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Pad controller with hardware sequencer

Review: Launchpad Pro MK3

Published 7:45 am on Monday 15th June 2020 by Beat Magazine

Inspired by Push

The pads of the Launchpad Pro (Checkout Launchpad Pro MK3 in the Thomann shop) are comfortable to touch and play. They transpose velocity and aftertouch in a nuanced way. Just like on Ableton Push, they can also be used as a keyboard or to trigger drum tracks. The customizable colors of the pads provide more clarity and visualise the basic tones of the key or the 16 drum pads. Different keys can be selected to prevent out-of-tune notes when playing. The Launchpad Pro automatically detects whether a track containing a synthesizer/sampler or a drum rack is selected in Ableton and switches the score view accordingly. The new Chord mode is also very helpful, allowing you to create your own chords and distribute them to the pads. This creates exciting chord progressions that you might not have played like this on a conventional keyboard.

MIDI controller

The Launchpad Pro can also be used outside of Ableton Live as a pure MIDI controller, with extensive customisation via the component software. You can choose from the virtual faders, keyboard, drum grid, MIDI notes, and also program change - all freely combinable. Each of these elements can be assigned to its own color.

If you turn the Launchpad Pro MK3 to its rear side you can see that it has one MIDI input and two MIDI outputs. Due to lack of space they are designed as mini jacks, but suitable adapters are included. These jacks allow you to use the Launchpad as a keyboard and also to use MIDI controller for hardware synthesizers.

Built-in sequencer

It becomes especially interesting when you start the integrated sequencer, which also works without a computer connection. This has the advantage of not having to carry a device that might be heavy in weight with you at all times. The sequencer offers four tracks with 32 steps each, which are displayed via the four upper pad rows. The lower rows of pads are used as a keyboard or better asides a drum rack, which is also known from Ableton Push. Sequences can be recorded in real time or programmed step-by-step. Probability provides variety: This is the setting for the probability with which the step will be played back. In contrast to this, Mutate randomly shifts a step in pitch, but remains in the appropriate key. Ratchets, which mean nothing else but fast repetitions of individual steps, can also be programmed. With Print-to-Clip, sequences can be transformed into a clip in Ableton Live at the touch of a button, when repeated, Probability and Mutate will be included. It could hardly be better. There are 8 patterns per track, which can also be linked for longer sequences. In 16 scenes you can link the patterns of the four tracks. Scenes can also be linked, which even makes complete songs possible.

The handling is very practical, simply to understand for everyone and easy to operate. Due to the extensive functions, we would have had desired a small OLED display for parameter viewing which would make things more pleasant.

Verdict

The Launchpad Pro MK3 (More infos in the Thomann shop) is improved in every aspect. The Ableton integration is even more profound, the pads offer very good haptic and the custom mode turns the Launchpad into a freely programmable MIDI controller. It is delightful to work with the Chord mode and to create inspiring Chord progressions. The highlight is the flexible standalone sequencer, which can also be used in a computerless setup thanks to the builtin MIDI connections. However, you will need some training time to fully master the functionality.


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