The Novation Launchpad (Review) – The Affordable, Portable Controller For Ableton Live

The Novation Launchpad is the MIDI controller that took the 8 x 8 button matrix mainstream.

While it’s been out a few years, we thought it was time to revisit it, in part because the monome-style button matrix has become a de facto interface for working with Ableton Live and also because the Launchpad’s street price has dropped to a very affordable $150.

If you’ve been under a rock, the Novation Launchpad is a MIDI controller designed specifically for Ableton Live, designed in conjuntion with Ableton. It comes with an introductory version of Live and is extremely easy to set up. It’s USB powered, so you basically plug it in, launch Live and get busy.

The primary use for the Launchpad is triggering loops and sounds in Live’s Session View. The Launchpad automatically lights up its buttons to mirror the arrangement of your clips in Live. This makes it easy to navigate the grid of otherwise identical buttons.

Here’s how Novation positions the Launchpad:

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The Launchpad transforms your experience of using Ableton Live, making it more like working with hardware than working with a computer & mouse.

While using the matrix buttons instead of a mouse delivers obvious speed improvements, the benefits of the Launchpad are deeper than that.

The Launchpad turns the Session View into something that you can really ‘play’, making it easy to trigger samples and loops on a much more granular level. This makes it much easier to experiment with arrangements and rearrange things while playing live.

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