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Novation Imulse? Keyboard Controllers
Old 1st September 2011
  #1
Old 1st September 2011
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
oopfoo's Avatar
If they'll provide a good onboard mapping setup that makes CC and Sysex easier, they could throw Automap in the trash and I'd be happy. I loved the keybed in my Remote SL61 MkII, but the rest was pretty sketchy, especially the touch-sensitive controls. Using Automap made it seem even sketchier. But then, that's me.
Old 1st September 2011
  #3
I don't get it, why are they so opposed to having 2 screens?

This is what I want right now:

49 key semi-weighted, aftertouch, etc
faders
2 displays
8 knobs
half a launchpad
under 500.


Why is this so hard tutt
Old 1st September 2011
  #4
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enossified's Avatar
Interesting...in between Nocturn and SL MkII in functionality/price. I dig the lighted pads ala Launchpad.
Old 1st September 2011
  #5
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Yoozer's Avatar
If this keyboard is the same type as the Access Virus KC I'm over this like peanut butter on jelly.
Old 1st September 2011
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
cube66's Avatar
 

It is not!
Old 1st September 2011
  #7
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rids's Avatar
 

two screens!! where are they?
Old 3rd September 2011
  #8
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skira's Avatar
 

Looks to compete directly with both the M-Audio Axiom Pro and Akai MPK in design and price. The keyboards now look more alike than they look different. Novation does seem to offer few new goodies though, like being able to warp arps in real time with the pads.

I haven't experience to really compare Automap to HyperTransport to HyperControl and I suspect that if the hardware is now close enough to each other then this might be a deciding difference for someone....
Old 3rd September 2011
  #9
Old 28th September 2011
  #10
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fix the topic line.
Old 28th September 2011
  #11
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Spectral Climax's Avatar
 

It's funny how Novation calls "professional" a keyboard with features that M-Audio had since many years ago with the Axiom series (except the aftertouch)...

Anyway, I hope they will get really competitive now that they have upgraded their standards...
Old 28th September 2011
  #12
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I don't get it. Why the **** they do that? I just bought an Novation SL MK II a couple of months ago, and now, this...


I mean, isn't this new model the exact same thing? It's the same thing in a new box.


But as a gearslut, i feel a little scratch in the back of my head, telling me that i should sell mine to get this new one... worth? hummm
Old 28th September 2011
  #13
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yes, buy it - I have ordered it. Keybed is the most important thing for me.
Old 28th September 2011
  #14
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lucien's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pointsource View Post
I don't get it. Why the **** they do that? I just bought an Novation SL MK II a couple of months ago, and now, this...

I mean, isn't this new model the exact same thing? It's the same thing in a new box.
Looks like a cheaper option to the Remote series. You have less controls than the Remote. It gets you into Automap 4 for a little over half the price.

Personally, I'd rather have the extra controls on the Remote.
Old 28th September 2011
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucien View Post
Personally, I'd rather have the extra controls on the Remote.
and crappy pads?
Old 28th September 2011
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kc2ine View Post
and crappy pads?
Haha. Actually, I'd be happy if nothing ever came with pads again. I hate pads. I haven't bothered programming with pads since the MPC60.

Give me more knobs!
Old 29th September 2011
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucien View Post
Haha. Actually, I'd be happy if nothing ever came with pads again. I hate pads. I haven't bothered programming with pads since the MPC60.

Give me more knobs!

Sure thing, pads are a waste of space
Old 29th September 2011
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pointsource View Post
I don't get it. Why the **** they do that? I just bought an Novation SL MK II a couple of months ago, and now, this...
I mean, isn't this new model the exact same thing? It's the same thing in a new box.
Not the same. It's a controller with a different focus. It's a clone of the M-Audios with some nice extras like arp warping included, athte same price as the M-Audios & Akais and a little less than the SL Mk II keyboards.

Are the pads good? Do they suck? We don't know yet, but they seem to at least be different pads from previous controller keyboards.

The SL Mk IIs came out 30 months ago and have the touch-sensitive controls - the Impulse does not have these. The skinny LCD screen also is better for use with VSTs since you can see what you're tweaking, which you can't do with the Impulse.

I'd say that Novation is distinguishing the SL series as an at-home controller for 'producing' with VSTs while the Impulse is more geared towards performance.
Old 30th September 2011
  #19
Gear Head
 

Hi all,

The Impulse pads are in fact different to those of the SL MK II. They are velocity sensitive and offer three extra modes of performance - Arpeggiator mode, Loop roll and for the Ableton community - clip launch. The keys are 'Piano Style' semi-weighted and the Pitch / Mod wheels are different to those of the SL MK II.

The Impulse also ships with Automap 4 (new beta available) which integrates all Automap PRO features as standard and as opposed to having the heads up display notify you of what you are controlling, you are given discrete pop up notifications (whichever corner of the screen you wish for as long/short as you wish).

I hope this helps.

All the best,

Tim

Focusrite / Novation Tech Support
Old 30th September 2011
  #20
Gear Guru
 
Yoozer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Harbour View Post
The keys are 'Piano Style' semi-weighted
Fatar TP8S?

(pretty please? heh)
Old 30th September 2011
  #21
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To be honest i prefere that SL MK II pitch bend + mod wheel thing, i think you have a more precise control over those parameters.
Old 30th September 2011
  #22
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Ableton called...they want their name back.
Old 1st October 2011
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Harbour View Post
Hi all,

The Impulse pads are in fact different to those of the SL MK II. They are velocity sensitive and offer three extra modes of performance - Arpeggiator mode, Loop roll and for the Ableton community - clip launch. The keys are 'Piano Style' semi-weighted and the Pitch / Mod wheels are different to those of the SL MK II.
If an SL Mark III is on the horizon I hope it has Impulse pads, a 2nd LCD screen and dedicated transport buttons. I'd pay an additional $75 over the current Mark II for that.
Old 11th October 2011
  #24
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Here is the video on the Impulse that I've been promising...

Demo | Novation Impulse - YouTube

Raul from Novation stopped by audioMIDI.com and we shot this.

Lucien.
Old 17th October 2011
  #25
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Well, my Impulse 61 just showed up. First, let me provide a bit of background leading up to my Impulse buy and the basis of my comparison so far. And for the record, while my experience with controllers is somewhat limited (messing around at local music stores here and there for a few minutes), I have played/owned a few keyboard/synth/workstations over the years. Also, I do not claim to be an accomplished pianist/keyboard player... mostly just a hack that uses such things as needed. However, I am very particular about how things "feel" in use.

A couple months ago, I got the itch pick up a USB keyboard controller to use for writing/composition/recording (something easier to hook up than my old Yamaha workstation, with the added DAW control capabilities that the newer controllers offer). Originally, I planned to get a small 37-key synth to double for live/recording use. Wasn't too impressed with the options available in that realm and decided to go with a controller and use VI's if I need to.

After researching forums, reviews and any info I could find online, I had narrowed it down to a few controller options (Novation, Akai, m-audio) in the price range I was comfortable with (under $400USD). As most reading this probably know, all of the available options seem to have their pluses and minuses as far as features/build/quality. My primary concern was the keybed/action. After reading of so many people raving about the action of the Novation SLmkII series, I decided that was the way to go and picked up a 49-key version. A week later, it was in my hands.

The SLmkII

Overall, after a couple weeks using it, my experience with that controller are mixed, but mostly negative and I can't believe it gets as many accolades as it does. Gripes...
  1. Controls too close/cluttered.
  2. The "touch controls" while a slick novelty at first, quickly became annoying because I'd accidentally touch things I wasn't intending to (see previous gripe). Maybe I'm just clumsy... I don't have particularly big hands.
  3. I couldn't get the X-Y pad to work with anything, so can't really comment on that.
  4. Not a fan of the joystick for the bend/mod, though it seemed to work well. Kudos to Novation for having the option to turn off the spring action on it.
  5. The build was decent, though not sure about durability.
  6. The pads were completely awful. After messing around with settings for a while, I was able to almost get them to a usable state, but still near useless.
  7. The keybed. Seriously, I don't know what people were playing before they had one of these that puts this unit toward the top of its' class for this. It leads me to believe that most of the other options ot there must be just completely awful. My 12-year-old Yamaha synth is way smoother, quieter and feels better. The SLmkII keys felt extremely plastic (in a not very durable kind of way), were wobbly, felt spongy, and were fairly noisy. Not in the least impressed considering the hype which I based my purchase upon (I know... my bad for not trying before I bought).
The things I liked:
  1. Power switch.
  2. Automap. I see a ton of people complain about this software, but it worked pretty much flawless for me on a Mac using Protools 9. Didn't have a chance to use any other DAW with it, but I had no problems controlling dozens of different plugins/VI's in PT.
  3. The LCD screen above the controls that labeled them depending on which mode/scene you were in.

Now, since this is a Impulse thread, time to get to that. It turns out, my SL had an issue with one of the keys. It actually made a "spring-sounding" noise when pressed/depressed. I ignored it at first because it didn't seem to affect the functionality, but later discovered that it would cause notes to stick. So, back it went to the dealer (and I was not all that sad to see it go... actually more relieved).

Looking around upon the return, I saw that Novation had just released the Impulse series. It seemed to have more of the functionality/features that I wanted... and also seemed to address of the issues I had with the SL. So, I decided to take a chance on it. Extra bonus, I was able to upgrade to the 61-key Impulse for what I had paid for the 49-key SL. Admittedly, this was sending up a bit of a Red flag for me, but I decided to take the chance anyway.

After a wait of a couple weeks for the 61 to finally ship, I'm happy to say that my first impression of the Impulse is much better than that of the SL. It's still early in the affair (I have yet to load up the new Automap and really put the board through its paces) but overall, it looks and feels pretty nice.

The Impulse

Some quick 1st impression thoughts on the plus side:
  1. It feels pretty solid/well-built. Moreso that then SL, IMO. Looks and feels more rugged to me.
  2. IMHO, the keybed feels much better than the SL series in pretty much every way. The tactile feel of the keys (the flat keys are almost a matte kind of finish rather than the typical glossy plastic), the tension (less spongy), and the solidity of the keyboard is much improved to me. It's also quieter when you play the keys. I have no idea if this is still a Fatar keybed... they don't seem to hype it as in the SL version, so I would assume not... and that's not a bad thing, FME.
  3. Pitch and mod wheels, though a bit small, feel smooth nice/solid with good action/resistance.
  4. Control spacing is much nicer and more comfortable/spread out than the SL.
  5. Addition of another (9th) fader for master fader or Hammond drawbar use.
  6. Dedicated transport buttons.
  7. The pads are a enormous step up. They feel like quality pads now. I have yet to really gauge how they perform. That report to come.
  8. Dedicated transport controls.
  9. All buttons feel pretty nice with a kind of rubbery feel about them.

On the questionable/wait and see/negative side:
  1. The faders feel a bit "gritty" for lack of a better word. Not as smooth as most would probably prefer faders to be. Maybe they'll break in a bit over time and this will be a non-issue.
  2. The knobs (with the exception of the detented "data" knob) feel really loose. Not in a "they're going to fall off" kind of way... they seem solid... just turn *extremely* easily, with absolutely no resistance whatsoever. I think a stiff wind might be able to turn them . I typically prefer a bit of resistance there. That's my preference though, some may like them as is.
  3. No power switch. Not a huge deal, I guess. I just like power switches on electronics.

Overall, I'm very happy so far... especially after the disappointment with test driving the SL for a couple weeks previously. I wasn't sure what to expect with the Impulse, but I think it will be a good addition to my little home studio. I realize that many of these things are subjective, so YMMV. I think it's a pretty good value... and while not really ground breaking in any way (as far as the hardware end), an improvement over many other options out there in its class.

I have to admit, the integration/functionality of the pads almost has me GAS'ing to update my semi-ancient (v5) Ableton Live software.

I'll report back with more thoughts after spending some time with it in use.
---
c
Old 17th October 2011
  #26
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Hmm, played with one in a shop today, tbqh, I think they just made something that looks as pretty as the axiom to get more sales. The drum pads are tiny. Axiom can be got for less (though automap is better) or wait till sl2's go into clearance imo.
Old 18th October 2011
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by offki View Post
Hmm, played with one in a shop today, tbqh, I think they just made something that looks as pretty as the axiom to get more sales. The drum pads are tiny. Axiom can be got for less (though automap is better) or wait till sl2's go into clearance imo.
Yeah... I think the idea was to create something to go a bit more head-to-head with the competition in some respects, instead of breaking new ground.

Like I said in my post above, a lot of this stuff is subjective based on experience and personal preference. So far, after getting the Impulse setup with the latest beta version of Automap 4 (which was painless and seems to work very well thus far), and playing with it for about 40 minutes, the Impulse is far more responsive without tweaking straight out of the box than the SLmkII was for me. Maybe my SL was a dud, but there's a lot more for me to like about the Impulse so far. The only thing I'm missing from the SL was the display above the knobs to label their function.

As far as the drum pads go, they have to be at least 20-25% larger than those on the SL series, and more importantly, they actually work. I can get 2-128 on them... very responsive/sensitive. Sure, they aren't huge, but I don't seem to have an issue doing rolls with 2 fingers on a pad either, which was virtually impossible on the SL (if you could even get them to respond consistently).

Honestly, I'm baffled by some of the recent posts/discussions on forums (including Novation's) with people that complain of this having a cheap build, poor playability... preferring the SL's. Yes, its casing is plastic, but aren't most keyboards of the past 40 years? Its case seems every bit as sturdy as most other keyboards to me... and certainly has a less fragile overall feeling than the SL's to me.

I'm happy with it. Obviously not everyone's flavor, but is pretty much what I was looking for and will seemingly get the job done for me. The SL just didn't do anything for me. I wanted to like it, but it wasn't happening. I'm much more satisfied with the Impulse.
---
c
Old 18th October 2011
  #28
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Slightly OT, do any of you guys know if Automap works well with Reason due to its lack of variance?
Old 18th October 2011
  #29
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I would think it works best with reason tbh. A lot of its 'automappings' are total pants anyway, but its so quick and easy to write your own maps and save them as default.

Best of all it has infinite pages that you can scroll through for any give instrument/fx.
Old 18th October 2011
  #30
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Can one of the mods fix the thread title? Otherwise this post wont show up in searches ><
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