Here’s another fantastic DIY Ableton Live controller, built using Doepfer’s Pocket Electronics kit (and other Doepfer products):

David Cross’ Doepfer-based MIDI Controller

You can see the Doeper boards in the bottom photo, wired into the controls. I love the vintage-style suitcase case and gorgeous silver faceplate and knobs. This is really how to do a DJ controller for Live; I haven’t seen anything else this elegant and clear. And sure, a mass manufacturer could do something like this, but will they get the oldskool hi-fi stereo look right?

Thanks, David! David chose not to reveal his musical identity, but Dr. Google will tell you he’s a formerly Nasvhille-based DJ under the name ZenKnee, and now works for Ableton’s press department here in New York.

Anyone else feeling the itch to go design their own controller yet?

Previously: Jason Kramer’s Custom MIDI Control Box

  • This makes me want to dig out my Pocket C and actually put it to some use. Looks very nice, very professionally made. I like the integrated headphone out as well.

  • I have a trigger finger but I want more buttons and have been looking for some diy midi plans, this looks like a great controller using the Doepfer boards.

    I have a few questions. How does ableton recognize a diy controller? And then how easy is it define your midi key map? Say this knob to this eq parameter.

    Again, I have a trigger finger with the enigma software that allows you to program the mappings for ableton quite easily.

  • The doepfer electronics do a lot of the dirty work for you: Live will simply recognize the CC messages with no trouble. I decided to integrate my device with an M-audio 1×1 USB MIDI interface (the other PCB in the second pic), making it even easier to connect with a DAW/DJ application.

    That said, there is no fancy software like Enigma – you assign dip switches on the Doepfer gear so there are no conflicting CCs, and that's it. You just have to hope your application has a good MIDI map scheme (like Live and Traktor do).

  • Thanks for the info, I figured there would be no enigma type software for this but i was looking to see what helped handle the cc messages, off to the doepfer website to dig.

    Thanks for the help and very nice controller!

  • Actually, that'd a good point … it would be nice to have a utility that stands in between and aids with assignments. (Even better, I'd love to have something that did this with OSC messages. Have to think about this one.)

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  • nat

    wow, great make, I'm looking to do a similar project, is there any reason you didn't use the usb64 board?



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  • Dave Cross

    Hi – reason I didn't use the USB64 was that it wasn't out yet!

    This would've been another good alternative:

  • Dave Cross

    er, that didn't work! Correct link (hopefully):

  • fayek

    i want to build a box filled with knobs so i can assign them to my software.

    i looked at the board here:

    my question is, can i connect knobs (potentiometers) to all 32 inputs? or are there certain digital inputs and certain digital outputs?

    i would like to have all of them connected to knobs.

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