Novation’s grids continue getting more flexible and more open – that last bit setting them apart from products designed to be unitasker controllers for a single piece of software.

The updated Launchpad Pro is full of stuff Launchpad fans asked for, and rounds on the current Launchpad range with an advanced model. I love the mini for its size and simplicity – it’s earned a regular place in my bag as a result. But while still being relatively compact and affordable, the Pro now more than ever is the do-everything grid.

And since it isn’t tethered to the computer, it’s also useful when your laptop is switched off, or as part of an all-hardware live rig.

Plus the Launchpad Pro has velocity and pressure sensing – that’s improved in this revision.

New in this version:

Built-in sequencer (previously this was available when you hacked the firmware and wrote it yourself, which was a fun novelty but … not very user friendly!)

Transport controls

Deeper Ableton Live integration: tap tempo, print to clip, capture MIDI – all features Ableton has introduced on Push, but which also works really well with Novation’s more compact, lightweight, and simpler controller.

Eight custom modes

Components editor

Chord mode

USB-C adapter (this turns out to be a lot more convenient, as this becomes the standard – and I’ve had no problem with breakage or disconnection, since I know some of you worry about that. Unless you’re really buying crap cables, USB-C is the best USB we’ve gotten so far.)

MIDI in, out, and 2x thru (!) (expanding a bit on what was there before)

Plus – here’s the nicest trick. The pads are bigger and more responsive, but the unit itself is more compact and lightweight.

Honestly, I find I routinely pull out the mini and this new Pro for work in Live (and other tools). Novation sent me a Pro prototype, and it already feels terrific. It’s also clear they’ve taken some of the best design cues from Ableton and Native Instruments. It’s nice to see attractive, futuristic-looking gear – and basically at the same prices as before.

There’s a lot more to say about Launchpad Pro and Novation’s new approach to opening up their grids to developers. I have now all the models and am in touch with the developers. I’m personally interested in being able to seamlessly switch between tools like Ableton Live, VCV Rack, Bitwig Studio, and custom-coded/custom-patched stuff – and between computers and hardware. I expect a whole lot of people reading this feel the same way. (and if you have other ideas, do let us know!)

So thanks to the fact that there is a one-to-one correspondence between what I’d want to spend my time on musically and what might be useful to share, seems this could be the start of a beautiful grid-ship. Watch this space, and let us know your burning grid questions!