Novation Releases "Launchpad" - Music Controller for Everyone

Rob Williams

Staff member
From our front-page news:
Want to create some incredible beats, but don't know the first thing about going about it? Ever download a DJ mixing application, like Ableton Live, FL Studio or Sony ACID Pro, but were lost at the sheer complexity of it all? The Launchpad, by Novation, looks to cater to every group of DJ, from novice up to professional. It can be used to create music, or spice up your live shows. The best part? The price, at $199, and what it includes. If you don't currently own a piece of DJ'ing software, you're covered here.

Compared to some higher-end controllers, the Launchpad is "simple" in that it doesn't include knobs and faders, but it rather sticks to a large 8x8 grid of buttons that can be used for more than one function. These include queueing and loading samples, mixing your music, controlling the volume, panning and more. Mastering the usage of these buttons will undoubtedly take some work, but once you have things down pat, you'll hardly have to touch the PC.

To see all of what this controller is capable of, I recommend checking out the demo video posted by Ableton at YouTube, as it shows off a wide-range of capabilities with the device. Not only can you play tracks or samples with a simple push of one or two buttons, you have full control over laying samples on top of each other, and perhaps the coolest part, you can change the function of the buttons to become virtual sliders, knobs and faders to better achieve the effect you want.

Robust controllers can cost upwards of $400 or more, and don't include software. The Launchpad costs $199, and includes a "Launchpad Edition" of Ableton Live, one of the premier DJ'ing tools out there, regularly used by the likes of Armin Van Buuren, Daft Punk, Darren Price, Gabriel & Dresden, Kaskade, Mogwai and more. It's even been used by non-dance artists on some tracks, such as by Nine Inch Nails and my personal favorite hip-hop artist, Del.

We'll be receiving one of these for evaluation soon, so keep an eye out for a full review in the near-future.


Jointly designed by Ableton and Novation, Launchpad places Ableton Live at your fingertips. Whether you're a DJ, performing musician or studio producer, Launchpad gives you all you need to truly 'play' Live. With a multi-colour 64-button grid and dedicated scene launch buttons, Launchpad is purpose built for triggering and manipulating clips in Live, it also offers a totally new way of controlling Ableton Live's mixer. Launchpad's buttons can be used to sketch out beats with drum racks, and they can be assigned to other functions in Live using Ableton's 'Learn' mode.

Source: Novation Launchpad


Hi :)
If you're a Launchpad user, you might be interested in this project I've been working on. I've written a program called Katapult, that let's you use the Launchpad with any MIDI software, in a much more flexible way, than what you can do with Automap (pro version included). It can map totally custom multipage layouts of buttons, faders and so on to the Launchpad, and send the midi output to any midi device or software. It also supports bi-directional communication, so the software you use it with can update the controls on the Launchpad. For example, twist a knob in Traktor, and the corresponding fader on the Launchpad moves as well. Personally, I think that's a very cool feature :D I've put together a little demonstration video and uploaded it to Vimeo:

When I first heard about the Launchpad, I was intrigued, and figured that this would be the perfect controller for my DJ'ing setup. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed when i Learned that all of the advanced features could only be used with Ableton Live, since I use Traktor for playing. To solve my misery, I set out to write an application that would let me do all the cool stuff I wanted. Initially I was only intending this for my own personal use, but during the last two months, I've spent a lot of time and work on it, and decided to turn it into a full-featured program anyone could use and benefit from. So I've put it online in public beta now, in the hopes that I'll get a lot of feedback and ideas that'll allow me to improve it even more. There's already a lot going on, and many new features I'm currently working on. My goal is to create an awesome application, that'll make the Launchpad even cooler and more useable than it already is :)

For downloads and many more details, check the website at:

I regularly post updates to the forum at my site on development progress as well. If you give it a whirl, and come up with a great idea, or want to see certain features implemented, feedback is very much appreciated!


Mark Qvist