Using the Novation Impulse as a ‘Launchpad’

The Novation Impulse controller keyboard range arrived into a very crowded market place when it launched last September. And, whilst having the Novation badge emblazoned across the unit was as much of a guarantee of quality as a controller could hope for, with an ocean of alternative models available, it would have had a hard time to set itself apart from the competition…

Novation Impulse 61

However it did say Novation on the box, and with typical flair, this British brand delivered a truly staggering feature set, at a price that is, frankly, ludicrous. Equipped with a tasty array of assignable rotary controllers, faders and buttons, the Novation Impulse provides plenty of potential to get hands-on with the software of your choice. Plus, with full Automap compatibility, you’ll spend less time assigning controllers and more time making music.

Novation Impulse 25

The keyboard itself is a superb, semi-weighted design with after-touch, and eight velocity sensitive trigger pads to the right of the unit providing an intuitive means of getting drum patterns, other midi data into your DAW. These pads, however, have several neat functions that are entirely unique to this range, one of which exemplifies the tight integration this keyboard has with Ableton Live…

The mini Launchpad

As Novation is a part of the Focusrite family of companies, and Focusrite distribute Ableton Live in the UK, they have very close ties. As a result, we have seen some great products developed in partnership between the two companies (the Novation Launchpad being a great example). Rather then employing Automap, Ableton has automatic mapping technology for Ableton products written into its code.

The Novation Impulse range takes this a step further by taking some of the features of the Launchpad, and integrating into the trigger pad section. The way that this is done is as follows:

  1. Ensure that you have installed the current version of Automap (downloadable for free from the Novation Website)
  2. Launch Ableton, and open the preferences page. Then select the MIDI/ Sync tab on the left hand side
  3. Next, open the Automap software by clicking the ‘A’ symbol (on the taskbar on PCs, and on the menu bar in the top right hand corner on Mac systems)
  4. When the window opens, you’ll see a list of all available DAWs that could be set-up on the left. Select Ableton
  5. Then, select the Impulse controller that you’d like to set-up from the drop down menu in the centre of the window
  6. Then, click set up Ableton
  7. The software will prompt you to scan, and create Automap versions of all of your plug-ins before guiding you through setting up the MIDI/ Sync preferences in Ableton (just a matter of clicking a few buttons, really)
  8. Create a few audio tracks, and add a few clips
  9. Press the ‘Roll’ and ‘Arp’ buttons together to enable clip launch mode
  10. Now, the pads become clip trigger buttons, and will change colour according to clip status: Green – clip is playing, Amber – clip is loaded, Red – Clip is selected to record

Novation Impulse Clip Launch
Whilst in session view, the Fast Forward and Rewind buttons can be used to navigate around your project, whilst the loop button will trigger the currently selected scene. Cool, eh?

The Novation Impulse also has a programmable arpeggiator and roll function. Remarkably, the keyboards currently start at just £149.99 (current price for the Impulse 25). To get this feature set, for so little is staggering. If you’ve got a sudden ‘Impulse’ to buy Novation (see what I did there?), call our stores or customer service team (01925 582420), or order online today. Have a look at the video below to see what you could be doing with an Impulse and Ableton…Enjoy!