New Novation LaunchPad – The $199 Ableton Live Controller

Jointly designed by Ableton and Novation, the Novation Launchpad is a new $199 controller designed to “put Ableton Live at your fingertips.”

The Launchpad is purpose built for triggering and manipulating clips in Ableton Live, with a multi-colour 64-button grid and dedicated scene launch buttons. Launchpad’s buttons can be used to sketch out beats with drum racks, and they can be assigned to other functions in Live using Ableton’s ‘Learn’ mode.

Launchpad ships with a dedicated ‘Launchpad edition’ of Ableton Live 8, but can control almost any other music software using Novation’s award-winning ‘Automap’ control software.

Launchpad Features:

  • Launchpad features a multi-color, 64-button grid for launching clips plus eight dedicated scene-launch buttons. The buttons are lit by LEDs displaying clip status so you can see at a glance what’s loaded (orange), what’s playing (green), and what’s being recorded (red).
  • 4 modes — It’s not just about launching clips: as well as the Session Mode, Launchpad offers Mixer Mode—a unique way to control Ableton Live’s mixer—and two fully-customizable User Modes.
  • In Mixer Mode, the rows and columns of the grid become virtual faders, sliders and knobs controlling track volume, pan, sends, mute, solo, Clip Stop Buttons and record arm, depending on the function selected. Use the scene launch/mixer function buttons to select the function you want to control.
  • The two fully-customizable User Modes transform the grid into a drum pad controller, DJ effect controller or anything else you can think of. The default state for User Mode 1 provides drum pad control for Live’s Drum Racks — great for sketching out beats. Using Live’s simple MIDI mapping, it’s easy to create custom control environments, whatever devices you’re using and however your Live Sets are configured.
  • The User Modes make Launchpad the ideal hardware counterpart for Max for Live. Launchpad is flexible enough to deal with even the most detailed Max for Live devices and can handle generic parameters and controls with ease. Eleven LED states provide visual feedback that’s precise enough for complex devices. Launchpad users will soon be able to download a Max for Live step sequencer patch from Novation and more Max for Live patches are planned for the future.
  • Communication goes both ways — Live and Launchpad are in a constant, two-way, hardware-software dialog. The back-lit grid buttons show what’s happening in Live and Live, in turn, shows which section of the Session View is currently under Launchpad control: a red border around the current clip group let’s you see where you are with a just a cursory glance at your screen.
  • Navigating the Session View — Obviously, you’re not limited to controlling only 64 clips. The arrow buttons move the grid up, down, left and right one track or scene at a time. Hold down the ‘Session’ button in Session Mode, and you can use the arrow keys to jump eight tracks or rows at a time—very useful for navigating around large, complex Live Sets.
  • More buttons? More Launchpads — Want more buttons? Launchpads are designed to work together, with up to six units at once. That’s more than 400 assignable buttons! Launchpads running on the same system can run in different modes, so you can control the Session View, mixer and custom setups all at once, with one Launchpad for each.

We’ve got detailed specs and demo videos below. Get the full details at the Novation site.

Check it out and leave a comment with your thoughts!

Here’s a first look from DJ Tech Tools.

Here’s another look, via Anarchy Rice, showing Novation’s new controller as well as controlling a bass synth using Automap running on an iPod!

Physical controls and Indicators

  • 64 (8×8 grid) square multi-colour back-lit buttons
  • 8 round multi-colour back-lit system buttons (assignable)
  • 8 round multi-colour back-lit function buttons (not assignable)


  • L-shaped USB 1.1 connector.

Minimum Operational Requirements


  • OS: 10.4, or later recommended
  • Computer: G4 or faster / Intel Mac
  • Memory (RAM): 512 MB RAM / 1 GB recommended


  • OS: Windows XP or Vista
  • Computer: 1.5 GHz or faster
  • Memory (RAM): 512 MB RAM / 1 GB recommended


  • Unit: W = 240 mm / 9.45 “, H = 20 mm / 0.79 “, D = 240 mm / 9.45 “
  • Box: W = 308 mm / 12.13 “, H = 90 mm / 20.98 “, D = 320 mm / 12.6 “


  • unit weight: 717gms /unit
  • boxed weight: 1kg/unit

12 thoughts on “New Novation LaunchPad – The $199 Ableton Live Controller

  1. This looks very hot – can't wait to try it out.

    I'm interested more in using this as a cheap monome. It seems like there's a lot going on in the monome community, but the monome hardware pricing is too steep for me.

    Anybody know about compatibility with monome apps?

  2. Novation says you can hook six of these together:

    "Want more buttons? Launchpads are designed to work together, with up to six units at once. That's more than 400 assignable buttons! Launchpads running on the same system can run in different modes, so you can control the Session View, mixer and custom setups all at once, with one Launchpad for each."

    An 8 x 16 grid would make a great sequencer.

  3. in the near future they will be coming out with the second version of this which will hopefully have the USB output moved to the top so it's easier to put them together in one line, and you know they are listening to the comments about the compatibility with other products, so you'll be getting an update for the software by the time this baby comes out on sale. And No I do not work for the company. I just know how companies tend to do upgrades to these right after getting the feedback from places they send it to for reviews.

  4. Well there was an app that allowed the APC40 to be used with Monome applications.

    So hopefully the same can be applied to the Launchpad.

  5. This may be an MPC40 killer… half the Akai price, and Akai has a huge backlog of orders. I've waited over 5 months for mine, and I'm about to cancel the order.

  6. This looks great! I wanted a Monome but they are too much money for my budget. The price is right and since it works with Automap, I can use it with any other software I want. This could be great for running Reason and Live together, if that can be worked out. I agree with Frank O, 8×16 would be handy.

  7. What about the Tenori-On?

    This isn't as sexy – but the Launchpad/Ableton Live combination seems like it's a lot more powerful, for way less money.

  8. I own an APC40, and while my chops are nowhere near the demos I've seen of the APC or this badass, I can immediately tell that I would prefer the fact that this thing is almost like a big trackpad, and you can jump to assign the grid to effects by pressing buttons at the top. I dont find the APC's effects and send arrangements to be particularly ergonomic or fun. This thing also looks a good deal more breakable than the APC however. Then again, the APC can break after a year as well, and you're out $400 instead of $200. Plus, this will work with other software, possibly even rewired into Live. Novation also has more experience with mapping. Tough to say, but I'm going to have a last fling with the APC and see if I can make it feel better. Otherwise, sayonara.

  9. I´m happy I bought NI Maschine even if its not reaching up to my standards, but this thing looks really like the parties started.

  10. Fantastic piece of equipment! Music Production will never be the same! Has the main features of the APC40, comes as a more compact unit, its very own Ableton Live software and such a neat price tag for something with such huge features.

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