originally written Jan 13th, 2019.. updated October 22nd, 2019
The Novation Launchpad does what it does, and does it well. No doubt. But, it’s most useful with Ableton Live (basically what it was designed for). It really can do a lot, but to me, it’s a little overpriced, especially because it’s most useful with Ableton. The one I used to own (Launchpad MK2, the full-color one, which I just sold yesterday) sells for $149 new. Launchpad Pro is $299 ($249 in Oct. 2019). What certain Launchpads cannot do is just change their MIDI channel, or change the MIDI notes the pads are assigned to. You cannot do this on most of the Launchpads. There’s no generic “midi editor” available for older Launchpads. For the Launch Control XL, YES (and I love mine), but not for Launchpad (original), Launchpad-S, Launchpad Mini, or Launchpad MK2.
Oct 2019 update: Novation released Launchpad X and Launchpad Mini MK3… both of them can be used with Novation Components, for generic custom MIDI maps (4 total for Launchpad X, and 3 total for Launchpad Mini MK3). That’s a step in the right direction. Originally, I thought you couldn’t change the MIDI channel of the Launchpad Pro. You can. But you still can’t map the MIDI notes, even in User Mode. They’re fixed…
Enter Maschine Jam.
Tonight, I discovered how the Native Instruments Maschine Jam (released a couple years ago) can be used as a Launchpad on crack, for Ableton Live 9 and 10, thanks to meticulous scripting (copy a folder to your Ableton folder, set Maschine Jam into MIDI mode, using the 4 necessary Ableton templates (using the Native Instruments Controller Editor), and boom. You get this:
Please note— Maschine Jam is an awesome, useful controller for Maschine, to begin with. But that video shows just how amazing this little controller is, and how freakin’ VERSATILE, too. I initially dismissed Maschine Jam. I was like “oh. Kinda cool, but.. necessary?”
After seeing this video… and how it works as a better Launchpad, for Ableton. I’m sold. I had to freakin’ order one (on my usual 12-month payment plan) from Zzounds.
(Oct 2019 – but there’s still no velocity-sensitivity with Maschine Jam…. so, for clip launching, step-sequencing, and fixed-velocity note input and beat programming, you’re stuck with no velocity. Launchpad Pro and Launchpad X have velocity sensitivity, but nowhere near as many functions, at least as shown in this video).
The best part about the Maschine Jam (as well as ALL Native Instruments controllers) is that it, and they have a generic “MIDI MODE”… which, you can map basically all their buttons/knobs/encoders, etc… to any MIDI message (notes, CC, etc)… this is especially useful when you want to use the controller with OTHER DAWs (not just Maschine, or in this case, Ableton 10)… but, Reaper 5! I am still the biggest Reaper fan, alive… I am continuously amazed with everything Reaper can do (and it really can do EVERYTHING).
Combining Reaper 5 with Maschine Jam, running a single “Reaper” template, and 8 pages of assignments, including the buttons/performance strips, directional pad, and click-encoder (4 pages of it) just puts so-called MIDI mapping excitement over the top for me. Over the fucking top. Whoa. I love customizing controllers to make them do exactly what I want, when I want to mess around with other programs.
I have owned Maschine since 2009 (when it was Maschine MK1), and have bought various NI products over the years (mostly used Maschine controllers, or the Komplete Kontrol keyboards)… Native Instruments has continuously upped their game (but they’re not perfect).
Sometimes I’m late to discover stuff like this, but when I do… I’m like “what the flying FUCK… this is amazing. Why am I only finding out about this, now?”
I really hope this knowledge helps other people out there…. technology still blows my mind, man. It still fucking BLOWS. MY. MIND.
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