Komplete Kontrol M32 vs Arturia Minilab MK2!

Last Updated on July 6, 2021.

Today I’m going to compare two of the most popular entry-level MIDI keyboards on the market and discussing the pros and cons of each product in order to determine which keyboard is the best fit for you.

In short, here are the differences between the Komplete Kontrol M32 and the Arturia Minilab MK2: The Komplete Kontrol M32 provides you with 32 keys and more freedom to control your music production workflow and more software bundled with the hardware, however, the Arturia Minilab MK2 utilizes pressure-sensitive performance pads for finger drumming and double the number of rotary encoder knobs for modulation with Arturia virtual instruments.

Komplete Kontrol M32

Komplete Kontrol M32.

The Komplete Kontrol M32 is a compact but powerful 32 key MIDI keyboard, powered by USB and manufactured by the reputable Native Instruments, so you can expect solid build quality and an attractive design.

I previously used an Alesis Q49 which was a great MIDI keyboard in itself, but swapping to the M32 has not only saved desk space, but simultaneously added a ton of features in a more compact design.

If you already use Komplete or NKS plugins, this product will slot in to your setup perfectly, as the eight touch sensitive knobs will arrive pre-mapped to control your plugins, but can also be re-assigned to control any plugin within your DAW with minimal effort.

Tweaking the MIDI mapping settings inside your audio software only takes a few seconds and I’ve found this particularly useful when I want to record automation for things like reverb, delay, or LFO parameters, rather than drawing in the automation with my mouse.

As someone who struggles with music theory, I’ve found the “Smart play” function extremely useful. The M32 allows you to map your keyboard to a variety of different scales, or play chord progressions and arpeggios with single keys, which is huge for anyone who isn’t a music theory wizard.

Additionally, you can control your DAW’s core functionality, such as pressing play/pause, recording, setting a tempo, quantizing notes and more, via the buttons on the top left of the keyboard, streamlining the production process in a hands-on manner and significantly reducing the amount of time spent working with a mouse.

The M32 also comes with a “four-directional push encoder” which is simply an awesome way to navigate your projects and a tool that I wish more MIDI keyboards would introduce.

Switching octaves is easily managed with the push of a button, as well as pitch-bending and modulation, through the use of the sleek touch sensitive strips placed to the left of the keys.

What comes in the Box?

  • Komplete Kontrol M32
  • USB connection

Included Software

The Komplete Kontrol Software, a collection of Komplete instruments and effects, Maschine Essentials, plus Ableton Live 10 Lite – provided as downloads after hardware registration.

Set up guide and documentation provided as downloads as well.

Specifications

Dimensions457 x 167 x 50mm / 18.7″ x 6.57″ x 1.96″
Weight1.45 kg / 2.27 lbs
Keys32
BrandNative Instruments
I/OUSB 2.0 bus powered
OS CompatibilityMacOS 10.12 or later, Windows 10
DisplayMonochrome OLED
Warranty LengthLimited 1-Year Warranty

Find out more about the Komplete Kontrol 32 here:

Arturia Minilab MKII

Arturia MiniLab MkII 25.

The Minilab MK2 is a portable, high-quality, and feature-rich MIDI keyboard with 25 velocity-sensitive keys.

A visually appealing white design and compact size combine to create an attractive option for your next MIDI keyboard.

It’s a fantastic way to control your virtual instruments and unlike many controllers, the Minilab’s knobs are endless. This means that you can twist any one of the sixteen control knobs forever, whereas other keyboards have an “endpoint” which can become frustrating when trying to modulate a longer section of automation. Two of those knobs are also clickable.

The Minilab also comes with eight RGB backlit performance pads, with two internal pad banks, that can be used for finger drumming, as well as triggering other sound samples. These pads can be great fun and allow you to get more hands-on with your production process.

Two touch-sensitive strips allow you to automate the pitch or modulation to whatever sound you’re playing which is great for creating transitions and placed just above them are the buttons for moving up and down in octaves.

The Minilab has a useful “shift” button on the top left of the device, which allows you to select MIDI presets and MIDI channels, as well as an input connection for an external sustain pedal that sends MIDI Notes and CC data and can be programmed for Gate of Toggle functions.

If you’re a fan of Arturia virtual instruments, this keyboard works seamlessly with Analog Lab and is a really fun way of manipulating the virtual emulations of some of the best synthesizers around. However, you won’t be able to control all of your plugins with this controller, which could be a potential bottleneck to your creativity.

What comes in the Box?

  • Arturia Minilab MK2
  • USB connection

Included Software

Ableton Live 10 Lite, Analog Lab Lite and UVI Grand Piano Model D.

Specifications

Dimensions14.0 x 8.7 x 2.0″ / 35.5 x 22.0 x 5.0 cm
Weight3.3lb / 1.5 kg
Keys25
BrandArturia
I/O1 x 1/4″ Sustain Input, 1 x USB Type-B
OS CompatibilitymacOS 10.10 or Later, Windows 7 or later
DisplayNo
Warranty LengthLimited 1-Year Warranty

Find out more about the Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 here:

Main Differences

The Komplete Kontrol M32 and Arturia Minilab MK2 MIDI keyboards are both viable options, it all comes down to what you need for your personal workflow. There aren’t huge differences between the two.

However, the Minilab MK2 allows those more interested in Arturia virtual software instruments and finger drumming to really take their productions to the next level. However, it can’t be used for controlling other plugins like the Kontrol M32.

In comparison, the Komplete Kontrol M32 comes with a huge amount of Native Instruments software and sounds as a bundled package. The Komplete Kontrol M32 also has 7 more keys, which could be crucial to your decision, as well as more functionality in general.

Conclusion

To summarize, both of these controllers are a fantastic addition to any music production set-up, however, I personally can’t look past the added functionality of the Komplete Kontrol M32. The ability to control your DAW’s core functions, mapping the rotary encoders to any of your plugins, and the sheer amount of bundled software give the M32 the advantage in my opinion.

Both products come with the option for hooking up a sustain pedal and both are powered via USB, so if you’re looking for a mobile set-up, neither of the two will disappoint. They also retail at a similar price, so consider which one would fit your production style and go from there.

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