The Arturia KeyStep is a portable keyboard with an onboard step sequencer for use with both software synths and analogue gear. The connectivity is where it really scores including a CV/Gate option for connecting to other synth gear. It’s good for both stage and studio use. The slim keys may be an issue for some DJ/producers who prefer full-size keys, but at this price point you’ll struggle to find other keyboards that have its feature set.
First Impressions / Setting up
The Arturia Keystep is a 32-note Midi keyboard for both music production and performance. It operates as a sequencer, arpeggiator and Midi controller in a simple clean design. Its keys are velocity-sensitive, has aftertouch, and is paired with pitch and modulation capacitive touch strips. Unique to the Keystep is CV/Gate and Midi connections on top of a USB port. In addition, it has a port to plug in a sustain pedal – plenty for a device under US$120.
The KeyStep has a plastic build – the keys are on the slim side so these aren’t advisable for users with above average sized fingers. Otherwise, the KeyStep has a simple layout with buttons, knobs, and keys that work fine.
User reviews rave about the KeyStep’s sequencer and the unique way it is implemented. Most step sequencers are monophonic, meaning it will output only one note at a time. But the KeyStep sequencer is polyphonic and is capable of stacking up to eight notes per sequence step. On top of that, you are able to create new sequences/melodies while a previous sequence you made is running as a loop. Notes that you play in real time will replace the notes in the same step that is playing in the background.
While in the sequencer is running, there are knobs to change its Rate and Division, as well as handy functions for deleting and adding notes. This makes the control for editing and cutting your sequence right at your fingertips. On top of that, because the KeyStep has Midi and CV/Gate outputs, the sequencer works simultaneously while you’re running an external synthesizer, drum machine, FX machine or Midi instrument.
The KeyStep is a solid keyboard with more than the usual features for live performances and music creation for its inexpensive price point. Its unique sequencer functions and additional outputs are features worth taking a look at and comparing against more expensive Midi keyboards.