Novation Launchkey Mini vs Arturia MiniLab

Disclaimer:
I have not used the Launchkey Mini yet, the below is based on specs and photos.

launchkeymini_angle-640x412So Novation has announced the Launchkey Mini (sp ~$99). With 25 mini keys, 16 pads, 8 rotary knobs and 2 performance buttons, all assignable of course, it makes for a sweet little MIDI keyboard, not at all unlike the Arturia MiniLab that also launched recently.

I got a chance to play around with the Arturia board for a couple of days and it certainly has the upper hand when it comes to design in my opinion. Of course the two are not entirely comparable given that you get a bloody awesome collection of 5000 analog synth emulation presets with the Arturia board..

My biggest gripe with the Arturia MiniLab was the touch strips. Very poor quality and performance which in the end rendered it almost unusable for me. The keys and the pads though were very nice and responsive. The Launchkey Mini has gone a step further and done away with the traditional modulation / pitch controls entirely. My suspicion is that you can use the two ‘performance buttons’ for this by assigning them your self?

MiniLab_275In terms of connectivity the only difference is that you get a foot switch input on the MiniLab. This could be important to you depending on your playing style. Both are USB powered and class compliant. I for one really wish they had a MIDI out port for connecting straight to some of my older analog gear, but that dear old round connection seems to be an endangered species these days…

Looking at the bundles software (Launchkey Mini: Bassstation, V-Station, Live Lite, Samples, Launchkey app for iPad vs. MiniLab: AnalogLab with 5000 classic synth presets) it really depends on your style of music and workflow. I love the Arturia emulations since they fit very well with the kind of music I make, but the flexibility of the Novation soft synths where you are not limited to presets is also very attractive. In the end it’s up to you.

Check out the rivals at their respective websites below:

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New Song (ML2 Un-less)

This is the second track in my new Clicks and Cuts / chopped up crackle and pop direction. It is a bit more ambient than the previous one, but my intention is to keep going up and down the spectrum of very slow and atmospheric to more rhythmic almost drum and bass inspired tracks. This one will probably lead into the ML1 track at some point…

The track was made entirely in the box in Live, using no analog / OB gear at all.

Please leave a comment with any feedback. Hear anything you’d change? Something you like / do not like? Please let me know!

New Song (ML1 Chopped Up Cuts)

First exploration in a more more chopped up, broken rhythmic style. No loops used, all percussion was handcrafted in Live. (Handcrafted as in even the samples are chopped up and modified.) You will need headphones or something that is capable of reproducing deep bass to hear all the parts of the track.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think! :) ANY feedback is more than welcome!

Meeblip and MIDI (a fix)

Last year I ordered a Meeblip (the easily assembled kit) and I’ve been in love with this little grey box ever since! It is simply one of the most affordable and fun hardware synths (that actually sounds great) that you can buy right now. I use it mostly for bass sounds, but it can just as easy do great lo-fi leads as well.

One issue I ran into some time back was that while the unit would respond great to MIDI from a keyboard controller like my Novation boards, I just couldn’t get it to respond predictably to MIDI notes when played from a clip in Ableton Live. I tried experimenting with channel settings, offsets and gate lengths but nothing helped. The box would only catch ever 20th note or so.

Yesterday I sold my Novation SL MKii 49 to finance a new reverb unit (Lexicon MX400, more on that later) and so today I was cleaning out some MIDI settings in Live. When I did, I noticed that the Meeblip was set to receive MIDI Sync (as in clock) from Live, with seemed unnecessary so I turned it off, and behold, the MIDI notes now trigger exactly as expected.

I double checked by turning the Sync out ON again, and the problem immediately returned, so I’m pretty sure this was indeed the problem. I’m not sure why the Meeblip isn’t just ignoring the Clock, but apparently it confuses the MIDI note / trigger / gate implementation in the box, so turn it off if your Meeblip is not responding as expected.

Ableton Push available from Amazon!

Ableton Push is now available for order from Amazon! If you want to support this site, please consider ordering it via the link below :)

Ableton Push Controller for Live 9 with 11 Touch-Sensitive Encoders

Here’s a walkthrough / review of the controller and the workflow it enables:

If you are serious about music production / composing in Live 9, this should be a no-brainer!