Music creation with M1 chip Air

Thinking I need a challenge for a Covid-19 winter I’m considering getting a digital keyboard controller to learn piano. I’m considering the Arturia Key Lab MK2. So, in addition to being a newbie on piano the same goes for using the device. I understand I’ll interface with my computer and DAW software.

I have a new 2020 MacBook Air (M!) on the way but understand that the keyboard will only work with Intel chip machines and also that support for Big Sur is lacking as well.

I’m considering retaining my 2016 MackBook Pro to use with the Arturia.

Any hope that the emulation on the new MacBook Air will allow use of that computer with the keyboard?

Anyone using their Mac for music creation knowledgeable about the situation?

Music production software always lags (sometimes significantly) behind Apple’s product releases. This is because musicians don’t have time to mess around with getting software to work - if it doesn’t “just work” out of the box, then won’t use it. So the publishers won’t support a new platform until it has been thoroughly tested (and bugs fixed) on that platform.

That having been said Arturia’s software might work on the new equipment. But it won’t be a supported configuration - you’ll be on your own to deal with any problems you might encounter.

If you prefer using third-party software, the product page says:

  • Compatible with all major Digital Audio Workstation: Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, FL Studio, Bitwig, Cubase, Ableton Live, Digital Performer, Studio One

So, if you don’t want to or can’t use Arturia’s software, you can use Logic Pro. And I suspect it will also work with Garage Band, since it has a MIDI interface (and, I assume, supports MIDI over its USB port).

I would strongly suggest contacting (via a phone call) someone at Arturia to discuss your options. If they aren’t available, there are many good music stores with experts that you may also be able to ask, and will be able to provide support if you need it. (One such store I’ve done business with in the past is Sweetwater Sound. They are Mac dealers as well as music equipment resellers, which is really great for people in your situation.)

But all this being said, if you’re buying a keyboard for the purpose of learning piano, I don’t think a MIDI controller is your best choice. I think something with built-in sound production, so you can use it without a computer, would be more appropriate. For example:

And the really important bit is the the “hammer action” so it feels closer to a real piano with hammers and strings. Yamaha, Kurzweil and Roland also have various electric piano options but onboard speakers makes for a lot of convenience.