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.
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 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.
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.
Let's break down what makes a great DAW better, by using a custom designed midi controller.
Most Midi controllers these days 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. There are controllers that 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.
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.
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.
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 using Ableton as an instrument and not just a piece of software.
Granted, this makes it one of the greatest units to integrate with Ableton.
It is created by the creators of Ableton Live, 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 Ableton Live 9 Intro. You will need a few bucks to upgrade to the full Ableton Live version.
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 Ableton Live 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 Live 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.
This is for a budget buyer who wants to play with Ableton Live. Though one of the lowest priced controllers, this unit holds appeal among many musicians. If you, like me, love a compact unit you can place on a small space on a table in your studio, this is an ideal controller.
The unit sports 40 clip launch pads that allow you to playback clips with great precision. It has eight knobs and some control buttons to give you all the control you need for your Ableton Live and your controller. It is created with a two-octave keyboard that makes it ideal for composing music on the road.
If you are into low impact gigs, you will fancy this unit.
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 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 Ableton 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. You can also use the Launchkey with Novation's InControl software.
At first glance, the Launchpad Pro looks basic. It's not, this a great choice for those who are 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 Live, 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.
The Ableton Push is the winner of this roundup and for a good reason. Though offered at a relatively high price compared to other units in this list, it comes with great features to ensure music making is both fun and easy.
The unit is offered with 64 velocity and pressure sensitive launch pads, giving you great control. Plus, the launch pads are multicolored, letting you quickly manage your unit and your Ableton Live. The Ableton Push MIDI controller is more than an Ableton Push controller. It is highly flexible, giving you great sounds, melodies, and chords.
This is one of the best midi controllers for Ableton; it is designed for professionals, starters, and intermediates.