It’s like a BeatStep Pro, but with keys, but with KeyStep features, but with extras. And it’s still compact. Sounds like Arturia may have a hit on their hands.
Remember when we were all repeatedly saying that the KeyStep was cool, but it’d be nice if there were a KeyStep Pro? To their credit, Arturia did keep cramming functionality into their compact keyboard, and that means the latest firmware turned it into a little powerhouse – and one you still might want to consider:
But now the KeyStep Pro expands that. If you loved the BeatStep Pro but wish it had keys instead of pads, or if you loved the KeyStep but wish it had extra encoders and polyphonic features, well… mark your calendars for March the 20th. That’s the date this model launches.
And this is still a beat sequencer, so just because it’s a tricked out sequencer keyboard doesn’t mean you need to start making only tripped-out prog rock.
Basically, it’s an ideal performance hub for anyone who likes keyboards. You get loads of compositional flexibility:
- 4 independent sequencers, which you can route to whatever synths or drum machines or modular or gear you want – just as on the BeatStep Pro
- 4 tracks have 16 patterns each, and chain 16 patterns into a song
- Scenes snapshot all the sequences within a pattern, for swapping between sets of patterns
- Projects let you load up different scenes
And then there’s a nicely balanced complement of physical control.
- 37 keys with velocity and channel aftertouch
- LEDs above the keys give you added visual feedback for sequencing
- Touch strips give you pitch + mod or other assignable controls
- There’s an internal metronome, which you can listen to (to sync humans) or output as audio (to sync analog hardware)
- Finally, five encoders with LED ring feedback – that’s an improvement on the BeatStep Pro, at least if you want to swap scenes without having to fiddle with the knobs to get them to pick up the right value
- And of course step editing buttons, or this wouldn’t be an Arturia ‘step
What I don’t see, at least at first look, is the easy-access arpeggiator that’s on the basic KeyStep. That combined with price and size could mean that the KeyStep still has a solid place. I’m getting some feedback on how the new step sequencer works if what you want is really an arp.
It’s less portable than the original, but it’s still reasonable – 5.9 lbs or 2.7 kg, and slightly larger. They’re still slim keys, but that also makes this easier to drop into a backpack.
There’s also a crisp new OLED display – nice.
Price is US$449 / EUR 399 list, so it isn’t cheap – the BeatStep Pro is then a nice bargain buy if you like pads as well as you do keys. But for those of us who wanted exactly this as a hub, it looks like a good investment, rather than building a collection of keyboards that kinda sorta do what we want but not really.
More details and full specs:
And the video. Now is a good time to announce CDM’s exciting pivot to video features. Stand on one toe… good… oh, okay, stop groaning at me.
(Heh, I just noticed that Arturia’s own mailing list says this was the sequencer that we’ve “been waiting for.” Well, their product people knew that I was waiting and CDM readers were waiting, as I’d talked to them about it! Review coming soon, hopefully!)