Novation ZeRO SL

Craving Novation's Automap technology but don't need another set of keys? Then read on…

  • £229

Our Verdict

If you already own a keyboard and can live without an X/Y touchpad, the SL ZeRO is an (almost) perfect control surface solution


  • Software support improved. Automap is a great concept. Good (electronic) documentation. Good value for money.


  • No X/Y pad. No power supply included.
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The control panel on the ZeRO is basically identical to the one on the SL keyboard units. However, it is missing the pitchbend/modulation joystick and X/Y touchpad. Fortunately, the ZeRO is significantly cheaper than the keyboard versions; it represents excellent value for money.

Physically, the unit is about the right size to fit into a 19" rack, but it actually sits on your desk. It can be inclined to improve control access and visibility of the two large LCD displays.

For the benefit of those who missed the original review, we should say that the ReMOTE SL (Soft Label) series' main selling point is its Automap technology. This automatically maps software parameters onto the control surface, and labels them onto the pair of LCD screens.


Automap is supported in Logic Pro, Cubase SX, Nuendo, Ableton Live and Reason. Support in Reason has always been first class, but it's recently been improved in the other four applications. It does still have some limitations, however - see the Mapping for the future boxout for more on this.

In most supported applications it's possible to navigate between different bits of software from the SL hardware, but a flick through the electronic documentation might be required to find out how.

The SL ZeRO excels at controlling software that doesn't map nicely onto conventional synth controls - it's great when you're working with effects plug-ins, for example. The LCD labelling is very useful, though the sliders a tad short for full-scale mixing duties.

The SL ZeRO will appeal most to those who already own a controller keyboard, use one of the supported applications and want to enjoy the speed and convenience of Automap technology (which continues to mature nicely). However, if you want a more integrated and compact setup and really must have the X/Y touchpad, you should plump for one of the standard models.