Having full control of a complete mix and session from your MIDI keyboard – without having to move your hands to the mouse or shift your focus to your computer screen – can be an addictive, if elusive feeling. Here’s a look at one way to accomplish that objective using the new Axiom Pro keyboards from M-Audio and CDM reader favorite Ableton Live, thanks to a first-look video provided to CDM first.

We’ve seen efforts to make this happen before, notably including the Korg Kontrol keyboard series working together with Propellerhead Reason and Novation’s Automap with software like Ableton Live. M-Audio’s Axiom Pro line has a new twist on the idea with what Avid calls “HyperControl.” Several details make HyperControl unique. For one, it doesn’t require any intervening software or drivers; the keyboard is USB class-compliant and plug-and-play, and you don’t have an additional software layer as with Automap. Also, the Axiom Pro is natively capable of sending keyboard commands, and even has a numeric keypad on the front panel of the unit. But most importantly, the Axiom Pro has its own workflow for different editing and performance functions. My suspicion is whether you love or hate HyperControl will probably hinge on how you adapt this feature.

Avid has been kind enough to give CDM an exclusive scoop on an extensive video they produced walking you through the process of setting up HyperControl with Ableton Live, step by step. Now, normally many of the videos from hardware makers make me cringe. John here has done a really terrific job, however. It’s really a tutorial and not a sales pitch, and while I’m a fan of writing and reading, this would be really confusing without the video.

Much of the working method focuses here on controlling the whole session rather than performance parameters. If that doesn’t appeal to you, skip to about seven minutes in for a discussion of “Device Mode,” which is when you finally map those eight encoders to the eight macro parameters for Device Racks so you can tweak your live synth sound. What’s nice here, though, is that you could couple that technique with the tips on recording clips, so you can play, record those clips, play back lips, and tweak all at once, one-man-band/one-woman-band style.

Have a look at the video, and let me know what else you might like to know. What isn’t covered? What other ways might you want to use a keyboard-and-software rig like this?

And don’t worry, while this week is becoming Controller Week (like shark week for MIDI nuts?), it doesn’t have to be The Ableton Live 24 Hour News Network. HyperControl also supports other software, including Avid’s own Pro Tools. Apple just released support in Logic Studio 9 and MainStage which I’m researching now. And while HyperControl is a slick moniker, I’m also researching more conventional control methods, which can even support Linux thanks to the fact that the hardware (unlike Novation’s) is class-compliant. So let us know your priorities in comments, and I’ll see if we can make them happen.

Axiom Family at M-Audio (now Avid

I Want My CDM TV

We’ll be putting more videos onto CDM TV very soon, and now you can subscribe to videos easily via iTunes, Miro, and RSS. Transcoding is fixed, too, so you can load up this video on your iPhone / iPod touch and balance it on the end of the Axiom Pro while you practice these techniques, if you like!

Subscribe to CDM TV with iTunes
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Subscribe to CDM TV with Miro

Still a little thinner than we’d like, but expect this channel to heat up for the …um, fall season.

  • epiphanius

    Great video, would like to see more from John.

    In particular, I'd like to see how useful the pads (notably absent from the video) might be in creating beats on the fly using Ableton's drumracks.

    I'm in the market for a controller or two, and had thought the Axiom pro was overpriced (it seemed to be very similar to the non-pro). That opinion has been revised, the Axiom Pro is now on my shortlist.

  • epiphanius

    One problem with this series of controllers is that I think a 37 keyboard option is the best compromise for live use, 25 being too few keys and 49 being too big. Other opinions?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Ha, well, I got the 61 so I obviously went the other direction… ;)

    Definitely more on this soon.

  • http://dancerobotdance.com Brian

    I love my Axiom non-pro 25, and have been waiting for someone to put a used 49 on Craigslist. I took a look at the Pro at a Guitar Center and that, with the combination of this and some other videos, leans me toward the more expensive option. While I dislike the term "hyper" anything, and sheesh I wish the Pro wasn't white, the two-way control and feedback would go a long way toward the frustrating midi programming on my regular Axiom.

    Anyone else notice, however, that to record the electric piano part on this video he did in fact use the mouse to click the record on that clip? That's too bad since a big part of playing Live without a mouse and qwerty keyboard would be recording loops on the fly. I guess there is no way to select a particular track within a scene with the Axiom Pro.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    The white is actually growing on me. I hated it at first, but having lived with it in my apartment for a bit, I don't mind it. At least it's different. And most importantly, the keys feel really, really good on my 61. They're a nice balance – they're not a heavy hammer action, by any means, but they therefore wind up being heavy enough for pianos, solid enough for organs and electrics, while being light enough for everything else.

    You can definitely record a clip without clicking record. It may be time to head back to an interface via the Live API, though, to help make that easier. I'll have a look!

  • http://www.m-audio.com John

    @ epiphanius – glad the video was helpful.

    I've been talking to Peter about a follow up vid that looks at using the pads for beat programming and advanced clip/scene triggering.

    Is there a specific technique you'd like to see?

    @ Brian – you can definitely record into clips from the Axiom Pro by mapping numeric keys or the drum pads to specific clips. (I was saving this tip for another video.)

  • http://www.iancanderson.net Ian C. Anderson

    Great video, John. I had written off the Axiom Pro in favor of the Novation Remote SL line until now. Seems like I'll have to take a deeper look before buying my next controller!

  • http://thedjpodcast.com Peter – The DJ Podca

    Really great video. I own a non-pro Axiom 49, but unfortunately have never had much time to take it out and play with it. Although I don't have the pro-model this definitely got me excited to play with my Axiom and Live.

  • http://dancerobotdance.com Brian

    Thanks for the reply John. I mentioned that only because the video seemed to be specifically about launching and recording clips and I was surprised that the clip got recorded with no mention of how. Along the same lines, launching individual tracks within a scene, as opposed to the entire scene as you have here, is important. I suspected that using the drum pads will work well for this. Looking forward to seeing that.

    I would also love to find out whether and how Hypercontrol will replace the presets used on the current old-school Axioms. I've tried many times to set up something to avoid jumping between the presets 17, 18 and 19 when I want to record drums, turn knobs and whatnot. Does HyperControl render these presets obsolete? Even when going between Live and, say, a ReWired Reason. Or using non-macro'd devices?

    I know you probably can't answer everything. If you can merely bring a 49 Pro to my house and show me this stuff, it would really help.

  • http://arcanumxiii.deviantart.com/ Sebastien Orban

    That's a nice video for first timer I must say – something I would have love for my hardware when I first got my hand dirty with MIDI.

    One things strike me as odd : isn't the communication (the change of track name for example) between Live and the Axiom a MIDI feature and not at all an Hypercontrol feature ?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Sebastien: technically, whether you're talking Mackie Control, Automap, HyperControl, etc., all of these things are communicated over the MIDI protocol. Now, there is some behind-the-scenes scripting that bridges the Live interface to MIDI, which is why there's been so much interest in the Live API. But yes, suffice to say a lot of technologies based on MIDI do take on these other brand names. ;)

  • Matt Gnarly

    Any tips for the non-pro axiom?

  • http://www.m-audio.com John

    @ Brian -

    "I would also love to find out whether and how Hypercontrol will replace the presets used on the current old-school Axioms. I’ve tried many times to set up something to avoid jumping between the presets 17, 18 and 19 when I want to record drums, turn knobs and whatnot. Does HyperControl render these presets obsolete?"

    The Axiom Pro still offers presets, you just don't need them in order for the knobs, sliders and transport buttons to be mapped to meaningful parameters.

    The knobs/sliders/transport can stay linked to your DAW, while the pads (and numeric keys) can be used to send MIDI data or other commands. (You would use a preset to assign the pads/numeric keys, since these aren't automatically mapped through HyperControl.)

    So, depending on how you work, you wouldn't have to use various presets (or presets at all) to program beats, trigger clips and tweak plug-in/track parameters.

    However, you can still set up presets that assign any of the controls to specific commands, so if you're using a synth that has its own plug-in parameter mapping system, like Native Instrument Pro 53, for example, you could create a preset for the Pro 53 on the Axiom Pro, and recall that plug-in mapping preset within Pro 53.

    It mostly comes down to how you like to work.

  • http://xfader.com regend

    @Matt Gnarly, i could never get the Pads to work with Live 7 so I gave up and got a Korg padKontrol.

  • epiphanius

    <blockquote cite="Is there a specific technique you’d like to see?">

    Thank for asking. I guess anything I'd like to see would depend on the abilities of Live as much as those of the Axiom Pro. But the idea would be to take a loop, turn it into a drumrack (trimming duplicate hits, and maybe subbing in some different ones), and then re-mix that to a different loop on the fly. I'm not even sure this can be done, but it is the direction I'm hoping to go in.

    Or – just rock out!

  • epiphanius

    Guess you have to close the: '"<blockquote cite="">"' tag?

  • epiphanius

    No more fancy stuff for me.

  • http://jamison.tumblr.com Jamison

    Awesome video! I just purchased an Axiom Pro 49 and this vid explained more in a short few minutes than all of my time spent wrestling with the manual.

    I would love to see a video on ways to leverage hyper control with different preset combos like the Pro53 example you mentioned. Also, how to make use of the ASCII control capability.

    If there are any other hidden "modes" could you please demo and show off a bit more of the transport features. I noticed in the edit menu, the hyper control setting has a 'Normal' & 'Transport' mode. Have you figured this out?

    I just added cdm TV to my list of RSS feeds.

    Thanks again!

  • the raker

    Great vid, thanks.

    I was hanging out for information about axiom pros for ages but eventually just went and bought one because I was controller-less. Like many people I was trying to decide between the plain axiom, the Novation Remote SL and the Axiom Pro. My initial impression was, regardless of HyperControl, the build quality of the Pro is way far ahead of the original Axioms and justified the extra expense alone. When compared with the Novation, the keyboard action is much much nicer. I agree with Peter, it's good for everything including multisampled piano playing.

    I compose dots on paper as well as electronic stuff and I use the (only!!) 49 key version running virtual instruments in Logic (or Live) in the background while I notate via the numerical keypad into Sibelius. It's really nice to be able to control the transport of the DAW while not taking my eyes off the score.

    The only gripe is that when I navigate between my tracks in Live 7, it arms them for recording and virtual instrument playing as it should, however when I navigate to the next track, it doesn't take the track arm off, so I end up having as many tracks as I have navigated between armed – not very useful. Probably a glitch that will be ironed out in future firmware revisions.

    Finally (sorry, long post), I thought it was ugly as sin when I 1st saw it, but it looks very nice in the flesh in my studio. So all in all, I'm very happy with the purchase. Just my 2 cents.

  • http://brettgraves.com CBG

    This is a great video! Does anyone know of a similar video for the Akai MPK49. I have not been able to find anything that is useful in setting up midi control. Thanks in advance.

  • http://www.33tetragammon.com wasili

    hi Peter,

    great video!

    what i would like to see is this:

    -suppose i have more than 3 sends on a channel,how do i navigate to them with the Axiom Pro?

    -when in "device" mode,how do you select another device on the same track using the Axiom Pro?(and how do you navigate through additional plugin-pages?)

    thanks,and all the best,

    Wasili

  • Pingback: Video – Tutorial: How to Control Ableton Live with Axiom Pro | blueverticalstudio

  • http://www.m-audio.com John

    @ the raker —

    It sounds like you might have selected Record Arm as the mode for the Track Select buttons (the buttons below the sliders). Try toggling the button below the ninth fader (the rightmost fader) to make sure Select is the active mode for the buttons.

    I briefly touch on this in the video around 3:35.

  • http://www.33tetragammon.com wasili

    hi all,

    i just noticed they added "hypercontrol for Ableton Live" document on the m-audio website(support section)

    finally!

    really thinking about it now.will be a perfect replacement for my remote sl 37.

    cheers,

    Wasili

  • http://www.33tetragammon.com wasili

    well,i bought the axiom pro 49 yesterday,and i'm really happy with it,

    but noticed some bugs in the Ableton Live hypercontrol:

    -when i press "peek",i can't move any controls anymore(they freeze),unless i "un-peek".

    -when dealing with plugins in live 8,the first knob is always assigned to device on/off(like it was before in Live 7),even if i didn't map it that way.

    also,on the axiom pro's lcd screen,i don't even see the first knob assigned to device on/off(but show the controls like i mapped them).

    -drumpads don't work with impulse(even if i assign other note numbers,you know:c3 and upwards).strange thing is that they DO work with Live's drumracks.

    i also have no idea how to switch to any of the other drumpad banks when controlling Ableton Live.

    couldn't find it in the user manual.

    now what i would love to see is some sort of software editor for the axiom pro(something like enigma or whatever),simply because editing on the controller CAN be done,but in my opinion takes too long,especially when assigning asci keystrokes.

    other than that,i really love this controllerkeyboard.keys are really great,faders have just the right resistance,knobs have enough spacing and grip,and i noticed that you can make really precise minimal changes to a parameter(faders and knobs).drumpads are good also,they seem more responsive than the original axiom series.

    so thank you very much!

    all the best,

    Wasili

  • Isaiah

    I've got Axiom Pro Hyper Control options for the midi in and out under preferences but Axiom Pro is not listed under my Midi Controllers. Any ideas why not? Thanks in advance! BTW great video because thus far I've had a steep learning curve trying to figure my Axiom Pro out despite it's Hyper Control and Pro DAW template configurations.

  • http://myspace.com/djbeto1 Albert

    I just bought my 49 key Axiom pro yesterday at GC labor day sale, got the floor model for a cool 375. It didn't work as easy as this video shows, even the simple transport control didn't work, nor did the instrument parameters. I just got it so I'm not going to hate on it yet, it may be simple stuff like just not turning stuff on in the right order. I use an old G4 though, so hopefully it doesn't have anything to do with the OSx I'm running. I have the latest version of Live 7 and OSX 10.4.11, so it should be plug in play. I couldn't figure out how to do something simple like make the drum pads all 127 velocity. My dream is to use this with Guru within Live, and control the mix, voice parameters and drum sounds with all those nifty litle knobs. We'll see :0

  • http://myspace.com/djbeto1 Albert

    To Isaiah, I had to download the latest version of Live 7, supposedly it doesn't need any drivers if you have this latest version. And then the Axiom Pro should show up in the list of midi controllers. Good luck.

  • http://dancerobotdance.com Brian

    Got an Axiom Pro 49 today.

    Not sure if John is still following the comments here. But there seem to be a few real bugs with the AP49 in Live. Wasili touches on a few of them above and I hope John can chime in with comments on some of the issues that Wasili mentions, and maybe mine as well:

    - I can't get Impulse to work with the pads in or out of HyperControl. Drum Racks work fine. Is M-Audio deprecating Impulse?

    - I finally figured out not to worry about presets unless one wants to NOT use Hypercontrol. Preset 19, which is supposedly for Live, seems to cause some odd behavior with Hypercontrol. If one doesn't need a preset for Live, as John states above, why is there a preset for Live?

    - Needs a firmware upgrade. The firmware posted on M-Audio's site doesn't work with Mac OS 10.5.7 or 10.5.8. "JA" on the M-Audio site is emailing instructions if one needs it, but that doesn't help on a Sunday on a holiday weekend when I'm sure JA isn't checking the forum. M-Audio can't post the instructions? In any case, my issues aren't covered by what M-Audio says the firmware fixes anyway.

    - When recording audio from a MIDI track onto an audio track in session view: the audio track is armed and recording to a clip, but when I switch over to the currently-playing MIDI track to mess with filters and other parameters that I want to record, the MIDI track becomes armed and the audio track begins looping the recorded clip. This is not correct and makes much of the Axiom worthless to me. This doesn't happen with the old Axiom. Can't find a workaround.

    - I want to record onto an empty slot in session view. I'm supposed to be able to arm the track and use the 'loop' transport button to create, launch and record to this new clip. This worked GREAT with the classic Axiom. However, it doesn't work at all with Hypercontrol and there is no documentation as to how to record on the fly now. In the video above you notice that John uses the mouse and clicks the slot. Is this functionality of the classic Axiom now gone? If so, I'm taking this back. I used that often.

    - When in device mode, if one wants to delete a clip in session view by just selecting the clip and deleting, the DEVICE (effect, synth, whatever) that is on the track gets deleted instead. One must go back to mixer mode to delete a clip. Again, that ain't right.

    - How does Hypercontrol deal with VSTs and AUs? It handles some nicely, like Sonic Charge's Synplant — showing the parameters in the screen and mapping for them — but others it handles oddly. Reaktor, for instance, it seems to pick the last-used parameter and maps encoder 2 to this. If I turn a different parameter with the mouse, the mapping changes to the new one. Also, like Wasili says, it defaults encoder 1 to on-off. What if I don't want on-off? Some documentation would be nice. It handles Instrument racks nicely, but I use a lot of plugs without racks.

    All in all, it's a lovely thing. Feels great. But what a buzzkill when I realized that Hypercontrol was the problem, not the solution. Several times today I wished I was working with my old Axiom 25 where things are difficult to program sometimes, but at least behave as documented and expected. If M-Audio is going to go to the trouble of marketing something like basic control of parameters, which frankly Hypercontrol is, as a nifty new thing, they really should document it more thoroughly and make sure it works. More than half of the user's manual is dedicated to traditional MIDI programming instructions and appendices, and the special instructions for Live are basically a list of parameters in Live's internal instruments that the encoders control. This is lazy and tells me little about what Hypercontrol does and how it does it.

    It seems that the things that really made the Axiom series useful for me are gone now; the things that were difficult — like assigning encoders to parameters on VSTs and AUs — are still difficult (save for the improvements in Live 8); and there are all kinds of things that Axiom did pretty well (mapping controllers to reasonable parameters in Live's native devices) that the Axiom improves merely by showing you what you've got with better two-way feedback. I hope I'm missing something that John can point out and I hope that M-Audio gets some real documentation and bug fixes out the door and doesn't drop this ball. Guitar Center tells me I have 30 days.

    Sorry for the long comment.

    Brian

  • fb

    Any update on support with Logic 9 or Mainstage 2

  • http://www.ableton.com Jesse Terry

    Hi all,

    Just a note that here at Ableton and M-Audio we've noted these bugs with Ableton Live and are working on them.

    Best,

    Jesse

  • http://www.33tetragammon.com wasili

    hi Jesse,

    thanks for the reply.

    best,Wasili

  • wambli

    Looking forward to your video. Got to point where you go to prefs and set it up inputs and hypercontrol. Turned them on but transport buttons do not work. Using: Mac, snow leopard, Live 7 lite

  • Tim

    Tip… Preset 19 of Axiom Pro supports the 'Axiom Classic' control surface in Live. So if you select the Axiom Pro port A as the input for "Axiom 49/61 classic" control surface, the numerical keypad triggers clips 1-8 and the '-' and '+' buttons of the keypad bank thorugh clips 9-16, 17-24, etc.

    This can be used alongside HyperControl.

  • Jim

    Only works on PCs. booo

  • Eamonn

    Hey Bryan, you can record individual clips in Ableton with the old Axiom Pro. It’s a bit long winded but here it goes….

    John touches on assigning custom controls in this tutorial.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JPdOnBwDsU

    First , I assigned no. 5 on the numeral pad to be my ‘select’ button. The way to do that is to press 5, then press EDIT and the EDIT MODE window shows up on the LCD screen.

    By default, 5 is now the button that is going to be given a new sense of purpose…

    You have a choice of 6 control groups. You want Control itself so press number pad 2 to select it.

    In the Control sub menu, you have the option to change the name. It’s easy enough – use the number pads as if you were sending a text.

    Once that is done, use the soft button ‘down’ (under the LCD screen) to select ‘Type’. If I remember right, it’s CC MIDI by default. Once again, use your trusty – or + buttons to change it to ASCII.

    Once that is done go down to 'ASCIIKey' option with those soft buttons under the LCD and change it with your – or + buttons to ‘Return’. On this occasion, you’ll be leaving the 'Modifier' key blank. However, if you were assigning say CTRL Z to one of your buttons, you would select ‘Z’ in the ASCIIKey section and CTRL in the modifier section…

    Press Exit and ‘select’ has been assigned to ‘5’, or whichever number you prefer. I assigned Up to ‘2’, Left to ‘4’, Right to ‘6’ and Down to ‘8’ forming a cross shape. It’s the Catholic in me. ;o)

    I also assigned TAB to 1 so I could switch between arrangement and session view.

    Once you have assigned all those controls to your number pad, you gotta save that patch of commands and it’s very easy.

    Press SAVE, and with your – or + buttons (or by twiddling with encoder 5), you can use any blank patch you like and press SAVE once again and that is it! You can change the name if you like by using the number keys like a text message as above.

    Now open up Live…..

    Use your newly assigned left and right buttons to select a track, arm it with your slider button. If you want to record in say scene 3, press whichever number you assigned for down and you will see the orange rectangle move down on the Ableton interface. Press 5 or whichever number you assigned to ‘select’ and you will hear the familiar tick tock as a clip is about to record.

    As I said it’s long winded, but it does work. And you will feel a glowing sense of accomplishment when you know you did it all by yourself… I know I did. ;o)

  • Eamonn

    P.S. Those – and + buttons are in the number section to the left of the LCD screen.

  • Eamonn

    Hi Tim, I tried your suggestion for loading clips, but it didn't work for me. If only it did.

  • Eamonn

    Tim, I tried your method and although it works for selecting clips, it messes the bank switches and slider buttons up. :o (

    Sorry about all these posts, but I only got my Axiom Pro the other day and I am in love.

    I think I'll call her Helga Geerhart (the lover of Herr Flick from Allo Allo). As it says in Wikipedia 'she is well built, and known for a tendency to take off her clothes for usually tenuous reasons, showcasing a vast range of erotic lingerie.'

    I just tried putting a bra on the Axiom and it's very fetching indeed. ;o) Who needs women eh?

  • Eamonn

    If you want to assign your drum pads to launch scenes. Go to your preferences midi sync tab and click on the remote buttons beside your midi input ports so you can use Ableton's 'midi learn' to assign controls on your axiom pro to buttons on the ableton interface. For example I assigned drum pad one to scene one etc. Hope this helps.

  • http://www.youtube.com/robdrums69 Rob

    Hey Guys,

    I have the Axiom 49 (Non-pro) and I loved it. Until!!! it started crapping out on me. Lately, the screen is starting to flicker intermittently and the keyboard will drop right out of Ableton Live. It is SOOOOO annoying!

    I found they had a lot of problems with this one from what I've read online. So, it looks like I have to upgrade to this new PRO one now. DARN IT lol – jokes.

    I just wish it was a little cheaper! – oh well, you get what you pay for right?

    Any issues with the New Pro Line yet?

    Thanks and great video! Look forward to more of these.

    Thanks again

    Rob D.

    Ontario Canada.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/anthooo Anthony

    I finally figured out how to record audio and midi clips without clicking on the record button with my Axiom Pro 49. 

    It was really simple : Just go to preferences. In the Record/Warp/Launch panel, more precisely in the Launch section, just turn the last button On, and your problem will be solved. 

    I just love my controller and i would recommend it to everyone !

  • Alan

    Peter, I found this tutorial quite helpful.  I have the Axiom Pro 25 and I was wondering if you would (please) create a similar tutorial for the 25-key controller.  I’m having a little difficulty understanding when to use the F1-4 button.  That button seems to impede the workflow for me.  

    Thanks!

  • Alan

    Anybody in there?…hello…
    This article’s title said Questions Welcome.
    Would you please do the same type of video for the Axiom Pro 25?

  • Ryan2534

    my axiom pro is only playing one note in live and when i click others it doesn’t receive any midi data according to the top right. Help please 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=552939211 William Harrington

    I’ve been using an Axiom 25 with Ableton for about a year. This video gave me a completely different perspective on how I could use it. Thanks!

  • Martin Risseeuw

    Does someone know how you can switch between effects on the same track? I can’t figure it out.