Novation have revamped their ‘Launch’ range of Ableton Live controllers in recent months — we reported on the upgrade of the Launchkey Mini keyboard controller to its MkIII form in the October 2019 issue of SOS, and the Launchpad Mini reached MkIII at the same time as the larger, velocity-sensitive Launchpad X was announced in the Autumn. Now the flagship 8x8-pad, USB-C bus‑powered Launchpad Pro MkIII has been announced as well.
So, what’s new on the MkIII? The pads in the unmistakable 8x8 grid are larger, more tactile and expressive, and Integration with Ableton Live is even deeper, with the addition of dedicated transport, quantise, and clip duplicating controls, tap tempo options, and new Capture MIDI and Print To Clip keys. A new Chord mode helps you create good-sounding harmonies quickly from the grid, and various scale and note modes ensure your selected lead, bass or notes belong in the correct key. But perhaps the biggest development is that the Launchpad Pro is no longer ‘just’ a Live controller. A built-in four-track, 32-step polyphonic sequencer allows the Launchpad Pro MkIII to drive not only any software instrument, but MIDI hardware connected to its three rear‑panel sockets (up from the In/Out pair on the original Launchpad Pro), with neat real-time playback, Probability and Mutation options that let your sequences and songs develop as they play. Novation’s drag-and-drop Components Editor can also be used to tailor the Launchpad Pro MkIII’s functionality, allowing it to become a custom controller for any MIDI device. You can switch instantly between up to eight Custom Modes for control over multiple connected devices.
The Launchpad Pro MkIII costs £299 in the UK$349.99 in the USA, and will be available later in the Spring.