Best MIDI controller for Cubase 12

Looking at getting an Arturia Keylab 61, Novation Impulse 61, or Novation 61SL MKIII controller - has anyone had experience using these with Cubase 12?


Arturia KeyLab mkII has great MIDI Remote script thanks to @m.c :man_bowing: Therefore I would consider KeyLab mkII as the winner from the list, you provided.

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I don’t have an Impulse 61, so I cannot really comment on this, but I do have both the Keylab MK2 and the SL MK3, which I wrote scripts for, based on my personal workflow, though I’ve tried to make them as generic as I could.

Both scripts cover the transport commands, mixer, quick controls, channel strip, inserts, sends, and they have some sets of other commands.

The SL MK3 is a clear winner when it comes to visual feedback because of its (small but quite nice) displays. When for example we’re editing a VSTi or an insert effect, we can see on our displays the parameters and their values, while on the Keylab MK2 we can see just one parameter (the currently edited). Same thing goes for pretty much everything else, when in mixer page, we see all 8 tracks (of a bank) names, volume, pan, plugin name, in EQ all parameters and so on. At the same time, when we are in commands’ pages, we can see almost all the assignments again on our displays.

Now, when it comes to buttons, the Keylab MK2 has already named ones, for Punch In/Out, Save, Undo, Metronome, Mute/Solo/Record, Undo and Read/Write automation, and three buttons for browsing tracks and banks, while the SL MK3 out of the box, has Duplicate, Clear, tracks and banks navigation. However, all these cases are handled on the SL MK3 as well, using the buttons that it offers, it’s just that we need a little time to memorize them, for example, the metronome is assigned to holding a button named Options and clicking the Record button. No big deal, if you ask me.

Jog wheel: Now this is a miss on the SL MK3, while the Keylab MK2 has a very good one, with turn and push. Again, I’ve setup the SL MK3 to do these things as well, but a jog wheel is a great tool for me, in fact I’ve added an external controller just for it (a Shuttle Pro V2) when working on my SL MK3.

Outside of the DAW integration, the Keylab MK2 has its own mapping system with Analog Lab (and V-collection) which is great, especially if your into vintage synths emulations (I am).
On the other hand, the SL MK3 has a good 8-parts pattern based sequencer, which I personally use for percussion and bass lines, and a built-in ARP pretty useful in some genres. This sequencer can (and probably was designed to) be used with external hardware.

Finally, both keyboards can control external hardware, with either MIDI or CV.

Honestly, I don’t find it an easy decision, I personally use both, depending on my mood :slight_smile:

BUT strictly speaking for the DAW part, I can guarantee you that I’ve implemented all functions I wanted, in a pretty similar way on both keyboards. And on the SL MK3 (it’s a newer script, so I did make use of some extra functionalities of the MIDI Remote API) I even added some pages for users to add their custom assignments.

@Martin.Jirsak already gave the link for the Keylab MK2 (Thank you!) and here’s the link for the SL MK3:

Honestly, if you can, you should consider testing both devices on a shop and judge for your self.


Wow, thank you so much for the detailed information! Very very helpful. I have not ever messed with scripts, so to me it sounds like the Arturia will be easier (and it’s cheaper) and all I’m missing out on is the sequencer.

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Sure, whatever suits you best!

Nor you really have to. The installation of such scripts is a matter of some clicks. However, sure, first get the controller you like, and you’ll have all the time to judge if you need the midi remote or can live with the integration provided by the manufacturer :slight_smile:

I’d still be curious if anyone has experience with the Impulse and Cubase 12.

Shuttle Pro V2

Thanks for that tip @m.c ! I have a second hand SL Mk 3 incoming, so probably" too late" to consider the KeyLab.

I see there is also a Contour Multimedia Controller Xpress jog wheel. How is the integration with Cubase?

Hello my friend, there’s not anything out of the box but this is not a problem.
These two devices (I have both) are customized using their own utility, and you can assign shortcuts to buttons AND the wheels (inner and outer). This way it’s pretty easy to have them trigger commands in Cubase. You can even assign different “pages” of shortcuts to them by having two buttons assigned to page previous/next.

For example, I do use the jog wheel to move to previous/next bar, the outer wheel to zoom in/out vertically/horizontally, and the buttons for usual operations (copy, paste etc).

The “small” brother (Xpress) has less buttons than the Pro, but they’re bigger and you can easily attach to them labels describing their functions. I like them both, but don’t expect any type of MIDI functionality, though it is possible using external translation utilities (shortcuts to MIDI).

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So far I like the Keylab, but I’ve barely scratched the surface of utilizing the controls and shortcuts. The controls and faders on the top right work best within a few VST instruments (of course, the Arturia ones) and inconsistently on others.