Novation Embraces Open Source, Web and Mobile Apps

22 Apr 2016

Novation is well known to digital music makers for their Launch series of MIDI controllers, synths, and the Circuit groove machine.

In addition to making great hardware, over the past year or so they've really been expanding their software development efforts and have delved into open source software, web tools, and mobile applications.

Here's a quick overview of some of their software work:

Let's take a closer look.

Open API for Launchpad Pro firmware

lpp-open-firmware Novation's Launchpad Pro supports user modification via an open firmware API

Last summer Novation announced open (and brick proof!) APIs for Launchpad Pro firmware.  I was really excited to see them offer open APIs for code-savvy developers to customize the behavior of the Launchpad Pro.  Users who're good with the stock functionality can use the default firmware impl without ever knowing or caring that the firmware is updatable. And for users who want more functionality, the open API provides a supported path for changing the behavior of the hardware.  I'm not sure if the project is meeting Novation's expectations in terms of cost / benefit, but I view it as a big plus and product differentiator.

If you'd like to know more, check out the project Tumblr and you can find the source code and API docs at GitHub.  For some history on the project, check out Launchpad Pro: A Hacker's Dream on Novation's site.

Launchpad Intro

Novation released Launchpad Intro a few weeks ago.  It's a browser app that lets you remix a track by Harry Coade.  You can launch samples from the browser app using your computer keyboard or connect Launchpad hardware and control the samples via Web MIDI.  It's a fun little promotional app and easy way to get familiar with basic Launchpad functionality.

lp-intro-welcome Launchpad Intro lets you remix a track with connected hardware via Web MIDI or standalone in the browser.

lp-intro-layout If you don't have a Launchpad you can launch samples from the grid using your computer keyboard.

Read more here and check out this excellent video of Harry Coade meandering around a studio with a Launchpad Pro.

Blocs Wave

Novation isn't new to iOS.  They released a Launchpad version for iOS years ago, and Blocs Wave is their newest entry to the iOS app ecosystem.   With Blocs Waves you can mix up to 8 sounds and each sample is editable through a waveform editor interface in the app.

You get integration with many of the audio utilities you'd expect on iOS, like AudioCopy, AudioShare, and AudioBus.  And you also get support for Ableton's Link protocol for playback synchronization between apps and devices.

blocs-wave-waveedit Edit and mix samples on iOS with Blocs Wave


For more info check out the Blocs Wave site.

Circuit Components

Components, the newest update of the bunch, is a set of free tools designed to enhance the versatility of the Circuit groove box.

circuit-components-tools The Circuit Components toolset. The sample importer and librarian are browser apps.


Here's a quick overview of each component:

  • Sample Importer - browser app for loading samples onto a Circuit
  • Patch Editor - computer (i.e., native) app for patch creation and editing for Circuit's onboard synth
  • Librarian - browser app for saving Circuit sessions in the cloud

CDM has an in-depth post on Components so head over there if you'd like to learn more: Make Novation Circuit Your Own With Updates, Browser Tools.

It's really cool to see Novation incorporating elements of open source, web, and mobile technology into their product ecosystem.  Similar to what Yamaha's done with Soundmondo (and what you can do with bliwpweb for MeeBlip), I think we'll continue to see companies build browser/mobile tools to support their hardware products.  Of course, the viability of browser tools depends on browser vendors to provide implementations of the Web MIDI API.  For now your choices are Chrome or, as I've recently learned, Opera.  Hopefully we'll see Web MIDI implementations show up in Firefox and Safari one of these days.

And in the meantime, keep the innovative work coming, Novation!