I purchased the Launchkey 49 after enjoying Novation's Launchpad S controller for a few months. I really like the Launchpad S and thought the idea of a keyboard controller with its own pads would be a wonderful device.
I imagined that having the pads and keys all on one controller would make for a quick workflow and would be more convenient to transport around with only my iPad as a sound module using the supported apps.
The positioning of the knobs, sliders, pads, and pitch/mod wheels also looked very pleasing to me. Some midi controllers don't have a great layout and things can be difficult to access in a dark room on the fly. The layout of this controller is pretty convenient.
The Launchkey has 9 sliders, 8 knobs, 16 lighted pads, transport controls, octave +/-, pitch and mod wheels, a sustain pedal input, and USB output.
Setup of the Launchkey is as simple as it gets- you plug the USB out into your computer and use it as you would any comparable midi controller (Alesis, Arturia etc).
There is no need for a manual if you are familiar with using midi controllers, but Novation provides adequate support on their website if you find you need help or have questions.
Unfortunately, the controls are non-assignable. You are locked in to using the CC settings Novation has arranged for the keyboard, with no option of reprogramming the unit. I don't fully grasp why they would intentionally limit the controller like this. You may select different midi channels to transmit notes on, but everything else is stuck. Even the pads must remain on their own channel (10) and can't be assigned elsewhere.
This can be redeemed by using the Launchkey with a software that can learn midi transmission and assign it to whatever you like, but if your software doesn't have this feature you are out of luck. This truly is a bizarre limitation.
The controller is plagued with an all too common cheap plastic feel. The unit looks very nice, but it feels like a toy. This is a problem considering I purchased it for the sake of using it in more portable settings. I'm afraid it could break at any moment every time I bring it somewhere. So far it has held up, so maybe the quality goes beyond the way it handles. To me the keys are awful in use- some are stiff and have a limited range, while others feel loose and feeble.
The pads are nice to have, and feel very similar to those of a Launchpad S. They work as advertised with the Launchkey App, Launchpad App, and Ableton Live to trigger sounds and loops. No complaints here.
I want to like the Launchkey, with its great layout and convenience, but the limitations mentioned above keep me from using it often.
If you want a good pad controller, I highly recommend Novation's own Launchpad S, as it is a wonderful little device. If you are looking for a good, low-cost midi controller with similar features (and even pads that can be used in a similar way) I would stay away from this one and check out Alesis QX 49, M-Audio Axiom, or Arturia Keylab. They offer very similar features but are much better built and have more programming flexibility.
Hopefully Novation releases a high-end version of the Launchkey with more features and a stronger build for the serious musician. Right now it is fairly obvious that the Launchkey is aimed at hobby musicians, beginners, and teenagers because it is very much a fun toy at a low cost.
The fact Launchkey set new USB controller and it does not carry a Midi output. It is on the back usb output and an input for a sustain pedal.
Bb: No MIDI out.
The feel is a little light, the knobs are pretty good quality, but the pads are a little soft.
Adept live configs and Akai apc40, I think the ergonomics of the keyboard is well thought out. Thanks to INCONTROL keys there is a possibility to switch the automatic settings Live and switch to standard twelve o'clock assignments.
Example: Trigger clip with pads -> in switch / control -> pads déclanchent the samples.
What I like most is its ease of use with Live and the power of the config.
This is a good all in one with a limited expressiveness! The size is reduced and the configuration options are important, I can not see how to do better for the price.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Did you find this review helpful?yesno
Anonymous 's review (This content has been automatically translated from French)" Not worth the price"
Midi keyboard with pads and several control items
On paper, it looks great, and its Novation, well-known in this domain, and a proof of quality.
Super simple installation, Novation offers, as usual a great control application, one can map anything with ease.
Now or AC is gatte is robust and manufacturing keyboard.
I have used many models before (even the bottom of m-game audio), and the keys on the keyboard are super cheap. It does not senfonce far and the quality of the keys is really mild, very disappointed by ca at first, then the pads, very hard and not very responsives. Mod wheels and wheel pithc good quality. The low quality pots also. the faders will ca mas no more.
Interest: very disappointed, I buy at Time Thoman and tomorrow I return (hopefully there is the famous 30 days)
I am very easy to seduce usual and happy little me (I have never been a pinailleur and boring for the gear-type), but what shocked me most this is the keyboard, personally I find it abuse for 170 euros put such buttons, no fun game, this is flat, no resistance, the plastic panel below the keys is also very fine and move when jappuie a little hard on the keys. the pads are not competitive an (MPCS is not asking for pads either). Anyway my roland keyboard that was less certainly had fewer features but a key bed of quality which is the minimum for a midi keyboard which exceeds 150 euros.
I specified that I did not want either a midi keyboard with semi fleet type or piano keys but then type synth I do not criticize in a vacuum.