. Not only that, but Arturia adds in an emulation of the later synth, the Prophet VS.

True to its word, the emulation’s user interface is very similar to the interface of the real thing. It offers two oscillators, which are syncable, as well as a few envelopes and an LFO. When the synth is in VS mode, it allows users to control the wavetables and vector joystick, as in the original version. Perhaps most interestingly is the fact that the plugin can be put into hybrid mode, allowing for control of both the Prophet V and the Prophet VS. This is where the real power of the Prophet V lies, and it allows users to create some very interesting sounds. Importantly, the Arturia Prophet V is a very accurate recreation of the original synth when it comes to sound.

Of course, nothing is perfect. One of the biggest complaints when it comes to the plugin is the fact that it is very power-hungry. This isn’t as big a problem now as it was when the plugin was first launched back in 2007, but it is certainly still something to keep in mind, especially if you have an older computer.

Arturia Solina V

While the Arturia Prophet V was launched a while back, the Solina V is a much more recent plugin. It is an emulation of the ARP Solina String Ensemble, a string synthesizer that rose to prominence in the 1970s, especially when it came to disco music.

At first glance, the Solina V seems to be much less complex than the Prophet V, however the back of the synth can be opened up to offer a range of extra options. What this means is that the plugin caters to both those that aren’t ready to step into more complex plugins, as well as those that know their way around a synth.

Users can select between different strings, able to include violins, cellos, and a contrabass to the mix. There is also the option for horns and trumpets, which proves to be very helpful in adding an extra touch to the mix.

As with other emulations that Arturia offers, the Solina V is also very true to the original sound. However Arturia didn’t stop there. Instead it offers a number of additions to the original Solina V engine. The pitch shift and modulation wheels, for example, did not appear on the original.

The Solina V is another hit from Arturia. For those buying it standalone, it’s worth the $99, but for those getting the KeyLab 49 Black Edition, it will certainly be a nice addition to the package.

UVI Steinway Model D Grand

The third emulation to be offered with the KeyLab 49 Black Edition is the UVI Steinway Model D Grand piano, which is, as you can assume, included as a partnership with UVI.

There’s really not that much to say about the piano. It offers an extremely simplistic interface within UVI’s UVI Workstation, and allows users to control the mix in terms of how much the room is present. A nice touch is the ability for users to control the curve of the waveform, which can give it a harder or softer sound.

In terms of how the sound is, it’s beautiful. As someone who much prefers to record a live piano than use an emulation, I can say that I wouldn’t be too upset if events transpired and I had to use the Model D emulation instead of a real piano. In fact, depending on the piano, I might choose the Model D. It offers a nice warm Steinway sound, and while that sound might not be perfect for every mix, it will fit great in mixes that might require a little more intimacy as far as piano is concerned. The samples used were recorded through the Neumann U67, which certainly helps in achieving that warm sound.

Conclusions

If you’ve been waiting on pulling the trigger on a MIDI controller, now is the time. The KeyLab 49 is a great controller, at a great price. The black look suits it very well, and helps it blend in well with other gear in a studio. But the real kicker is the software that comes with it.

Christian de Looper was born in Canberra Australia, and since then has lived in Europe and now lives in sunny California. When he's not tinkering with the latest music gear, Christian is devouring news on new consumer technology.