Ableton Control Surface
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Akai APC40 Ableton Control Surface
With the APC40 Akai once again lead the way in cutting edge technology for the professional DJ. Developed in partnership with Ableton, Akai have created the perfect Ableton control surface.
The feature list is incredibly impressive and includes bidirectional communication between the APC40 and Ableton and auto mapping of all functions - no manual mapping necessary. Of course, controls can be remapped if you wish to. The APC40 ships wth Ableton Live, Akai APC Edition however if you already own Live, a free patch will be available to upgrade you. If you perhaps using different software however, you haven’t been left out. The APC40 includes a Generic Mode for use with whatever software you prefer.
Controls are clearly laid out and defined and include a Clip Matrix with an 8×5 grid of 40 triggers all of which are multicloured. This gives you a good idea of what is loaded, what is playing and what is being recorded at any one time. LEDs surround each knob to make it easier to see what you are doing also.
The Alesis APC40 will become an essential piece of tech for anyone using Ableton seriously for DJing or production work for years to come.
Akai doesn’t actually list these yet, but I can count! The controls:
- 72 controllers
- Clip launch section: 8 x 5 = 40 clip slots, plus 5 scene launch buttons, with dedicated clip stop and stop all clip buttons. Scroll and shift for more than 40 clips; dedicated bank select and shift buttons.
- Faders: 8 faders, 1 master fader, 1 horizontal crossfader
- Dedicated track buttons: Record arm, solo/cue, and something called “activator” (Andreas Wetterberg suggests this just a track enable/disable, though I think it could also be related to what the Track Controls are controlling)
- Headphone cue level encoder
- 8 track control encoders: Switchable via dedicated buttons to pan, send A/B/C
- 8 device control encoders: Control those Drum Racks, Instrument Racks, effects, plug-ins and the like with dedicated buttons to select and toggle devices, turn MIDI overdub on and off and toggle record quantization (thank you), toggle the metronome, switch between clip and track tabs, select detail view
- Tap Tempo, Transport, Nudge +/- (note that it’s missing forward/reverse transport buttons, which could be inconvenient for conventional tracking, though that’s about the only thing I don’t see on this)
- Interactive feedback: Buttons light up via a color scheme to show play status and record enable, and the encoders have rings of light around them to give you feedback. (Oddly, though, Akai says this means you can see the controller in the dark, except they didn’t light the crossfader or faders.)
You don’t map these controls. They’re set up to use right out of the box. Plug it in, and you’re ready to go – no drivers required. (I assume you do may to open the Preferences dialog to enable the device, but beyond that, Akai says you’re good to go.) Don’t like any one of the mappings? You can edit them – though Akai and Ableton haven’t yet revealed how that editing will work, and it may not be as interactive as these default mappings; that’s another detail I’m looking into.
The device itself:
- Metal chassis
- “Slip-proof” rubber detailing
- Assignable footswitch inputs
- Power supply (I’m hoping that it’s still bus-powered, though)
- Optional “beer-proof” slip slipcovers and Burning Man Extreme Desert Protection Kit (okay, I made those last ones up – there’s an opportunity there for someone)