Today I am going to be reviewing the latest Novation creation; the Novation Launchkey 37 MK3.
My quick thoughts are that the Launchkey 37 MK3 has instantly become one of the best MIDI keyboards with 37 keys. The MK3 comes with great functionality including a MIDI out, a sustain input, scale mode, & incredible bundled software.
There has been recent interest from producers regarding 37 keys.
This is mainly because some producers think 25 keys are not enough & 49 are too many. I previously had the pleasure of trying out the Launchkey 37 MK3 and I’m excited to share my thoughts.
Novation Launchkey 37 MK3 Review At A Glance
Novation Launchkey 37 MK3
The Launchkey 37 has made some major improvements and added some great features, making it one of the best budget options available.
Novation is no stranger when it comes to making affordable, yet high-quality MIDI keyboards.
The first controller I ever purchased was the original Launchkey about 9 years ago. I have to say, there have been major improvements in both MIDI technology & functionality since then.
For the price of the Launchkey 37 MK3, I am very surprised at what you get. This is a high-powered machine that gives you more than everything you need at a price that most musicians will be able to afford.
As you can see in the picture above, the MK3 has a very distinct look to it. I was pleasantly surprised with how it felt when I took it out of the box. It has a gloss black matte finish that feels really nice.
I noticed a huge difference in the way the Launchkey 37 MK3 felt when I compared it to the original Launchkey. It feels expensive compared to its predecessor.
What I mean by this is that it doesn’t feel cheap. It weighs in at 4.81 LBS and it feels very compact & durable.
Everyone who plays Novation products knows that they built MIDI keyboards with Ableton Live in mind. There are currently no keyboards that are as deeply integrated with Ableton as the Novation keyboards. With this being said, this also works with every major DAW currently available.
Now that we have a little bit of an understanding for this keyboard, let’s dive in on my full thoughts below.
Notable Features Of The Novation Launchkey MK3 37
- Fully optimized to Ableton Live & other major DAWs
- Velocity-sensitive keys (These feel much better than the older Launchkeys)
- 8 rotary knobs
- 16 RGB back-lit pads
- 5 pin MIDI out ( Can control hardware synths)
- Octave buttons
- All transport controls
- Scale modes (transpose keys)
- Arp mode
- Quantize button (Works well)
- Capture MIDI
- Scene launch button
- Sustain input
- 3 different chord modes
- 3-year warranty
- Bundled software included (Ableton Live 10, 2 months of Splice, XLN Addictive Keys)
- USB B with Kensington security lock
As you can see, this was shipped to me with ample protection. As far as the build quality goes, I was completely surprised by the durability. Upon taking it out of the box, I realized it durable, yet still wasn’t heavy.
Older Novation MIDI keyboards felt a little flimsy and cheap in my honest opinion. This couldn’t be any further than what the MK3 is all about.
I love the matte finish and I also really enjoy the overall size and feel of the keyboard. Personally, I dig the smaller screen, but others may prefer it to be a little bit bigger.
This being said, it provides you with what you need, so I don’t see it as a big deal either way.
Knobs & Pitch-Wheels
The knobs and wheels feel great. I’ve had major problems with other controllers in the past in this department. When you move the knobs, you don’t feel as if you’re going to break them, same with the wheels.
Aside from feeling durable, they also work accurately. This is much important as I definitely want my instruments to be accurate when I’m playing them. There’s nothing more frustrating than turning a knob and having it continue to increase reverb on a patch.
The same is to be said when doing bends. If you’re a skilled player who uses the bends frequently, you will need these to be reliable, and they are.
This a new feature to the MK3 that I think a lot of producers who don’t have a ton of music theory knowledge will love.
If you’re looking to rip a crazy solo, but don’t understand how to play in different modes of music, you now don’t have to worry. For example, say the pianist doesn’t know the Mixolydian mode, you can now transpose this on the MK3 to get the notes you’re looking for.
This makes it ultimately easier for producers who don’t have a ton of musical theory knowledge to succeed.
Your basic buttons for record, play, stop, pause, quantize and capture MIDI, are all laid out on the right side of the Launchkey 37 MK3. I really enjoy this and I think it streamlines my workflow for me.
All of your connectivity is located on the back of the Launchkey MK3. You will find a sustain input, a MIDI out, and USB. The USB port feels very secure and it will keep your USB cable in place during any performance.
Addictive Keys actually won our pick for best budget piano VST in our recent round-up as well.
Splice is one of the most utilized websites when it comes to royalty-free sounds. The samples & effects from Splice are all over all genres of music.
Ableton Live 10 is an incredible DAW that is also easily one of the most popular options currently available. This DAW is used for live music more than other DAW.
Overall, the software included with the MK3 is extremely impressive, especially at such a budget-friendly price.
The keys on the MK3 are very similar to those on the MK2. I think they’re a huge step-up from the first Launchkey keyboards. Something to note is that the edge of the keys are rounded and not sharp.
I have always disliked when MIDI keyboards had sharp-edged keys. It works for piano keys, but when you try doing it on plastic keys, it’s always a disaster to me.
Novation did a great job providing a stable key-bed that allows for serious playing, even with 37 keys.
The Novation Launchkey 37 MK3 gets my pick for holding the title to the best MIDI keyboards currently under $200. The bundled software, great key-bed, drum pads, and connectivity/functionality with DAWs put it over the top for this price range.