Novation’s LaunchControl XL Has the Faders and Knobs You Need for Ableton, MIDI [Obsessive Review]

Sometimes, you just want to grab a fader. Maybe it’s not about elaborate custom parameter assignment, or clip launching, or playing an in-tune Phrygian scale on a colored, light-up grid as you solo on a bowed marimba sample. You know, you just want to fade a track. There are surprisingly few controllers out there tailored to this application. So, that makes the new LaunchControl XL from Novation a potential stand-out. It’s just faders and pots: 8 faders, with three knobs each. Each column also gets two triggers; these are switchable when used with Ableton Live to control mute, solo, and …

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Control, Shortcuts for Ableton Starting at $99: A Look at the New AKAI APC Line

For any tool that has “live” in the name, physical control will always be important. And so even with a broad market for controllers targeting Ableton’s flagship software, now including the slick Push hardware from Ableton themselves, AKAI’s re-vamped APC line earned intense interest when it debuted at Musikmesse this month. Let’s make sense of what the new APCs can do and how you might choose between models. I got some hands-on time at Messe, and now even in advance of a review of finished, shipping hardware, it’s worth teasing out the breakdown of the 2014 APC line. The original …

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If I Only Had a Brain: Livid Builder Brain v2 Could Be Heart of Your Next DIY Project

If you’re dreaming of creating your own controller from scratch, there are certain basic elements you’ll need – and a strong case for reusing, not reinventing, the wheel. There are a range of products out there that cater to you DIYers; Livid’s Builder line is certainly one of the most comprehensive. It’s a line of hardware accessories that help you piece together MIDI controllers with all the requisite knobs and buttons and sensors you might like, and its brain just got an upgrade. The soul of any controller is the electronics and microcontroller that read all of those inputs and …

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Faderfox LV3, Compact Boutique Controller, to be Ableton Live 8-Savvy

While Ableton’s logo is stamped on Novation’s Launchpad and Akai’s APC, there’s a lot to be said for the tried and trusted Faderfox as a controller for Live. The work of one man – German designer Mathias – these controllers run a bit pricier than some of their rivals but deliver great-feeling controls and ultra-compact designs. They’ll fit into cramped quarters when the APC won’t, and they offer features like high-quality joysticks. The models could be used with any software you like, but they are designed with certain tools in mind. Following an update for DJ-centric, Traktor-ready models, Ableton users …

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Mixing and Audio Interface, in the $450 MOTU Audio Express

The competition for your audio interface dollar is pretty heated these days, but MOTU’s latest – the Audio Express – packs a pretty impressive feature set for something costing US$449 list. It’s both a 6×6 audio interface and a mixer, with standalone mixer functionality so you can mix signals from the front-panel knobs without a computer attached. It also has connectivity features generally seen only in pricier, physically-larger boxes. MOTU tells CDM the quality is equal to their higher-end offerings, and other rivals in the $500-800 range. MOTU winds up on my short list as far as hardware that makes …

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Faderfox 4midiloop: True, Four-deck, Four-effect Traktor Control

Let’s face it: a lot of people ignore the four-deck features of Traktor. But for those who exploit that power, and who are willing to invest in a high-end, boutique design, here’s the controller for you. Faderfox has long been respected for making boutique-quality MIDI controllers for DJing and Ableton Live performance. The previous Faderfox line, though, was restricted to compact devices focused on one task. Now, enter a small-batch controller for simultaneous four-deck DJ control, specifically in Native Instruments’ Traktor Pro. While NI’s own Traktor Kontrol S4 has a “4” in it, it doesn’t actually allow the simultaneous use …

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First Hands-on: Novation’s New $199 Launchpad Grid Controller for Ableton Live

A monome-like grid controller built for Live, shipping in November for $199 – and I’ve got a first hands-on look with the hardware. The feature that makes Ableton Live Ableton Live has always been its Session View, an array of Lego-like blocks of music triggering samples and patterns. In the grand tradition of the MPC, mapping hardware controls that make music non-linear has been a major theme of computer music, leading to the monome and the Tenori-On. Usually, consumer gear has only combined these with traditional drum pads, knobs, or faders. Enter the Novation Launchpad. It’s $199. It’s a grid …

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