Novation had started this fall the renewal of their range of controllers dedicated to Ableton Live. They continue today with a new Launchpad Pro as well as four keyboards comprising respectively 25, 49, 61 and… 37 keys. It is this last version sold at around 199 € that we are going to focus on today.
The contents of the box are kept to the bare minimum, namely the keyboard itself and a USB cable. When plugged in, the device is treated as an external storage unit and the startup documents are accessed. But let’s look at the beast.
The latest Novation keyboard controller measures 555mm wide, 77mm deep and 258mm high, weighing less than 2.2kg. Above the three octave velocity sensitive keyboard we find 16 velocity and aftertouch sensitive RGB pads, themselves topped by 8 rotary knobs. To the left of the keyboard are the traditional pitch bend and modulation wheels. Finally, we have a battery of buttons for transposition, the choice of scales and the creation of chords, the transport and control functions of the DAW, and finally the configuration functions of the whole – the creation of presets. Customized software via the downloadable Components application. Everything is accompanied by a small monochrome LCD screen capable of displaying 2 lines of 16 characters.
The rear panel offers us a female USB-B socket, a MIDI output in DIN format, a socket to connect a sustain pedal and finally a Kensington security slot.
Four small rubberized pads on the underside keep the keyboard securely in place. Without being upscale, the whole is rather well finished and we salute in particular the knobs and dials with a particularly precise and pleasant stroke.
Novation succeeds with the Launchkey 37 mk3 to offer an interesting keyboard-controller in more ways than one. First of all, the 37-key format may well prove to be the best compromise between playing pleasure and mobility for those like me who like to be able to play the keyboard with two hands, develop melodies over two octaves or be able to tackle chords in all possible reversals …. while being able to slip the keyboard into a backpack. And whether it is the game functions as the control functions of Ableton Live (and a few others …), we feel that a particular effort has been made to make the experience as ergonomic as possible despite some small flaws and oversights. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Components application that accompanies the controller. If it allows you to create your own control presets, its use is still as rigid and tedious. Too bad, but we can bet that Novation will be able to make it evolve so that it accompanies this otherwise very nice keyboard all the better!
Price: 199 €