Novation Launchkey 88 Review
Verdict and Review Summary
The 88-key MK3 meets the quality standard set by the series and really ramps up flexibility. The larger the controller, the more pads, faders, and functionality you get. With this many semi-weighted keys there's some keyboard/piano appeal here too, but it's all about expanded DAW control. At such a low price it's an excellent value.
The Launchkey lineup has always given us a lot of a low price tags. With the MK3 series you have some expanded features like scale and chord modes, and a more diverse/programmable slate of controls.
With the new modes and the 88 semi-weighted keys, the controller can certainly double as a keyboard with some limited piano feel.
But, keep in mind, it's primarily a MIDI controller and production tool.
The price is very low for this size board. It doesn't have as solid of a feel as more expensive controllers, which is a bit hard to explain. I would just make sure you keep it in one place so it doesn't get too dinged up.
But from a pure functionality perspective, I don't have significant complaints.
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Novation Launckey 88 MK3 Price Guide
Prices updated Sun, February 25th, 2024.
Pricing from Sweetwater
Price Alert Tool
Price History for Novation Launchkey 88 MK3 88-key Keyboard Controller
|February 23, 2024
|May 5, 2023
|April 14, 2023
Last price changes
|May 5, 2023
|April 14, 2023
IDEAL FOR: Home studios, semi-pro recording, Ableton, GarageBand, some piano playing.
Note that we do not provide number ratings for keyboards.
It comes with an Ableton Live Lite license, so I set that up first. It mapped perfectly without any fuss on my end. I tried it with Cakewalk too, on Windows, with the same results. Smooth sailing.
Figuring out what does what
Control and functionality specifics depend on your DAW and how you want to program everything. My recommendation would be to just play some instruments through the keys and experiment first. But everything on this board is easily assignable.
The learning curve will be on your software, and not the keyboard itself.
So if you're even moderately familiar with basic recording and production software, the process will be really straightforward.
Feel of the semi-weighted keys
The semi-weighted keys don't feel as confident as I would like, which gives this board a little less value for those wanting something for more piano-focused use. As a pure MIDI controller, that doesn't really matter.
At the same time, you have the full 88 keys, so it can certainly be played as a more traditional piano.
My only caution is that you'll have to get used to the feel and "give" of the keys. They feel lighter and less punctuated than more expensive boards, and certainly more so than an acoustic piano, though that's to be expected.
Construction and build
Construction here is a bit of a paradox.
The controller is heavy to pick up, but the material used for the chassis doesn't feel particularly thick. I'd like to have something that feels stronger, especially the faders, which feel a bit weak compared to more expensive boards I've used.
But the heaviness suggests that it's plenty strong enough for its job description.
If the board isn't going to move around, you shouldn't have any structural problems.
Out of the box, the board weighs just a little under 20 pounds.
The Launchkey MK3 runs on USB bus power.
I actually got a longer cable to hook it up so I could have a little more room to take pictures. In the photos I put the computer on the floor (the office/studio is going through some changes). But the entire thing lights up when you plug it into a computer.
My kids got a kick out of the lights on the pads and faders. They're pretty cool.
Price and Value
There are smaller MIDI controllers with fewer keys that will come in cheaper, but if you want the larger option with 88 keys, this is one of the lowest prices you'll be able to find. Novation is one of the most popular MIDI keyboard brands because of these more affordable controllers, yet there are higher-end options within the brand.
The 61SL (also from the MK3 series) and Summit are both good options.
Another comparable to the Launchkey is the Impulse series, which runs at a similar price point.
As always, check the price guide above for updated numbers. Pricing, even within the same brand, can change pretty quickly.
I would like to have a little more confidence and weight in the keys. But given the price tag, that's a pretty small complaint, and certainly not an issue if you plan to focus more heavily on the MIDI controller aspect.
You'll have a hard time finding another 88-key controller at this price.
Unless your budget gives you a lot more room, the asking price here is great, and you're getting excellent value for what you pay.
If you have questions about my review of the Novation Launchkey 88 MK3, drop them in the comments section below. I can share my experience and help out as much as possible.