Launchpad Pro hands-on
NAMM 2015: On the evening before the NAMM Show 2015, Focusrite/Novation invited us to a secretive launch of two new products: Focusrite’s new range of Clarett interfaces, and Novation’s new incarnation of their popular grid-based Ableton Live controller, the Launchpad Pro.
Keen to find out more, we hunted the latter down on the NAMM Show floor for a hands-on session.
Looks and layout
The unit looks almost identical to the original, except for two new rows of eight circular buttons along the left and bottom edges.
The main 8 x 8 pads are velocity-sensitive and RGB backlit, so their colours correspond to each clip’s colour in Live’s Session View. Punching out beats is a real pleasure, and it’s easy to navigate your rows of clips at a glance.
Various mixer functions, instruments and effects can be altered mid-performance, speedily accessed by holding down one of the bottom circular buttons. The vertical pads on that row light up, representing 1 through 127 from bottom to top.
By tapping on a value, the vertical bar will jump to that position; harder taps cause the parameter to jump immediately to that position, whereas lighter pressure causes a slow fade up or down to that value, which we found particularly useful for smooth volume fade-ins/outs and slower filter sweeps.
You can then simply hit the record button on the bottom right to print any changes into Live as you perform. Undo, delete, quantise, metronome, duplicate and double buttons on the left edge provide immediate access to key functions, preventing the need for screen-staring.
While comparisons to Ableton’s Push are obvious, Novation were clear to point out that the Launchpad Pro is a slightly different animal, focusing upon live performance - and the unit now features MIDI Out, enabling control over other gear besides Live.
We're looking forward to testing the unit out in more depth upon its Spring release.