Novation Launchkey 61 Review

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Quick Overview

FEATURES

QUALITY

PRICE

Pros

  • 61 velocity-sensitive keys
  • Deep Ableton Live Integration
  • Eight rotary encoders
  • Nine 45 mm faders
  • Three chord modes
  • Five-pin MIDI output

Cons

  • Not recommended for beginners

Whether you are a professional producer or a live performer, you need a high-tech musical instrument integrated with an innovative MIDI controller like the Novation Launchkey 61 MK3.

This Novation Launchkey 61 review highlights its features and functionality, including keys, knobs, faders, and more.

Although Novation Launchkey 61 is optimized for Ableton Live, you can map to major DAWs, courtesy of its customizable controls.

Novation Launchkey 61 MK3 MIDI Keyboard Controller

As the name suggests, the Novation Launchkey features 61 note keyboard controllers so that you can simply plug and play with Ableton Live.

Founded in 1992, Novation Digital Music System is a British music equipment manufacturer integrating state-of-the-art technology in their products.

The Novation Launchkey 61 was initially released in 2013 with its second generation in 2016.

Who’s This Product For?

The Novation Launchkey 61 MK3 MIDI Keyboard Controller is an integral part of the music studio because of its plug-ins, flexible and assignable controllers.

Not only that, but you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on other virtual instruments and synthesizers.

So it’s good for even those musicians with a low budget.

This robust device is designed for all levels of music creators, especially those who work with Ableton Live.

What's Included?

The Novation Launchkey 61 MK3 MIDI Keyboard Controller includes a versatile software bundle of virtual instruments and plug-ins.

Not only that, but it also comes with a free software suite including Ableton Live 10 Lite, Spitfire Audio LABS Expressive Strings, DAW Cassette, AAS Session Bundle, XLN Audio Addictive keys, and Serato Sample LE.

Another exciting inclusion is the two-month membership for Splice Sounds and the Novation Sound Collective.

The unit also comes with a USB A to B cable because it’s USB bus-powered. That’s why it doesn’t include a power supply.

Lastly, this reliable keyboard controller comes with a warranty of three years, ensuring a long-term, safe investment.

Overview of Features

This diverse Launchkey is essentially a controller for all music software, empowering you to control the mixer and transport in Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Reason, Cubase, Logic, and FL Studio.

  • Weight

With a manageable size and weight, you can conveniently transport the Novation Launchkey 61 MK3 MIDI Keyboard Controller around.

It features a solid build and a robust layout design giving it a rugged look.

  • Scale Modes

The third-generation Launchkey 61 comes with eight scale modes, allowing you to lay down a Mixolydian bass line or perform a pleasant solo in dorian mode.

The primary purpose of the scale modes is to transpose the existing keys into the notes of the scale you choose.

All you need to do is select the root note and the scale you desire, and you are all set to play.

  • Chord Modes, Mutate, and Apreggiator

You can trigger any of the three-chord modes, including fixed, scale, and user, with one finger.

These chord modes are responsible for transforming the Launchkey pads and keys into an interactive music controller.

Consequently, all the notes you play harmonically associate with one another.

In addition to that, the arpeggiator allows you to play melodies.

  • New Custom Modes

These modes communicate between the software and controller, providing you with easy access to more controls.

You can program these custom modes using the browser-based Novation component tools.

This way, you can personalize the Launchkey by programming different control assignments, pad color, MIDI routing, and more.

  • Connecting External Gear

You can connect your external gear with a five-pin MIDI DIN connection with your Novation Launchkey 61.

This way, you can access all the controllers from the Launchkey, whether you play it individually or via the computer.

  • Large and Sensitive Pads

This innovative keyboard controller comes with relatively larger, velocity-sensitive pads, giving you more control over dynamics.

The eight rotary knobs offer complete customization and real-time performance control.

You can find a dedicated button to activate Capture MIDI functionality, ensuring seamless integration with Ableton Live.

In addition to that, you can use quantize, plus track arm, other looping controls to switch your music session quickly.

  • Designed for Ableton Live

The Novation Launchkey controllers offer a streamlined workflow that enables the musicians to use Ableton.

All the controls are assignable. It means you can use any other major DAW by instantly mapping it to the controllers.

The good news is that Launchkey offers smooth integration with Reason and Logic and other native functionality with DAWs such as Cubase, Pro Tools, and Studio One via HUI.

It means you can also use the pads to play Drum Racks or tweak the rotary encoders to adjust other parameters.

Additionally, you can tweak mixer parameters and launch Clip and Scenes.

How To Use the Novation Launchkey 61

From the above Novation Launchkey 61 review, we already know that the device comes with RGB 61 velocity-sensitive pads, eight customizable knobs, and nine assignable faders.

After you plug it via the USB bus, you’ll see attractive RGB LEDs.

You can also find octave up-down, function buttons, modulation wheels, and pitch bend.

You can integrate the keyboard controller with a sustain pedal input with MIDI output and a USB connection.

If you want to access Live Session mode, you can hold shift and press the session pad.

Here, you can see an 8x2 grid of the clips within the session view.

Now you can launch Live Clips and Scenes and switch between different modes so you can slop, mute clip, stop, and jam with already-made clips.

You can also press shift and drum pad to see the pads associated with the velocity-sensitive drum mode.

This way, you can play the Drum Rack with the help of up and down buttons while scrolling through 128 pads.

The intuitive controls also offer you access to core mixing parameters. All you need to do is press shift and the volume, pan, or send button.

You can use encoder pots in device mode to control individual devices.

You can also use the up and down buttons on the sliders to navigate through different devices within a track.

In the scale chord mode, every pad serves as a different chord in the chosen key.

This way, you can write strong chord progressions, even if you don’t have any prior knowledge of music theory.

Check out this demo to learn more about using this MIDI keyboard controller.

Alternative

For those of you who want to compare this device with another one, below is a good option.

Nektar Impact Keyboard Controller

The Nektar Impact LX49+ Keyboard Controller is an affordable alternative, especially for beginners since it’s challenging to start with the Novation Launchkey 61.

This featureful keyboard controller comes with velocity-sensitive pads, pitch, and mode wheels, nine 30mm sliders, and transpose buttons.

It also offers nine assignable buttons in addition to the six dedicated transport buttons and four-LED color options.

It means you can assign the controls of your choice to the encoders in user mode.

You can power the unit from a computer or iPad using a USB port.

The low-power mode also switches off the lights to facilitate power-saving.

Although it doesn’t come with MIDI output, you can use your DAW to control hardware synths.

The Nektar DAW integration allows you to use Logic, Bitwig, Cubase, FL Studio, Reaper, and more.

Additionally, the transport controls let you undo and set in and out loop points.

You can also use the mixer button and adjust the sliders, dials, and other buttons to control panning, column, and solo or mute eight tracks.

Novation Launchkey 61 Review: The Verdict

To sum up, the Novation Launchkey 61 is a perfect combination of 61 velocity-sensitive pads and scale and chord modes.

The primary purpose of the above Novation Launchkey 61 review is to highlight its integrated features that allow you to utilize your musical creativity.

It’s a well-designed keyboard controller with advanced features and MIDI tools, offering exceptional performance in standalone mode.