Ableton Live is one of the most popular DAWs for playing live DJ sets and for music production as well.
I love Ableton Live because of its versatility.
There are several MIDI controllers and launch pads perfectly integrated with the DAW, making it one of the most intuitive DAWs for live sets and creating music.
Most EDM producers and DJs prefer Ableton Live as their go-to DAW.
I have tried a lot of digital audio workstations. Still, Ableton Live really brings out the best in electronic music production.
It is straightforward and straightforward with an easy to use interface for recording, editing, and mixing music live.
With Ableton Live, the use of MIDI controllers is part of the whole experience.
In this exciting article, I will show you some of the best Ableton Live controllers.
What Are Ableton Live Controllers?
Ableton Live controllers are pieces of equipment that are integrated with the Ableton Live software.
These controllers allow you to easily navigate, control, and maximize the use of your DAW. Most DAWs are compatible with just about any MIDI controller, but using a designated controller for Ableton Live is much more exciting to use.
However, Ableton Live can be a stand-alone DAW without the use of controllers.
Why Use a Controller for Ableton Live?
Using a controller makes things a lot easier in the studio. You can use the controller to adjust parameters easily without having to use the mouse and keyboard.
You can also use the controller to launch samples and mix them in live performances and recordings.
The best Ableton DJ controllers should have everything you need, such as keys, pads, knobs, sliders. In the pads, you can assign loops and samples.
Using the keys, you can play chords, and with the knobs, you can adjust volume and effect levels.
Using a controller for Ableton Live will give you unlimited possibilities with your creativity.
Top 6 Best Ableton DJ Controllers of 2021
In a rush? Here is a quick rundown for you:
Alright guys, let's look at our 6 contestants:
Akai APC40 MKII
This Ableton compatible controller is an excellent addition for your home music studio.
It is a compact device, even more compact than its predecessor, the Mark I. It is a light piece of equipment that is made out of plastic.
It may not be as durable as other products, but the APC40 works like a dream with Ableton Live.
Make sure you handle the device properly, especially when using it at live shows.
- 40 RGB backlit clips
- Launcher and trigger buttons
- Nine faders with plenty of function
Who should use it?
The Akai APC40 MK II is for music producers and DJs who prefer live bounce recording and resampling.
It is an intuitive way of recording where you mix music live. However, you need to use samples and pre-recorded tracks to mix.
This MIDI controller makes the bounce recording techniques much easier. You can launch samples, adjust, and manipulate effects levels in real-time.
It is not suitable for playing instruments such as other MIDI controllers with keys and pads, but it can still perform well with what it was made to do.
The Akai APC49 MKII is a handy controller for Ableton Live.
It has a button grid that mirrors the session view on Ableton with a cross-fader, and individual channel control buttons, making it functional for recording and live performances.
There may have been some complaints about button dysfunction and the pads not being velocity-sensitive, but I think Akai tried to use plastic materials to lower the price.
Novation Launchpad Pro
The Launchpad Pro from novation is an affordable and compact controller for Ableton Live.
If you haven't tried a launchpad or grid-based controller before, the Novation Launchpad Pro is a good place to start.
It features a good set of velocity and pressure-sensitive pads equipped with scale mode, which never goes out of tune.
It is an excellent instrument for live performances and recording as well. You can use this for mixing songs on your DJ set.
Launchpads are also often used for creating covers and videos for your social media page and YouTube channel.
- 64 RGB backlit velocity and pressure-sensitive buttons
- 32 round mode buttons
- included mixer mode
- Note mode
- Scale mode
- Works with other DAWs such as Logic Pro X and other VSTs
Who should use it?
The Novation launchpad is for beginner musicians who want to explore the world of live bounce and mixing platforms. I recommend this unique instrument for beginners with Ableton Live and live looping because it is effortless to use and understand. However, pros will definitely have a good time using this device as well.
There is no doubt that the Novation Launchpad is one excellent Ableton Live controller.
It is compact, lightweight, and filled with fantastic features. Plus, it is very affordable.
Again, like the APC40 MK II, the materials feel a little cheap, but it still does an excellent job of doing its purpose.
Ableton Push 2
With the help of the geniuses from Akai, Ableton was able to create one the most popular controllers of today, the Ableton Push 2.
This instrument is not only limited to musicians of the electronic genre, but you can also use it for almost any type of music.
It is mainly designed for live DJ sets, and it is possibly the best Ableton DJ controllers ever made.
- 8 x 8 grid of RGB backlit pads with seamless Ableton Live integration
- Real-time note input
- Clip launching
- Eight touch-sensitive rotary knobs for library browsing and mixing adjustments
- Scale modes
- Numerous controls such as adding effect and step sequences
- Large multicolor display
Who should use it?
The Ableton Push 2 is an excellent device that would be useful for music producers of any genre.
It makes playing notes and scales with features that you will surely enjoy.
This Ableton DJ controller is an excellent tool for creating songs and mixes with Ableton Live.
Because it is explicitly made for the software, it features seamless integration and features that you just won't find with any other controller out there.
Musicians such as Mr. Han from Linkin Park uses the Ableton Push 2 for live sets.
However, just like any device, there are some downsides, such as the price and complexity of use.
Once you get the hang of the Ableton Push 2, it will surely bring out the creativity you never knew you had.
If you need a hardware mixer that is integrated with Ableton Live, the MIDImix from Akai might be the device for you.
It is a small and compact device that pairs with Ableton with a push of a button.
There is no need to map any controls with MIDI Learn, as all the presets are armed for the Ableton Live interface.
With that being said, the Akai MIDImix can also be used for other DAWs.
- 24 knobs
- 16 buttons
- Eight individual line faders
- One master fader
- Comes with Ableton Lite version
Who should use it?
This pocket-sized controller is for anyone who needs a mixer for live performances as well as recording.
With the 1 to 1 mapping for Ableton Live controls, you can expect full control of your Ableton Live software without using a mouse or trackpad.
The best thing about this MIDI controller is that it has enough knobs and faders to assign every Ableton Live parameter.
It is such a breeze to mix tracks with this device. Plus, just like most Akai products, you can own the MIDImix for a very affordable price.
Native Instruments MASCHINE JAM
The Maschine Jam is a device that is ideal for creating tracks and new ideas with a user-friendly interface.
The overall design looks very astonishing, and the build quality is remarkable. It is jam-packed with some of the most fantastic features you could ask for.
It may not be an actual Ableton Live controller.
Still, it does include Ableton Live templates that let you use it with the software for launching samples, play notes, control levels, and use beat sequencing.
- 64 multicolor illuminated step matrix buttons
- 8 scene buttons
- Great for creating patterns and rhythms for creating a full song
- Eight touch strips with a real-time multicolor indication
- Includes an arsenal of premium sounds from Native Instruments
- Includes Komplete Select
- 29 GB of professionally sampled tracks
Who should use it?
This device is for people looking for a high-performance controller that you can use with Ableton Live and other DAWs such as Native Instruments.
The Maschine Jam is an excellent beat-making device that is built with durable and responsive materials.
It is easy to use, making it the perfect instrument for beginners in this style of music production.
Akai APC 25
The last item on the list is none other than the Akai APC 25. This controller has it all.
It comes with a 25-key keyboard for playing the MIDI instruments, pads for triggering samples for accompaniment, and knobs for mixing.
It is the only device you’ll ever need if you want something versatile that can be used for a variety of applications.
For a low price, you can enjoy the best of both worlds with the Akai APC Key25, making it an excellent option for all-around use.
- 25 synth-action keys
- 5 x 8 RGC clip launch buttons
- Eight knobs
- Various controls
Who should use it?
The Akai APC Key25 is for music producers who want a versatile device that you can use for multiple applications for a very affordable price.
It is for composers that want to create melodies with the use of keys, but still being able t trigger samples and ad effects with the knobs.
This device is a pretty decent device that can do almost anything.
It is integrated with Ableton Live so that you can use it with the software with ease.
However, I think some faders and a pitch/ mod wheel would be an excellent addition.
This device is made out of light plastic materials, so you need to handle it with care, especially when using it for live performances.
- Are there any alternatives instead of using a MIDI controller for Ableton Live? If you don't have an Ableton Live controller, you can use any MIDI controller or use your iPad if you have one. You can download the Ableton app on your iPad to control some of the parameters on Ableton Live. Any MIDI controller will work with Ableton Live. However, unlike the integrated controllers, some MIDI controllers will not automatically sync with the controls of your Ableton Live DAW.
- What makes a suitable Ableton Live MIDI controller? An excellent Ableton Live controller will depend on what you need. If you need pads, knobs, and faders, the Akai APC40 MK II is the right choice. If you need to trigger samples for live performances, a launchpad such as the Ableton Push 2 or Novation Launchpad is the way to go. If you cannot choose between the two, you can always weigh out the pros and cons, features, and price.
Here are some factors you need to consider when looking for an Ableton Live Controller:
Before choosing a controller, determine how much you are willing to spend on the device. If you are using it a lot, then you should allow a more significant budget to get the right controller.
The performance factor will include sound quality, construction quality, overall durability, and feel of the pads and keys.
- Ease of navigation
This factor will determine the user-friendliness of the controller. Some controllers are more complex, while some maintain ease of access and intuitiveness.
- Number of features (Pads, Knobs, Keys, Effects, Etc.)
Choose a controller that has a feature set that you need for your purpose.
If you plan on using the device for live shows, make sure you choose a durable controller that can withstand being used continuously and transported. For in-studio use, you can choose something more affordable with all the essentials.
There are tons of choices you can choose from when looking for a controller for Ableton Live.
Since Ableton Live is one of the most popular DAWs right now, more companies are developing integrated controllers for the software.
Companies such as Akai and Novation being the most common brands, you can expect them to be nothing short of greatness.
I hope you select one of the items on the list and that I have helped you choose the best Ableton DJ controller.
Last update on 2021-01-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API