Launchpad Pro Initial Impressions

So I haven’t updated my blog for many months. I had a move, and frankly there’ve been many, many nights where I’ve decided to work on the code rather than discuss it here.

But I’ve got it working pretty well and am going to put it up on Github soon, with a GPL. I am probably going to convert my Lua code to Launchpad Pro firmware C code this winter, so you won’t have to run Reason to use my layouts and schemes. Though it’s really worth it if you do.

So back in April I was looking around for something my baby could make music with. I got a VMeter — I’ll post about that soon, because I’ve written a Remote Codec for it — and then I wanted something a bit larger. Years ago I’d done a bunch of research and been close to building a Monome. But then here was a commercial version of one! It was cheaper than other controllers, most notably an Ableton Push. (But still not cheap!) So I ordered it.

I was very disappointed at first. There was no Reason support, and beyond that it wasn’t designed to be a general MIDI controller, but an accessory for Ableton Live. (It even comes with a lite version of Live.) But I don’t want to use Live. And then I found that the Launchpad Pro’s default Notes mode left a bit to be desired.

And while they’ve open-sourced the firmware on the Pro, there were only a couple of  projects that looked interesting there. I ended up making a thread on Reasontalk listing some interesting firmware and a couple of non-firmware interfaces that have been made for the Launchpad Pro, so you should take a look at that thread if you are coming here from a google search and don’t use Reason. There are actually 32 forks of the firmware, and some interesting ones there.  (I wish I’d seen that link last Spring!)

So having now coded a very workable, playable interface I find the Launchpad Pro to be pretty responsive and quite a joy to play and create melodies on. But out of the box, especially if you don’t use Ableton Live, it’s strengths really aren’t on display.

I actually got the Launchpad Pro before the VMeter, but I didn’t have any experience writing a Remote Codec. So I wrote one for the VMeter, then improved it, and improved it again and again throughout May and June. (I’ll have to write blog post about it soon.) I even started a ‘best practices’ guide for Remote Codec authors, though I’ve moved beyond most of my own advice there with my LPP script.

I’ll get into my design decisions for my LPP interface in the next post.

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