How well does the Novation SL MKII work with Ableton?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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Sebastian
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How well does the Novation SL MKII work with Ableton?

Post by Sebastian » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:56 pm

Hi friends,

I bought the Impulse 49 but have a couple of days to return it. The Impulse is nice but its not easy to make it do some basic stuff. My focus for a controller besides keys, pads, knobs, and faders is also being able to loop record quickly across various tracks in session, undo, and scroll the transport through the project on the computer via a knob.

The Impulse is not as programmable.

Besides the points above, my other concern with the SL MKII are the drum pads? Are they terrible? Ok?

Thank you!
Live Suite 9, RME Fireface 800, Mac Book Pro, Sierra

yur2die4
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Re: How well does the Novation SL MKII work with Ableton?

Post by yur2die4 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:02 pm

I posted this in another thread asking about controllers:

"I can tell you my experience with the Remote.

I LOVE that I can see parameters on the display. I take transport and fader controls for granted on it.

The 'drum pads' are pieces of shit. I keep meaning to remap them to a different midi channel to give them some kind of purpose.

The xy touchpad is also pretty shitty. It is not nearly as graceful of that of the Korg products. It has sort of a layering of materials. You can feel that you sort of have to 'squish' to do any adjustments. On the bright side, it means you won't accidentally brush it haha

Aside from those cons, I dig mine. I have just a 25 key version. But even that is larger than I prefer in build. And then not as much key range as I'd prefer. So I think you're making a good decision aiming for extra keys.

There is also free Automap. It is handy, yet when compared to the mkii's Ableton abilities, pales in comparison. It does let you do most (not all) keyboard commands, and allows a pseudo-one-knob-controls-all function.

One last 'bonus' trick with the mkii is that it has a tempo setting hidden in one of its pages. You can straight up change the tempo directly from the keyboard.

So yeah, I like it, almost love it. It just has shortcomings on what you'd 'expect' in those two instances."


To go more into detail on the drum pads. They basically aren't usable for that. But you can use them for something else and get something else with drum pads.

They are rounded over the top and feel like slapping pencil erasers or rubber balls. But have totally random response.

They can't be Held down either. They trigger, and 'hold' the note for a time that you set via the editor. Luckily, it is also hard to Accidentally hit them.

Everything lights up which is nice. But it is a little cluttered I still love the controller a Lot. ...I think I love my Maschine a little more. In a perfect world, you'll have aRemote sl mkii, a Launchpad, and save up for an mkii Maschine for when it goes on sale haha

Jimbabwae
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Re: How well does the Novation SL MKII work with Ableton?

Post by Jimbabwae » Tue Oct 02, 2012 5:06 pm

Hey Sebastian,

I can't comment on the first part of your question but I can confirm that the drum pads are REALLY bad.. baaaaad. Like yur2die4 said, they're not really usable as drum pads to be honest.

Keys are pretty good, knobs and sliders are good enough.. integration with Abelton generally is pretty good. Shame that full automap is a non starter though.

Cheers!

Punky921
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Re: How well does the Novation SL MKII work with Ableton?

Post by Punky921 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:47 pm

I can't speak to the MK2 but I love my Mk1.

aaronbrownsound
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Re: How well does the Novation SL MKII work with Ableton?

Post by aaronbrownsound » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:09 pm

Pretty much the same here.

Drum pads are a waste of space! XY pad sucks.

Automap is only useful for a few synths IMO as otherwise you start losing track of what is mapped where. Sure it's labeled, but for complex things that helps very little. I recommend only using Automap for your go to gear and synths. Also, having two of every plug in can be a huge pain if you own a ton of vsts. You have to rescan everytime you buy something... Really, just use it for the important ones you love automating!

The template for live is ok. I actually don't use it. I go out of automap mode and use it in regular midi mode + Ableton "learn midi" functions.

If you are a scene and clip triggering guy avoid this thing. If you are a keyboard player/programmer looking for some hands on control of synths, particularly in Ableton using learn midi mode, then I'd say buy it.

Punky921
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Re: How well does the Novation SL MKII work with Ableton?

Post by Punky921 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:20 pm

aaronbrownsound wrote:Pretty much the same here.

Drum pads are a waste of space! XY pad sucks.

Automap is only useful for a few synths IMO as otherwise you start losing track of what is mapped where. Sure it's labeled, but for complex things that helps very little. I recommend only using Automap for your go to gear and synths. Also, having two of every plug in can be a huge pain if you own a ton of vsts. You have to rescan everytime you buy something... Really, just use it for the important ones you love automating!

The template for live is ok. I actually don't use it. I go out of automap mode and use it in regular midi mode + Ableton "learn midi" functions.

If you are a scene and clip triggering guy avoid this thing. If you are a keyboard player/programmer looking for some hands on control of synths, particularly in Ableton using learn midi mode, then I'd say buy it.
True. It's not really for clip triggering at all.

Ste_clectic
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Re: How well does the Novation SL MKII work with Ableton?

Post by Ste_clectic » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:35 pm

Punky921 wrote:True. It's not really for clip triggering at all.
It does a decent job at scrolling through and triggering scenes though.

Punky921
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Re: How well does the Novation SL MKII work with Ableton?

Post by Punky921 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:36 pm

It does do that okay, but for anyone who's hoping for really fast and intuitive play (akin to what you might get from an APC40 or Launchpad) is going to be kind of out of luck. The Remote SL is okay, but I wouldn't call it GOOD.

yur2die4
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Re: How well does the Novation SL MKII work with Ableton?

Post by yur2die4 » Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:37 pm

I've done the basic triggering scenario that they demonstrate on their video.

It isn't ideal, but I do find the scene up and down buttons to be a nice bonus.

At one time I did change my drum pads to be a different midi channel from the keyboard. It gives them the option to be mapable to other things without interfering with keyboarding. Also setting them to be chromatic helps.

I also like the duality of the transport button. And the endless rotaries are so handy and effective that I rarely map the bottom 8 knobs haha

Instead of using the button row for clips, I usually map them to my favorite devices that I want to control :)

Jumping between Ableton and Automap is a pain. It'd be nice to get a combination. Then I could retain the brilliant on screen display for the rotaries and still have the bottom row of knobs do vst.

HMMMMMM.

When using Automap mode, does it basically just jump to an Automap layout preset?? I might try something..

But yeah, bonus tips:
Make use of the bpm control :P you can change the bpm without any mapping or grabbing the mouse. Sooo convenient!
Change settings so that it doesn't automatically Open in Automap mode. Sometimes it acts ignorant of Ableton being open. It gets frustrating, nothing major.
Automap does give you the one knob for controlling whatever is selected. Nothing spectacular haha
Automap let's you do most qwerty commands :D
Watch the Novation vid on setting it up for Ableton. You'll have a boner. Don't tell us that you got a boner. But you'll have one.

Quite honestly I haven't been using my sl mkii much. I like the portability of my Maschine and Launchpad :P
But I use my APC even less! (Requiring the power adapter is a total buzzkill).

I'm painting a picture of my setup so that you can get an idea of my usage. It really does cover most bases aside from clip launch and drum pads.

Edit: I know that a lot of people feel like actual qwerty keyboards on their laptop/puter are lame. I can understand that seeing how they are the most obvious and typically used device when interfacing with a computer. But honestly, I've been finding it to be the most invaluable go to tool for live performance. Even almost beats the Launchpad haha.

Idea: someone should release a qwerty that goes into midi mode with backlit multicolored led keys. And a couple touch strips.

Sebastian
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Re: How well does the Novation SL MKII work with Ableton?

Post by Sebastian » Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:19 am

Same question but with the Axiom Pro 49....your thoughts?
Live Suite 9, RME Fireface 800, Mac Book Pro, Sierra

yur2die4
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Re: How well does the Novation SL MKII work with Ableton?

Post by yur2die4 » Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:35 am

I wish I knew. No complaints on my regular Axiom. But I upgraded to the Remote. I'm not familiar with their Pro Live integration.

Actually, be on the lookout for some new M-Audio stuff. They are now owned by Akai, but they have been in the process of various new Axioms. And unique software to go with it too.

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