I’m finally back on the Blazing Minds blog! After my rather long break of going to music festivals, getting a new job and having some me time, I’m here to bring you a new review! And as you could have guessed by the title it’s the Novation Launchpad that I recently received.
I’m going to be doing a lot more hardware and software reviews soon. But still remember to drop me an email if you want to send me an album or EP.
What is the Novation Launchpad?!
The Novation Launchpad is a piece of hardware specifically built for Ableton Live. Many DJ’s and producers use Ableton Live when they’re writing music or playing live. In Ableton you have clips that can hold beats, bass lines or any type of sample that you want. The Launchpad essentially ‘launches’ these clips when a button is pressed. Each button on the Launchpad corresponds to a clip in Ableton. A more in-depth review of what it is can be found here. http://bit.ly/Nrizqf
The design is great; it’s an extremely light square of plastic with 64 – also square – buttons. There are 8 buttons that run down the right side, and 8 buttons that run along the top. I’ll talk about these later.
A flat USB cable is provided for space-saving! (That’s all you need, no power cables!)?But it’s easier to just look at the picture.
Does it work?
Yes, it really does. In fact I think it’s an amazing piece of equipment. It does much more than I’ve made out so far. As well as being able to launch clips, the Launchpad allows you to play sounds live. Just quickly jump into the mixer mode and arm the track, jump into user one mode and press some buttons. Just like you would with a midi controller. That’s essentially all this is, just designed better than some. And more user-friendly.
What was that? Mixer mode?
Yep – mixer mode is awesome. You can control an individual tracks volumes, panning, send A and send B. you can arm, solo and much more. All of this is again done using the buttons that run down the right side. It’s really incredible and really smart.
Them 8 buttons.
The buttons that run along the top are really handy; the first 4 are arrows allowing you to move a red box inside of Ableton around so you’re not limited to how many clips you can have. And if you’re really worried, buy more Launchpads! You can hook six up together; if you have the USB ports or a USB hub. The other 4 are Clip mode, User 1, User 2 and Mixer mode. Clip mode is the standard mode we’ve been talking about. User 1 allows you to assign sounds to buttons and play them live. For example, you can set up a drum rack and set Ableton recording, then play your beat for however many bars you set, and it will begin to loop. Cool, eh?
User 2 is for people who know a bit about midi mapping. You’re essentially given 64 pads that you can do whatever you want with, if you know how. I like to set 8 buttons across to be beat repeats all at different levels. The last button is Mixer mode, but I’ve already spoke about that.
As with anything, good things can be pricey. But not the Novation Launchpad. At between £99 and £130, it’s really surprising how cheap this actually is for all that it can do.
So – Hopefully I’ve answered your ‘Should I get one?’ question and left you with a clear answer. Perhaps this isn’t perfect for an experienced producer or live DJ, But they’re a load of fun. Cheap, portable, and a great design.
From me the Launchpad gets an 8/10. The score could have easily been a 9 or 10 if there was a couple of turning pots somewhere. I don’t know where they’d put them, though.
Watch this space because there’s plenty more reviews coming up such as a slightly different review of Download Rock and Metal Festival 2012, The top 3 iPad music apps and thanks to the lovely people at Dawsons Music, the Numark Mixtrack Pro.
Oh, and keep an eye out later in the year when we may be giving away a Novation Launchpad. You lucky readers…
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