Akai APC40 Ableton Live Control Surface

Akai’s APC40 is a dedicated hardware controller for Ableton’s Live software. The APC40 was co-developed with Ableton and bears both company’s badges. As a result, it enjoys tight integration and navigation within Live’s user interface.

The APC (Ableton Performance Controller) controls Live’s mixer, devices and transport functions, but the key feature is the Clip Launch matrix, which offers mouse-free orchestration of Clips and Scenes in Live’s Session View. The APC ships with a copy of Live Lite, but I imagine most people will use it with a full version of Live 7 or 8.

One of the most unique features of Ableton Live software is its "Session View" - columns of clips you can arrange into Scenes, trigger all at once, solo, record more into a new Scene, and the list goes on and on. And, the Akai Professional APC40 provides the perfect tactile control surface for doing all of that - no more squinting at a computer screen and grabbing a mouse.

The APC40 features a Clip Launch matrix, with 40 different buttons - and it's easily navigable to get to other clips that aren't currently in view. The buttons light up green when that clip is playing, yellow when the slot contains a clip, red when the clip is record armed, and stay unlit when there's no clip there.

Best yet, the APC40 communicates bidirectionally with the software, so it updates automatically when you make an adjustment in the software - and your software screen will also update when you make a tweak on the control surface. The grid itself is 5-scenes-deep and 8-tracks-wide, and a Bank Select button and a Shift button help you move up or down scenes one at a time or by holding shift 5 scenes at a time - or one track at a time or 8 tracks at a time - the matrix can be easily navigated up to 125 scenes by 64 tracks.

The APC40 is the link between human and computer that perfectly balances analytical parameter control with creative expression. Whether you are an electronic music artist and Live is your canvass, a DJ using Live to mix or remix tracks, or a more traditional musician using Live on stage or in the studio, you will find the APC40 to the intuitive, powerful instrument that directly links your inspiration with Ableton Live.