Novation Intros SL MkIII Controller With Complete Hardware & Software Studio Integration

Novation today introduced the SL MkIII keyboard controller, a line of 49- or 61-key controllers that are designed to be a complete solution for hardware and software studio control.

The SL MkIII connects to your MIDI hardware and CV/Gate synths; lets you build tracks with an eight-track polyphonic sequencer; and offers deep integration with Logic and Reason, plus HUI compatibility with Cubase, Pro Tools and Reason.

Novation worked closely with Ableton so that the SL MkIII could offer deep integration with Live. The full-color LCD screens lets you see the parameters you are controlling, while the pads, buttons, eight faders and eight knobs give you extensive tactile control.

Here’s an example of the SLmkIII in action:

In the video, Calc controls everything live, and the arrangement was created on the SL MkIII in realtime.

The only sequencer used was the SL MKIII. The SL MkIII was sequencing, via DIN MIDI, USB MIDI & CV/Gate:

  • Spitfire Audio Labs ā€“ Soft piano plugin
  • Elektron Octatrack
  • Roland SP404 running through an Oto Boum
  • Dreadbox Abyss
  • Juno 106
  • Preen FM2
  • Leploop
  • Novation Peak
  • ARP 2600 (connected by the CV/Gate, with filter controlled and automated by the Mod CV output of SL MKIII)

Features:

  • Deep hardware control & internal eight-track polyphonic pattern-based sequencer
  • Integration with Ableton Live or any other HUI-compatible DAW.
  • MIDI and analog clock and transport controls keep everything running in time
  • Customizable mappings for hardware and software
  • USB; MIDI In, Out, Out 2/Thru; three pedal inputs; Analogue Clock Out; and two CV Pitch, Gate, and Mod outputs can be used to ‘route anything anywhere’
  • SL MkIII’s pads, buttons, eight faders and eight knobs take control of all major music software using InControl
  • The SL MkIII has a high scan rate of 10kHz, giving the keyboard a huge dynamic range for expressive keyboard performance
  • SL MkIII’s velocity-sensitive RGB pads have multiple functions: they can be used for launching clips, as steps in the sequencer, for finger drumming, and the feature polyphonic aftertouch
  • Novation’s Components allows templates and sessions to be backed up and restored in the cloud, enabling access from anywhere in the world. All content can also be saved locally

Pricing and Availability

The Novation SL MkIII Controller is available in two sizes:

  1. 49-key – US $599.99
  2. 61-key – US $699.99

See the Novation site for details.

34 thoughts on “Novation Intros SL MkIII Controller With Complete Hardware & Software Studio Integration

  1. Looks like a nice versatile controller for the price. The integration/connectivity features look great.

    I wonder if Novation will ever push for high-res velocity. I know some of their controllers support 14-bit (high-res) CC’s. Perhaps this does as well.

    1. I missed the phrase about 10KHz for higher accuracy in velocity sensing. That’s a bigger deal than most people know.

      I’ve tested several keyboards to find that because of slow scan rates, the actual velocity resolution is MUCH lower than 127 steps (more like 25). Korg’s MicroKeys are the most recent example.

  2. Nice! I love my SLs – more of a fan of the MK1 with the two screens, but I can see how this one is an upgrade to the MK2. Will be interesting to see how it integrates with VSTs. At the moment I think Akai is leading on that front with their Advance and VIP solution. Couldn’t tell from the video whether it was pots or rotary encoders – hopefully the latter since there’s only 8 of them and they’d have to double/triple-up on duty.

  3. > internal eight-track polyphonic pattern-based sequencer

    not bad, but sad to see that novation is unwilling to build a REAL 8-part multitimbral workstation with 8 internal peaks. now THAT woould be a game changer: goodbye kross, goodbye krome, goodbye fa-06…

  4. so according to the sonic state video w/ gaz wiliams, the onboard sequencer does not have a metronome/click, just like the system-8. lmao. so no raccurate realtime recording possible. what a joke.my juno-ds sequencer is ten times better.

    1. don’t be silly, put your 4-on-the-floor kicks or whatever in the step sequencer and use it as a metronome if you so wish. can your juno-ds do 8 layer splits? can it target modular gear? lmao

    1. I’d rather have PolyAT than MPE, just because I’d still want to have multi-timbral capability. But yea, where are they. At least they have improved the velocity scan thing.

  5. What, no cappucino maker? Its a typically savvy Novation piece, wisely including some CV action for modulars. This thing does almost everything my DAW does, in one tidy package. Its almost either/or between them, although its clear that they expect some users to apply it as a switching center for hardware. The prices are fair, too. New keys and controllers seem increasingly aimed at taking over from in-the-box approaches. Its easy to see this as the center of a synth ‘pipe organ’ with tentacles that lead to Boutiques, Volcas and a trust-fund kid’s pair of Prophet-12s. Never mind other vintage clutter; I still want a Supernova 48-voice.

  6. A new midi controller comes out every day. Waiting for the one that has scales and chords integrated along side of the pads and other features. Without hooking it up to a computer.

  7. This looks great to me. I’ve been using an SL for a really long time. Unlike others I have found some of the Automap features to be really handy. I hope they add the ability to assign keyboard commands to this one, that is super handy on my SL. Too bad about the XY pad but glad to have proper wheels. I am VERY happy that the pads transmit poly AT, that is one of the features I use a lot on the BeatStep. It is excellent for applying real time FX controls. I hope they go further with Logic integration, knowing Novation they will as the OS matures on this.

    Good job Novation, if you are looking for a power user (both live and in the studio) you should talk to me, I’ve been a supporter/user for a long time.

  8. Ugh.. they really tried to make it look like NI Kontrol. Even nicked the key lights.. Iā€™m sure it will fill a spot, but that is just lazy designwork or even worse; deliberately created to cause confusion for consumers and cannibalise on NI sales. In either case shame on Novation

    1. shame on every synth manufacturer then for using same-looking knobs, right? why nobody produces cubical or pyramid-like knobs instead to be original? those lazy designers *sigh*

  9. Key-lights is TOO obvious an idea and is too much a low-hanging-fruit to be considered a “stolen” idea. I’ll grant you though, the multicolored pads look all too familiar.

      1. I guess I kind of inadvertently made my point, that you can’t really claim a “stolen idea” if it is literally EVERYWHERE.

  10. Have not tried nor seen it in person yet, but judging by first reviews, I’ll stick to my NI Kontrol for a while yet šŸ˜‰

  11. would love to see a slim Zero version – without keyboard (and USB host of plugging in an external one if needed)

  12. we still doing the silly Automap nonsense which makes it unusable in other people’s sessions unless they have the same gear, or did they come up with something better?

    1. yeah same concern here which kinda prevents me from clicking the ‘buy’ button right now… although it’s been years of waiting for a proper 32step sequencer interface *cough*Polyend*cough* and i’m starting to lose hope and patience that anyone will ever produce a decent fully functional controller like this Novation beast but with 32 step patterns (come on guys, why do these manufacturers assume people only make techno and house?). other than that – i don’t see any big flaws in this device at the moment… it’s quite possible that they will also extend the sequencer with a next software update which will let it have at least something like “a” and “b” parts of the pattern to have a 32-step of 1/16 (or even 1/32) resolution possible. their way of addressing the issue by upping the resolution to 1/8, 1/4 etc to prolong the pattern length doesn’t excite me… what if i want a longer pattern with a full resolution?

      1. Have you missed that you can link patterns?. Link two patterns to get 32 steps. I think I’ve seen someone doing that, then recording the two patterns in real time. I assume, once linked, they will play and record as one longer pattern. You can link 4, double the rate and you get the same as 2 steps of 1/32 resolution. If you run out of patterns for this part (seems pretty obvious that) you can set more tan one part for the same outpout, so you get another row of patterns, or maybe use more than one session for one song.

  13. WOW, what a MAJOR disappointment!! It’s absolutely mind boggling that Novation decided that one of the things they really hit the mark on with the Mk II and should hold over was having just 8 faders!!?? There were some very cool features on the Mk II like a grand total of 16 pots! Eight of those were (ahead of their time) continuous rotary and with an LED ring, to show the software value being controlled. The LED rings have been improved with cool LCD screens on Mk III, but now unfortunately only 8 pots. And unfortunately no LEDs or screen for the faders to show their software position, like on the Roland RD2000.

    The Mk III seems like less an improvement on the Mk II than a complete redesign more narrowly focused on the “home recording” market… with really silly bells and whistles like LEDs on the keys that show you scales!!! I understand that market must be way more lucrative than the pro, performing keyboardist market, and I’m sure there are some real cool things in this keyboard for the right folks.. the sequencer seems to have gotten a lot of thought and the prime real estate spot on the panel. But for me and live performance, (not to mention anyone controlling an organ/B3 vst) this does not improve much at all on the Mk II. I can’t even imagine taking this on the road, with those knobs sticking way up, along the top edge of the keyboard like that…

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