Novation’s Launchpad has seen slimmer and smaller versions. And upcoming is a Pro version with pressure/velocity and MIDI in and out.
But if you just want the grid, you can now get the base model with RGB color. It’s officially called the Launchpad mk2. No availability or pricing yet (damn you, unstable Euro), but you can sign-up for notification.
The update has the same basic design as the original, but updated with styling from its Pro sibling, and RGB color behind the pads for more visual feedback.
Here’s the obligatory video of the new model, which gets a very cute studio setup and a live performance by Buddy Peace:
That basic model does quite a lot.
Beginners: For beginners, you get a lot of bundles. Live Lite, a gig of samples, and the Bass Station plug-in are included.
Ableton Live users: In Ableton Live, you’re pre-mapped to Drum Racks, mixing, and Max for Live.
iPad owners: And this is a grid that works with just about anything. Ableton Live is the original use case, but the driverless model plugs into an iPad, too. There’s official support for Novation’s own Launchpad app.
Advanced users, customization: Linux, Windows, other apps, all work, too, because the Launchpad has class-compliant drivers. This hardware has also been well supported by the community for apps ranging from Bitwig to Renoise, partly because of its low cost. Because it’s simple to program, it’s a great choice for Max and Pd and Reaktor patchers, too.
But that’s all true of the whole family at the moment.
So, is this the Launchpad I’d get? Absolutely not.
Yeah, I have to admit, I think Novation has nailed it with two models. The Launchpad Mini is incredibly small, so for a dead-simple grid to just toss in a bag, I’d opt for that model – partly because I don’t need all those colors. The Pro, meanwhile, is brilliant in that it works with MIDI, and much to my surprise will support standalone operation. It’s not necessarily the most responsive controller in terms of pressure sensitivity (I still like Push and Maschine for that, or the Linnstrument if I want to get really serious). But it may prove to be the most versatile. There’s more to say about the Pro, but expect our review as they arrive this summer. (I got to play with a prototype, alongside our own MeeBlip, this summer.)
All that said, I’m sure the RGB Launchpad will be perfect for some. And Novation has done a superb job of rounding out their lineup with options for every use case, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. That lets you be modular and carry just what you need, and that, I think, is a very good thing.
Plus, I still can’t kill my original Launchpad (serial #7, believe it or not), even after copious amounts of abuse. So I think putting your faith in this line isn’t a big risk.
Ableton’s Push remains the hardware to beat as an expressive instrument with lots of other features. But it’s not much use outside of Ableton, it’s not available in anything other than the flagship model, and it’s heavy (which may be a good or bad thing, depending on whether you’re next DJ gig involves Ryanair).
Novation at the moment has pretty much every other possible base covered.
Now I just have to bide my time waiting for that Pro model.