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Logic Pros Live Loops Launchpad Diary: Are these repurposed controllers really worth it?

Welcome to the Logic Pros Live Loops Launchpad diary. Apple’s grid-based music production environment works wonders with its pricey tablets and handsets, but it’s the colorful Novation pad controllers that have caught our interest. Initially designed for something else entirely, it’s time to see what these almost reversed-engineered, repurposed controllers are worth to Logic Pro users. 

Live Loops Launchpad Diary

In this diary series, we will be exploring everything from the overall value proposition and some getting started tips, all the way through to comparing the iPad hardware control to the Launchpad experience, and even pad- and scene-based composition. 

We have now had a chance to really immerse ourselves in the latest workflows and musical possibilities the grid-based Live Loops and Novation Launchpad controllers provide — no small feat after what felt like a lifetime of Apple’s timeline and piano rolls. 

Live Loops Launchpad Value Proposition

The iPad and iPhone connectivity via Logic Pro is solid and a feature that is seemingly working for many folks, but there is just something about the DJ/studio-style vibe of those colorful grid controllers Ableton producers have been enjoying for so long now — not just a solution for administrative DAW transport control, but rather something that differs from a typical MIDI keyboard and feels like it’s geared towards creative personal expression. 

Products like the ROLI Seaboard come to mind here I’m sure, but with Live Loops control, nearly full DAW integration, and now with support for most of the lineup of Novation grid controllers, the Launchpads present a compelling case. 

Note: Since we first initially covered the Live Loops Launchpad integration, the lineup of compatible models has expanded to include several others: Launchpad, Launchpad S, Launchpad Mini, Launchpad Mini MK3, Launchpad MK2, Launchpad Pro, Launchpad X — more details on our favorite models here

Live Loops Launchpad Logic Pro

The color-coded pads line up wonderfully with Live Loops and really allow music makers to dig their fingers in and feel like they are playing an instrument or something you would use on stage — a feel some folks just won’t get smacking a flat touchscreen and something we have experienced both personally and with collaborators. 

Alongside the capabilities of Live Loops, Launchpads allow us to take intuitive physical control over full sections of songs, arranging or playing them like the notes of a piano — something Apple’s DAW users have been without barring odd environment workarounds — all while seamlessly integrating into classic-style Logic Pro workflows. 

If you have been paying attention to advancements in Logic Pro over the last 6-months or so, none of this comes as a surprise, but we are here to report that it’s actually quite an amazing experience all things considered, and very much worth a look for anyone interested in hands-on control over their arrangements. 

I for one, really wasn’t looking to add any more controllers to my personal studio setup, but after having a Launchpad on my desktop the last couple months, it has gotten more use than my main MIDI controller. 

Getting Started

After working with a few fellow song makers to get more immersed in Logic Pro’s Live Loops Launchpad integration recently, it seemed a fitting time to quickly mention some of the basic hiccups and helpful workarounds we bumped into as we begin our journey down the colorful pad-road of Launchpads. 

Note: Apple’s guide for installation has users selecting the New menu within the Control Surfaces Setup window, manually adding the Launchpad, and then adjusting its Input and Output ports. As it suggests and in our experience, this is not needed and most Launchpad models will either work immediately or require some of the more simple solutions mentioned in this article: 

Live Loops Launchpad Diary installation

First let’s do a quick installation check. This might be a helpful tip for managing control surfaces in Logic Pro just in general, for folks having any issues with the initial Launchpad setup process, and for system customization down the road. 

Head up to the Logic Pro menu > Control Surfaces > Setup…

From here we can see if the Launchpad is detected by the system at all. 

Live Loops Launchpad Diary Control Surface setup

Go up to the New menu and ensure ‘Automatic Installation’ is checked off and plug your Launchpad back in. You might need to restart Logic Pro entirely, but chances are, if there are any issues in the first place, it will work right away. 

My Launchpad won’t connect with Logic Pro even though the lights are blinking on the pads and it appears to be sending MIDI data when you strike them. Yeah, me too. 

I know this is going to sound like an odd one, but the USB-C jack on the Launchpad side of the connection really needs to get jammed into the machine quite aggressively it seems. This happened to myself, a colleague of ours, and some folks online it appears, all of which using the Launchpad X model. Just mentioning in case this prevents any annoying headaches or support emails.

Launchpads – Brilliantly repurposed Logic Pro controllers

While there are, and have been, controllers out there that offer up this tactile control over Logic Pro, it has always felt like Logic Pro hardware integration has been an after-thought for all but a small few hardware manufacturers at best. The Launchpad Live Loops integration falls into a very similar category without a doubt — these controllers were specifically designed for Ableton Live and at one point, you even had to turn the controller upside-down (90-degrees) for it to even lineup properly (a fix was issued for this with Logic Pro 10.6 along with several other orientation/control alterations). But after having time to introduce them into some recording projects and daily musical sketching sessions, the somewhat jury-rigged Live Loops Launchpad integration is solid, and getting better with every update. 

There’s no denying the power of the iPad here, and it would certainly be nice to see (more affordable) options designed for Logic Pro and Live Loops from the ground up, but otherwise, Novation’s Launchpad solution happens to be one that’s better than we ever expected it to be. Or really even had any right to be. What initially felt like a less than elegant solution at worst, and a particularly fantastic consolation prize at best, has actually become a powerful daily driver in our studio — inspiring this diary series and transforming the way we create music on a daily basis. 

You can also get some additional details regarding setup and the free Novation Component Software in our previous coverage. As well as a breakdown of the latest Logic Pro 10.6 update right here.  

Found any interesting workflows or starter tips in your Live Loops Launchpad journeys? Any helpful tips for integrating Launchpads and Live Loops into your daily workflow? Or are these repurposed Ableton controllers a waste of your time?

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Avatar for Justin Kahn Justin Kahn

Justin is a senior editor covering all things music for 9to5Mac, including our weekly Logic Pros series exploring music production on Mac and iOS devices. Justin is an audio engineer/producer with over 10 years experience in the music industry.