Arturia has added a third KeyStep to its range of keyboards, all of which feature controller, computer interface, and standalone MIDI and CV options.
There’s a live chat about to come on as I write this, if you’re into that sort of thing:
But here’s the skinny.
Arturia already had a cute little entry-level Arturia KeyStep. On that model, you get 32 keys, plus:
- Polyphonic step sequencer / arpeggiator with loads of options
- Touch strips for pitch and modulation
- Chord play mode (also works with the arp)
- Tap tempo and transport controls
- USB (with class-compliant operation, so even Linux, iOS, Android will work)
- Standalone operation (if you don’t have one of those devices handy)
- (volt/octave) CV, gate, and ‘mod’ CV output for analog connections
- Clock in and out for analog sync (even with DIN support)
- MIDI in / out
- Internal, USB, MIDI, or sync input modes with switch
As I wrote last summer, Arturia also did a lot to cram still more usefulness into this keyboard via firmware, including features like sequence length, quantized tempo adjustment, and arp octaves:
The KeyStep 37 supports all of that. But before you jump all the way up to the KeyStep Pro, you might consider the KeyStep 37 for some subtle but significant improvements.
37 keys is already a little more space, of course. But apart from that, you get the one feature I was most missing on the KeySteps – knobs. What’s new here:
- RGB LED indicators above each key, which is especially useful since this is a step sequencer (also on the KeyStep Pro)
- 4 assignable knobs
- A screen (which makes BPM and CC assignments clearer)
- Enhanced Chord mode with multiple voicings, strumming, velocity settings, 12 chord types.
- Assignable MIDI CCs – there are only 4 knobs there, but you get 4 switchable banks for a total of 16 CCs.
- Scale mode, in case you slept through those music theory / keyboard classes (or just want to get more mileage out of a small number of keys). You get 5 scales – plus one user-defined scale. (Not separate tunings, though.)
Otherwise, this is basically a KeyStep – same keybed, and otherwise the same features.
But the chord strum/velocity feature is now specific to the KeyStep – you won’t find it on the KeyStep Pro, even. (Hopefully that’s added in future firmware.)
KeyStep Pro is worthwhile if you want more sequencing. Apart from extra polyphony and sequencer patterns, the ‘Pro’ adds:
- 3 sequencer modes / 3 layers instead of just one
- Drum sequencer and drum gate outs
- Pattern chaining
- Project saving
- A big OLED display
That’s no small matter; the Pro is really three sequencers in one, and allows you to easily make whole songs – including drums – from a single interface.
But if it was the lack of control that turned you off of the KeyStep, the KeyStep 37 does give you that plus clever new chord playing modes. It looks like a terrific performance instrument.
And Arturia really has cornered the market on studio integration for these little, inexpensive devices. It isn’t lost on me that the Maschine+, which costs a full grand and change more than this, doesn’t have any CV connectivity for folks owning analog gear.
KeyStep 37 is EUR169 / US$199, available now.
See their tutorials for more on operation.