Studiologic SL73 Studio
You’ve probably played a Studiologic keyboard at some point without realising it. Or at least, you’ve probably played a keyboard made by the Italian brand’s parent company, Fatar, founded as an organ manufacturer in 1956 and going on to produce the keybeds used in controllers by countless other brands.
The company’s Sledge 2.0 is one of our favourite synths of recent years, but we’re interested in controllers here so the pick of Studiologic’s range is the SL73 Studio, a premium controller with a top quality keybed and not a lot else. There’s a TFT display, a few buttons and a single knob to access the keyboard’s functions (which can also be accessed via a software editor) but the message is clear: you buy the SL for its keyboard feel, not because of any gimmicky additional features.
Despite that keyboard focus, the SL’s modulation setup also deserves a mention. The SL series eschews traditional pitch bend levers or mod wheels in favour of an assignable bank of three XY joysticks. The first is spring-loaded in both directions, the second is spring-loaded in the X-axis only, and the third is free-moving in both directions. It makes a lot of sense in practice, allowing you to pick the most suitable option for parameters which should spring back to a default setting when you let go (pitch bend, vibrato, etc) and those which should stay where you leave them (filter cutoff, resonance, etc).
The SL73 is a throwback in many respects. Other companies would have shoehorned in a few sliders, rotary encoders and drum pads without a second thought, but Studiologic stick to the basics: an excellent keyboard, designed with players in mind. Ultimately, that’s all many of us really want.