Novation’s latest MIDI keyboard is an all-in-one studio hub.
The SLMkIII, which is the latest model in Novation’s long-running SL line (the first was released in 2006), attempts to combine the out-of-the-box DAW integration expected from a MIDI keyboard with options for controlling hardware synthesizers.
While the SL MkIII features color screens similar to the kind you’d find on Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol MKII keyboards, it also features 16 pads (a bit like those found on its Circuit hardware) that control an eight-track sequencer for playing patterns on hardware, without the need for a DAW.
Novation’s new keyboard has two sets of CV pitch, gate and mod outputs as well as MIDI connections, so it’s possible to hook it up to old analog gear and Eurorack modular systems as well as modern synthesizers. Arturia’s new KeyLab MKII controllers have CV connectivity too, but no built-in step sequencer.
Another feature that Novation borrows from other recent MIDI controllers are keyboard LEDs that display scales, modes and zones like NI’s Light Guide. The MkIII has a few things you won’t find on NI’s keyboards though, like faders for mixing and pitch and mod wheel LEDs that change color depending on context.
Novation says it worked closely with Ableton to ensure a seamless experience for Live users, though the company promises “deep integration” with Logic and Reason as well as HUI compatibility with Cubase, Pro Tools, Studio One and Reaper. Another cool feature is compatibility with Novation’s Components content manager, which will back up templates and sessions to the cloud.
The MkIII is available now. It costs £539.99 for the 49-key model or £629.99 for the 61-key model.
Read next: Novation Circuit Mono Station review