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Novation FLkey 37

Controller Keyboard By John Walden
Published July 2022

Novation FLkey 37

Novation’s compact keyboard gives you hands‑on control of FL Studio.

Among Novation’s highly regarded MIDI controller keyboard range are the successful and popular Launchkey models that provide integrated support for Ableton Live. Novation have now taken the Launchkey concept and adapted it to offer similar targeted integration with FL Studio. There are two new keyboards in the range — the FLkey Mini and FLkey 37 — with physical layouts very similar to the Launchkey Mini and Launchkey 37. Both are compact and would suit a mobile rig but, equally, the larger of the two is a suitable contender for a compact personal studio space. So, if you are an existing (or potential) FL Studio user, are Novation providing the ideal choice for your MIDI controller keyboard needs?

Little & Littler

For the purposes of this review, I had access to the FLkey 37. As the name suggests, it offers 37 full‑size keys as well as conventional pitch and mod wheels, 16 trigger pads, eight rotary encoders, dedicated transport controls and a number of other buttons associated with navigation duties. There are also some neat chord/scale options, and options for switching the pads and encoders between a number of different modes of operation. There is a small 16x2 display on the top surface, and on the rear panel you get USB connectivity, a 5‑pin DIN MIDI out and a standard sustain pedal input.

The Mini scales things back somewhat with 25 mini‑sized keys, touch strips for pitch and modulation and fewer dedicated buttons, but you do still get the 16 pads and eight encoders. Its MIDI out is via a 3.5mm jack rather than a full‑size 5‑pin DIN and there is no display panel on the top surface.

Initial configuration is straightforward and, once done, the FLkey 37 worked exactly as advertised.Initial configuration is straightforward and, once done, the FLkey 37 worked exactly as advertised.The included software bundle provides a six‑month trial version of FL Studio Producer Edition, XLN Audio’s Addictive Keys, AAS Session Bundle, Spitfire Audio’s LABS Expressive Strings and Klevgrand’s ROVerb and DAW Cassette plug‑ins. As described in the March 2021 issue, FL Studio Producer Edition is an impressive package, especially for electronic music producers, combining lots of functionality with an excellent range of virtual instruments and effects.

I’ll not dwell too long on the quality of the hardware other than to say it’s exactly what you would expect from Novation. The velocity sensitive synth‑style keys were very easy to play, the pads are also velocity sensitive, the encoder pots smooth, and the various other buttons suitably solid in operation. The construction is all plastic but, providing due care and attention is paid when in transit, it feels robust...

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