Analog Industries notes that Ableton architect Robert Henke (Monolake) has created a successor to his custom Monodeck controller. The new controller has lots more knobs, LEDs, and buttons. I thought perhaps the controller used Doepfer DIY parts, like its predecessor, but a reader on Analog Industries says it’s actually a MIDIbox-based project. We’ll have to wait on Robert for specifics; I’m sure he’ll be open about what he used.

It appears that Robert has added additional emphasis on clip triggering and possibly (via the LEDs) status of playing/actively looping clips. As far as controlling Live’s various effects and synth parameters and clips, the controller looks fascinating. I have to say, I wouldn’t really want anything like this for performance, because I’d rather concentrate on more musical controllers — continuous controllers, and instrumental interfaces, rather than endless knobs. (In other words, I want to feel like a musician more than a DJ or studio engineer, though of course it’s always nice to have some knobs handy.) But for precise control of musical structures, I can see why Robert built this.

Monodeck II [Monolake]
Monodeck I [Monolake]

We should know a lot more once the hardware is finished; there’s still firmware work to be done and Robert promises more details later on.

We’ve seen a lot of the Monodeck (and now Monodeck II). So what other custom (or pre-built) controllers do you like for Ableton Live? And have any of you tried building your own?

  • Monodeck II is real nice; alot more fliud than the Richards first Mondeck. I made a controller box based on the Doepfer Pocket Electronics. I converted an old voltmeter box into a semi-ergonomic MIDI ControlBox. You can check the build process here on flickr. I'm going to put it up on the bay soon to finance my next controller. I was told by Doepfer that they'll be releasing a revision to the P.E. soon enough. Which I hope to be MIDI'd and powered thru USB.

  • bliss

    Anybody else feel like a baby when reading about Henke's excursions?

  • Adrian Anders

    Pretty cool, but of course a Behringer BCR2000 is a whole lot cheaper and basically does the same thing (at a cost of a customized, somewhat more rugged interface).

    Personally, I like a "non-musical" (whatever that means) interface. For me, a keyboard is not any good for triggering events as I often get confused on what key goes to which sample, effect bypass, etc. An MPC-style drumpad or any other bank of buttons I find is much easier to deal with. I may not be able to pull of those crazy, jaw-dropping keyboard solos, but that is never my intent when I play live.


  • It's probably not fair for me to say "non-musical." I just lack a better way of saying it … I agree, keyboards = crap for triggering. I just like to have something that's a little more physical than a knob sometimes. Totally depends on what I'm doing, though, and I certainly don't mean to exclude handy knobs and faders.

    Maybe someone else can put this better than I am. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Valis

    It definately does look a bit like a small FOH mixer or sidecar for a musician's monitor. Quite a midibox build though.

  • I am using two Faderfox controllers for Live, and they've made it much easier for me to make music.

    I've stripped down by set so much that I can access all tracks and a couple of important effects via knobs and pots.

    But still…. I find it too awkward to be staring at a computer screen when playing in front of people, even if it's just for checking what clip I want to trigger next.

    I'm going to give the Electribes a try.. even though they lack USB (still card readers), I feel I may be in for a positive surprise, even for production work.

  • I thought it was a midibox based project the first time I saw the monodeck I.

    Can Live accept more than one controller? For me, for the "dj" portion, A grid of buttons to trigger loops, would be lot easier to keep track of then a keyboard, given the way live operates. You can intuitively link the button to the title of the sequence in live, if you can create or find a controller that suits your optimum operating conditions.. So I agree with Ade there..

    But for me, I'd also like to play ontop of that, with a keyboard controller. If Live accepts multipule controllers, thats a huge plus for me in that regard.

    What I've done in the past, was to use my old XL7 as a sequencer to trigger patterns, and then have an additional module / sampler setup on the side for live playing. Then I got into fruity loops, and moved alot of the live playing onto that, where it was easy to setup several softsynths and two controllers. I would then just activate the track I wanted to play (the little green light in front of the plugin). I could easily jump around synths that way.

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  • Valis

    Metro:Sonus yes Live supports multiple controllers. You set your input devices as what Live understands to be a 'controller' (controlling parameters & triggering Live clips) in preferences by toggling a switch next to each midi device. To have an instrument track (or midi track) accept input from any device you simply set that midi device as the input for the track. The two things are separate (playing instruments and controlling Live).

  • Lpx

    Monodeck II seems great and much more advanced than the previous one.

    Monodeck I inspired me to create my custom build MIDI controller.

    I'm working on a controller which has 40 controls (27 pots, 1 slider and 12 buttons)

    It's based on a Atmel Mega 32, has a LCD display and i want to implement USB interface on it.

    The buttons and pots are already working, now i'm just struggling against communication problems.

    I'll put everything available, when i get to a final stage.

    Nuno Santos aka Lpx

  • I'm more interested in knowing how Robert uses live with this gear, than knowing this gear..

    I mean, what does he control in live? only effects? only loops? etc

  • ahah, nice previous comment from … me.

    strange questions, etc.

    now, I'm building my controller:

    time goes fast …

  • and 1 year after that, I have my own protodeck controller that works very fine ๐Ÿ™‚

    it is a bit my timeline here ๐Ÿ˜€