Novation Launchpad Pro Grid Controller Review

The LaunchPad Pro has a contemporary design with an uncluttered layout to keep it easy to find your way around. If features a 16x16 grid of RGB touch-pads like the original launchpad, but has twice as many buttons as the entry-level model. There are no dials to be seen, so you won't knock a change off-kilter.

Each of the pads RGB colors match the color of the clips in the DAW, which keeps everything foolproof, and limits confusion while you work away.

They are velocity-sensitive, which means they respond to the way you interact with them. This allows you to add expression into a digital recording, adding character and softening its synthetic feel, creating an idyllic for expressive percussion tracks.

The 16 beat layout is organized for creating drum lines but can also be used to play individual notes for a melody line. It can also be used for chords functioning much like a chromatic keyboard, despite its modern look. You could do that with the LaunchPad original, but the LaunchPad Pro features a Scale Mode to help you to identify harmonious notes within a key. It abolishes all discordant notes, so it is impossible to play out of tune.

The Scale Mode is an excellent feature for a pad controller. These are the DAW controllers of choice for those who don't play the piano or the keyboard, as they level the playing field. Of course, if you are an instrumentalist and prefer to use your pads solely for beat-making, then you can hook the Launchpad Pro up to a selection of other Novation products. So feel free to get a Novation MIDI keyboard to connect.

It makes handling your DAW workload much more straightforward with its onboard mixer controls at the literal touch of a button. You don't need to select between any different modes or functions; you can press and hold for instant access.

Transitional velocity can also be shaped mid-performance as well using the velocity sensitivity to add coloration. Hitting harder gives a faster transition between beats on a quantitative level. It simplifies a lot of the work for you, ideal for producers who use sampling as well as a live production.

Everything functions completely seamlessly with the Ableton Live DAW as it is, but it can also be mapped to your preferences if you want to change any of it. You can also use it with the majority of major DAWS. Some it will integrate with by itself, but others may need mapping manually.

If you don't have a full copy of Ableton Live, then it comes with a license for Ableton Live Lite. A budding producer can use this for the basics to get started and fuel their passion for production.

The bundles of software that come with the Launchpad Pro do change regularly. It currently comes with 4GB of Loopmasters sounds and samples, in a range of genres, to drop in and tweak. A Bass Station VST and AU plug-in synthesizer to create your melody, instrumental lines, and you get the choice of one of XLN's world-class Addictive Keys virtual instruments as well.

You can select a modeled Yamaha U3 upright piano, or a Steinway Modeled studio grand piano with an authentic voice. If you prefer an electronic piano, you can have a classic Yamaha CP-80 electric grand piano emulation for a rockier feel. Or if you prefer Rhodes, then there is a retro option from Fender with a vintage tube-amp emulation effect.

All purchases also come with access to Melodics lessons. This will help teach you the ins and outs of melody making.

Novation Launchpad Pro

Novation Launchpad Pro Grid Controller

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Summary

In short, if you want seamless integration with Ableton Live, you can't go wrong with the Novation range. The Launchpad Pro is a compact, lightweight, easily portable solution for your beat making and melodic needs.

It has built-in mixer functions and navigation. The pads are color-coded to the DAW clips for simplicity. The Scale mode function ensures that your melody-making will always be in key, no matter how crude your music theory knowledge is. The Melodics lessons will help improve your musicality as well.

It sells with a range of useful VST additions and a copy of Ableton Live Lite to get you started if you don't already have Ableton Live installed.

Pros

+ Well-manufactured.
+ 16x16 RGB color-coded velocity-sensitive touchpads.
+ Mixer controls.
+ Bundle of software goodies.

Cons

- You might need to get a traditional keyboard to hook up if you can't get to grips with the chord and melody functionality.

Why We Like It

If you are on the hunt for a hands-on remote control solution for controlling Ableton live without a headache, then the Launchpadpro Grip controller from Novation is one of the best tools on the market.

It has been only designed with Ableton Live use in mind, and all its controls are dedicated to specific tasks within the DAW. The layout is simple, the velocity sensitivity helps add expression, and it is a portable option.

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