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Best Midi Controller for Ableton Live – Buying Guide

Best Midi Controller for Ableton

I found it much easier to create a beat and come up with fresh ideas once I stopped making tracks with a mouse and keyboard and finally graduated to a Midi Controller.

After choosing a good Midi controller, I was able to create beats and experiment with cool sounds.

While there is a wide range of Digital Audio Workstations on the market to help you create music, there are MIDI controllers that are created for Ableton specifically.

Table of Contents

Best Ableton Live Midi Controller

Ableton Push 2

Best Midi Pad Controller Built By Ableton

Ableton Push 2


  • The unit is adaptable to different forms of music-making
  • Offered with Ableton Live Intro, allowing you to get started
  • 11 touch-sensitive encoders, allowing you to customize your sounds
  • Multicolor, pressure, and velocity-sensitive pads


  • Relatively expensive
  • No rotary encoders

READ MORE: Ableton Push 2 | Complete Review

This handcrafted unit allows you to make music in your studio and on the go. This was created with the original Ableton DAW.

Granted, this makes it one of the greatest units to integrate with Ableton. It is created by the creators of Ableton, and as such, you are guaranteed that most of the features on the DAW and the controller merge perfectly.

This unit is easy to pair with a MIDI keyboard to give you better control. It sports 64 pressure and velocity-sensitive multi-color pads.

This gives you the chance to play with loops trigger and try out sounds you feel can match. You are also offered 11 touch-sensitive encoders, allowing you to customize your tunes.

With the purchase of this unit, you are offered Live 9 Intro. You will need a few bucks to upgrade to the full Ableton Live version.

Akai APC40 MK2

Best Ableton Controller For Live Performances

Akai APC40 MK2


  • Great for mixing sounds and effects thanks to RGB pads
  • Highly portable and offered at a relatively low price
  • Gives you control of your Ableton so you save time
  • Great interface for use by first-time beatmakers


  • No Keys
  • No Standalone Options

This is an upgrade of the original APC40.

The new version comes with more features for musicians who had grown in love with its predecessor’s interface.

The unit is designed to integrate with Ableton Live seamlessly. When you have clips in the Ableton session, this unit plays them well.

However, this unit misses the step sequencer in Ableton Push. The pads are not velocity-sensitive, but the unit still operates optimally when you are mixing sounds.

The Akai APC40 MK2 gives you great control of your Ableton, so you do not have to keep using the mouse, which can waste time.

With RGB pads, you will find it easy to manage your music-making. You can see which clips are playing and which are on standby.

Akai APC Key 25

Budget Midi Controller

Akai APC Key 25


  • Great unit for playing on the go
  • Gives you great control with 40 clip launch pads
  • Great price for those on budget
  • Integrates with Ableton seamlessly


  • Limiting in features
  • Only 25 keys
  • Small-sized controller

The newest contender, Behringer, has become a serious player in the budget studio monitor category since launching the Nekkst series.

The K8 is the biggest of the range and offers a lot for the money. The Nekkst K8 sound could be described as natural.

The highs are articulated, middle frequencies offer good clarity for vocals and instruments, and the bass is definitely there but lacking a bit of the punch of a typical 8” speaker.

The Advanced Waveguide Technology provides a generously wide sweet-spot.

The Behringer Nekkst range features front-firing bass ports, which, together with the speaker’s built-in Room Compensation, allows the speaker to be placed close to the wall with no significant blurring to the low end.

The Nekkst K8 features an 8” woofer and 1” silk-dome tweeter, enabling the speaker to provide a frequency response between 40Hz-20kHz.

Novation Launchkey 25 Mk2

Best All-Round Controller For Ableton Live

Novation LaunchKey 25 – MK2


  • Offered with 50 controls, letting you manage every process of the music-making
  • Integrates with Ableton Live and other software with ease
  • The unit gives you instant control of your workflow
  • Great value for the money invested


  • Using the unit with Ableton Live for the first time is challenging
  • Limiting with only 25 keys

READ MORE: Novation Launchkey 25 MK2 | Complete Review

This is a fully-featured Ableton control surface offered with over 50 controls. This lets you manage your music making.

It sports 16 dual-color backlit launch pads, all of which are velocity-sensitive, allowing you easy control. You can use this unit to trigger loops and play drums.

With the LaunchKey, playing clips in your Live session is easy.

When integrated with Ableton Live, the unit becomes more than a USB controller keyboard. It becomes a powerful unit that allows you to have more hands-on control of your keyboard and your Ableton DAW.

Besides the integrated functionality, the unit also offers you standard MIDI control. This allows you instant control of panning, track volumes, sends and other volumes.

Click the link to get yours now –  Novation Launchkey 25 Mk2

Novation Launchpad Pro

Budget Alternative Midi Pad Controller

Novation Launchpad Pro


  • 64 launch pads, allowing you great control
  • Integrates with Ableton DAW seamlessly
  • Great to use on the go thanks to its size
  • Versatile can be used with other DAWs


  • Relatively less flexible
  • Made for launching clips inside of session mode
  • No keys

At first glance, the Launchpad Pro looks basic.

It’s not; this is is a great choice for those looking for a unit to integrate with Ableton Live, use in the studio or on the go, and still save a few bucks during its purchase.

This unit is comparatively small in size, making it easy to carry around. Besides using it with Ableton, this unit can be used with other DAWs, making it flexible and versatile.

The unit comes with 64 RGB backlit velocity-sensitive pads.

This lets you change modes quickly and switch the layout of the controller. The pads will change illumination based on the modes, and this lets you play notes easily, even when the notes do not have keys on them.

Compared to other units on the market, the Launchpad Pro is relatively cheap.

Best Ableton Controllers: Ultimate Buyers Guide

Best Ableton Controllers- Ultimate Buyers Guide

Midi controllers are quickly rising to become one of the most important parts of making music. But there is a problem; Midi Controller brands are rising, making it a challenge for people to choose the best.

While there are some controllers designed for use specifically with Ableton Live, some are designed to also use other DAWs. You might need a controller that uses other DAWs, but there are low chances of the Ableton Live failing.


These days, most Midi controllers are designed with faders, knobs, and buttons. With all these options, you have enough hands-on control to speed up your production time and express your creativity.

This includes controlling the Ableton Live DAW directly from your controller. Knobs, sliders and modulation wheels allow you an authentic classic feel.

Some Ableton controllers are designed with auto-mapping technology that makes the knobs and faders correspond to your Ableton Live.

Musicians will appreciate the size of a 25-key controller as it allows you to use its knobs to modulate different aspects of music-making.

Key Count

If you have enough space and you want to play with both hands, or you want to do keyboard splits, consider a full-size keyboard. This will have up to 88 keys.

However, if portability is key for you, choose a compact 25-key controller. If you plan to use your controller on the go, much as you need a full sized keyboard, a compact controller will come handy.


When you watch professional keyboardists play, you will realize how they lay down a lead line and then fasten off with an expressive vibrato. You might also have seen them leaning into a key deeper for an aftertouch event.

It is a handy feature for musicians who need to add expressiveness to their music. Aftertouch is found only on high-end controllers.

It is a feature that you might not notice missing from your controller until you use a controller that has it. Aftertouch is offered in two forms; monophonic and polyphonic.

Polyphonic allows you to vary parameters on each note independently. It is relatively expensive to have aftertouch in Midi control, and as such, it is advisable to take full advantage of this feature.

I/O Options

These days Midi is transmitted via USB in most modern controllers. However, there are advanced units that offer more connection options, such as jacks that make your music-making easy.

When you have 5-pin DIN jacks on the Midi controller, it gives you the ability to control external equipment such as hardware synths. CV and Gate outputs give you the ability to modulate classic synth gear.

You will hardly come across a Midi controller that does not offer a pedal jack. However, most basic controllers do not offer a continuous controller pedal.

An expression pedal lets you modulate different parameters in real time and you do not have to take your hands off your keys.

Performance Pads

You might have no problem using the black and white pads on your keyboard, but some people do not like them. Velocity sensing pads are becoming common.

The conventional controllers are offered with 8 or more performance pads that allow you to trigger loops and play drums. There are controllers that even sense aftertouch.

Pads are good as they let you control your Midi with ease. However, a horde of pads will take up more space on your controller.

So let’s review what we think the best midi controllers are for your Ableton Live-based productions to increase workflow, make a quick track on the fly and use Ableton as an instrument and not just a piece of software.

Is Abelton The Best DAW For Beginners?

Since it was designed, Ableton has stood out from the competition.It is the session view that makes it unique. Instead of rows, the session uses columns.

When you are using Ableton, time does not flow from right to left, but instead, snippets of audio are inserted into each column.

To play the audio, just launch the clip and let Ableton do the hard work of time stretching to suit the bpm.

This means that the clips of Audio will play in time with each other, allowing you to get creative with sounds that were previously unmixable.

This way, you do not spend all of your time in the studio learning the ultra-technical side of electronic music production.

Ableton allows producers to do what they love most, create amazing music and experimental sounds. With a free-flowing session, you can add and remove sounds as you will.

When you are mixing on your midi controller, the unit allows you to apply clips ads one-time shots or loop them continually. This makes Ableton ideal for use when creating music from scratch in your studio.

If you have been making music for a considerable amount of time, it is easy for you to record and loop at the same time in real-time. Ableton Live has opened up a great avenue of music-making possibilities.

You can really leverage the power of Ableton lives software, sounds, and workflow, when you invest in a purpose, made a midi controller for this unique DAW.



April 24, 2022 – minor content edits

About the author


After becoming obsessed with the beats that were the soundtrack to his youth, Nick became a student of hip hop, digging for vinyl records, looking for the perfect break. Before he got his hands on an MPC sampler, he would mash these records, beats, and breaks into mixtapes and live DJ sets.