Ableton

The Novation LaunchControl XL Guide

Since its inception in 2014 the Novation Launch Control XL has evolved into quite a powerful and diverse control surface. This article follows that development, and provides a detailed overview of the additional features Novation have developed for the LCXL, along with additional features and functionalities available from other developers. If you’re considering integrating the LCXL into your workflow. This article does follow a narrative, while the Table of Contents just below allows to Navigating individual Sections.

When the LCXL was released in Summer 2014, it received favorable reviews, and reading over them now in 2017 I noticed each seemed to have praise for features, and some amount of wondering of “I wish it could do this, or maybe it can do that.” Of course, this is common with MIDI control surfaces, as the ecosystem between personal workflows, software, and changing standards keep everyone on the lookout for the elusive ideal controller, myself included. Resident Advisor’s review of the LCXL is a good example.

Here’s the last few sentences of their October, 2014 article:

Overall, this is a rock-solid addition to any Ableton-based studio setup. But how does it fare for live performance? Looking at the Launch Control XL’s physical controls in that context, I would much rather be able to reassign those top three rows of knobs to EQ or filter instead of their default sends-and-pan mapping. Doing this requires using the Launch Control’s custom template functionality, which in turn sacrifices the power yielded by Novation’s controller scripts that allow you to navigate through a set with more than eight channels. Still, it might be possible to hack something together using a Max For Live device like Multimapper to transform the XL’s device control knobs into one-knob filters. In any case, I came away satisfied with what Novation put together here. The hardware feels extremely solid, and when combined with the Launchpad, the Launch Control XL gives you an impressive amount of hands-on control for an affordable price.

I shared the reviewer’s idea/concern about the ability to remap the rows of knobs from their default functionality as Send Controls. And while you can always create a custom map – it will only be configured to work with the exact devices and parameters you map – if you load up a new device, or parameter, the map must be mapped anew, and saved as a new Preset within Live. So this feature becomes limited, excepting the most stable of maps, maybe a mastering chain you use over and over, for example. What I wanted was the same level of automatic control over Live devices, parameters, and generally whatever could be done in Live, I wanted to have that dynamically picked up by my controller. This is now essentially possible, as I’ll cover below.

For me, the default 8 parameters of Live devices that are mapped to the 3rd row of pots on the LCXL wasn’t convenient, as toggling back and forth between the mouse and the LCXL, and trying to remember what was auto-mapped (I’ll refer to this as “Blue Hand” control going forward), and what wasn’t between my screen and the LCXL, was confusing – and panning your head quickly gets tiring on the eyes. I quickly started searching for ways to increase the LaunchControl XL’s control over Live’s instruments, along with VST’s.  And along with this wish, I had many others – most of the Sections of you’ll see in the following Table of Contents result from similar User-Driven ideas for the LCXL. And fortunately Novation is generally open-source about their controllers, allowing 3rd parties and DiY’ers to bring desired functions to the end-user community.

Since its release, the Novation LaunchControl XL (LCXL) has performed as described, in both features, and hardware stability. But it’s also quietly transformed into a powerful and diverse control surface which can now meet the needs of most any production and performance workflow.

Table of Contents

  1. LaunchControl XL – Out-of-the-Box Functionality
  2. LaunchControl XL – Overview Video by Novation’s Help Team
  3. LaunchControl XL – Initial Overview
  4. LaunchControl XL – Factory Mode 1 – Default Functionality Overview
  5. LaunchControl XL – After Unboxing
  6. Register the LCXL For Free Melodics Lessons
  7. Register the LCXL For 4.1 GB of LoopMasters Exclusive Content.
  8. Registered Users – Download and Install the Novation FX Suite
  9. LaunchControl XL – Configuring Control Surface Settings in Ableton/Preferences/Link-MIDI
  10. LaunchControl XL – Input Settings in Ableton/Preferences/Link-MIDI/MIDI Ports
  11. LaunchControl XL – Output Settings in Ableton/Preferences/Link-MIDI/MIDI Ports
  12. Download and Install Novation’s LaunchControl XL Desktop Editor
  13. Download the Novation Programmer’s Reference guide for the LaunchControl XL
  14. The Novation LaunchControl XL in 2016
  15. Expanding the LaunchControl XL’s Default Functionality
  16. Complete Control Part I – Launch Control XXL script from Isotonik Studios
  17. The Isotonik LCXXL Script – Installation Instructions
  18. How to Locate Ableton Live’s Preferences.cfg file
  19. How to Create an Options.txt File for Ableton Live
  20. How to Locate Ableton Live’s MIDI Remote Scripts Folder
  21. More About the LCXXL Script’s Device Banks

LCXL Out-of-the-Box Functionality:

This section is an overview of the default functionality of the LaunchControl XL along with a detailed overview of the all the impressive Software Bundles that come with the LCXL.

Here’s a pre-release intro video by the inimitable Calc:


By the way, if you don’t really know your LCXL, watch that video. I’m a big fan of manuals over video, but not in this case.

So while the LCXL, as shown in the video above, is a really seamless control of Ableton Live – giving you enough mixer and native Ableton control to be an excellent complement, but with only 2 of the Factory Modes used (Factory 1 for Ableton, and Factory 7 for FL Studio), and 8 User Modes, you can definitely expand your control over Live sets, production, or anything else that works with Midi.

I also recommend this Overview video by Novation’s Help Team:

LCXL Initial Setup & Overview:

Physical Components of the LCXL:

24 Rotary Pots – 360 Degrees, 3 Assignable LED Color Options (User Mode Only)

8 60mm Faders

16 Assignable, Back Lit Buttons in User Mode (8 Assignable in Factory Mode, the other 8 being assigned to Track Control)

Factory Mode 1 – Default Functionality:

~In Factory Modes the 1st two rows of Rotary Pots automatically map to the Sends on Ableton’s Tracks.

The Last Row of 8 Rotary Pots will map to the first 8 parameters of any Ableton Live Default Device, VST, Macros, etc.

~Press the Device Button on the LCXL to and it will pick up the 8 default parameters (again 3rd row of Pots). This is a nice feature as many racks, and Macro controls are based on 8 parameters, so you can get a lot of auto-mapped control of useful parameters in Factory Mode. It’s important to understand straight off though, that with non-Ableton Live native devices, these default mappings may not be “Specified” by the device manufacturer, and in that case, the default mappings may be less useful as the 8 parameters weren’t organized as such. Below I’ll cover how to expand on both the number of parameters mapped to the LCXL, and how to organize them in sensible and efficient ways.

In User Modes, Click the MIDI Map Mode button On in Live, or any other MIDI receiver with MIDI-learnable functions – now you can create your own mappings. With 8 Banks 0f 24 Rotary Pots each, , along with up to 16 buttons carrying User-Defined MIDI Note, or CC Data if you like, you can prepare well for a live set, or create more sophisticated mappings. This is most practical for mappings you use frequently, that don’t change much (below I’ll discuss expanding mapping functionality). A Mastering Rack you use for all your tracks is a good example, or a Deck Setup for DJ’s, a production, performance control surface.

LaunchControl XL – After Unboxing

If you’re setting up the LCXL for the 1st time – you’ll first want to head over to the Novation website and check your firmware version by downloading the Launch Control XL Updater, which will let you know if you’re up to date. And if you’re already an owner, there’s been a few significant updates as of July 2015, which you should grab if you haven’t already – more on that update below.

Along with the Firmware Upgrade – you’ll want to Register the LCXL with the Serial Number located on the Bottom of the LCXL. Registering gives you access to the following:

  1. You’ll get a Serial Number for Ableton Live Lite. Live Lite is the same as the Ableton Intro version (I believe Lite only allows for 8 tracks and 2 each of mono/stereo inputs, whereas Intro allows for 16 tracks and 4 each of mono/stereo inputs. Intro is Currently $99 so this is a good value if you don’t have a DAW, or want to give Live a try.
  2. You’ll also Get a a 4.1 GB SoundPack from Loopmasters
  3. Next You’ll Get a Serial Code for Free Pad Playing Lessons from Melodics. Melodics has a really slick desktop app you Screenshot 2016-07-30 20.45.53download. After you download the app, you create an account,  and Enter your Promo Code and you’ll get 5 lessons developed specially for Novation. Since you can use the Bottom 16 Pads of the LCXL to send Note information – you’ll just switch your LCXL to User Mode. Melodics lessons get you better at playing pads – very helpful for live performance, but also I found it helpful to learn how the timing of common Electronic Music beats works. Melodics comes with another 20 Free Lessons, and then offers paid plans if you want to keep going. You don’t need a Credit Card to use the free content, and there are no limitations with the software – Here’s a picture of 2 of the 5 Free packs I got for registering. And here’s an overview of Melodics:

4. Next You’ll get a 4.1 GB Soundpack from LoopMasters, exclusively made for Novation. This is actually a new upgrade for existing LCXL Users – as until just a few days ago, and going back to 2013, Novation product owners only received a 1 GB Sample Pack. The LoopMasters 4.1 Gig Pack is comprised of the 2014, ’15 & 16 Packs, each organized as collections of samples from their respective LoopMasters Pack. If you think you want the full pack, LoopMasters includes a 20% off Coupon in the “Info Read Me.txt” file in your downloaded 4Gig Pack files. Here’s a small snapshot of what you get: Screenshot 2016-07-30 21.21.08

5. You’ll also get the Novation FX Suite for Live. The FX Suite is a good way to practice using the LCXL’s mapping, and other features, which are in the FX Suite Installation File: “These devices can be controlled using the standard Live integration template (Press the Device button on the hardware to control the device). Alternatively you can manually MIDI learn a control to the device parameter. In this case it is recommended to load a different template on the Launch Control XL, for example User 1, so that you can quickly switch between the Live template (factory 1) and the user template.” Here’s a snapshot of the FX you get:  Screenshot 2016-07-30 22.09.14

After you’ve got the LCXL firmware updated, you’re ready to fire up Live, open Preferences, and configure the LCXL. It’s a Class-Compliant Device – meaning no drivers necessary for MAC or Windows, just plug in the USB cable to your computer or USB Hub etc., and it’s ready to go. In Ableton Live, the LCXL is a native Control Surface, so in the Link/MIDI Section of Preferences, you can select it as a Control Surface as the following images show:

1. LCXL Control Surface Settings in Ableton/Preferences/Link-MIDIScreenshot 2016-07-30 19.35.00

2. LCXL Input Settings in Ableton/Preferences/Link-MIDI/MIDI Ports Screenshot 2016-07-30 19.38.283. LCXL Output Settings in Ableton/Preferences/Link-MIDI/MIDI Ports

Screenshot 2016-07-30 19.40.45

Novation’s LaunchControl XL Desktop Editor

For User Mode, it’s also helpful to use the LCXL Editor. The Editor allows you to click directly on a GUI rendition of the LCXL, you can quickly change the colors of the LED’s, Enter CC’s, Assign Midi Channels by the Pot, input Min/Max (0-127), and Change the Midi-Channel of the LED.

LaunchControl XL Editor

LaunchControl XL Editor

Screenshot 2016-07-30 18.47.17

Screenshot 2016-07-30 18.44.57

And as you can see on the Button 6 picture, you can also input Note and Octave (-2 – +8) on the Buttons. You can select Momentary (Note On is sent when the Button is pushed, and Note Off is sent when the Button is released) and Toggle Mode (Note On is sent when the Button is Pushed, and Note off is not sent until the Button is Pushed again) functions for the buttons as well.

With the Editor you can Save, Load up, and Reset as many templates as you want.

Lastly, the Editor will also pull the values of the current state of the LCXL allowing you to quickly grab the CC/Note and other data shown in the images, so of course you can connect up to the Editor after you’ve created a mapping in Live or elsewhere.

You can download the Free Editor Here for Mac or Windows: https://us.novationmusic.com/launch/launch-control-xl/support-downloads.

The LCXL Editor is also the gateway to the deeper programming possibilities of the LCXL. Novation provides a Programmer’s Reference. This Reference guide allows you to program the LCXL. The LCXL can be programmed with the Launchpad MIDI protocol, or the Launch Control XL System Exclusive protocol. The primary difference between the two being the LCXL SysEx protocol can update a button without the template Editor’s corresponding button being set to the note/CC & MIDI channel. The Programmer’s guide teaches how to send SysEx messages to change the light colors. Interestingly, the LCXL has a Green and a Red LED for each Pot, but their values can be blended to make Amber, or even yellow. If you’re looking to gain SysEx experience, or MAX, PureData and the like, the LCXL Programmer’s Reference is a friendly way to get introduced – and ultimately master your instrument, or as we’ll see next – modify the LCXL, or create something new! It’s commendable of Novation to have given users access to the information they need to DIY this controller.

The Novation LaunchControl XL in 2016

I attempted above to capture the core functionality, documents, downloads, and other relevant information about the LCXL as it was upon release in  I covered the aspects of the LCXL available upon its initial release. Since then, the controller has seen significant and powerful expansions.

Going back to the very beginning of this article, the reviewer notes that in the context of live performance, they’d have rather seen the top 4 rows of pots mapped to Eq’s and Filters, rather than sends and pans. When I picked up the LCXL I found it confusing to create mappings, and they seemed to work erratically,  except for the Factory Template 1 for Ableton Live. Having come to understand some of Live’s constraints, and my own lack of understanding of signal flow, MIDI, and the like – led me to a lot of experimenting, reading – and discovering the 3rd Party developments discussed below.

Expanding the LaunchControl XL’s Default Functionality

Simply put, if you want full control of Ableton Live

Instant Blue Hand control of 128 parameters

The Novation LaunchControl XL will get it done.

Novation’s frequent collaborators, Isotonik Studios, developed the LCXXL script, which essentially accomplishes what the reviewer thought was missing – the ability to use those 24 comfortable knobs to take some serious control of Ableton, and the devices it hosts. For me, this script greatly increased the utility of the LCXL. I’d conjecture that banks of 8 are probably a Control Surface requirement, and given the LaunchPad Series also controls an 8×8 Ableton grid, so too does the LaunchControl XL – which only necessitates 1 of its Factory Banks.

Here are links back to other key release articles about the LCXL – It’s interesting to see the characterizations of the Control – some are DJ centric – wanting to control Ableton DJ Sets, some focus on the Mixer Possibilities, and the native Ableton-controller features. If you read them and their comments, you’ll get a sense of the Ableton Live, and Live Performances, MIDI-Learning workflows publication writers and users from the comment areas:

Complete Control Part I – Launch Control XXL by Isotonik Studios

The LCXXL Script – using User Mode 6 of the LCXL – enables instant mapping of the first 24 parameters of whatever device is currently selected in Live. Now, instead of being limited to 8, you’ve got 24 Pots. You’ll have “Blue Hand” control of the selected Device in Ableton. Blue Hand Control indicates the LCXXL script is running as a MIDI Control Surface. If you open up Live’s Preferences, and hover your mouse cursor over a Control Surface input window, you can see its functionality via the Input View Window, “Use this surface to select a surface for mouse-free program operation. The Factory LCXL script is also a Blue-Hand Device – very few third-party scripts are there natively, so it’s impressive the LCXXL Script has this designation.

Since Most of Live’s default instruments have more than 8 parameters, you’ll now have the opportunity to work with 24 from the three rows of pots on the LCXL. And below, as part of the XXL Instructions, I’ll include instructions for exposing the first 128 parameters of a device (or multiple devices, drum racks, macros, VST’s/AU’s, Max 4 Live) – anything you can place on a track, to the Blue Hand Control the XXL Script enables on the Launch Control XL. There are other features of the script as well – I will cover those after the next section on installing the LCXXL script.

The Isotonik LCXXL Script – Installation Instructions

The LCXXL script can be intimidating to install, unless you’ve had previous experience installing a Midi Remote Script for Ableton Live. If you’ve previously installed MIDI Control Scripts for Live or another DAW, It’s easy. Otherwise, as installing requires a few steps beyond the normal “clicking’ on Install type of installation. However, instructions are clearly laid out below. We’ll need to make a unique file, and unlock some hidden functionalities in your MaC or PC, and Ableton Live. Here’s are the steps to Install the LCXXXL Script, along with some modifications to Live’s functionality via the Options.txt file:

Creating an Options.txt File for Ableton Live (to Map the first 128 parameters of a Device to the LCXL’s Banks in User Mode 6)

Unhding Hidden Folders in Windows and Mac OS (to access the file locations we’ll need to put files and folders in)

Finding Your Preferences.cfg File in Live(This is where the Options.txt file (and enclosing Folder) we’ll create below must be placed

We’ll need to Unlock the MIDI Remote Scripts Folder within Ableton’s File Directory

Next we will Copy/paste the 2 LCXXL Folders into Live’s now Unhidden MIDI Remote Scripts Folder

Then we’ll properly Enable the Launch Control XXL Script in Ableton Live’s Preferences–>Control Surfaces

Turning on and Using the LCXXL Script

How to Create an Options.txt File for Ableton Live

First, in order to expose more than the default 32 parameters that Ableton employs, you’re going to need to Create an Options.txt file. The goal here is to increase the default parameters from 32 up to 128. The LCXXL, you’ll recall, can automatically map 6 banks of parameters, so having these additional parameters available is necessary to take advantage of the script’s capabilities. You’ll need a Text Editor – something like Notepad, macOS has TextEdit built in (just type that in Spotlight Search Window). Don’t use a Word Processing Document. True .txt files don’t apply formatting to the text, which can be interpreted by computer programs, which can cause errors, same goes for .rtf files. Open up your Text Editor and add the text after this colon:

-_PluginAutoPopulateThreshold=-1

Now save the file as “Options.txt” to the location of Live’s Preferences.cfg file.

How to Locate Ableton Live’s Preferences.cfg file

In Order to find the Preferences.cfg file –  you may have to take 1 additional step.

By Default the Preferences.cfg is a “Hidden File” so we need to Unhide it.

Here’s a Link to Ableton’s directions to the Location of the Preferences.cfg file on Mac & Windows – and the OS Version you’re using.

Once you have directions to the folder, this 2nd Ableton guideline, tells you how to “Unhide” the Preferences.cfg folder.

Now that you’ve located, and Unhidden the folder, simply copy the Options.txt file into the Preferences.cfg Folder

– It’s important to note that if you’ve custom-installed Live in a location other than its Default Installation location – your folder location won’t match the instructions above.

You’ll want to Restart Live after this, for these first 2 changes take effect:

Now you’re now prepared to Install the LCXXL Scripts into Ableton Live’s Midi Remote Script folder.

How to Locate Ableton Live’s MIDI Remote Scripts Folder

Next, locate the MIDI Remote Script Folder in Live’s File Directory – and again Ableton has provided by-the-OS guidance on the default location for the Midi Remote Scripts Here.

Once  you’ve located Live’s MIDI Remote Scripts Folder, you’re ready to copy in the 2 necessary folders in the LCXXL Zip.

Having Unzipped the LCXXL download file (I recommend to the Desktop)  you’ll find 2 File Folders which need to be Pasted into Live’s MIDI Remote Scripts Folder:

Launch_Control_XXL

**Tip** After pasting the two folders in, restart Live. I also found I needed to unplug/replug the Orange USB MIDI Host Cable from The LCXL – though this isn’t a documented process, I couldn’t get the install to happen without un/re-plugging.

For the Last step you’ll need to open up Ableton’s Preferences, Navigate to the Link/MIDI tab and select the new LaunchControl XXL from the Drop down list of Control Surfaces. For the Input/Output pickers that follow – Select LaunchControl XL – NOT XXL, or Isotonik. Nor should you make another Control Surface for the old XL Control Script.

Next, In the MIDI Ports picker grid below the Control Surface area, enable Track/Sync/Remote for the Input and Output MIDI Ports for the Launch Control XXL. You DO NOT want to enable the Launch Control XL (HUI) MIDI ports. HUI is for other DAWS, not Ableton Live. I’ll discuss HUI further below.

Now throw a Device on a track, Press and Hold the User Button down on the LCXL, while holding the User Button press Button 6 on the Bottom Row of Pads (Track Control/Device Bank Row) Now you are in User Mode 6 and your LCXL just got much more powerful. User Mode 6 is where the LCXL Script is always positioned. You can still use the Default Factory mode for Live by toggling it on the LCXL.

Now if you Click the little white Triangle in the Upper Left Corner of your Live Device, which is titled “Unfold Device Parameters” you’ll be able to see the first 128 default parameters of your device, and understand how they are mapped to Your LCXL. This view also shows the Current Position of the Parameter (.00 to 1), which is also helpful. You can always unfold this arrow and use your mouse to horizontally control any parameter listed there.

4aRQ9YioNow at this point you’ve got 128 parameters at your fingertips to modulate as you see fit. This is a Big increase in functionality for the LCXL. I find it’s quicker to make presets, and being able to control 2 of the pots at the same time is something you can do with a mouse. And with Device Lock on, I can switch to another area of Live, like an FX – change some of its parameters, while adjusting my Locked device with the LCXL. This is both an increase in utility, and creativity. For me, it turns any software, into hardware – in an always familiar layout. You are basically turning a device, or rack – into a custom built instrument.

More About the LCXXL Script’s Device Banks:

With the LCXXL script installed, and in User Template 6 you can work in Banks of 24 parameters, up to a total of 128 device parameters. When a Device has more than 24 parameters (collectively called a Bank), the XXL script will autopopulate additional Banks, each with 24 parameters mapped to the 3 rows of pots. Any pot that is mapped to a parameter will have a Lit LED. The LED Colors are different for Each of the 6 Banks. You Scroll through Banks using the Up/Down arrows on the LCXL’s Send Select Buttons. Live’s default is to work in Banks of 8 – normal Blue Hand Control Surfaces – like the LCXL in Factory Template 1, have access to 8 parameters at a time. These default 8 parameter banks are called BoBs (Banks of Banks). Having access to Banks of 24 parameters is a welcome addition to the LCXL Control Surface. And as always, if you want to control Live via the default functionality, just toggle to Factory 1.

Additional Features of the LaunchControl XXL Script

Device Lock (mentioned above). Lock the  LCXL to a particular device. If you’re scrolling around between tracks, or devices on a track, the LCXL is following you. But maybe you want to keep it mapped to your Synth on Track 1, so you can modulate some parameter with your mouse on Track 3. With the LCXXL Script installed, and in User 6 Mode, you press the Device Button to Lock your LCXL to the selected Device in Ableton.

The LCXXL Script also creates the Oft-Requested Red Session Highlighter  (Red Box) around the area of your Live set the LCXL is Controlling. If you read the initial LCXL review articles, you’ll recall this as an oft-requested feature –  weary-eyed producers will want the LCXXL script for this feature alone  – and anyone who manages large Ableton files with a hardware controller. Your eyes can quickly fatigue scanning back and forth, searching for your exact location in a sea of clips. Just look for the Red Box!

LCXXL Color Schema

Complementing the Red Box the script adds to Ableton Live a custom color schema.

LCXXL Individual Pot indication Color Schema:

YELLOW Pot Indicates: Currently selected device is – enabled

AMBER Pot Indicates: Currently selected device is – disabled

GREEN Pot Indicates: Enabled devices

RED Pot Indicates: Disabled devices

LCXXL Customized Bank colors for the 6 possible Banks:

Bank 1…Green …Amber …Red …Yellow …Green Bank 6…Red

**Red is also the Default color for Return Tracks – to distinguish Return Tracks from Standard Tracks, which are Amber.

Custom Script Options

You can also modify the  Config.txt file included with the LCXXL download – which enables you to modify some key behaviors of the Script – which are helpful depending on your workflow requirements.

Modify Factory Template 1 Scripts

Choose the default Number of Return Tracks Assigned to Hardware Control while in Factory Template 1 on the LCXL. If you like assembling return tracks to aggregate FX management, or Mixing/Mastering features – this option is great. Conversely, if your bank is all about parameter mapping of a Synth, you may want to hide the return tracks. Note, you can still have all the return tracks you want in Live in User Mode 6, or other blank template.

The script can also modify Factory Mode 1 –  to change the default function of the third (bottom) row of Pots from controlling Pan, to Controlling a 3rd Send – very useful if you’re not a regular utilizer of Pan,  or want to enable a 3rd (Hardware Pot) Controllable Send to your tracks. By the Way 3 is only the limit of Sends Controllable by the LCXL Pots, you can bank through sends up to Live’s limit of 12 (I think).

Instructions for modifying the Config.txt file are in the LCXXL User Guide.

Once you’ve got your default parameters to 128, and the LCXXL Script installed with any customizations you select –  you’ve got a robust and versatile means of controlling Live.

Rounding out control of Live with the LCXL is Isotonik’s PrEditor Script – with PrEditor you can build on the functionality of the XXL Script – and realize your vision of Controlling Live. Workflows tend to be fluid for many producers, which can be a hindrance, even while fluidity concurrently facilitates creativity. Balance in this particular scenario, may not be the solution. I know that I will want to try new devices, workflows, and be highly experimental. I also know that quickly piles up to no output, and spending more time and creative energy on projects that end up incomplete, or just don’t work. But the idea of using a single synth, or Live template, and the like creative constraints, still ends up clashing with spontaneity. For me then the solution is to develop a repeatable workflow accounting for my inconsistencies. So if I want to switch gears, everything I’ve done is organized and ready for recall, and whatever I move to next is already set up. When I get a new VST, or even work with Live’s many built in Instruments and FX, I don’t want to fight with mapping to my hardware, or doing any other utility type work – I just want to get in and jam. But, the jam flutters in the wind if I haven’t captured the audio, the MIDI, the parameters, the preset organization, where the file is stored, etc… This is where the Preset-Editor functionality of the Isotonik script comes in, enhancing the LCXL’s control over Live more robustly than anything out there.

PrEditor Section

  • Instantly and Dynamically Control 128 parameters in Ableton
  • Map VST/AU/M4L
  • Use Mappings Across Presets
  • Modify Mappings on-the-fly
  • Create Multi-Preset Multi-Mappings for Complex VST/AU/M4L Devices
  • Create Dynamic Mappings of Racks you can save, recall, then swap devices and mappings
  • Design Mappings on a grid with a Picker – no need to type in device names
  • Map important parameters to multiple Pots & Banks
  • Place Spaces in your mappings
  • Read all of the learnable parameters available on devices, or anything on tracks

 

Complete Control Part II – PrEditor from Isotonik Studios

Isotonik’s LCXXL Script greatly increases the utility of the Launch Control XL. However, there are still some pesky limitations to the workflow.  Along with the LCXXL Script from Isotonik Studios, PrEditor takes the LaunchControl XL’s ability to map and control Ableton Live and your VST/M4L’s to the fullest control possible *caveat ~ there are Channel Strip and LaunchSync scripts that add more specialized fuctionality, and I’ll cover those in a below section.:

  • Live’s, and 3rd party devices don’t have sensible default mappings beyond banks of 8, let alone banks of 24. And while we can always create our own custom mapping on any User Mode with the LCXL – what happens when you map 128 parameters  of your Synth 1-by-1, only to discover that as soon as you switch to the next Preset on the synth – the mapping no longer works?
  • Oftentimes VST’s Synths don’t use the same parameters from patch to patch, and Control Surface Mappings are only saved to individual patches.
  • Since the default behavior for Ableton Live’s native supported Control Surfaces, or bluehand devices, is to have automatic control of the first 8 parameters of a given device, many devices and plugins don’t have a reasonable ordering of parameters beyond 8, which furthers the challenge of creating effective mappings to the LCXL.
  • Even if you Create a Mapping, and save it as a Preset in Live – if you load that Preset back up later, and change a single value, you’ll have to save the Preset anew, with a new name, if you want to maintain both versions.
  • In effect, with a VST with presets, or varying parameter layouts, there is no effective way to manage these synths with your hardware, but the LCXXL & PrEditor combination offer the fullest control I know of for the LaunchControl XL.
  • So while having 128 parameters always mapped with the LCXXL Script is a great extension to Live’s native Control Surface functionality, you’re always going to have the same 128, every time you open the device, and you won’t be able to reorder them from whatever their default ordering is, which as we noted above, is oftentimes erratic.

My vision for the LaunchControl XL was to have full control over anything midi-learnable in Live, and to create mappings for complex devices, that would extend across Presets, but could be modified. Below we’ll see how addressing the above control surface limitations in Ableton Live is now possible – and more, with PrEditor.

Complex VST Synths & Other MIDI Mapping Issues

Some soft Synths and other devices have modular layouts that are very different from Preset to Preset, the interface itself can change, some even host their own PlugIns. Many everyday soft synths have hundreds or more parameters, and hundreds or thousands of Presets. Let’s face it, you’re not going to have adequate control of these synths – without dynamic control – you’ll be using a mouse all the time, and you’ll only do complex mappings on the most important device presets you have. Toggling between Control Surface and mouse is kludgy. It’s not that Users need access to 500 parameters at a time, it’s about rendering the significance of # of parameters irrelevant. A unified and dynamic midi-learning workflow is required for this to happen. For me, I want to create mappings for my favorite devices, workflows, plugins – etc., with the ability to modify them, while they retain their Factory library statuses – so I’m not caught between ever-increasing User Library Presets and their factory Library equivalents, nor caught between mouse and control surface.

But with dynamic Blue Hand Mapping and the PrEditor script- you’ll reign in your devices – allowing you to have unified parameter mappings across presets, allowing you to quickly modify the parameters  you want on individual Presets, racks, and devices. Live has a tremendous amount of devices – for me, being able to experiment with them quickly, dynamically, and creatively – is important, for me it’s what puts the XL in the LaunchControl. And Practically speaking, this workflow can reduce stress on your wrists and eyes from turning tiny screen knobs, and keep you focused on sonic creation, rather than busy work. In my workflow I like to think of Live as a modular device, so too I think of Audio chains, Os’es and the like. There’s always a balance between creative constraints and being unconstrained – but wherever your creativity falls, you’ll want to shape it on your own terms, along with the tools you have at your disposal, and within your budget.

PrEditor adds the following features to the LaunchControl XL’s User Mode 6:

  1. The ability to Create up to 64 Banks Per Device
  2. Arrange the Parameters in any way you see fit – This is a terrific feature! You can Duplicate Parameters, you can put Spaces between Parameters. With 64 Banks you can create Pages for Different Sections of complex Synths. I use SynthMaster, which, if you add in the Modulation Matrix possibilities, can easily have over 2000 parameters on a given patch. So we’re always making a trade-off between what we can control with our hardware, and what’s going to remain in software. With PrEditor I’ve created pages for the FX, Synths, Envelopes that I use most frequently. Pages of parameters help keep reasonable control of parameters, such that you can work on sound-scaping quickly. In addition, all of Live’s native devices have been setup with a Default mapping within PrEditor, all of which were designed with user functionality in mind. You can still create your own of course, but you’ll likely find these default mappings a very quick way to get accustomed to the PrEditor workflow.
  3. Map the Same Parameter (like Master Volume for example) to Multiple Banks.
  4. Place Spaces between Parameter Mappings
  5. PrEditor Auto Scans the Currently Selected Device – Use the generated Layout, or customize with easy drop down menus from which you can select any parameter. If you’re satisfied with the default parameters from the scan, you can start using them right away.
  6. Expose Parameters of M4L Devices previously only visible to Ableton Push owners
  7. Send the Mappings to the Live Instrument, Effect, VST, AU, OR M4L Device
  8. Modify Mappings across Presets – and Mappings will work across Presets!
  9. Combine Multiple Devices on a Track to Banks

Launch Control XL & FL Studio

FL Studios User Guide for the LCXL: LCXL FL Studio Guide (V. 11)

LaunchControl XL StepSequencer – by Isotonik Studios

The LaunchControl XL Step Sequencer – Step View

This is one of my favorite additions to the Launch Control XL. The LaunchControl XL StepSequencer. And for some reason, this script is never talked about! This Max4Live device is a 16 Step Sequencer, with 16 available Sequences. Since it’s a M4L Device you can run multiple instances, on different tracks or as you see fit. There’s an option to Lock the sequencer to your control surface as well. This is very helpful when you want to adjust Live on a different device, but still maintain control of the step sequencer with your external control surface. And by Locking, you can also use multiple LCXL’s – in my case I have 2, with each able to run as a sequencer, which makes a great combination with the other scripts discussed above

The LaunchControl XL Step Sequencer – GUI

Each of the 16 steps in the sequence can be toggled On/Off, and each contains Pots to control Pitch and Velocity, and Quantization from 1/8 to 1/256. Additionally, each of the 16 steps in each sequencer has a mappable FX Pot, which can be assigned to one of Live’s parameters (with Min/Max Range) for a step-modulation. Additionally, you can select steps, toggle between sequences, and control the Step Sequencer directly from the LaunchControl XL. All of the elements are MIDI-learnable, enabling a hardware oriented step-sequencing approach. The step sequencer is a well-functioning, and great expansion for the LCXL – adding an entirely new approach to working with this control surface.

Launch Control XL & iOS

Launch Control XL & CV for Modular

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