Juno Plus casts an expert eye over the Novation Launchpad, the
new MIDI controller intended for use with Ableton Live.
In the flesh the Launchpad is a simple, well-built controller with a
total of 80 backlit rubberized buttons and rubberized feet so it doesnít slip about while in use, a Kensington lock socket for security, and a USB socket for connecting to the computer.
The buttons either light up in amber (to show that the slot contains a clip), green (to show that the clip is playing), red (to show that the clip is recording) or no colour (to show that there are no tracks or scenes in that range).
The buttons look nice and the backlighting provides valuable
information to whatís happening on-screen (they feel slightly sticky to the touch at first but this soon wears off).
Novation say that the Launchpadís buttons can be used to sketch out beats with drum racks, however the fact that they arenít velocity sensitive makes me think Akaiís MPD range , M-Audioís
Trigger Finger or Korgís NanoPAD and PadKontrol
controllers would be more suited to that particular task.
The Launchpad is USB bus-powered so it draws power from the computer and doesnít require an adaptor to run Ė very useful.
Connection to the computer is via the included L-shaped USB cable, which is a welcome addition compared with the standard USB cable, which would inevitably stick out quite a way from the Launchpad and end up getting in the way.
In operation the Launchpad works seamlessly with Live, as youíd
expect for a controller designed in conjunction with Ableton. The
Launchpad can be used to control other functions in Live using Abletonís ĎLearní mode as well as control almost any other music software using Novationís award-winning ĎAutomapí control software.
The exclusion of knobs and faders does limit the Launchpad somewhat compared with Akaiís more complete APC40
Ableton Performance Controller, but for £149 compared with the
pricier and less portable APC40 (£379), the Launchpad is definitely