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June 2017 Giveaway

Novation Impulse 49 Keyboard Controller Reviews

4.0 stars based on 19 customer reviews
Questions about the Novation Impulse 49 Keyboard Controller?

Questions about the Novation Impulse 49 Keyboard Controller?

Or call us at (800) 222-4700

Sweetwater Advice

  • Ryan Schmidt

    I've set up the Novation Impulse 49 for drum programming in my home studio (it was a breeze - just a few menus and I was rockin'!). It's a fantastic MIDI controller in all respects, and has tight integration with all the DAWs I use.
    Another fantastic feature that comes with most Novation controllers is their Automap software - it automatically detects your DAW (or DAWs if you use more than one) and the myriad plug-ins you may have and automatically sets up the Impulse knobs to control every setting within every plug-in giving you tactile response and eyes-free mixing!

  • Bernard Badie
    from USA June 15, 2017Music Background:
    Songwriter - Music Producer - DJ

    What I've been missing

    Once you get the mapping arrangement understood, you're good to go!!
    My recording process has improved. The speed of my ability to lay ideas down has increased because of the versatility of this unit. I have better control over my instruments and I'm able to give more detail to my sounds because of the use of the knobs and faders.

  • Alex Davis
    from New Bern, NC January 28, 2017

    Not for Logic Pro X / Sierra OS

    The keybed feel is very good, some side play, but for the price very good, so I give the hardware a 5. However, the DAW control functions never worked very well using the included Automap 10 software, so I subtracted 3 points for that. Like the keybed, all of the actual controllers and sliders felt very good on the Novation unit but the transmitted results were jerky with very little precision to any settings within the Logic DAW mixer, plugins, etc. In the end, I was just fixing the settings with my mouse - which what I was hoping to eliminate. Sweetwater service confirmed that there is a known compatibility issue so it is being sent back. For the price, this is probably a really great product with other DAWs or even earlier versions of Logic?

    Sweetwater supported me all the way though, so they get a 10.

    My set up: Sierra 10.12.2 / Logic Pro X 10.3.0

  • Customer
    from March 6, 2016

    Novation impulse 49

    Love the product A+

  • Customer
    from July 31, 2015


    useless software thus makes the controls useless

  • Joseph Troy
    from Fort Wayne, IN April 3, 2015

    Great controller & glad I bought at sweetwater!

    This controller started off very problematic. It kept falling out or providing partial control of my daw. After several days of chasing phantom computer problems and waiting on novation's tech support, I called sweetwaters' tech support. Sweetwaters' support team is phenomenal, not only was I covered by sweetwaters' outstanding return policy (good luck exchanging electronics for 30 days elsewhere) but because of the support staff I got personal and remote assistance and we tracked the problem down to a bad usb cable. I'm officially a sweetwater fan boy. They've got the best sales staff, support team, return policies, free events, and deals to boot. Ok, back to the controller. It is a lot of plastic and the faders could be a little more stout, but for the price it's actually better than I expected. Everything functions well and seem as responsive and sensitive as I wanted and again better than expected for the cost. The software integrated well with studio one and every soft synth I've tried. This thing has become the most useful tool in my home studio, and considering the cost it's value far exceeds my expectations. I chose this controller over others for it's classic controls (no touch pads, etc), the specific controls( faders, pads, pots, transport, and keys all included) and the great feel of the keyboard itself. Having used it over a month now I can confidently say. ....... Best dollar for dollar addition to the home studio, ever. Thanks again to the sweetwater support staff and sweetwater in general, you guys are unbelievably good.

  • Customer
    from United States September 30, 2014

    Love it

    Using it with Logic Pro X. Couldn't be happier with it.

  • Edward Halterman
    from El Segundo, CA August 27, 2014Music Background:
    Band-leader, songwriter, engineer

    Great recommendation Tony Dayton at Sweetwater!

    Great recommendation again Tony!. This works great as my MIDI goto. Whether it is pounding out drum patterns for EZ Drummer or playing a piano. The perfect device that suits all of my needs.

  • Will Wytias-Sobel
    from Denver, CO March 25, 2014Music Background:
    Student, Music Production Junkie

    Excellent except...

    This keyboard is really a work of art especially at the price point. The pads work very well (especially with two fingers). The arp and roll functions are fun to add flare and inspire creativity. I haven't quite figured out how to use the Automap features to their full extent. Definitely not as easy as loading it up and tweaking your instruments and mixer. The keys feel great to touch, I'm used to a grand and that organic feel. Obviously the Impulse keys don't match that but they do feel natural to play (the world IS changing right?). The only major complaint I have is with the encoders. You'll read about them undoubtedly in other reviews. They really are as shoddy as you hear. They spin and spin and often reset your selected parameters down to zero or up from 30 to 105 without you more than grazing them. If your workflow is heavy on encoder use, this is not the keyboard for you. Personally, I like to tweak most things by mouse but it would be nice to be able to tease out the sound I'm searching for just by spinning my fingers. Alas, even setting their sensitivity to low does not change this pesky oversight. I searched long and hard to find the right keyboard for me and while I believe the Impulse was a good choice, I am disappointed. Honestly thought, everything else is beyond user friendly. Enjoy!

  • Brooke D. Daye
    from Kaohsiung, Southern Taiwan February 10, 2014Music Background:


    The only way to get these new keyboard controls a 5 star is create them with motorized faders.

    This things is DOPE. Period.

  • Brad Carr
    from United States January 17, 2014Music Background:
    Church Musician

    It does everything I need it to

    The impulse works great with Reason 7. I love AutoMap and how seamlessly it works with my DAW. The feel of the keyboard is very natural and I couldn't ask for a better setup of the faders, rotaries, and drum pads. This is a great tool for your workstation or live setting.

  • Richie Blac
    from Sacramento, CA February 1, 2013Music Background:
    Recording Engineer, Producer, Composer, Audio Post-Production, Sound Design

    A very mixed bag. Buy wisely.

    After having owned this unit for over 6 months, I've made up my mind about it.

    It's nice on the eyes. The way everything glows is nice, especially the pads.

    The keys, mod/pitch wheels, and bulk of the overall unit feel fantastic. I use the mod wheel a LOT and it feels gorgeous. Of course the semi-weighted keys can't compare to weighted keys, but compared to other semi-weighted units, this is one of the better ones. Beats M-Audio by miles.

    The pads FEEL awesome but are somewhat lacking in responsiveness. I find myself using the keys for certain percussion lines instead. And this sets us on our path to the cons....


    On Windows 7 64-bit -- one of the most rock-solid "mainstream" OS's i've ever used, the Automap software is a complete, buggy mess. It refuses to even detect that Nuendo 4 (my main DAW) exists, but picks up Nuendo 5, Sonar, and Reason flawlessly.

    If Automap wants to update the Impulse's firmware, it blocks access to the ENTIRE mapping editor until you update! Oh yeah, and it was stuck saying I needed to update for MONTHS, no matter how many times I let it "update"! So much for the mapping editor, eh?

    The faders are below mediocre. The knobs are garbage. They don't just feel like garbage, they're garbage. I'll be trying to use one of the knobs to slowly automate something, and the value will suddenly jump to say 3/4 turned when I've barely cleared 1/4 turn.

    The arp/roll features are neat but useless to a semi-pro or pro. It's more practical to just play the part by hand and not be stuck to a single tempo/signature setting. But I'll admit, it's fun to fiddle with.


    If we're just talking about the core functions: a USB MIDI keyboard with pitch/mod.... It's fantastic. Really, these core things work and feel awesome. Just playing the keys is a total joy. But literally everything else feels lacking, gimmicky, and is, all too often, completely useless.

    So, as I put in the title, it's a mixed bag of great and horrible. It brings new ideas to the table and is certainly ambitious. I'm curious about an "Impulse 2" series that could improve upon the problems presented here.

  • Gary Cendrowski
    from MI November 8, 2012Music Background:
    Writer, Producer, Mad Man

    Novation Impulse 49 is a HIT!

    This Keyboard controller Maped to my software with ease after a few clicks i was up and running. The fact that i can turn it into a mixier for ther software is a great feature ( two buttons andf its a mixer for Reason) This unit works great with ARKOS, Pro-Tools, Reason and all my hardware synths.

  • Rufus J.
    from Richmond, VA October 2, 2012Music Background:

    Fell in love with it right out the box!

    I purchased this after much research of this board and the Nektar Panorama (I use Reason right now). I weighed my options and decided to go with this as it had more potential to grow with me should I explore other DAWs with the automap software. I was concerned that it might not feel great with Reason, but I was wrong! I added this to my template session and everything just worked! I still have to figure everything out, hence the 4 stars, but I havent had a problem at all with it that I couldnt figure out...still a lot to learn with all the functions but the basics just work with no problems! I would even use a 61 key version in a live keyboard rig with software and tracks. I'll probably try it with my 49 at some point though. Great buy!

  • Customer
    from USA April 3, 2012Music Background:
    Music and Worship Arts Pastor / Traveling musician / Live and Studio usage

    Novation & Automap?

    I love the look and feel of this board! However, I'm waiting for SOMEBODY to actually produce a product that will "Automap" without hassle! I need to have plug and play features without headaches. I don't have time to mess with remapping what is stated as already being done for me in the advertising. I was very excited for this product only to be disappointed once again with the user interface!

  • Devin Bartley
    from New York, NY March 10, 2012

    Great Controller

    Pretty good controller. Decent drumpads and the keys feel great. Automap software leaves a little to be desired, especially when using with Reason 5 & 6 (cannot use the mixer with Reason), but if using with Logic, Studio One 2, Ableton, etc...great functionality. Novation tech support is great and extremely helpful!

    Word of advice: If you're looking for a controller to use with Propellerhead Reason, you might want to keep looking. Setting up this controller with Reason is a real hassle. Not so much the controller but the wall you hit when attempting to use the mixer in reason fully with the controller (not possible at this point according to Novation).

    Drumpads could be better. having only 8 kinda sucks when trying to control a MPC like software instrument/drum machine. But anyone serious about audio production should invest in a separate controller just for tht (MPD MPC MPK, etc)

    Overall 4 outta 5

  • Kyle Hollinger
    from United States March 8, 2012Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    It Just Works!

    The Impulse 49 along with the Automap software makes production an absolute snap. I took a class on digital music technology 10 years ago, when Digital Performer was the industry standard. Mapping things and dealing with Midi interfaces was such a pain. This is an unbelievable time saver. There is absolute minimal setup. The controller itself is very powerful and unique. It works perfectly with Ableton Live. Awesome.

  • J. E. Knubis
    from Napa, CA February 13, 2012Music Background:
    Music Producer

    Almost there

    Troubles with faulty software installation gave a bad first impression but tech support was pretty good and things seem to be squared away now. I think the overall quality of the keys, sliders. etc could be better but for the money it's a very handy unit putting everything I need in front of the monitor. Hopefully software updates will help others avoid the headaches I had. Probably better to install from the online source rather than the included CD (an older version) and then updating.

  • Matthew Shipp
    from Gaithersburg, MD USA January 7, 2012Music Background:
    DJ/Electronic Music Production/VJ

    Novation keeps innovating

    I've been through countless midi controllers in the past. Each had fallen short in some way. Then I found Novation controllers. I loved the idea of automatic mapping of each control with the music software and plugins. However, a few of the Novation midi keyboard controllers I tried came only so close to being really great. (Both the hardware and automap have been going through an evolution of sorts for Novation over time.) Then came this which I fell in love with. I love the drum pads on this (something long overdue for a design change), the fact it has nine faders instead of just the typical eight on some controllers, the clip launch and arpeggiator features, and just the overall design of it. It works really well with Ableton Live and can't recommend this enough for it. I have no complaints with this keyboard. Simply awesome in my opinion.

  • Crysco
    from L.A. & New Orleans December 15, 2011Music Background:
    Beat Maker

    a gr8 new change for me

    I had been using a M-Audio 88 key controller for years, and needed something smaller. It works gr8, I just have to learn how to use automap with reason 6. Everytime I restart reason I have to set it up again. but it works and feels gr8, i like the pads.


  • Mitch Gallagher

    The latest USB keyboard controller from Novation, the Impulse aims to provide complete control over your entire rig, with a slew of controls and functions. Does it succeed in its goal? Let's check it out!

    There are three flavors of Impulse available: 25-key, 49-key, and 61-key. I received the 49-key Impulse for review. Aside from the number of keys, the controllers are all similarly featured. The semi-weighted keybed has assignable aftertouch, and it feels great under your fingers. The obligatory pitch-bend and modulation wheels are provided. A nice blue LCD screen gives you visual feedback for what you are doing.

    But this controller is about more than just the keys. It's decked out with eight assignable rotary controllers (knobs) and nine sliders. (The sliders are only available on the 49- and 61-key versions -- there isn't room for them on the 25-key version.) Having nine sliders allows for full control over tonewheel organ simulation, if that's what you're using them to control. They could also be assigned to control DAW mixer faders or other control applications. Each fader is accompanied by an adjacent assignable soft switch.

    There are eight responsive groove-box-style pads for playing drums. Additional switches allow you to use these pads to do rolls, launch clips, or arpeggiate. A full set of transport controls rounds things out.

    All of these controls, plus others, can be quickly and easily assigned to send out MIDI control change messages. As just a MIDI controller, the Impulse has all of the control and features you could want. But it's when you install the included Automap V4 software that things get hopping. Automap V4 is an application that automatically detects what software you are running on your computer and instantly configures the Impulse to be able to control the parameters in that software -- be it your DAW, a plug-in, or a virtual instrument. This feature is amazing, and it truly allows the Impulse to become command central for your entire virtual studio. It's a joy to be able to get your hands on your software, whether you are mixing, tracking, playing, or processing. Automap V4 makes the process seamless and transparent.

    The Impulse is one of the most full-featured controllers I have encountered, with a great-feeling keyboard and plenty of controls. Combined with Automap V4, it's a stellar package that can take charge of any virtual rig.

Questions about the Novation Impulse 49 Keyboard Controller?

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