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This month on WLPR we’re focusing on gear. Specifically gear that won’t break the bank, and delivers on its promises.
Last week I shared with you my top picks for budget-friendly audio interfaces. And today we’re continuing our February series with my top picks for USB Controllers.
Trying to identify the best USB Controller for Logic Pro users has become a pet project for me.
You see, there seems to be no end to the controllers optimized for Ableton Live. But what about the rest of us???
Today Logic Pro has Live Loops, a Step Sequencer, Samplers, and Smart Controls for producing music. And Logic Remote on the iPad is still the only “controller” out there that ties all this together.
In my opinion, It’s time for a developer to create a controller optimized for Logic!
Now I still believe Logic Remote on the iPad is the best control surface out there. But for some, an iPad might be a touch expensive. Or maybe using a screen to perform feels a bit weird.
So although there isn’t a USB controller that does it all yet, I do think there are some pretty cool options.
After researching, buying, and examining what’s available, I’ve landed on 2 Controllers.
These don’t break the bank, and have some fun extra features to add to your Logic tool kit:
Both the Launchkey Mini and Komplete M32 have advanced integrations with Logic Pro.
For example, the Launchkey Mini features:
- Session Mode – which allows you to navigate, record-enable, solo and mute your tracks
- Drum Mode – which adapts the drum pads specifically for finger drumming
- Device Mode – which allows you to use the 8 rotary knobs for direct control of Smart Controls (without having to map External Assignments)
- Volume, Pan, and Sends Modes – which allows you to use the 8 rotary knobs for volume, pan, and send adjustments
Plus the Launchkey Mini comes with its own unique features:
- A standalone Arpeggiator, which is built into the controller and completely customizable
- A standalone Chord Trigger, which is also built into the controller and customizable
- 3rd party instruments and plugins thanks to Novation’s Plugin Collective
Whereas the Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol M32 features:
- DAW Mode – which allows you to use the 8 rotary knobs for adjust volume, pan, mute and solo of tracks in Logic
- Extension Transport – which gives you deep control over playback, recording, count in and metronome, tap tempo – all from the controller
- MIDI Mode – which allows you to map Smart Controls across 4 pages of MIDI Controls
- OLED Screen – which tells you exactly what controls you are affecting, just by touching the rotary knobs. No more guessing!
Plus the Komplete Kontrol M32 comes with its own unique features:
- Comes with Komplete Start instrument bundle – plus some select software instruments from Native Instruments
- Arpeggiator, Scale, and Chord Modes when using Komplete Kontrol in Logic Pro
And that’s just the highlight reel! So be sure to check out today’s video 🙂
excellent tutorial,… thx a lot
Tim Smith says
Thanks for your great review. I bought a Novation Launchkey Mini and it’s great. The only issues is that I didn’t looking into compatibility issues first and most of the Logic integration doesn’t work with Big Sur or the new silicon Macs. I looked into the Native Instruments stuff and it looks like it’s not supported yet either. Just thought I’d post this in case anyone else is in the same boat. I’m sure they will release an update eventually to support Big Sur/Silicon but it’s not there yet.
Thanks for all the great content!
2. When you say that this review extends to the whole Launchkey series or Komplete Kontrol A Series, etc., do you mean in general that they are great controllers, or specifically that the great integration with Logic Pro is great on all of them? Or the great integration is specifically great on the launchkey mini for example and not the launchkey mk3 49.
3. Interesting what you said about the problem in session mode for the launchkey mini. Novation’s official video for launchkey mk3 setup in logic (which is dated before yours) shows the record/mute/record enable function continuing after only a click and not a hold-down…
Great questions YR! I own both the M and S Series from Native Instruments, but only checked out the LaunchKey Mini mk3 from Novation.
I was referring to both the integration with Logic, plus all the positives I identified with each controller. With the Native Instruments controllers I have personal experiences with multiple versions, so I can confirm what I admired about the M Series is reflected in the S Series.
With the Novation controller my research identified the rest of the Launchkey series includes the same functionality.
Regarding the Session Mode issue – yeah, it was a weird one. Again, I tried 2 separate Launchkey Minis, and they both had the same problem. To reiterate, when pressing a drum pad to record enable/mute/solo, the keyboard would only toggle the state of each track for as long as I held down the drum pad.
Tech support at Novation was great, and they found it strange as well. But eventually identified a support thread that had found the workaround by digging into Logic Pro > Control Surfaces > Learn Assignment dialogue.
I discovered another script flaw with the Launchkey Mini MK3 in that “Pickup Mode” doesn’t work until you make the following changes:
– Rotaries > Device | Mix | Pans | Sends A | Sends B > Knob 1-8
– Feedback = None (default is “Left to Right Bar”)
Thanks for sharing that out Jason! Appreciate you sharing your findings.
Hey Chris, Thanks for this! I’ve been playing music for years but just now getting into digital recording- your blog is super helpful. I just bought a launch key and while I understand that the pads don’t light up when used in drum mode with logic, is there any other visual cue that logic can give me as to which drum is mapped to which pad? Here and in general I’m Looking for something I can do in Logic that will show me on my screen what I am doing on the launch key mini controller.