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Novation Launchpad Pro vs. Launchpad Mk2

Published: Wed August 12, 2015  News Feed
Novation changed the way people make music, with the Launchpad. It gives you everything you need to get hands-on with your sound. This is where it all began. The Launchpad was the birth of the grid system that fueled the evolution in electronic music. It's time you joined in... but, with different models available, which one is right for you? Here's a look at the main differences between Launchpad Pro and Launchpad Mk2.

Novation Launchpad comparison

Grid controllers are today a must in most producer's setup. While some connoisseurs still use their old Monome, and others go for the complex Ableton Push, it's fair to say that Novation carved a very nice niche for themselves with their own take on the grid concept. The Launchpad Mini and the Launchpad S are still great choices for affordable and easy-to-use grid-style MIDI controllers.

All Launchpads can be chained together. They all integrate seamlessly with Ableton Live without any setup, and all come with Ableton Live Lite. They're all bus-powered via USB and class compliant, so you can just plug them in and start playing.

For those looking for more features and controls, however, Launchpad Pro and Launchpad Mk2 are the best choices in their price ranges, by far, and also feature RGB pads. In fact, the MK2 is barely more expensive than the S model, making it the best value-for-money out of the bunch!


Well, in a way this is not a fair comparison, because what people really want to know is how the new Launchpad Pro compares to Ableton Push, but we'll get into that in a bit.

Which means, of course, that Pro is far superior to the MK2. But, for many people, a Launchpad MK2 may be all they need, so there's no need to spend more money on a Pro if the MK2 does the job you want.

Novation Launchpad in use

The Launchpad MK2 is the go-to controller to launch clips, play drum racks and control your mixer, all while creating awesome lightshows on the iconic grid instrument for Ableton Live. It's ubiquitous with the evolution of electronic music.

You can:
  • Integrate seamlessly with Ableton Live without any setup
  • Launch multiple clips and control anything else you like
  • Play using 64 RGB pads that light up to match the colour of your clips
  • Use the grid to play samples and drum racks, and create light shows
  • Start and stop loops, arm tracks, and control volumes, pans and sends

It is affordable, very light & portable, and comes with everything you need to get started making music: Ableton Live Lite, 1GB of royalty-free Loopmasters samples, Novation V Station and Bass Station VST and AU plug-ins.

Here's a great example of what the Launchpad Mk2 can do:

If you think the MK2 does all you need it to do, then just go for it! But if you still fancy even more features, then read on...


Since it was announced, the Launchpad Pro got a lot of people excited about the possibilities it opened, and it's rightfully considered a more affordable option to Ableton Push. Push is still more high-spec'ed and some might prefer it, but Pro is not only more affordable, it's also more portable and designed for live performance in a way that Push isn't. Push focuses on track building in the studio. Launchpad pro focuses on music performance. If you don't want everything that Push does, and also wants to use your grid controller with external hardware, and as an actual live instrument, then Launchpad Pro is the way to go!

Launchpad Pro in use

But there's much more that makes this new controller so attractive.It lets you do everything that the MK2 does, plus:
  • Control a variety of other music software and external hardware
  • Create expressive beats using velocity sensitive pads, with drum racks spread across the whole grid
  • Easily play notes, melodies and chords on an RGB illuminated, pressure sensitive, chromatic keyboard
  • Get immediate slick access to all your mixer controls
  • Control your effects and instrument mid-performance
Could I use this launchpad without a laptop to output my saved samples?

In short, no! However, the new "Standalone" mode allows you to use Launchpad Pro live, without a computer - for instance, if you load your samples onto some hardware, or to trigger a drum machine, synth or any other non-computer application you can think of. It's a big departure, and it features actual MIDI ports (via jack adapters) so it's an actual MIDI grid controller (with included power adapter.) This gives it an edge over other grid controllers, including Push!

Launchpad Pro MIDI connection

Doing it Live and Fader Glide

The Launchpad Pro was designed to be used on the fly: less paging around for sounds, less task switching, to easily create tracks and perform live. One of the most innovative features is Fader Glide - basically, you tap to set faders, using velocity to change values. Again, it's something that refocuses Pro as a live performance instrument. The harder you tap, the faster the value changes. So a light tap produces a smooth fade.

It's hackable!

Novation are open sourcing the firmware for Launchpad Pro, and doing a programmers reference guide for both Pro and Launchpad (MK2) which allows any software developer or someone with some programming knowledge to customize their Launchpad to do stuff it wasn’t designed for. The programmer's guide for Pro is already available here.

The future of the Launchpad Pro is bright. There's already a strong community of Launchpad enthusiasts, and the open source firmware means exciting things could - and will - happen!

Watch these great Launchpad Pro videos:


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