DJ Controller Review: Novation Launch Control XL

Can the Control Launch XL help you lighten your load?


Have you been looking for a way to downsize your load when going from gig to gig? Well with the Launch Control XL you can grab your Launchpad-S and toss it in a bag along with a few cords and backup USBs and you’re ready to go!

One of the problems with many of these teeny tiny digital controllers is that you often have to sacrifice—a lot—in the same of mobility and convenience. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get the same tactile sensations without the bulk? You might find this version of Novation Launch is just what you’ve been looking for to keep your pack light as you travel from one gig to the next.

First Thoughts

The first thing I looked at was the body since that’s the biggest selling point here. The thing I really did appreciate was that the buttons are kept simple so you can focus on the act of DJing rather than on your laptop. The Launch Control XL has 24 knobs, 16 buttons and 8 faders so you can use your hands to control the machine as you’re used to. I have to say this is great because as much as we’ve gotten used to touch screen operations with tablets and smartphones; it is a huge transition to make for DJs.

But what you really notice is that this machine is slim (239mm x 239mm x 22mm) and it is sturdy so you can toss it into your travel kit and off you go! I’m always loathe to tell DJs to just take a few hundred bucks worth of DJ equipment and “toss it in a bag” so I will recommend that you use some sort of cover when traveling because those faders may not last long under those conditions.

Visually the Novation Launch Control XL is not a beauty but she is pretty enough. There are 26 LEDs in the buttons and 24 placed under the knobs. The faders are 60mm which seems to be about the perfect size as they let you make precise changes. But if you want to do quick effects changes these are less than stellar.


If you’re trying to figure what software the Launch Control XL is compatible with, you will need Live 9.1.3 or later. This is one of the problems some DJs have with Ableton but the fact is that this is how you ensure the products work as well as possible together.

But the good news is that whether you’re a Mac or Windows user…you’re all good. But there are caveats: Mac users must have OS X 10.0 Mavericks or Mountain Lion and Windows 8.1, 8 or 7. You DJs out there who have gone the super mobile route with the iPad or iPhone will be glad to know the Launch Control XL also works with iOS 7 and 6.

This machine is a DJs dream because it is totally powered by USB so you don’t actually need a power supply. What you will need is a computer, laptop or tablet with a camera connection kit. Installation is easy because there are no pesky drivers to deal with, just plug into a machine and go!


How It Works

The Novation Launch Control XL won’t knock your socks off but it will leave you suitably impressed. It is a high functioning machine that gives DJs the choice of having actual controls in any DJ booth. I do think the marketing is a bit misleading as I found it pretty difficult to use this machine without looking at my laptop at all, particularly for the first few dozen times you use it.

It may not be perfect but the Launch Control XL is a solid machine that does make it easier than if you were to rely on Launchpad for samples and effects.


Most DJs will find this product a good deal at just $199. If you find that you need or would like something a bit smaller while you’re busy traveling all over the free world for gigs, this is a good companion to have. It is lightweight yet sturdy so you don’t have to worry that your grueling schedule will put undue wear and tear on your DJ equipment.

Get It Or Not?

While I do think this is a pretty good machine I will say that you might be justified in thinking this is not a necessary piece of hardware. But portable DJs who crave the touch of knobs, buttons and faders will find this the perfect solution to their problems. At some point you may be able to use it without taking even a peek at your laptop but I suspect that will take some time.

The Launch Control XL is a good addition to the Novation stable of hardware and it is a nice improvement on Launchpad so in my opinion, it is well worth the nominal cost.

I hope I was helpful in your decision to get a new mobile DJ controller. Email in the box below to get access to Free video DJ lessons that will answer all of your questions on how to become a disk jockey!

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