Novation MK2 Launchpad Mini Compact USB Grid Controller for Ableton Live
About this deal
I gave the Launchpad S a thumbs-up, and if anything I'm more impressed by the Launchpad Mini because of its handy size and classy finish. You're also expected to know which device controls fall into which banks, unless you don't mind exploring as you go along. I looked briefly at the Launchpad app in my review of the Launchpad S in the July 2013 edition of SOS, while Paul Nagle has gone into a little more detail about both apps in his review of the full-size Launchkey (SOS October 2013). Studiocare Professional Audio Limited is acting as a credit broker offering finance products from Omni Capital Retail Finance Limited. Get Started Easily – use our online Easy Start tool to get all the software you want, and step-by-step video guides to get you set up with Live and making music in minutes.
The Launchkey Mini is one of a new range of scaled-down products offering similar features to existing products in a smaller form factor — based, in this instance, on the Launchkey 25.This tool will get you up and running as quickly as possible, and features step-by-step guides on setting yourself up with Ableton, downloading/installing virtual instruments, and much more besides. Live draws a red rectangle around the area of the Session View controlled by the Launchpad, while the Launch Control (in its clip launch mode) selects, or follows, the currently selected scene; the two areas of control are independent. While the Launch Control is a solid piece of kit, the Launchkey does have a slightly flimsy feel to it, and you wouldn't want to be packing it into flight cases, or even stuffing it into backpacks, without some care.
For performers who want to launch clips anywhere, or work with limited desk space, the Launchpad Mini MK3 is ideal.Separate buttons around the outside of the grid are designed to trigger scenes, switch modes and navigate your session in Ableton Live. If you opt for the browser mode you can also launch it from the mass storage device folder that appears on your computer desktop when you plug up the Launchpad – a nice touch. Regular readers will know that I've long been a fan of small MIDI controllers, grids in particular, so the Launchpad Mini was of particular interest to me. The two-octave keyboard can send on any MIDI channel, and can be transposed down by as much as four octaves or up by five, giving it access to the entire MIDI note range. The top seven are dedicated Scene launchers, while the bottom one activates Stop/Solo/Mute functionality across the bottom grid row, for instant solo and mute.
It comes with all kinds of effects, instruments, sounds and creative tools – everything you need to make any kind of music. Obviously, the unit only offers a mini-sized keyboard, a format I'm not particularly fond of, but the Launchkey Mini's keys are better than many I've encountered, with a respectable amount of travel and not too much springiness. It makes it easy to play alongside other music applications like Reason, Serato and an ever-growing number of iOS apps and Link-integrated hardware. With its hands-on controls, tonnes of sounds in the box and Novation’s step-by-step interactive platform to get you set up, Novation have gone further than ever to make it easy to get started. Ableton Live Lite - quickly organise and arrange your sounds and start making tracks with this staple electronic-music-making software.The Launchkey Mini is lightweight and has a decent feel and action for a mini-keyboard, not to mention good control options for Ableton Live. Curated Collections provide toolkits of clips, kits, and other sounds for exploring sonic scenes or themes; Live 11 adds Voice Box for experimental vocal manipulation, Mood Reel for modern narrative-setting, and Drone Lab for sustained tones and textures. All three products are aimed both at DAW-based musicians and iPad users, the latter via Novation's own Launchpad and Launchkey apps, which are available for free, and which also work pretty well on an iPad with no controllers attached.
The Launch Key Mini's build quality might not live up to that of its siblings, but otherwise these three controllers have a lot going for them. Two rows of eight knobs each is a fairly generous provision on a device this size, especially since they are big, chunky and feel pretty solid. The unit's arrow keys navigate between devices, either across tracks (left/right) or within a track (up/down). Softube Time and Tone bundle – made up of four of Softube's world-class plug-ins: reverb, delay, an easy to use mastering tool and distortion. Launchpad Pro is the simplest and best way to create dynamic, expressive performances in Ableton Live, or any music software.While the Launchpad S was a welcome update to the original Launchpad in terms of performance and display, the Launchpad form factor is a little imposing: measuring 24cm on a side, it occupies a lot of space for the functionality it provides.