Join us as we break down the specs and production possibilities inside this Novation Launchpad Pro Review.
Novation Launchpad was first released in 2009, since then it has become the preferred tool of many producers and blown up on the Ableton Live scene.
The 64 pads have been embraced by bedroom beat making kids and live performance pros alike, flooding youtube with clip launched covers of some of dance music’s most iconic tunes to EDM one hit wonders.
Users of the previous Launchpad models will not be let down by the newly added features, tweaks and twists that the team at Novation have engineered and brought to life in the new Launchpad Pro.
This super portable, powerful and playable backpack beast is not to be slept on by Ableton Live producers either in the studio or live on stage.
Much like its predecessors the Novation Launchpad Pro’s main feature and go-to tool of choice for most producers and live performers is the session mode.
The session mode works by triggering clips, loops, and sound inside of Ableton’s uniquely famous session view.
Novation has added a range of buttons and features to the Launchpad Pro’s controller real estate to make the entire session mode experience more accessible, fluid and fun.
- Seamless Ableton Live integration gives you hands-on control of your music
- Control any music software or external hardware with velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads
- RGB pads match the color of your clips in Ableton Live's session view
- Velocity-sensitive pads let you create expressive drum performances
- Illuminated LED pads let you play notes, melodies, and chords on a chromatic keyboard layout
Simply press the session button on the top of the controller and you are in the iconic session view inside of Ableton Live, with the interactivity and hands on control of the Launchpad pro at your fingertips.
You can now navigate around the entire session mode inside of Ableton via the up, down, left and right navigation buttons on the Launchpad Pro, this is handy for larger tracks that have more than 64 pads assigned to clip inside of your project.
The main purpose and advantage of the navigation buttons being added to the control features are to stop users having to refer to the laptop and mouse by keeping your hands and concentration on the Launchpad as much as possible.
For those who are not color-blind like me, Novation has added backlit multi-colored RGB pads that are matched to the color of your tracks and clips inside of Ableton Live.
This great feature allows you to coordinate and navigate both the controller and DAW simultaneously, allowing you more time to craft sets and sounds and less time getting lost inside for the machines and software.
Launching Scenes With Abelton Live
On the right-hand side of the Launchpad Pro’s 64 pads is a vertical strip of buttons for launching scenes.
Each button gives you the ability to launch an entire row of clips, also known as a scene, this is a great feature for going into the next phase of your track, such as a breakdown or drop without having to launch each clip individually.
Create impact and instant crowd reaction when seamlessly switching from scene to scene, on the beat, and on the fly with the Launchpad Pro.
Mixing With Launchpad Pro
Create depth, texture and that stereo flow with the mix parameter options on the LP Pro.
The horizontal bottom row of button is where you can get into the mix with the launchpad pro, I can’t see this function getting overly used by bedroom beat maker and producers using this machine in the studio to craft out ideas and song structure, as it’s much quicker and detailed to edit and automate audio inside the box, after the main structure and idea for the track has been created.
However, Launchpad Pro users who play live might get a kick out of editing and adding audio mixes live from the midi pad controller, such as mute, solo, pad and the new and impressive feature of grid fade.
The volume fade function on the Launchpad Pro is a new and welcomed addition to the updated Ableton controller.
By using the new and improved touch-sensitive RGB pads you can control the volume increase with the impact or subtlety that you triggering the assigned pad.
Hard hits will give a sudden and responsive increase in volume, while the soft touch and caress of the pad will slowly fade the volume in response to the built-in velocity sensitive functions of the pads.
Editing On The Fly
On the opposite side of the session launch controls is the edit section of the Pro.
Once again these functions have been included in the controller to allow you to keep your hands on the Launchpad and away from the distractions of the laptop and mouse.
The edit buttons include actions such as quantize, delete, duplicate and records.
This addition will all come in extremely handy when playing the Pro in the new Note Mode, allowing you to assign and record patterns into a new clip on an empty pad in the 64 grid.
What Is Note Mode?
Similarly to Ableton’s own purpose built midi controller the Push 2, but minus a few of the bells and whistle and at about half of the price, you can now play midi instruments and drum racks from the new velocity sensitive, aftertouch equipped rubber pads on the Launchpad Pro.
Note Mode allows you to leave your portable mini midi keyboard at home while you follow Novations root note lights across the bottom of the controller to come up with chords and progressions.
It’s true that the Novation software is not as intuitive and cutting-edge as the melody section on the Push 2, but with Novation open source firmware, 3rd party tech heads are coming up with alternatives, and a solution should be available in the future.
Note Mode is a great tool for finger drumming and creating pad based beat ideas and building up a complete track with Ableton’s own instruments and plugins layer by layer.
Let’s hear it then, is this worth it? Of are we just looking at another midi controller?
The launchpad Pro is a well-built machine, slightly bigger than its previous model but that had to happen with all the new features.
It’s perfect for the backpack producer and caring around to live gigs, due to the fact that there are no knobs or mod wheels to damage and no faders to snap.
If you’re not looking to completely remove the laptop and mouse for your music production workflow and you are keen on getting your hands dirty in session mode, launching clip and now performing audio mixes from the controller, without breaking the bank then invite this piece of Ableton ready tech gear into your life.
If you’re serious about Ableton Live and you have a fairly large stack of money then another option for your beat crafting and clip launching productions has to be the Ableton Push 2.
Designed and delivered by the creators of one of the industry’s most popular and versatile DAWS.
The Push 2 has been referred to as an extension Ableton and as playable as an instrument.
Also, check out the Novation Launchpad mini if you’re looking for a smaller version of the Launchpad Pro that is still capable of launching clips with full Ableton configuration at your fingertips.
We can talk about Pads with put giving the OG’s at Akai a shout out and mentioning their Mpd range.
If you’re looking for that original boom bap style pads feel and configuration that created hit after hit from the 80’s until the present day, then peep the Mpd 232.
This midi controller is less portable than the Launchpad Pro but comes packed with assignable faders, knobs, and the iconic Akai MPC style drum machine pads.