MIDI controllers have become the go-to piece of equipment when it comes to being creative in the studio. The home recording studio has taken over more than ever, and the MIDI controller has made it even easier for an audio recording army of one. Speaking of MIDI controllers, let's get into the Novation Impulse 25 review!
WHAT IS A MIDI CONTROLLER?
Just in case you're reading this article to get to know a little about the MIDI controller, let's take a quick dive into the basics. MIDI controllers are keyboard/piano styled piece of equipment that more often than not connect to computers. Generally, they do not house any sounds of their own. The MIDI controller access and triggers sounds found in your computer, or in other words, in your computer software.
WHO IS NOVATION?
Novation is mostly known for it's MIDI controllers. Particularly, their Impulse line of MIDI controllers has become very attractive to the amateur, home studio technician as well as the professional. Available in 25, 49 and 61 keys, each iteration delivers a high-quality, flexible performance.
NOVATION IMPULSE 25 REVIEW - FEATURES
The Impulse 25 bridges the gap between retro 80's design and modern day slick. It's most prominent features are its bold red edges. The rest of the design uses simple but nicely contrasting black and grey colors. The knobs and controls are very prominent as well, and its casing is built primarily using sturdy plastic. If we were to judge this MIDI controller on looks, we'd give it a retro/modern, solid pass.
The build of this device is fairly simple: we are looking at an all plastic, 86.4cm (33.3") wide chassis. It's very robust and sturdy, offering a great level of durability. All function keys are nicely laid out across the casing's surface, without being too bunched up or extending beyond the boundaries.
The keyboard itself has 25 keys (hence the 25 in the model number). The keys are semi-weighted and offer a programmable "aftertouch." Due to this nifty feature, you get the feel of an actual instrument with sensitivity, rather than that plastic, unnatural touch.
The top panel features all the main controls, while the back panel houses the inputs for expression and sustain pedals, a USB input and a couple of MIDI I/O sockets.
NOVATION IMPULSE 25 REVIEW - CONTROLS
The Impulse 25 boasts a variety of controls, offering a user experience that is versatile, yet solid. Components are very well-built, delivering an all-around, professional feel. Some key controls include:
- Faders & Knobs – for volume leveling and individual tracks. Can also be mapped to many other aspects of your choosing, such as layer volumes, filters or sounds.
- Pads – The pads are stellar. Great sensitivity to touch and velocity response. They can be assigned to drum plugins or samplers for a variety of awesome sounds.
- Pitch and Mod Wheels – Pitch wheels aid with bending the sounds of instruments, which is a neat feature. The Mod wheels, on the other hand, assist in modifying the sound.
- LCD Screen – The screen displays specific information regarding the controls. For example, the transposition, what mix you’re on etc.
There are a ton of native capabilities on the Novation Impulse 25, all aiding in the efficiency and functionality.
AUTOMAP CONTROL SOFTWARE
The "automap" feature allows you to quickly see what your buttons and faders are controlling within the software. This makes it a breeze to switch between functions.
FULL CONTROL SURFACE
The control surface on the Novation Impulse 25 allows you to gain complete tactile control of your DAW plugins. Access to the mixer, transport controls as more is quick and efficient.
BACKLIT DRUMPADS AND BEAT ROLL
The 8 velocity-sensitive drum pads (aftertouch included), are backlit with tri-color LED's, which light up when a sound has been programmed. Since the pads are pressure sensitive, you can control aspects like volume by simply hitting the pads harder or softer, depending on your stylistic needs.
The built-in arpeggiator on the Novation Impulse 25 can make arpeggios out of any musical chord. With the use of the drum pads, you can also warp the arpeggio you create. Change the speed, shape and even the syncopation in real time.
ABLETON LIVE CLIP LAUNCH
Ableton Live Lite is included with the Impulse 25. The drum pads can be used to trigger clips and a particular color indicates whether a clip is now loaded, playing or recording; yellow, green and red respectively.
NOVATION IMPULSE 25 REVIEW - PROS
- Great dynamic interaction and sensitivity of keys and controls.
- Simple to customize, flexible mapping.
- Drum pads are stellar – perfect for creating drum beats.
- Built-in, fully customizable arpeggiator.
- Launching Ableton Live Lit is a breeze via the tri-colored drum pads.
NOVATION IMPLUSE 25 REVIEW - CONS
- Endless encoders
- Lack of a speed dial which is often included in other MIDI controllers
NOVATION IMPULSE 25 - TECHNICAL FEATURES OVERVIEW
- Ultra-responsive semi-weighted keyboard with "aftertouch"
- Automap 4 control software enables instant hands-on access to your DAW and plug-ins
- Comprehensive DAW/plug-in control surface
- 9 faders, 8 rotaries, 8 backlit pads, transport controls, and a bevy of buttons
- Custom LCD screen always keep you status-savvy
- Multi-function drum pads let you warp arpeggios, roll beats and launch clips in Ableton Live
- Ships with Ableton Live Lite, Novation Bass Station, Loopmasters sample library, and Mike The Drummer
- Your choice of XLN Addictive Keys instrument (VST/AU/AAX) with product registration
Are you looking for the ideal audio recording interface? Check out our Focusrite 2i2 review here!