Remote SL COMPACT 25 USB MIDI keyboard

It’s no secret: I’m a huge fan of Novation’s ReMOTE SL line, and they’re becoming very popular with live laptop users, soft synth lovers, and users of software like Ableton Live and Reason. Put aside for a moment the whiz-bang Automap features, which automatically assign controllers to software (both plug-ins and hosts), and the physical keyboard itself is very good. The semi-weighted action feels terrific, and there’s a nice selection of controls.

Novation has expanded the SL line this week with the ReMOTE SL “Compact”, apparently keeping with their Goldilocks-friendly marketing strategy. (What, that’s a little too big for you? How about this…)

The SL Compact features:

  • 25- or 49-key semi-weighted keyboards with aftertouch
  • Assignable pitch and mod wheels
  • USB bus power (as on the previous SL)
  • Full Automap support (as on the SL)
  • Eight encoders and buttons with LEDs
  • Eight velocity-sensitive triggers
  • Single, large display
  • Group select switches allow 64 parameters in manual template mode or unlimited controls in Automap mode

In fact, it’s so close to the SL that you may wonder what’s different on the Compact. As the name implies, the layout has been adjusted to take up less space; the SL’s footprint is a bit deep. Standard pitch and mod wheels replace the pitch/mod joystick and X/Y touchpad on the full SL. There’s one screen for the controls, as on the SL, but minus the SL’s menu screen. And on an up note, the trigger pads are larger; I hope this improves upon the stiff, tiny triggers on the SL.

One of the caveats on the SL was the higher price, relative to some of its competitors; I think it’s worth the premium but the SL COMPACT does appear to be a “budget” model. Novation hasn’t yet announced pricing or availability. I’ll send an update if I hear.

What’s nice here, though, is that as opposed to keyboards like Novation’s previous Remote LE, they’re not dumbing down the feature set by removing aftertouch or changing to an unweighted action. I like that trend a lot. The 49-key model could be a great touring keyboard; Novation, if you’re listening, I hope we’ll get a 49-key keyboard backpack as on your previous models.

ReMOTE SL COMPACT [Novation News]

Remote SL COMPACT 49 USB MIDI keyboard

  • I've seen them listed for £219 for the 25 key, and £269 for the 49 key version.

  • Mike

    I phoned Focusrite/Novation and asked and was quoted the same prices. Give it a month or two and I'm sure street price will end up around the £199 point for the 25-key version.

  • Okay, I was communicated with their North American distributor, so it may just be that prices haven't yet been set here. That price is pretty close to what the original SL is going for in UK, correct? (If the price isn't too different and you don't mind a little extra bulk, I'd be tempted to stick with the non-COMPACT SL for its nice X/Y touchpad.)

  • I would miss the regular pots too much to get rid of my current SL. On the other hand if the new pads have been redesigned to be usable I'd consider swaping.

  • I'll add, much as I like the *idea* of integrating pads on a keyboard, I haven't seen any implementation that would replace just lugging along a pad controller like the Korg, M-Audio, or Akai. (Especially fond of the Korg padKONTROL.)

  • Kyran

    I'm looking for a small 25 key controller, because my x-station doesn't fit in my backpack.

    But if the prices posted here are true, I could get a remote zero for that price, which has a lot more handson controls.

  • cubestar

    Meh, no XY, and still looks kinda bulky.

    I would have loved a Remote LE with higher quality KB, aftertouch, automap, LEDs over 8-16 endless pots & buttons, metal, black…

  • ryan

    Hrmm, to get one of these or an Edirol pcr300…

  • Name (required!) :D

    The main thing I noticed aside from the XY control (and one of the main reasons I bought the previous SL) is that the faders are absent from this model.

  • I don't actually like the XY pads on the Novations, they have a sort of tracking delay where they lag behind where you want to push (for example two fingers at opposite ends and varying pressure with each digit results in a sluggish slide back and forth).

    Worse yet is how hard you have to press down on the pad for it to register. For those used to ribbon controllers (e.g Yamaha An1x) or even laptop trackpads you will be disappointed with the responsiveness.

    The whole point of a 25 key controller is that it's compact enough to stowaway in a rucksack or bag along with your laptop. So from this perspective you may as well download the freebie: Touchpad2Midi

    (Windows only so you'll have to search for alternatives Mac/Linuxy types).

    Incidently I use LiveSlice all the time in my compositions, it's great for mangling loops or even recording in from a live input and then automatically slicing it up and mapping across the CC notes.. yum.

  • wouldn't a 49 key backpack be a little, um…. tall?

  • Jack

    Just bought one of these for $480 AU, awesome fun.. first midi controller i've had and got it up and running in no time… looking forward to learning all the possibilities this sexy little box has to offer…

    The pads do seem to be a little stiff and you have to bash them a bit, but im sure its something you just have to get used to

  • Matt G

    Jack, where did you buy it from?

  • can anyone tell me how i can map the pads on the remote sl??? really looking to figure this out as I've spent 700 bucks on this baby And Its still sitting here being used for basically just pressing the odd key which is not cool;)

    needs a better manual if u ask me.. not very cool

  • Jon Smith

    Has anyone else given this a try? I'm seriously hesitating between the 25 and 49 key version. However, I don't know if the knobs are endless or not. Also, since I've never had a midi controller before I don't know if the earlier Remote 25 SL would be better for my needs (I have no idea what the xy thing does).