Pro Audio

Arturia MiniLab 3: a MIDI Controller Packed With Software, Samples and Lessons

We got our hands on the brand-new Arturia MiniLab 3 MIDI controller. Perfectly sized, it’s packed with free software from Arturia, Ableton, Native Instruments, UVI and subscriptions to Loopcloud and Melodics.

We use MIDI controllers so much in the studio these days that they are the central focus. In fact, they’ve been in use so long that some people don’t even know what MIDI stands for*, or that synth legend Dave Smith created it!

Since the world of emulations and recreations started becoming useable in music production, Arturia has been creating MIDI controllers that are perfectly sized, well-thought-out in the features and look great. We introduce to you the MiniLab 3, which also happens to be the world’s first eco-designed MIDI controller!

Arturia should be no stranger to you if you are reading this, as they dominate the world in emulations of rare and discontinued synths and keyboards. They also make analog synths, audio interfaces, and software FX. We’re big fans here and have made a few videos of their V Collection 9 and their FX Collection 3

The MiniLab 3 is their latest MIDI controller that sits in the perfect world of being great on a studio desk or on an airplane tray table on a long-haul flight — given we’re all travelling again! However, this controller comes with a tonne of software that syncs up with the MiniLab 3 to make use of the array of knobs and faders.

As well as the MiniLab 3’s screen and controls synchronizing with Analog Lab Intro, it’s also integrated with your DAW. Within Ableton, Logic, Bitwig, FL Studio and Reason, it uses specially-made scripts so you can control your DAW all from the MiniLab 3. You can tweak settings, create custom mappings, and work on your production in real-time.

You’ll hear time and time again from seasoned engineers that a computer mouse and keyboard just don’t cut it when mixing music, so you can now get hands-on and use your ears rather than your eyes. It’s as simple as registering the software and keeping up to date with the firmware. Once you realise you can control your daw without a keyboard and mouse your productivity will sky-rocket.

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Coming with Ableton Live Lite — a DAW, Analog Lab Intro — a suite of Arturia’s synth and keyboard soft synths, UVI Model D — a Steinway Model D grand piano emulation, Native Instruments The Gentlemen — an upright piano from 1908 that’s over 110 years old and Melodics — lessons in playing, performing, and music production and a free 2-month Artist/Studio plan to Loopcloud — one of the world’s best sample library apps.

The most important part of any MIDI controller should be the feeling of it. The MiniLab 3 keys feel great as they give a fair amount of resistance back, and oddly they don’t feel ‘mini’. If you watch our video, you’ll see that our guest Radi was able to get around the keyboard quite well, and he’s a trained pianist.


The 9 knobs and 4 faders feel solid to use and the touch-sensitive and multi-function pads all show their movements on the screen. That’s a nice touch (pun intended!) if you were to use this live — you’ll be able to see exactly what setting you are tweaking and how much.

You should also feel good about using an eco-designed product — as mentioned before, the world’s first. It’s made from at least 50% recycled plastic, 100% recycled and if you are at all concerned about this future thinking and materials used the MiniLab 3 comes with a 5-year warranty.

Arturia is trying to reduce its carbon footprint for good — thanks Arturia, let’s hope more companies follow your lead.

The Arturia MiniLab 3 comes in at $169 AUD and you can get it from all good music stores. For more info head over to Arturia.com

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*MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and was originally connected via a 5-pin MIDI cable, which still exists in a lot of analog hardware. However, the use of USB connections has led to most interfaces and some hardware units connecting via USB but still calling it MIDI.

Dave Smith — founder of Sequential — created it way back in the 1980s. It changed the game for music production. Thanks Dave, Rest in Peace friend. Arturia make an excellent Prophet 5 emulation — watch it here: Arturia V Collection 9 | Full Demo and Review