MIDI controllers are handy, and now companies are releasing many good controllers for beginners and budget shoppers, such as the famous Arturia Minilab MKII Vs Novation Launchkey Mini MK3. These controllers have been all over the internet for the last few years, offering excellent playability at a modest price, but which fits you best? Today we will see what the two can offer and which you may like better.
In this comparison, we will talk about the following:
- What are the Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3?
- How is the Design of Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3?
- How are the Keys in Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3?
- How are the Knobs in Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3?
- How are the Pads in Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3?
- How is the Navigation in Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3?
- What are the Features of Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3?
- Arturia Minilab MKII Vs Novation Launchkey Mini MK3
- Which Budget MIDI Controller to Buy?
|Arturia Minilab MKII||Novation Launchkey Mini MK3
|Product Dimensions||14 x 8 x 2 inches|
|1.61 x 6.77 x 12.99 inches
|Shipping Weight||3.2 pounds|
|Shop now at Amazon||Check price||Check price
About the Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3
Many people may have heard of MIDI controllers or seen one, but what is it? In general, a MIDI controller is a keyboard that looks like a regular keyboard, but it doesn’t emit a sound unless you pair it with another device. The keyboard doesn’t have a speaker and built-in sound, but it sends MIDI signals to a computer. The controllers also offer various key configurations to match your preference and application. Most keyboards also come with free software as it is required to use the device. Read also: Yamaha P121 Vs Yamaha P115.
There are many good beginner MIDI controllers, such as the Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3. These controllers are not new anymore, but the Minilab MKII is a much more recent model and the more compact option if you want to put it in a backpack. Both controllers have the same amount of keys, even though the technology is not identical. They are easy to use and come with free software, but some pros and cons may affect your decision.
Unfortunately, for those who want aftertouch, this feature is missing from these budget controllers, and you may want to allocate more budget to enjoy the ability. Overall, the Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 are fun and easy to play. They are also compatible with most DAWs.
Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 Design
One of the most notable differences between these controllers is the design because Launchkey Mini MK3 is more compact; our only concern with this device is the housing because it is made entirely of plastic. On the other hand, the Minilab MKII is a bit wider, and while the housing is primarily plastic, it feels sturdier, and the base is made of metal for better durability. We recommend the Launchkey because the Mini MK3 is quite heavy and bulky if you carry the controller for traveling.
Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 Keys
Next, let’s see the keys on these controllers because they are different. Like most keyboards, these keys are velocity sensitive and feel different. The Launchkey MK3 is lighter to the touch, requiring little effort to press and send the signal. On the other hand, the Minilab MKII is stiff or heavy to the touch. If you have played a digital piano, the feeling is similar, even though digital pianos will have much bigger keys and are overall heavier to press.
Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 Knobs
As for the pads and knobs, the amount of these physical controls on Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 are reversed. The Launchkey Mini MK3 has 16 velocity-sensitive pads, while the Minilab MKII has eight pads. The Mini MK3 also has eight knobs, while the Minilab MKII has 16 endless encoders. Endless encoders mean that these knobs don’t stop after you spin them and will continue to turn, making it more convenient as you can remap the controllers and change what it corresponds to
The feeling of these knobs is also different and similar to the keys; Launchkey Mini MK3 is very responsive, so when you spin the knob, the volume or other parameter you set the knob for will move pretty fast; these knobs have a start and end point. On the other hand, spinning the Minilab MKII’s knob moves the parameter much slower; you may have to turn the knob a few times to reach the highest or lowest setting on the DAW.
Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 Pads
Another difference on the pad is that Launchkey Mini MK3 has an assignable color for the pad, which can be extremely helpful so you can instantly know or code which pad is for which function; we can’t do this in Minilab MKII. The feature is that these pads will light orange when inactive, green for playing the clips, and red for recording. The workflow with two rows of knobs is better than only having one, but this is probably also the age difference, as the release gap is quite notable between the two.
In addition, the Minilab MKII’s pads are less sensitive, so you have to put more pressure when playing it, such as when arming the drum rack. This is probably not an issue for many people once they are used to the controllers, but depending on their preference, some people may like their pads to be stiff or more responsive.
Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 Navigation
The Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 are different on the navigation part. In Minilab MKII, users can navigate the tracks using the knob, which is fine, but we prefer the Launchkey Mini MK3’s shift method to change between tracks. In addition, this controller will arm track as you scroll through them. This ability is convenient in live settings, making the work more seamless. Overall, this controller is more straightforward in live sets or music production. Read also: Yamaha P121 Vs Korg B2.
Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 Features
On the other features, we want to mention that Launchkey Mini MK3 has a built-in arpeggiator. In contrast, the Minilab MKII integrates with Arturia Analog Lab, which is an excellent feature if you use their sound. The way that Arturia integrates its hardware and software makes it more robust for the users and improves the workflow. The software also assigns the knobs to your controller, making it easier to use. If you use lots of Arturia sounds, the Minilab MKII is an excellent choice.
Arturia Minilab MKII Vs Novation Launchkey Mini MK3
Arturia Minilab MKII and Novation Launchkey Mini MK3 are similarly impressive controllers for the budget. But, the Launchkey Mini MK3 offers better compatibility and control for Ableton Live, while the Minilab MKII also provides some controls for Ableton Live; it is best with the Arturia ecosystem or sounds and plugins. The build quality is better on the Minilab MKII, but the portability is better on the Launchkey Mini MK3. In addition, the keys, knobs, and pads are more sensitive on the Launchkey Mini MK3.
- THE BEST MUSIC-MAKING FLOW: MiniLab MkII is an easy keyboard controller that adapts to your needs, your style and your workflow, so you can make music just the way you like it. An ideal small controller for musicians on the move and studios where workspace is limited, it features versatile controls, perfect integration, and a superb bundle of included software!
- PORTABLE, YET FULLY FEATURED: Lightweight but rugged, MiniLab MkII is a go-to small controller for producers in the know. It’s powerful, hands-on, and unrivaled in quality, built to streamline your creative process. Add USB-powered functionality to the mix, and you can get creative no matter where you find yourself.
- PREMIUM SOFTWARE INCLUDED: Get thousands of world-class presets spanning dozens of timeless instruments (Analog Lab Intro); make great-sounding tracks in full (Ableton Live Lite); and enjoy the sound of the famous Steinway Model D grand piano in your own home (Uvi Model D). MiniLab MkII offers all the creative software you need.
- CONTROL HARDWARE, SOFTWARE AND YOUR DAW AT THE SAME TIME: If you prefer to create music ‘in the box’, MiniLab MkII can also help your creativity come alive. Easily sequence and arpeggiate your virtual instruments, sync it with your software studio, and switch to the dedicated Control mode to control parameters in your favorite synths and effects.
- Get hands on with Ableton Live - Have a seamless music making experience with Ableton Live and your Launchkey Mini. Have all the tools at your disposal with deep and intuitive Ableton Live control — including device macro control, track select, record, capture MIDI, clip and scene launch, stop/mute/solo, volume, pans and sends.
- Get creative easily with arpeggiator - Easy to use but deeply controllable, Launchkey Mini’s creative arpeggiator allows you to change rhythm, beat, pattern, octave, gate and more to add a whole range of diversity to your ideas and melodies.
- Play chords with one finger - Lay down chords for your track quick with fixed chord mode. Play a chord with one finger by assigning a fixed shape to the keys and it’ll transpose as you move up and down the keyboard.
- Launchkey Mini goes anywhere with you - Send apps and program changes to your hardware synths with MIDI Out, or add keys to your Groovebox directly over MIDI. Launchkey Mini’s lightweight and compact design means it goes anywhere you do. The hardware is bus-powered which is great for travelling and jamming on the go.
The decision is all yours because you may have a specific preference. We recommend the Launchkey Mini MK3 for those using Ableton Live who want the best workflow or the more compact and sensitive physical controls. But, we also recommend the Minilab MKII, especially for those using Arturia sounds and plugins, as it is more integrated into the controller.