Novation have had a lot to live up to with the recent launch of their Launch Mini series. They have been one of the market leaders in easy to use midi controllers across all formats. Secondly, considering the success of their original (regular sized) Launchpad and Launchkey, why would they go and miniaturise everything?
The answer is simple! Novation saw a gap in the market for the producer on the go, and wanted a product that could give full control of your standard functions with whichever DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) you use. All this in a unit that will fit nicely into your backpack or record bag for the dj/producer on the move.
For the purposes of this review, we will be looking at the 25 key Launchkey Mini, and as we know this is useless, unless it is controlling something. So I’ve been building a track in Ableton Live 9 on a Macbook Air. This will give you an idea of how light you need to travel to make the next club banger (if you are that way inclined). I should also take this time to mention that the Launchkey is already fully midi mapped out of the box with most DAW’s. This also works amazingly with Novations two free downloadable Launchkey and Launchpad iPad apps, both of which are a lot of fun, but not to be taken too seriously. Spending hours using the Launchkey Mini with the apps and their preloaded samples will unfortunately not turn you into the next Skrillex.
Besides the ‘Mini’ aspect of the new Launchkey, what’s so great about it? Firstly, if this is the first step in your instrument gear addiction, you’ve come to the right place. At a retail price of just €99, you cannot go wrong for the world of fun this toll could open for you. I’ve already mentioned the benefits of size isn’t everything in this instance. However, if you are an experienced producer, there are two possible arguments here. On one hand it is nice to have something so compact to travel with you when you aren’t with your home studio toys. But really all this midi controller is good for, that is when it comes to composition, is writing bass and melody lines and triggering scenes with its small but robust sixteen coloured drum pads. After a short time, your wrist will seize up due to the size and response of the Launchkey Mini’s keys. If you are like many musicians, you are already on a fast track to carpal tunnel syndrome and don’t need any more assistance in achieving this. So depending on your requirement, this may not be the midi keyboard for you.
Apart from the closely positioned 25 keys, all of the other control functions are very reactive.
The velocity sensitive tri-color launch pads are surprisingly responsive and map the velocity in which you play them fairly accurately into a midi clip. The eight rotary pots are again very reactive, but a little flimsy. Novation have also managed to squeeze another few navigation buttons that assist moving around your DAW’s interface or launching clips and scenes for your live sets.
All in all, the Launchkey Mini is amazing value for money and a great piece of kit for any electronic music producers artillery. This midi controller is the only one for you, if you dipping your toe in the water of music production. But if you are a seasoned veteran, you may just find, it will gather dust while you wait for your next world tour.
This review was provided by: Dylan O’Neill