The world has no shortage of MIDI controllers. There are big ones, small ones. There are, increasingly, loads of specialized controllers designed around apps.

The DS1 is designed to be something different: it’s a mixing controller. And as conceived in a partnership between educational studio Dubspot and Austin, Texas boutique builder Livid Instruments, it’s meant to mix in any app. It’s a mixer for prodution, but also for DJing. With templates for a variety of tools, it’s made to be as comfortable in Traktor as in Ableton Live as in Logic.

We’ve still yet to test whether it delivers on that mission, but what we can share now is the final design, pricing, and a pre-order.

The layout of the DS1 is mixer-inspired — so, it has what readers have told us too many controllers lack. That means, primarily, loads of knobs along with traditional faders, but in a form factor the makers say will be portable. As some controllers sprawl out into sizes that require their own luggage (yes, Maschine Studio, I’m looking at you), this is still backpack-sized, but without sacrificing number of controls.

What you get:
9 faders
44 knobs (note those color lenses in the image)
4 encoders
25 RGB buttons
Expression pedal input




It’s driverless, sending MIDI data. There are templates for Ableton Live, Bitwig Studio, Apple Logic Pro, and more, with additional templates planned. In Traktor, the same mixing surface becomes a four-deck controller with effects controls and even library access.

Livid also tells us they’ve focused a lot on manufacturing and component quality. The case is aluminum, but lightweight; details like fader quality are major considerations.

Street price: US$449, available later this month direct from Livid or Dubspot or via their international dealers.



Also, I want to share a project Livid founder Jay Smith has built. We’re all saddened to learn that Jay was recently diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). ALS could be treatable, with more awareness and funding. As Jay writes, “The sad fact is that all doctors agree with more funding we could have a cure, accelerate the current research from decades to years, and save the lives of people dying with the diseases, like I am.”

Jay’s new foundation calls attention to the fact that someone is diagnosed with – and someone else dies of – ALS every hour and a half.

Please take a look at the work they do and help spread the word. I look forward to finding the world soon where Jay continues to run Livid (now turned age 10) and spends time with his amazing wife and daughter – and many, many other people do, too.

  • deecodameeko

    This is a hard sell for me when the novation launch control xl is half the price and has the wonderful automap feature. The DS1 is built very well but it’s that automap and good price point that keeps me staying with Novation.

    • Jaybeeg

      This comment is a bit like visiting a car forum, looking at a post about a BMW M5 and declaring, “This is a hard sell for me when the Honda Civic is half the price and has the wonderful automatic transmission.”

      The Livid gear is solid and worth the price.

    • Scott Kilpatrick

      not really the same thing

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Actually, yes, that’s exactly what it’s like. The Honda Civic might be what you need. The Novation has a different layout (still within the mixer paradigm), and it’s a bit more compact. I can see each of these fitting particular circumstances, so I don’t think this is an invalid reaction. That’s why we have lots of choices in controllers.

    • Jekblad

      If you just need to get from A to B the Civic is great! :)
      Another thing to keep in mind is the Novation is an “Ableton” mixer… that’s a selling point for many, but not for Logic users. The top couple knobs are dedicated to sends in ableton, but what if you want all of them to be sends? etc

      Certain things are important to certain users and there is room for all.

    • Bynar

      To each their own. I don’t really see the point in luxury items whether that be a BMW M5 or a Livid DS1. At the end of the day luxury items are nice to look at, touch, and feel but that’s about where it ends for me. They don’t bring me happiness. I find more gratification in building my own patches in SC and using touchosc as my control interface on an older iPad.

    • mercury
  • boboter

    Thanks for the insight on the controller. Do you know if the knobs have a center detent or a light indicator to tell the exact middle position?

    • steev_75

      yeah centre detent would be vital

  • chap

    Why is nobody making MIDI controllers with motorized faders ????!! Please !

    • Apeirophobe
    • chap

      Yeah, that’s tempting, thanks !

    • Apeirophobe

      Actually the more I look at the x-touch range the more impressed I am. There is a compact model that competes more with the Livid above but has motorized faders for $399. That’s insane! The bigger model has LCD scribble strips that put it in another league imho. Bash on Behringer all you want … these look great (although vaporware at the moment!!!).

    • Ashley Scott

      yeah I expect the x-touches will be more fun than the venerable BCF (because of touch-sensitive faders). The bigger one looks like an out & out MCU competitor & the ‘compact’ model could work well for Live (that will depend on templates). After living with an original Mackie Control for several years (& their rather overrated ‘build-quality’) – option of something cheaper & functionally equivalent won’t be a bad thing at all. B&H have them on pre order in the US but haven’t seen any kind of review.

  • Nolej

    2 questions about the lights:
    Are they full RGB (promos only show red, blue, yellow and white)?
    Is live feedback possible (using MIDI hacking to create VU meters for example)?

    • chap

      i’m pretty sure it’s limited to 7 colors. (or maybe a little more since there are less than 64 leds). The brain v2 doesn’t offer full RGB : it has 192 digital outs so can run 64 RGB with 7 colors.

    • Blah blahh

      The lights are a light pack that you can get, little rings you put on, so no, not rgb, you pick colors, look them up in the accessories part of livid website

  • Ashley Scott

    That’s exceptionally poor news about the ALS (tends to be called MND in Aust.). Time to dig deep peeps.

  • wetterberg

    This probably has a better build than most midi controllers ever made. It looks chunky as all hell… I like that.

    I think *that’ is the unique selling point. Plenty of controllers have had just about that layout. The bitstream, the uc33, and now the novation controller coming up too.

    But none of those will be able to match this in build. They won’t even get close. I love that.

  • Edward On-Robinson

    No hardware MIDI port is disappointing. I was hoping for a controller that you could program on the computer and then disconnect if desired. If it had MIDI out it would be a fine companion to an Octatrack or a wide variety of hardware synths, for example. In these days fo dirt-cheap 32-bit microcontrollers and so on, that functionality could easily have been added for under $50 while still keeping the device at an attractive (ie sub-$500) price point. Bit of a missed opportunity.

  • synapticflow

    Are we ever going to have a MIDI controller with knobs that aren’t too close together?
    It’s very frustrating.

  • Albert

    Seems like a nice solution for hands-on ITB-mixing. The main drawbacks for me are that none of the faders is motorised, the steep pricepoint and the short throw of the faders.

    Could be nice for those who have never enjoyed working on a large analog console: it does change your workflow a lot compared to working with a mouse. I don’t miss the extensive cabling and defective/noisy equipment from the ‘old’ days, but I do miss the feeling of having a large analog console and working more intuitively.

  • http://theditchparty.tumblr.com/ evolakim

    Looks great. Way over priced. I’ll, prob grab apc40 mk2

  • André et Michèle

    Looks great; wish the Cntrl-r had more knobs per channel, I’m runnin’ out of sends . . . Very sorry to hear about Jay.

  • Octavio

    I think Im gonna stick to Novation just for the price and the fact that my main daw is Ableton Live.

    I also wonder why this kind of “mixer style” controllers arent completly simetrical???

    I mean, why they just repeat the channel strip and thats it!!! why they have to add an obvious master fader or some stupid keypad???

    It is the same thing with dj controllers, why they are in the most annoying need to have a stupid crossfader that almost no one actually use???

    • Octavio

      i mean something a lil bit like this!!!