What’s the difference between Novation Launchkey MkI and Launchkey MkII?


Before you read on, open this video up in a new tab to give this article its proper soundtrack.

Earlier this year, Novation revamped their range of Launchkey controllers with a darker, more striking look. Aside from the new colour scheme, did the transition from MkI to MkII bring any update on the functions of the unit itself? Let’s take a look…

The Launchkey MkII now features:

  • Adjustable velocity curves on the keys, so if you’re a light-hitter you can set it to be more sensitive so you don’t hurt your delicate digits trying to hit those higher velocities, and if you’re a ham-fisted keyboard masher you can set it to be less sensitive so you can play those gentler passages with ease.
  • New firmware. I’ll be the first to admit it, this doesn’t sound exciting at all… BUT it’s coded by in-house Novation engineers so it’s bound to be great, right?
  • More Ableton controls. Now you can get hands on with controls for Device, Pan, Send A, and Send B! There were obviously work-arounds on the MkI that would let you control these parameters, but now there is DIRECT ROUTING. Hnnng.
  • New RGB pads. Woah, mama! It’s like a disco at your fingertips! The MkII pads are much more colourful and match up to the clip colours in Ableton so you can spend less time referencing the computer screen and more time performing.
  • Stronger and better built knobs attached to chassis. Let’s be honest now… who doesn’t love a better built knob? Seriously though, you don’t want your knob to break off in your hand mid-tweak, it’s embarrassing for everyone.

Launchkey MkII: YOU WIN

The old MkI is still a fabulously powerful controller all your Ableton needs and would be a great 2nd hand bargain if you can find one, but the MkII has some seriously good improvements based on forum feedback from actual Launchkey users. Fancy one? Yeaaah you do…


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Guy Perchard

Digital editor & recording specialist at Red Dog Music
As well as being the marketing man-about-town at Red Dog Music, Guy is a busy, award winning record producer and mixing engineer. He is also partial to a chorizo stromboli for elevenses.

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