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Arturia Keystep Pro Review – Is It A Gamechanger?

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NAMM 2020 has kicked off with a bang and Arturia has come out swinging. The Arturia Keystep Pro is their latest release and this has been one of the most anticipated controllers in the MIDI keyboard community.

For the last 2 years, musicians have been asking Arturia to make a larger version of the Keystep and to include aftertouch. Well, that’s exactly what they did.

In my opinion, the Arturia Keystep Pro is easily the best 37 key MIDI keyboard currently available. In short, Arturia knocked this release out of the park and I see this competing with the best controllers in the world today.

You can view this incredible controller below at Sweetwater.

Pros

  • Aftertouch
  • Ability to control hardware synths, modules, effects, drum machines
  • Light-weight
  • Portable
  • Inexpensive
  • Impressive layout

Cons

  • Lack of full-sized keys

Overview Of The Arturia Keystep Pro

Overview of Keystep Pro
Closeup of the front & back of the Keystep Pro

As you can see, Arturia took its popular Keystep and added some more features to it, as well as 37 keys. I’m a little surprised there aren’t full-sized keys, however, it’s not the end of the world.

Aftertouch is included, as well as a 4 track sequencer that is polyphonic. There’s also a dedicated 16 track drum sequencer on board as well.

Overall, you are getting 64-steps with the sequencer as well as 2 MIDI outs, drum triggers, four CV, gate and mod outs and the ability to control hardware synthesizers.

Streamlined For The Studio & Live

The Keystep Pro is perfect for the studio as well as for playing live shows. All of your transport controls are on the top and bottom left for ease of controlling your DAW.

You also have a screen above each sequencer so you can each parameter. If you were a fan of the original Keystep, you will likely fall in love with the Keystep Pro.

Aftertouch is perfect for when performing solos live as you can set it to vibrato and rip some great leads.

Features

  • Keys: 37 keys velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch
  • USB: Yes
  • Sequencer: 4-track polyphonic step sequencer & 16 part drum sequencer
  • Chord Mode: Yes
  • Built-in metronome with click output to send to a drummer

Overall Layout

The overall layout is in my opinion very easy to follow. I love that it’s all color-coded and above each sequencer is a screen.

I think that touring with this keyboard would actually be really awesome. One thing that Arturia is advertising is that you can possibly play without hooking up to your DAW for live.

This eliminates the frustration of having to load up your DAW, which can sometimes crash while playing live. With this being said, I’m not positive about how well it will work without a DAW at this moment.

You’re able to send a metronome line out, but I’m curious as to how switching synths would work if you have hundreds of synths for your performance like I do.

Controlling Hardware Synths With Keystep Pro

One of the pros with the Keystep Pro is that you can take control of pretty much anything you would want to including, modules and hardware synths.

This is one of the cheapest MIDI controllers you can currently purchase that allows you to control hardware synths, drum machines, effects, and modules.

The Keys

The keys have aftertouch, however, they’re not full-sized keys. To me, this isn’t a huge issue as I’ve played countless controllers without it, but for some, it might be.

I typically find the keys on MIDI keyboards to not be great overall, so this is kind of something I can just not worry too much about. If it’s all about the key-bed for you, get a digital piano and use it as a MIDI controller.

Arturia Keystep Pro VS Its Competition

The Keystep Pro beats out most of its competition. The only controllers near its size that I would say compare would be the Novation SL MK III, the Nektar Panorama T4, and the Arturia Keylab MK II.

With this being said, deciding between these 3 controllers isn’t the easiest thing to do.

I personally think the SL MK III is tough to beat, but the Keystep Pro is also cheaper.

Beginners Or Professionals?

I would recommend the Keystep Pro to those who have some experience with controllers and music production. There are other options that would be easier to learn production with.

With this being said, once you get by the learning curve, you will find yourself with an incredibly powerful controller that will last your entire musical journey.

Overall

Overall, I believe that Keystep Pro is one of the best controllers currently available today. You are getting an awesome sequencer, aftertouch, & ultimate control and connectivity with anything you would want to control.

When compared with the SL MK III, the Keystep Pro is very similar. It is a little cheaper, but it also has 12 fewer keys, 4 fewer track sequencers, and smaller keys.

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