Best midi controller for ableton

If you are into music production then you have probably come across a DAW named Ableton Live. When it comes to producing music it is one of the most versatile DAW in the market. This however, comes with challenges as there are very few hardware or MIDI that can handle it. Ableton live comes with its own set of complexity and to maximize its potential it is prudent that you connect to a MIDI controller.

The benefits are immerse as you get the ability to play a variety of sounds without shifting your eyes to the laptop to move the mouse. Some will come with a host of transport controls so that you can pause/stop your music with ease. We have done the research for you to present the best MIDI controllers for Ableton.

Comparison Table

Model
Dimensions (inches)
Weight (pounds)
Check on Amazon
9.4 X 9.4 X 1
2.91
18.8 X 14.3 X 4.4
9.05
15 x 4 x 14
6.92
10 x 16.7 x 1.8
3.97
9.6 x 24.6 x 4.5
3.86

Novation Launchpad pro

One of the reasons a producer would go with this midi controller is its compact size. You can easily pack the Novation Launchpad pro into your bag and carry it around as it is super lightweight. The novation is not only suitable for Ableton live but you can use it with other DAWs and MIDI equipment.

The device gives you seamless integration with Ableton live and you can control a variety of external hardware or music software from the pressure and velocity sensitive pads. During an Ableton live session view the RGB pads will match the color of your clips. With the pads you can create some interactive drum performances. The keypads are illuminated and this enables you to play melodies, notes, and chords with ease from the chromatic keyboard layout.

The Novation Launchpad pro features 64 RGB backlit pressure and velocity buttons that are accompanied by 32 RGB backlit round mode buttons. When playing drums or instruments you can easily change the modes to quickly switch the layout. The pads illuminate depending on the varying modes. This feature allows you to play notes in a form of chromatic scale.

The Novation Launchpad also comes with a demo feature. This you can use with or without the Launchpad. This is a great feature for someone who is a beginner and has just started learning how to play. Some of the pads are pre-mapped for arming tracks, drum samples, volume control plus others. You can assign each clip slot for any of your live session views.

Key Features

  • 64 RGB pads light up to match your live clips color
  • Pre-mapped pads help you play samples and drums
  • Launch pad demo
  • Can be used for Ableton live version 9.2 and above

Pros

  • Simple design
  • Pre-mapped pads
  • 8×8 grid
  • Allows one-to-one correspondence for the live session

Cons

  • Contains fewer customization options

 

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Ableton Push 2

Ableton makes this controller for their Ableton Live. It comes with a bright multi-color display that adapts to whatever you are doing on the DAW. The buttons themselves are well spaced and are easy to use. They are responsive by simple click. When compared to the original Ableton push, this model is thinner and lighter hence making it ideal for those going on stage.

The upper shell is made from a lightweight anodized aluminum plate. The pads for the Ableton push 2 are made from silicone and this makes them very responsive to velocity. This sensitivity extends to the high resolution encoders. The Ableton push 2 also comes with a high resolution RGB display that one can view from multiple angles due to its clarity. With the display you can view various readouts like delay, reverb, synths, FX and modes.

The unit works well with Ableton Push 10 hence you can move whatever you have done on Push 2 to your laptop and edit it. The push 2 is a plug and play unit and this means you will start producing your music almost immediately.

Key Features

  • 8X8 grid pad
  • Mapped for Ableton live 10
  • Large multi-color display
  • 8 touch sensitive encoders
  • Play, slice and manipulate samples through push

Pros

  • Complete autonomy of your music
  • Large bright colorful display
  • Responsive soft silicone pads
  • Advanced display readouts

Cons

  • Pricier than other similar models

 

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Native Instruments MASCHINE JAM

While this device is not specifically pre-mapped for Ableton Live it offers a template selection for it. The unit comes with its own set of audio software called Guitar rig. The Native instruments has a 8×8 grid and 8-pad row. It also has a multi-track step sequencing. With this option you can work on nine sounds while at the same time modifying 8 parameters. You can use your hands more effectively on the controller through a smart strip feature.

The unit allows you to create your favorite jams through the 8X8 multi-color screen. The MASCHINE JAM has a powerful sequencer that helps you create your own rhythms and patterns. The units hardware works well with the MASHINE software. If you want that precision when it comes to tweaking then you will find the dual touch smart strips to be in a class of its own. You can also control over 29GB of sound right from the units software.

The iMASHINE is the unit innovative app that gives you music on the go. You can sketch tracks from anywhere and sync them with your laptop.

Key Features

  • 8 touch strips that display in real-time multi-color
  • 64 multi-color illuminated step matrix buttons
  • 31 backlit click buttons
  • I footswitch input
  • Kensington lock
  • I touch sensitive push encoder

Pros

  • Ableton live template
  • Compatible with a number of sequencers
  • Smart strips for direct note input
  • Multi-track step sequencing

Cons

  • Not a pure Ableton live controller

 

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Akai APC40 MKII

If you have had experience with the previous Akai unit then you will be at home with this one. It is designed to be used with Ableton live but you won’t have a step sequencer like in other models. What it does best is help you control the clips playback that you have in your Ableton live. Due to the fact that you can see the RGBs pads that are playing or not it makes this an excellent companion for those who have embraced careers as DJs.

The Akai features a 5×8 RGB clip launching grid that enables you to engineer samples, launch clips and one-shots. The RGB lighting is reflective of what is going on and it will illuminate your clip status differently if you playing, loading or recording. This means you know what is going on with your clips without necessarily moving your eyes to your computer. To manipulate the scope of the 5×8 grid all you need to do is use the directional arrows or shift button.

The Akai gives you perfect control of your music production through the use of the 8 channel control knobs and 9 re-inforced faders; all of which are arranged in-line per channel. You can tweak your virtual instruments through the eight lit device controls. You can also control your DAW controls here. The unit is pre-mapped for Ableton live version 9.1.3 and above. You will not need any configuration when connecting it.

Key Features

  • Seamless integration with Ableton Live
  • Trigger loops, samples and loops using 5×8 clip launch matrix
  • 9 channel faders, 8 device controls, 8 control knobs
  • A/B cross fader for dynamic DJ style mixing
  • USB powered plug & play connectivity for PC and Mac

Pros

  • Seamless integration with Ableton Live version 9.1.3
  • RGB lighting gives visual feedback on the clip status
  • Puremagnetik effect racks comes with a collection of over 200 audio effects
  • Easy to connect

Cons

  • Lacks a step sequencer

 

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Alexis V25

Alexis v25 is a compact controller that offers good value for money for those looking for integration with Ableton live. It comes with 25 keys, four control knobs, 2×4 grid matrix and two wheels for modulation and pitch. The knobs are configurable which means you can assign any of your live session clips to any of them. This makes the grid pad your operating area.

The Alexis v25 comes with 8 pressure and velocity sensitive backlit pads that make excellent choices for clip and production launching. You also get continuous feedback of your clips through the illuminated knobs and buttons. While the Alexis comes in a compact design, nothing has been left behind; you get octave down and up buttons.

The unit also comes with a host of premium software like First Alesis edition, ProTools, Ableton live lite 9, Xpand 2 virtual and plus Mini Grand.

The Alexis is suitable for beginners as the 25 keys gives access to software synthesizers and sequencers. There is also the recognition of velocity and pressure which is quite good considering the price range you are getting the instrument for. With the device expect to do less of editing as you focus on creating realistic drums.

Key Features

  • 4 assignable knobs and buttons
  • 25 velocity sensitive keys
  • Octave up and down buttons
  • Premium software included: Ableton Live Lite 9, Xpand 2 virtual instrument software

Pros

  • Configurable buttons
  • The 25 keys come in a decent scale length
  • USB power connection
  • Recognition of pressure and velocity
  • Can play drums and piano

Cons

  • May not be well suited for advanced live gigs

 

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Buying Guide

Factors to consider when purchasing best MIDI controller for Ableton

One of the most widely used MIDI controller by music producers is the keyboard. The Modern MIDI keyboard will come with a USB connection that allows communication between it and your DAW. This means you can produce your own sounds instead of relying on the DAW keys that have to be accessed through a mouse. The first question you will need to answer when getting yourself a MIDI keyboard is the number of keys.

MIDI keyboard keys

The keys will range from 88 keys for the full piano to 25 keys for some mid-prized units. The purpose and experience level will determine the kind of keyboard keys you go for. If you want something that will give you more space in between your laptop during music production you can go with the 25 and 49 keyboards. While these will offer you the full range of MIDI notes you will be forced to adjust the octave switches. This means not all notes will be available to your at once. In some controllers you can also map out the key sets and this offers your varying keyboard ranges.

Aftertouch/Pressure

When this terms means is that the MIDI can send a stream of control data once you have engaged a key/pad on the MIDI controller. The device will come with a pressure sensor that will send the MIDI information to the cutoff frequency of your lowpass filter or vibrato parameter. The aftertouch will directly affect the playability depending on the type of action that you take.

Velocity

It is not uncommon that almost all the MIDI controllers will come with velocity key sensitivity. This helps you customize individual playing style as you can change the sensitivity contours and ranges.

Pedals

If you are using a keyboard controller, then it is usual to find them with at least one pedal input that acts as a sustain pedal and a second pedal input that acts as an expression pedal. Most of the MIDI will also support third party pedals.

iOS app

When you have an iOS app you can transmit the MIDI data through the Bluetooth MIDI or a lightning port. The iOS app world is quite expansive and offers a wide range of features to expand your music capabilities. The iOS app are widely available and this makes them ideal for many music producers.

Price

Price is always a factor when it comes to choosing the right MIDI controller. The more features a MIDI has then the more it will cost. It is prudent you come up with a list of some key factors that you are not willing to bypass before you go into the market in search of a MIDI.

Conclusion

When it comes to DAW there is no name that is as popular as Ableton live. The DAW comes with a host of features suitable for both beginners and experts. Most of the MIDI controllers in the market can connect with Ableton but there has been an increase in production of MIDI specifically suited for it.

Peter Smith

Welcome to MusicGearAdvisor! 4 years ago I rediscovered my passion for making music and began building my own home studio. As I have gone through my journey I realized that I am just as passionate about the equipment as I am about the music. I started MusicGearAdvisor as a way for me to share my learnings with others so you can get started making music that you dream of.

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