Over the years, I’ve watched a number of synthesizer companies change and develop their product ranges to suit modern music making methods. Novation is one such company that has put a great deal of R&D into the DJ market, even side-lining their hardware
synth production for a decade as they focused on a wider range of instruments to change the way we all make music. Now, with the advent of a new era in music making, it seems Novation is still on the beat combining a popular hardware device with a new range of controller keyboards and an iPad app to tie it all together.
As most of you are probably aware, Ableton 9 was released earlier this year. Many of you are making the most of its new features and many of you, I am sure, have been using Novation’s Launchpad in conjunction with previous versions of Ableton. Now, Novation have cleverly timed the release of a couple of new products that should aid those of you who are using Ableton and wanting a fresh approach to your music.
With Launchpad, a new way of working with your beats, samples and mixes, especially within Ableton, was given to the electronic music
community. It took us away from the sometimes stagnant interface that a piano keyboard presented us with and redefi ned how a DJ could interact with their music software. The 8 x 8 pad confi guration, with the addition of 16 further control buttons changed the way the user interacts with the software. It is for this reason that Launchpad has become such a popular medium in recent years. But, it is really just the beginning of what Novation had in store for us with software control.
This year’s NAMM conference saw the launch, of the new Launchkey range of controller keyboards. It takes design elements from other
Novation keyboards and combines them with the additional functionality of the Launchkey control pads, giving you two rows of eight pads
with two control buttons to the side. This then reduces the need for multiple controllers in what can often be a confi ned studio or live space. Less gear to set up at and lug to the club and easier integration with your hardware all crammed into one case, it puts you right on the beat with just one piece of kit. Take eight rotary encoders and nine faders all on the front panel and you have a pretty serious arsenal of control all atop of a keyboard in varying sizes.
But, if it is a compact and portable device you want, then it is the new addition to the Novation range that really ties it all together – the Launchpad app for iPad.
Think of all the features you know and love in all the Novation controllers and imagine them combined on the screen of your iPad. Well, the Launchpad app does just that. It gives you the flexibility of working with a full screen of pads, as well as the functionality of a bank of faders and a selection of effects to bring new life to your mix. It integrates beautifully with the Launchkey keyboard controller, to give you a totally mobile solution that will work with you on the road or in the studio. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work in the smaller realm and requires an iPad, not working with your iPhone or iPod. However, you really do need the larger screen to really make the most of all its features. I think this could spawn a whole new generation of creative musicians and challenge a lot of experienced music makers to reconsider how they go about their process. by ROB KEY