Doing what they do best…
Celebrating 10 years at the top of their game sees the release of the Novation Launchpad X. Putting all that expertise and knowledge into these tidy packages seems to come effortlessly to Novation, yet they keep exceeding expectations at every turn. Let’s take a dive into their latest controllers to see what they’re essential pieces of kit – especially for those who love Ableton.
Launchpad X: Bigger and Better
As per their own statement, Novation state that the Launchpad X “…is the essential grid controller for Ableton Live”, but what does that mean to you? Well, you’ve got a 64-pad MIDI grid controller that communicates harmoniously with Ableton Live. Tinkering with ideas, creating music, composing lavish performances – it’s all as easy as pie with this little beauty.
Peerless Pad Performance
The large, super-sensitive RGB-backlit pads can be set up to respond to any and every type of performer from those who are attentive, diligent and precise to the clumsier and more haphazard of us (yours truly included). Velocity and pressure-sensitive across the user customisable 8×8 grid, the Launchpad X is more instrument that simple pad controller.
Inheriting progressive features from the Launchpad Pro such as Note Mode, you can select between 16 different scales, change between scale or chromatic layout, root note, pad overlap – where the grid crosses over to make playing scales with one had easy-, etc. You can add subtle nuanced performance into live sets as well as recording.
The intuitive nature of the Launchpad X’s design also means that is syncs seamlessly with Ableton Live during performances through detection. For example, if Note Mode is active and Launchpad X detects an armed Drum Rack then it will automatically match the grid to it. No fuss. You can launch clips and scenes in Live’s Session View, navigate through Session View, and so much more.
Novation even include a dedicated Record & Capture MIDI button so that when inspiration strikes you can lock in those ideas before they slip away.
As well as providing an expressive control interface for launching and playing with instruments in Ableton, the RGB LEDs behind each pad match Launchpad X’s grid to your Ableton Live Session. Therefore, you’re never in any doubt as to which clips, you’re launching.
Utilising Launchpad X‘s Mixer Mode enables strict control over your performance with access to virtual, velocity-sensitive faders that take control of your track Volumes, Pans and Sends. Mixer mode also affords toggles for Stop, Solo, Mute, and Record Arm for ready access and control without interfering with your session.
On top of all that there are four custom modes that are as extensive as you want them to be with Send CCs, Notes, and Program Change Messages from the grid to your software of choice. Pads can behave as momentary switches, on/off toggles, and rows or columns can even be used as faders.
Thanks to Novation’s Components editor software, you can readily create your own mappings with the greatest of ease. If you’re not familiar with digging deep into program change messages and deeper level MIDI control, then you’re in for a treat. With Novation Components it couldn’t be simpler to get your head around and unlock a wealth of potential with your setup.
Improvements & Updates: Fader Mode
In Fader Mode Novation have improved fader functionality for controlling Volume, Pans, and Sends in Ableton Live from the Launchpad X. Firstly, velocity sensitivity means that faders respond to velocity when determining how fast to change values – harder = faster, softer = more gradual change. Secondly, by repeatedly pressing a single pad you can incrementally increase a fader’s position. Subtle additions with powerful potential during performances, adding another feather to the Launchpad X’s bow.
Getting Up and Running: Launchpad Intro
Novation have made it easier than ever before to get up and running with the Launchpad X. Simply go to https://novationmusic.com/get-started, plug in your Launchpad X, and the 8×8 grid will be setup automatically. There are several packs to load that cover a wide range of popular genres, so you can be up and running in minutes.
There are step-by-step guides on setting up the Launchpad X with Ableton, giving you detailed run-throughs about downloading and installing virtual instruments, effects, and more.
As well as Ableton Live Lite, those generous folks over at Novation include a huge library of free samples and software, giving you everything that you could need to start making complete compositions as soon as it lands.
On top of all that, all Novation Launchpad X owners are automatically members of Novation’s Sound Collective community, which offers new free and discounted plugins from heavyweights across the software industry every couple of months.
- Ableton Live 10 Lite
- Two months free Splice Sounds subscription
- Klevgrand R0Verb and DAW Cassette
- XLN Audio Addictive Keys
- AAS Session Bundle
- Softube Time and Tone Bundle
- Novation Sound Collective membership
Key Features – What You Need to Know
- The essential grid controller for expressive performance in Ableton Live, offering deep integration with Live’s Session View.
- 64 large RGB pads to perfectly match your Live session, with enough room to play your instruments.
- Launch clips and scenes in Live.
- Capture MIDI & Session Record.
- Powerful Note Mode with 16 scales.
- Use Stop, Solo, Mute and Record Arm track controls while keeping your Session in view.
- 4 deep and powerful custom modes – set up the perfect control surface for you.
- Massive software bundle included – everything you need to make music right out of the box.
Jon is a multi-instrumentalist with a passion for inspiring others to get involved in making music. After spending many years playing venues here, there and – pretty much – everywhere, he joined the Dawsons’ Music Web Team before progressing into his current role managing the Dawsons Blog.