Novation Launchpad Pro Review – Advanced MIDI Performance Instrument

In its time, Novation turned the musical world, releasing the legendary Launchpad. Time passed, the disadvantages were taken into account and new opportunities were found, and the company used its experience for creation of a new generation of controllers. In this article you will learn all about the Novation Launchpad Pro.

The result is pretty impressive, because all the features of the device in its price range is a wholly new experience.

Last Launchpad, of course, have received updates: brighter lights, support of mobile devices, but fundamentally nothing new was added. It doesn’t matter how much you push the button, there wasn’t a full-colored visualization, with which it is much easier to play live.

Version Novation Launchpad Pro changes everything. So, let’s start with specs as usual.

Specifications

Overall Build and Features of Novation Launchpad Pro

Novation Launchpad Pro has been completely redesigned. The materials of which it is made are better, that makes you feel that everything is really done on the PRO level. New RGB pads are highlighted in accordance with the color of the clips in the session mode of Ableton Live, so you know exactly what clips are playing now. Also, the buttons are now sensitive to pushing and even pressure, so you can add speakers. Another innovative feature Fader Glide, which we will describe later in this article, is connected with the sensitivity to Velocity.

The device still consists of 8×8 grid of pads, plus there are twice more auxiliary buttons. You can use the grid to play in any music program or even with external devices. Yes, the launchpad can now be used without computer, because the device has got a MIDI I/O. Connect it to the MIDI port of your synth and play riffs using a grid. Perhaps, it is the first commercially available grid controller which can control an external device.

As for the software, then the launchpad can act as a normal MIDI controller and work with any sequencer, but do not forget that it is designed for interplay with Ableton Live, so it has great integration with this program.

There are several modes in which you can run Novation Launchpad Pro.

The first and most common one is the mode of the session. It is traditional for lunch-controller — launch and combine parties in a set for development of arrangements and compositions.

There are quite a lot of innovations that simplify the work. For example, you can stop the clips. Existing users of the launchpads are probably faced with such situation — you need to stop the clip but there are no empty cells per row. You have to scroll down and look for an empty one or switch to the mixer and there press the stop, which is a terrible waste of time, especially when you need to make it till the end of beat. Now everything is simple, there is an auxiliary button, holding which you can easy to disable a playback on any track.

In general, there have been added quite a lot of auxiliary buttons. You can enable the metronome, undo / redo last action, remove clips, make quantize, make copies of clips, record, – shortly, there were added a lot of features to simplify the work of user.

Most useful at the stage of draft creating is the Note Mode. It is divided into two types — one for drums, one for melodies.

When you control the drums in the Drum Rack, all your sampler cells are assigned to the mesh of drum pads, and you can strum a drum party, drumming on the pads.

With the melodies, it is a little different — a pad mesh becomes a chromatic keyboard and illuminated in accordance with a selected key, so you can easily play notes, melodies and chords without a fear to pass a key.

Another new convenient feature of Novation Launchpad Pro is that now there is no need to go into the mixer mode. You need to press a special button, adjust the volume, turn on or off the channel and release the button to return to play. And so with other modes — you can just hold the button and make changes, let go and go back. However, if you need to stay in the same mixer mode, just press the button quickly and immediately release it.

Monitor the effects and settings of instruments during the performance in the mode of devices to add emphasis. Each of the eight rows is responsible for the management of macro-control of instruments. If you have several devices hanging on the track, you can switch between them through arrows. To switch to the other track, you have to hold down a special button and choose a desired channel. In short, for newbies: you can use the buttons to add effects and change the nature of sounds and timbres.

To control volume and other settings, each vertical row of pads acts as 8-step fader. From the experience with previous launchpad, where the transitions between the stages were too sharp, Novation came up with a feature Fader Glide. The harder you press, the faster the setting proceeds to a desired value. This solves the problem with the smoothness and adds liveliness to performance. If you need a parameter to change gradually, just press the button without much effort.

There is a custom mode where you can assign everything to everywhere, just like with any controller. Also, in this mode, you can create cool visualizations: it may be useful to give your performance a real-show look.

Ableton Live Lite 9 is included in the set, so you can immediately start playing, even if before owning Launchpad Pro you had no device like this one.

In the future, you will be able to upgrade with a discount to a more advanced version of the program.

If you already have Ableton Live, it must be version 9. We recommend you upgrade it to latest version to avoid compatibility issues.

Novation Launchpad Pro vs Ableton Push

Many people compare Novation Launchpad Pro with Ableton Push, and it is a pretty reasonable comparison. Let’s look at some of the differences that will indicate in favor to purchase the Launchpad:

  • It is almost two times cheaper than Push
  • It is lighter and more compact
  • Fewer functions, but the interaction easier
  • Fader Glide
  • Works with Ableton Live, but also with other softwares
  • Has MIDI ports, so you can control external devices

If you need a display, encoders, touchstrip and improved integration with Ableton Live, we recommend you choose Push, especially when there is a special offer: it comes with the full version of Suite, unlike Lite from Novation.

Three Reasons to Buy

  1. Price / Quality (the price is fully justifying the microphone functionality)
  2. It is convenient to carry due to the compact size and small weight
  3. Excellent recording quality for podcasting, video blogging, gamers, musicians and regular user, who wants to get excellent sound quality

Final Verdict on Novation Launchpad Pro 

Overall impressions of Launchpad Pro are positive. It solves all the problems that were associated with the first version, and considering that with first launchpads people play so there are goosebumps, the new device can be called a perfect grid controller.