Tool development: Arturia KeyLab mkII 49/61 (MCU MIDI messages)

What? What do you mean?

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A dumb joke, sorry.

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Well, just comment a little bit that I have managed to do so far:

For the moment, I have managed to build a tool that works with the entire button section that surrounds the transport buttons, which are also included.

I also have the central control of the dial (left turn, right, middle button) and the right and left buttons, as well as the 3 circular buttons, and all eight selection buttons (below the faders).

For now I can shoot functions at my whim, and at the same time synchronize the status of the LED lighting of the buttons with Renoise, which is the most attractive and coherent for its correct use.

Strange things that I have detected. For some reason I can not illuminate the right and left buttons of the dial, when the output sends are correct.

How does this work? With the configuration in DAW Standard MCU, the KeyLab sends notes through all these buttons, and others send CC data. With the notes, the midi channel, the note and the velocity are sent. Each button has note_on (pressed) and note_off (released).

These notes are converted to sysex data, which is a table of 3 items of this format (0x90,0x67,0x7F) or (0x90,0x67,0x00), 67 would represent the note, and 7F is the maximum volume, that is to say the pressed, and 00 would be the released.

So I already know how to use the MIDI output. In addition, most of these buttons only work on a midi channel, number 1.

The final conclusion is that it is necessary that Arturia provide the sysex instructions of this particular keyboard model to know how to control the colors of some of the multicolored buttons. Actually, with everything I know, I do not know how to do that yet.

What is the main problem that causes having to build a tool? When the midi input is configured to be able to send notes with MIDIIN2 (KeyLab mkII 49), these notes are also recorded in the pattern editor when recording. Therefore, it is not possible to use Renoise’s MIDI input directly, but it is necessary to build a tool that, instead of recording the notes associated with each button, can launch specific functions, such as creating a stop button or similar.

In addition, using timers, it is possible to make a very smooth navigation between changing tracks, sequence or lines, without having to strafe each button.

If someone can help with the theme of how to configure the sysex of multicolored buttons colors, help here.

Thank you!

Note: I think these comments can also serve as the basis for building specific tools for other specific MIDI controllers.

This is the look of the tool I’m building for the Arturia KeyLab mkII 49/61 driver.
(This tool works even if your window is closed!)

Practically I already have all the necessary information to control synchronize it with Renoise perfectly. I have needed a lot of trial and error to understand all this sysex and input / output messages.

Many thanks to the people who have helped here with guidance!

I am aware that almost nobody has this driver to control Renoise. However, if someone uses it and has a request to integrate it into the tool, it is time to request it.

As soon as I have a beta that I can publish, I’ll announce it in the tools section of the Renoise website and in the tool forums.

As it is designed, it allows to toggle between the DAW Mode (Standard MCU) and the 10 User modes.

In DAW mode, knobs and faders are used to manipulate / correct notes and all their parameters. However, in user mode all these controls can be mapped with the MIDI input, to control the volume and other things of the individual tracks.

I want to comment on my initial experience with this Arturia driver. When I started to manipulate it, I was frustrated because half the buttons and controls do not work with Renoise. It has been necessary to build a tool with a lot of research behind (on the internet there is no information about the sysex messages of this controller, it’s time to rehearse with it).

Any user who does not know how to build a tool with LUA will not be able to use this class of MIDI controllers with Renoise (the same case with other DAWs). Personally, I do not understand why Arturia (and other companies) do not design their products so that these buttons and controls are not orphaned.

Apparently, this problem is not isolated with Renoise. Other DAWs, even compatible ones, do not work correctly. For example, I could not operate the transport buttons with Studio One v4 or FL Studio v20. I think it’s a bit sad that a keyboard that sells for more than € 450 does not have that flexibility installed in the firmware so that all the buttons work in one way or another.

That said, once this tool is built, the KeyLab mkII is perfect for Renoise.

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Hi Raul, this is awesome!

As a pretty new Owner of a Keylab 49 mkII myself i am really looking forward to this!

If you need a dummy user for testing, let me know. I myself have a programming background but have never fiddled around with any of these protocols, so not sure how much i could help at this point besides testing and providing feedback :slight_smile:

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Hello @SinisterDex

I’m glad there are more users with an Arturia KeyLab MkII!

I still have to experiment a bit with the change of colors of the selection buttons (Select 1 to Select 8-9) and, for the moment, I am ignoring the control of the 16 pads (both the black and white keys of the piano and the 16 pads are assigned directly with the normal MIDI input). The rest can be commanded by the tool. Actually, the tool acts as a “bridge” between Renoise and the KeyLab MkII. It is only necessary to activate the button “ON” to work.

I still do not have a sufficiently finished version to publish it. Actually, you could only help me if you know how to interpret the SysEx data for the Renoise MIDI input and output (see documentation).

The only issue where I really need support from other users is that I do not have the 61-key version, I only have the version of 49. Then I can not test the tool with the KeyLab MKII of 61. I understand that both versions work exactly the same , that is, they communicate with the DAW through the same SysEx MIDI messages. The only thing that changes is the name of the device, a detail that must be defined in the LUA code of the tool.

Currently I have hardly any free time to devote to programming with LUA. I still keep the Piano Roll Editor tool (I’m preparing a new version). I’ll have to leave it a little aside to finish this tool. I’ll probably call it “AKM” or “AKM Bridge” :slight_smile:

When I can, I will publish a version of the tool here.

I just wanted to point out an interesting fact here:

There is good news from Arturia. It seems that they have listened to the demand of the users and are working for a next and iminent launch of the KeyLab 88 MkII :scream:. I suppose it will be the same as the 61-key version, but with 88 keys.

I suppose that it will also share the same firmware for the 3 models. Therefore, it will be reasonable to think that the tool I am developing will also be compatible with the 88-key version, although I will not be able to prove it. What will the price be? € 699.90?

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Following the ration for this MIDI controller, Arturia released a new firmware with the launch of the KeyLab 88 MKII. This new firmware adds another DAW mode that allows to control only the transport buttons (it is possible that someone read this forum). The rest of the buttons that are up are orphaned again. For Renoise it is still necessary to build a specific tool to control everything, the top 8 buttons as well as the transport buttons and the entire central panel of the controller.

However, I must say that I am delighted with this Arturia Midi controler (KeyLab 49 mkII).

By the way, the KeyLab 88 MkII costs almost € 900, for me, an excessive price, even if the keys have changed.

Just I say that if someone is interested in acquiring a keyboard KeyLab 49 mkII of these (even if it’s second-hand, how I did), you can use it with Renoise and the tool I’m finishing. The second-hand market is sometimes a great opportunity.

The Arturia KeyLab mkII tool is almost finished. This is the final aspect:

If someone has a physical KeyLab mkII of Arturia and wants to use this super-tool with Renoise, let me know and I will upload it to the Renoise web tools server.


@Raul please do upload it, I’d be really interested in using it!

Ok, let’s see if this week I have time and I upload the first version finished. You will see that having this is a luxury!

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to create a user guide. You will have to do tests yourself. When you try it, if you have any questions, you can ask in the thread where the tool will be published.


@Raul if you have the code somewhere public I could have a go at the user guide (can put it in a pull request on GitHub, for example)

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I don’t know if I have explained myself well.

There will not be a user guide (I don’t have time for that, it costs a lot of work and is very little appreciated by people). I only intend to share the XRNX tool. You just have to install it and that’s it. I may put some basic “how to get started” instructions next to the tool link. It will be available in the tools section of the website.

I will share it because I know it is very frustrating what Arturia has done with this MIDI controller keyboard, leaving many of its extra buttons dead, which are not compatible with the standard MIDI input.

Raul, i think @rudenoise tried to ask if it’s okay with you from him to help you by making “manual” by looking thru your code

  • correct me if i’m wrong

@Raul @dspasic that’s right! I really appreciate the project, was looking for a way to show gratitude and help out

Thanks for the hard work, either way!

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Oh! Of course! Maybe I have misunderstood. Sorry!

Feel free to create a manual yourself in English if you consider it appropriate. It could be linked in the publication thread of the tool. You can take the LUA code from the tool and do whatever you want with it, as long as you respect the authorship.

To make a user manual, I do not think that you will see the internal LUA code (it is somewhat complex). Yes you can describe the things that can be done using the tool from Arturia’s MIDI keyboard.

As soon as I publish the tool I will comment here too.

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Raul this tool is rather nice looking, i just might buy some controller from arturia :stuck_out_tongue:
Really it looks so tempting!

This situation is a bit strange.

  1. Renoise costs less than € 100. It is a tremendously cheap software for everything you can do.
  2. The Arturia KeyLab MKii keyboard with only 46 keys costs more than € 400 new (I bought it second-hand at half the price).
  3. As the firmware of this keyboard comes, the extra control buttons for DAW are useless for Renoise and many other DAWs, because these buttons are not mappable with the standard MIDI input. Then you are buying an expensive and “trimmed” keyboard, very well thought out so that you can continue to buy Arturia software and continue depending on this brand. Half of the price you pay is for the additional software that comes with the keyboard.

So, people who buy and use Renoise don’t spend so much money on expensive hardware.

Seeing all this context, it is necessary to create a specific tool so that this keyboard can be used with Renoise, it is painful. And this is not Renoise’s fault. The company responsible for this ruling is Arturia.

However, thanks to this tool, you will have one of the best MIDI controllers for Renoise today. I would recommend buying second hand. Surely many users are not happy with Arturia for these details, and they will sell their second-hand product.

On the other side is the 88-key KeyLab Mk2. A price exaggeration for a keyboard that is basically a DAW controller, with connection extras that nobody will use. Not even Arturia’s advertising boasts such extra rear connections. It’s a bit of a joke that in all the ads just hang a USB cable from behind.

Manufacturers are doing the impossible to get money with extras out of place, confusing this with “the evolution” of the hardware.

So yes, it is a somewhat strange situation.

Finally, the first version of the “Arturia KeyLab mkII” tool has been published here:

Please, if you find any problem with the handling of the tool or any suggestions, comment in that link…

Ejoy it!


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