Arturia, NI or something else for 88 note

Ojustaboo Member Posts: 137 Helper

Hi, I’m struggling to decide which 88 note controller to buy, I appreciate this is Native Instruments forum, and I appreciate that what one person likes, another might hate, but. would like honest opinions if you can.

My main, well only keyboard connected to my PC currently is NI S61 mk2.

In another room I also have a Casio PX 870 digital piano.

I’m finding that 61 notes is not enough for me, coming from my piano to my S61, I miss the extra notes.

At the same time, when I’m playing certain sounds, especially organ, I want a synth keybed not a weighted one.

I own both the Arturia V collection and the Komplete collectors edition and I do love the way the S61 mk2 is integrated with both the NI and the Arturia products.

While when I initially bought my first (mk1) NI keyboard I thought the lights would be nothing more than a gimmick, they are very handy when using drums or instruments with articulation.

I can’t have more than 2 keyboards, and want one to be 88 note. Both must have full size keys.

The 88 note will go beneath my desk where my current 61 note is (or possibly a new desk, but that’s a subject for another time) the desk will need some rearranging as the 61 note (or maybe shorter) has to share with keyboard and mouse, and Maschine.

I have various choices. My short list currently is:

1)Arturia Keylab 88

Keep my NI S61

2) NI S88

Keep my Ni S61. (although I think I read somewhere that I can’t use two S controllers at the same time).

3) NI S88

Arturia Keylab 49/61

4) Studiologic SL88 Grand or maybe the non grand version

Keep my NI S61

5) Studiologic SL88 Grand or non grand

Arturia Keylab 49/61 which would mean a new way of doing things without my NI keyboard

And probably a load of other options too.

I’m not interested in discussing here the problems people are having with their NI s88 mk3 keyboards, I’ll decide whether to go the mk2 or mk3 route when I decide which pair of keyboards I’m going to end up with.

I’m not that far off retirement age (and am early retired due to health problems) and also suffer from arthritis. I used to own the Kawai MP10 which was a superb keybed but I found that due to my arthritis it would cause pain when I played for a while, it was probably the nicest weighted keyboard I ever owned, but too much pressure needed to play. I now have a Casio PX870 that I can play forever without it hurting.

On YouTube reviews they mention the Arturia 88 needs more pressure than the NI 88, but for all I know the NI one is much lighter than my Casio and the Arturia needs about the same strength to play as my Casio. Trouble is, it’s hard to find shops with both set up.

I do like being able to browse and select sounds from the NI keybed, if I went with an option that gets rid of NI altogether, unless Arturia or Studiologic can be set up to do similar (not bothered about lack of instrument pictures) I think I would miss that a lot, then again I didn’t have that option for years and managed perfectly. However having used the S61, I can’t in reality see me being without an S keyboard unless there’s an alternative that works just as well.

If I had the NI 88, I would get more lights showing for articulations which would be nice, that said, not having lights isn’t a deal breaker.

I imagine I would be using the 88 note most of the time, just using the 49/61 when playing organs etc.

That’s about it, I’ve spent days watching reviews on YouTube and I simply can’t decide which route to take.

I realise this is a sort of how long is a piece of string question, I just wondered if any of you are in similar situations and what you use?

Also be nice to hear from people using Komplete with Arturia key lab, how well you get on with it?

If it makes any difference, my DAW is Studio one pro




  • BIF
    BIF Member Posts: 418 Pro
    edited January 2

    In part, the right answer for you will depend on how fast you need to be fully up and running. If you need it now (or pretty quickly), you may want to hold off on getting an MK3. I'd suggest the Arturia then, or maybe an 88 key version of the Novation controller.

    The new version of Komplete Kontrol and its companion MK3 keyboard are together going through some teething pains, which could take months to resolve satisfactorily for most people.

    That said, I have a MK3 61 key. I'd love to get an 88, but not with the current state of affairs. I don't have any 88 key controllers, but there are some nice inexpensive ones out there. I'd consider one of those, and maybe get an S88 MK3 later when things have calmed down. You can almost never go wrong having a generic controller with decent keybed action.

  • nobadmojo
    nobadmojo Member Posts: 100 Helper

    The DAW just might make a difference. I;m still on the s61mk1 and using the Moss Script in Bitwig and that does a whole bunch of good stuff..Stuff like you would think Midi2 will hopefully do in 2024 with a lot of products. Also have Studio One like you and really dont use it any more because of this. So I would be inclined to recommend an 88 keys for you that works best with Studio One (if there is such a thing). I say this because there a number of great keyboards out there since you dont need the NI integration...and most of them are a lot less expensive than a mk3..maybe look at the m-audio 88 keys if you just need a basic keyboard. They have an 88 in both hammer weighted and semi weighted I believe.

  • PoorFellow
    PoorFellow Moderator Posts: 1,505 mod
    edited January 2

    Quote : "I want a synth keybed not a weighted one"

    That is a problem in as much as that the 'not weighted' most often are reserved with controllers with less than 88 keys and the 88 keys version often are the weighted one.

    Possibly you could get a relatively cheap midi controller such as the M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 - 88 - Key Semi-Weighted USB/Midi Controller or Arturia KeyLab Essential 88 ! ?

    However , the by far easiest way of 'answering your question' would be to ask the professionals either in the flesh or virtually. And asking 'virtually has become quite easy in as much as that you can just got to the German Thomann's site and check the 'Master Keyboards (up to 88 Keys)' and then on the page left selection column then tick the no to Hammer Action ! You can look for same in the 'Stage Piano' category !

  • Ojustaboo
    Ojustaboo Member Posts: 137 Helper

    Sorry, I’m not making myself clear.

    I want a weighted 88 and I also want a synth/non weighted 49/61

  • PoorFellow
    PoorFellow Moderator Posts: 1,505 mod

    In that case then I would have two different suggestions :

    1) Either get a 61 keys non weighted Arturia KeyLab MkII Controller keyboard deluxe and a weighted NI S - Series MK3 , both for the software integration of the respective companies !


    2) If money is not the deciding factor then rather than doing the above then figure out what kind of key-bed you would want with the NI S - Series MK3 and the NI integration and then take a whole other venue with respect to the other keyboard and get yourself a true synthesizer either an Arturia or something completely different like a Workstation synth (Yamaha MODX , Korg Nautilus , Roland Fantom) or an 'Arranger' 'home' Workstation (e.g. Yamaha Genos 2 or Korg PA-5X Musikant). I am sure that most 'Workstations' can also act like a midi controller only - if you want it to ! Had it been my choice and I had the money then I would have gone with option 2. But always test the keyboards prior to purchasing to not have any regrets , especially if buying an expensive 'Workstation' (with respect to synth and workstations then important to notice that the cheap ones usually are considered entry level and should be avoided !) !

  • mykejb
    mykejb Moderator Posts: 800 mod

    Just in case you can't decide - Amazon and it's 30 day no-questions return policy is your friend in cases like this. Buy what you think will work, return things you don't like :)

    -- Mike

  • Ojustaboo
    Ojustaboo Member Posts: 137 Helper
    edited January 3

    Sadly money is an object. I’m happy to stick with software synths.

    Space is another problem, I mentioned this in a thread that was closed (not closed because of what I wrote) and for everyone else’s info, PoorFellow responded helpfully with


    With respect to your question about your setup then there is no answer that will fit it all or there are more answers depending on how you look at it ! 

    You could make/build/manufacture something very elaborate that would allow you to use more keyboards in just about same height at the same stand by using more sliders and height adjusting mechanisms. And if you do not have to manufacture/make (yourself ?) to specifications then even if you can locate the right stand then it would most likely be insanely expensive. 

    You could also use a storage stand for your keyboards and then put them on desk when you want to use them and then set the desk and chair height to fit with the highest keyboard and then when using keyboards that are not equally high then use either a metal support frame to lift it the few centimeters/inches or use the low tech usually working solutions with a piece of wood in either end , and maybe one in the middle to lift the keyboard. 

    Another solution is to use more space and set a keyboard stand at either side-front/back or simply have keyboard stands all the way around and then have them at height adjustable stands with each stand set to fit the height of your chair. 

    And if you want to be sitting for long periods of time then of course make sure that the chair is 'ergonomic' and not only haves the right kind of cushion for your taste but also gives the right support for your back and loins ! 

    As for 'furniture' then there there are a myriad of products made all over the world and if you want advice on that then you need to make a discussion about that with specifications on what you want and then see if anyone have any useful comments/advice to give !

    I will give a few random examples here ! : 

    Wavebone Hover 1400 Height-Adjustable Keyboard Stand on Wheels

    Studio desks for home and professional use

    Check out the Liquid Stands Product range !


    My current thought is the same as PoorFellows first suggestion in his previous post, getting Arturia 49/61 and NI 88, I do use Kontakt a lot so getting the NI 88 makes sense.

    Also, teething issues aside, as the MK3 allows me to use Kontakt without Komplete Kontrol being loaded, that is also tempting me.

    The only niggle I have is justifying the price to myself. Part of me thinks I’d probably be getting a much better quality keyboard if I went for say the Studiologic SL88 Grand which I can get for £650 compared to £1050 for the NI mk3. (Buying the mk2 second hand will be about a similar price to buying the SL88 grand new). But would I miss the Komplete integration. Would really like the Arturia as my second keyboard as I like having faders, especially for organ sounds.

    So really it all comes down to whether paying an extra £400 to get Kontakt stand alone functionality is worth it or not, and whether I could soon get used to going back to the pc screen browser which really widens my choice of 88 note, or whether I need to keep using one of the mk2 or 3 NI controllers as I’m so used to using it to browse my sounds.

    The other problem as I mentioned is space.

    While I can afford to get the MK3 88 and say the Arturia 61, I think my loverly wife might get a little angry if I then tell her I want to spend over around £300 for a desk, would rather sort out/add to my existing setup if I could. Even if I went the cheaper keyboard route, I still couldn’t justify to my wife spending more than £300, she would (some what rightly) say, “but it’s just a desk” .

    I should also add that due to recent serious (not terminal but will have problem for life ) health issues, I can’t stand for more than about 5 mins before I’m out of breath, hence I need to sit. This is partly why I’m changing my setup, selling my digital piano and having everything within reach so I don’t have to walk around too much.

    My music setup is at the other end of our living room, next to my electronics setup (my other hobby) and I’m still working out how to accommodate my 49/61 keyboard and still be able to access the PC keyboard and mouse, only reason I’m even considering the 49 over the 61 is that it will give me a bit more space on the desk. Pics show what I mean (88 note will go where 61 note currently is).

  • PoorFellow
    PoorFellow Moderator Posts: 1,505 mod
    edited January 3

    If the table below the microscope were stretching longer to the left then you could have had a shorter version of a pull out table for the 61 key , especially if the right side carry were not legs but e.g. a heavy duty slider that were attached to below the table so it didn't interfere with leg space when using microscope. It would allow you to use only one keyboard at a time since the pull out would block one another but it would still allow both keyboards placed at the same height ! (though that of course would be a problem if one keyboard were taller than the other, unless somehow compensated for by seating or keyboard lifting!)

  • BIF
    BIF Member Posts: 418 Pro

    That table has feet on the bottom. That implies that maybe there are threaded holes in the frame. If so, he might be able to buy caster wheels for it; similar to the wheels you might put on an office chair. Personally, I love the inline-skate types of wheels, without a locking mechanism. That way he could push it under the desk, or pull it out and even adjust the angle or slide it to the left or the right, depending on what part of the keyboard he wants access to at that moment.

  • Ojustaboo
    Ojustaboo Member Posts: 137 Helper

    Unfortunately the microscope table cant move, treadmill in the way

  • Ojustaboo
    Ojustaboo Member Posts: 137 Helper

    Unfortunately no shop within a sensible driving distance has the Arturia keylab 88 mk2 in stock, Amazon only has it from 3rd party sellers at a greatly increased price.

    Reading and watching further reviews today, especially the last sentence in the paragraph below from

    “The 500-pound gorilla in the room is, of course, the keys themselves. This is always a matter of personal taste and playing style. Truth be told, we definitely felt that while the MkII has a sturdier, more robust-feeling keybed compared to the Mk1’s, it is definitely a heavy action. Besides synth playing, this reviewer still does Hanon piano exercises near daily (yes, on a piano), and still felt that the action was a bit heavy”

    This has made me think the heavier action will be too much for me so I’m going to rule it out.

    Have decided to buy the Arturia Keylab 61 mk2 tomorrow.

    There’s a NI s88 mk3 in a shop 15 miles away so providing I like the action, I will buy that at some point in the next month.

    The keylab s61 is 15mm thinner (height) than the NI 61, as said the NI 61 on my desk was too high.

    So I’ll have a few weeks to work out where it’s going, prob going to go for something along the lines of what PoorFellow suggested, my current thought (which may well change) goes as follows.

    The pullout stand/table with my 61 note is fully adjustable both in length and height.

    i could raise the actual desk somehow so it’s higher but the keyboard and mouse is still comfortable to use.

    I could then put my new 88 note on the pull out table and rase the height so I have about 5mm clearance between the top and the desk.

    i could then buy a similar table shorten it, place it underneath the other table and put the keylab 61 on it.

    Not sure exactly how well that would work but I could play around with a tape measure over the weekend and see if it’s possible.

    Another option is to do as above but instead of buying another extendable table, mount a sliding shelf to the underneath of the desk and put the Keylab on that (or possible the mouse and keyboard on it and see if I can lower the desk slightly)

    on the plus side, I own the previous version of Piano V, presuming the latest version is the version that comes with the Keylab, that will be a nice bonus.

    I did try selling both my Digital Piano and my NI s61 mk2 on Facebook, scammer after scammer responded, after about an hour I deleted both listings and put on Gumtree and EBay

  • Ojustaboo
    Ojustaboo Member Posts: 137 Helper
    edited January 8

    solved :)

    Arturia Keylab 61 mk2 black

    Built angled shelf for Keylab

    New adjustable monitor arm

    New laptop stand for PC keyboard

    Native instruments S88 mk3 being ordered Friday which will sit nicely under the desk.

  • BIF
    BIF Member Posts: 418 Pro


    One thing though...there are A LOT OF WIRES in that room. Isn't that creating stray electromagnetic fields from time to time? I'd be afraid of having buzzing sounds and whatnot from all that.

  • Ojustaboo
    Ojustaboo Member Posts: 137 Helper

    My electronics station used to be where my music is now, all the wires behind my PC are different cables for my multimeters, oscilloscope etc, just haven’t got around to moving them, they’re not plugged into anything.

  • BIF
    BIF Member Posts: 418 Pro

    Oh, okay. Well, that won't hurt anything unless some space aliens come to visit and they can only eat copper. Then you might get a visit from them. I'd hide those probes, just in case. 😏

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