Novation Launchpad, a review

I’ve been using my Novation Launchpad for since Nov 11, not very much, but enough to make a review.


So yeah, the drivers are not class-compliant so you have to install something that seems to be a lot bigger and carry loads of crap that I don’t really want on my computer. It would have been better to split that stuff. Also, turning on a single led somewhere or a little animation or anything that gives you an indication of it actually getting power from your USB port. Freaked me out.  It did not light up until I started Ableton Live, which I already have so I did not install that.

First impressions:

The packaging was nice. The device feels sturdy and rugged. The LED’s where  a lot brighter then I thought. But the buttons feels very cheap.  There are a few videos on the Internet where they show of the feature’s. One of the features is using the buttons as a slider or pan, where you can drag your finger from left to right over the buttons. They must have redone that take a gazillion time.


The buttons feel cheap, and clickety, and not nice. I’m getting more used to them but I’m really comparing it to the korg padKontrol and my moanonme wich features arcade buttons (they are awesome). and that might not be fair. I really like the integration into Ableton Live. It’s the reason I bought it and the buttons are good enough for launching clips. I’ve done some drum-editing and a little general midi-playing with it but that’s where the buttons fail.

Using as a Monome-cloe:

Well, there are a bunch of awesome Monome max/msp patches. These can be run in nomone, a little tool also made in max/msp. To  bad that the only available version of max at cycling 74’s site is the demo version of 5.1 (which is a beta for max4life). There isn’t the usual runtime that you can use. The 5.1 version seems to be broken.  The drag and drop wont work and layouting sometimes looks weird (as in stuff is placed over other stuff). Those issue’s have kept me from testing the really interesting monome patches.

Using the launchpad as a LittlePiggy controlsurface:

n0s of little piggy tracker fame suggested that you could use it to control the little piggy tracker, so we launched into a small prestudy. The bad news are that while it has USB-midi it’s not class compliant so connection to it will require someone to hack Linux drivers. That on the other hand doesn’t seem to be that hard a task. The chip used for communication (and logic) in the launchpad has a data sheet and also reference drivers-code available. I’m guessing that there is no logic at all inside the launchpad, it at most keeps state of the LED’s and maybe debouncing the buttons.  This will probably be doable. However, none of the devices we run the piggy on/from really has battery power to support the launchpad. so there has to be something made there as well. Something for the future maybe.

What I’m going to use it for in the future:

I’m definitively going to learn how to use it for launching clips better, but I haven’t felt that groove lately. and I will also program something nice for it.  No max/msp stuff though. Something on my Mac that interrupts the MIDI messages and let’s me manipulate that both forward and backwards, Creating step sequencers and whatnot. Building on the stuff I made with the moanonme. And probably very similar to little-scale’s max/msp linear sequencer patch.
Infact, I’ve already started. I have the basic framework up in a cmd-window program.  Gonna move that to a nice Cocoa application soon.


The launchpads weakest point is the buttons. The features are great. The hackability is great and I’ll have much fun with that (I’m geeky).  Overall a nice buy that I’m not going to regret.

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