A couple of years is a pretty good run in MIDI controller-land. It was 2009 when Novation's Launchpad turned the Ableton world onto its simplistic charms. It appears, however, the firm's decided it was long overdue a refresh, so that's exactly what it's done. Say hello to the Launchpad S. What does the S stand for? We're not entirely sure, but it could be for speedy, as Novation has ramped up the refresh rate to give a snappier response when you switch between modes.
It could also be for superior lights, as the brightness has been dialed up in response to user feedback. It's also worth noting these pads are entirely USB-powered, making it trickier than simply sucking down more juice. One other superficial change -- perhaps more to give it its own sense of identity than anything else -- is a change of color. It's out with the original's black, and in with an almost metallic gray. So far so good, but we're really thinking that S stands for "software." Why? Because thanks to standards compliant MIDI implementation, the Launchpad S is now plug-and-play with a whole host more applications, not least core-MIDI iOS apps such as the popular FL Studio Mobile. We took a few minutes to get to know the Launchpad S a little better, which you can see in our video past the break.