Well, we see how this fits together. All images courtesy Novation.

Well, we see how this fits together. All images courtesy Novation.

Here’s this week’s theme from Novation, in a nutshell:

Stuff that costs US$99 (street).

Stuff that’s ultra-mobile/portable.

Stuff that works with Mac, PC, and iPad.

CDM readers already worked out that they weren’t done, watching the video for the $99 Launchkey mini keyboard, which also fits this theme and combines pads, knobs, and keys. Looking closely at the video, you nailed one of the product releases: a smaller version of the Launchpad grid controller, the product that perhaps more than any other popularized grids in the mass market. (Outside the mass market, that honor surely goes to the monome.)

So, apart from the keyboard, what have we got?

There’s the Launchpad Mini, a svelte, smaller version of the Launchpad, plus the Launch Control, a set of knobs and pad triggers. Let’s take a closer look:

And we see how this fits together, too. So far, looks like there's not much reason to choose a Launchpad S over the smaller, slimmer Launchpad Mini - unless you have big fingers, of course.

And we see how this fits together, too. So far, looks like there’s not much reason to choose a Launchpad S over the smaller, slimmer Launchpad Mini – unless you have big fingers, of course.

Launchpad Mini

The Launchpad Mini really is basically a Launchpad S in a smaller, lighter form factor. It’s also notably absent the Ableton branding, going with (very nice) minimalist markings. It’s no less compatible with Ableton Live, but as with the Launchpad S, Novation is also pushing integration with FL Studio 11. (We’ve seen readers make their own creations, too, ranging from Renoise to Pd patches to Max for Live to … well, just lots of things.)

Labeled 1-8 and A-H, the performance buttons on the side are at last something you would really use for whatever you like. Other than that, it’s still an 8×8 grid with red, yellow, and green color options for the triggers. There’s no velocity sensitivity, but if you don’t need that, the appeal of the Launchpad is, as ever, that it’s something cheap and rugged.



Launchpad Mini vs. Launchpad S

Novation released a photo illustrating the difference in footprint between the Launchpad Mini and Launchpad S, but what about actual specs? Oddly missing from the press release, but here you go:

Launchpad Mini:
185 mm x 185 mm x 16 mm
428 g

Launchpad S:
240 mm x 240 mm x 20 mm
717 g

So, that’s no small difference.

Also, Novation has added the tagline “Launchpad for the iPad Generation” — so it’s not hard to see how they view this in terms of positioning. And that’s wise, too, given that the increasingly-popular iPad can do a lot more than the Launchpad, and unlike the other hardware controllers (Ableton Push, QuNeo, etc.), the Launchpad has no velocity sensitivity on which to fall back.

Still, for physical triggers, the Launchpad Mini looks intriguing, and at this price, I believe the specs above could make an absolutely epic difference. Indeed, the real competition to me remains the Keith McMillen QuNeo. It’s also slim and light, but adds additional expression controls. The Launchpad is a bargain, but it’s down to how you want to play.



Launchpad Control

Launchpad Control is one of those devices that makes you say “yeah, okay – obviously.” In a good way. It augments the Launchpad (or any other controller) with a handy set of 16 knobs and red/green/yellow triggers.

That’s it. And that’s already really good. There are eight factory templates and eight user templates for more controls, and it’s of course pre-mapped for the Launchpad app for iPad and built to augment the (knobless) Launchpad.

Of course, this also means if you’ve got a Launchpad and you’re on a budget, you can add the knobs you’ve been missing for a hundred bucks. Not too shabby – especially in this economy.

Both hardware devices come with the bundle we saw on the Launchkey earlier this week – Live Lite, the iOS Launchpad app, V-Station and Bass Station synth plug-ins, and some samples.

And both run on bus power.

Launchpad Control ships this month worldwide, as the Launchkey does, whereas the Launchpad Mini ships next month.



  • www.malaventura.net

    Definitely I’ll go for the launchpad mini, I have already the first launchpad and was a great incorporation to my portable studio, and I want to see how it works this version cos the old one sometimes get stuck, specially in the frenzy moments of my audiovisual sampler routine (http://vimeo.tumblr.com/post/541538301/staff-pick-malaventuras-audiovisual-sampler-in), also, as a traveller musician I always look for this kind of mini controllers, and hey! The alpha numerical grid is another interesting add, I did the same with my old launchpad http://t.co/uEhU5jnV1r
    Ah… the Novation launchpad, the monome of the poors

  • Velocity

    No velocity – that is so sad, but for the price of 99$ it would be nuts 😀 Hope to see velocity sensitive version someday under Jeremy Ellis funky fingers! :]

    • mo_seph

      The Icon iStage has a 4*12 grid and velocity sensitivity, and it cost me less than $99. It’s pretty badly made, and the sensitivity is awful, though :(

  • nayseven

    nice tools, launchpad control will be handy for sure, what a pity that’s not motorized knobs like the BCR2000..strange no one create this …about monome and launchpad ( and this mini will be great for this), Peter you have to check a new appz , really promising: http://www.sigabort.co/m4l_lp.html

  • nucleon

    I made a demo of using the Launchpad Mini and Launchkey Mini with FL Studio here if its useful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7YSakZO33w

  • chrismcd

    Do you think with the advances that Android is making music-wise, we’ll see these compatible with Android OS as well? I hope so. I was debating getting an iPad for a long time and decided to get the new Google Nexus 7 instead. I love it. The form factor is great and I really warmed up to the OS, even though I have an iPhone and still like it. Only thing I miss is DM1.

  • robsnyder1

    This will sound really naive, but here goes. I’ve started programming with Max/MSP, and I’m obviously interested in the monome as a controller for the programs I’m writing. But cost and availability are prohibitive. Is there any reason this wouldn’t be a good alternative?

    • Ben Sherman

      The main difference is that the launchpad uses MIDI natively, while a monome uses OSC, a different sort of messaging.

      There will be a lot of monome apps that expect OSC, but I assume there are / will be MIDI to OSC apps you can use (vise versa if you go with a monome). It would actually be a good exercise to help you understand exactly how OSC works behind the scenes, and you should be able to find any help you need in the Max community.

      Having the launchpad use MIDI, you’ll have a much easier time mapping it to DAW software, etc… Also, the additional buttons on the launchpad might be useful for you, for example MLR uses the top row of the monome for page/control, so you’d actually get 7 rows for sequencing, versus mapping the additional buttons (or using separate pages) for function / control and always having the full 8×8 grid to work with.

    • robsnyder1

      Thanks, Ben. I’m more interested in just having an affordable grid for giving me hands on control of the patches I’m writing from scratch. So if I understand you correctly, I could be in good shape with the launchpad. Appreciate the advice.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Depends on what you want to do with your patches. For simplicity and affordability, this looks about perfect. But if you do want more data to play with – like velocity or position of your finger on the pad – you might also want to look at the KMI QuNexus. It’s not too much more expensive, it’s still thin, light, and rugged, and you get loads of additional sensor data, plus control strips, etc.

    • wetterberg

      you’re thinking of the QuNeo, right Peter?

      I do agree though, either of these products is a good start, for sure.
      I see the QuNeo as a brilliant upgrade, but to the venerable Trigger Finger.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Yes, I mean QuNeo. Sometimes I get my QuThings Qrossed and Backwards.

    • Ben Sherman

      Yep, the launchpad should be a good match :)

  • anerandros

    I’m in between two minds here:

    I really need a small portable and feature rich keyboard/knobs kinda thing. I’m really about buying a QuNexus. It’s almost perfect: it only misses 8 knobs.

    When I’ve read about Launchkey Mini I was amazed and I thought I found it. It is small (even though I prefer smaller such as QuNexus), it’s nice, it’s portable and it has all that I need but OSC.

    I only hope that QuNexus will add those knobs and make a white edition, and I’m sold.

  • wetterberg

    Any news about the availability? The mini is just such a cute little thing, I needs to own it.
    Welp, nevermind, it showed up now. :) 99euro @ Thomanns. Expected on the 15th of October :-/

  • David Holmes

    Why do all the knob controller manufacturers make the knobs so close together? I can’t use my Livid Code live for that reason, fat fingers in the heat of the moment, don’t go well with child sized finger spaces….

  • Jacob

    Is there a way to use this without ableton or fl studio? i have the demo version of fl, which means i cant save project files. I want to make some cool digital music without spending money on software, Help?

    • shithead

      lol torrent that shit