When Ableton refers to controllers, they do use “controllers,” plural. So you can expect more Ableton-official controllers coming soon.

Ableton does have a video where you can see more in action. (Video via the terrific audioporncentral.) What I need you to tell me is what you can’t see in this video, so I can sit down with Jesse in New York and cover that leisurely.

Briefly, there, it looks like the APC is ready to do its impression of the scene in Close Encounters. Grab your ARP emulation and Max in Live, and we could, um, actually do that with this device.

More on Ableton’s site:

Note: no conventional MIDI jacks on the back, which is funny given that they show in some pretty cheap devices.

Ableton has posted new images of the side of this thing. Two footswitch inputs, power, and a security lock (handy for education customers, especially).

  • no MIDI? sjeeeeees! how to sync two machine? extra soundcards. not smart Ableton/Akai!

  • Well, except it's not an audio interface, and most audio interfaces have MIDI connections. Don't see that as a huge deal.

    As for the screen … I swear I'm building one so it has a heads-up display. πŸ™‚

  • James Levine

    What you don't see:
    Clip level control
    the back of the device. Does it have a foot-pedal? Looper anyone?
    The side of the device. Is this thing going to sit in front of your laptop, under it, on the side?
    A breakdown of global controls vs assignable controls. Can I override Stop-All-Clips (a useless button to get such center stage attention, IMO) Can the metronome go through my cue channel, or can I get rid of it's control entirely? how bout that Master fader? What if you're inclined to keep it at zero?
    It's price.
    The action on the encoders. Are any grooved so I can dial in scenes with an absolute CC? Would I use a macro as a chain selector if I can't feel which number I'm on?
    Return Tracks D, E, F and beyond.
    Navigating to scene 100 track 40. Does the global clip navigation feel intuitive? Am I looking at them in columns?
    How the new track groups will map. How folded racks and impulse will map.
    Fine adjusting Tempo. Unless you have an endless knob, you're going to paint yourself into a corner.
    Side question-the clip cloud not being velocity sensitive. How do you feel about that?

  • James Levine

    Close Encounters? Pink Floyd's The Wall "And the worms, they'll enter your brain."

  • This is the beginning. I think that having screens would be useful, but then you're looking at probably twice the price IMO. I look forward to a smaller, more portable form factor without the standard knobs and faders – ie just the clip matrix.

  • Crix Madine

    You should consider the Monome then. I use it with Pages to control clip launching among other things. Works like a charm.

  • gbsr

    @Peter, if you decide to build a heads up display please do post it here aswell as some instructions on how to use it as easily as possible (yeah right *cough*).

    im confused about how they thought when they designed this: if you justmp from the first 5 scenes to the next 5 scenes, can you tell what are on those clips and whats located where in this tri color led solution without looking at your computer screen? i sure as hell cant. even when watching the video while they have the live interface ontop, even then it was a bit cryptic to decode that matrix. which brings me to this: are those leds 3 colors only? cause if theyre not im pretty sure you could color code your set using max for live and the apc for a better and easier overview of what is what etc.

    if theyre not: anyone knows anyhting about the insides of this thing? is it easily hackable? replacing the leds could prove to be a good idea then. also im not to happy with the colors, that red and orange are quite the same almost.

    one major designflaw with this imo is the lack of an lcd. surely its nice to be able to select your effect devices, instant mapped and all that, but what good does it do when you have say 4 devices all with 8 macro knobs each? switching between them will those two switch buttons wont let you know where you are in your chain, nor will it tell you what is mapped to what. i like the approach, theyre trying to get us to look less at the screen and more at the gear and audience, but this forces you to look at the screen nonetheless. incredibly stupid and it amazes me that they missed that completely. the first hting i would think of when building a controller for live useage that is meant to draw its user away from the computer screen would be a way to let the user know the parameter names.

  • gbsr

    tip: never post when you are drunk, tyops and grammatical errors is an extremely high risk.

  • Well, I think by the point we get into disassembling the APC, we should just hack our own emulation and build new hardware. πŸ™‚

    The sense I got from Ableton is that these specs won't be published. But it did sound like they're using MIDI, so figuring out how the two communicate shouldn't be too hard.

    Via Max for Live, anyway, you should be able to get a greater level of control than the APC has. πŸ˜‰

    Just sayin'.

    But yes, screens are a big problem. You won't be able to see which clip you're on, and you won't be able to tell which device or which parameter you're using. For simple DJ sets, that should be fine, but with even a little complexity it gets tricky.

    Let's say I have 4 tracks, each with one device on them. That's 32 parameters. If I add an effects unit for each, 64. It'd be easy enough to navigate those devices on the APC, but you'd have to watch the computer screen to know what you're doing. Now, again, maybe with magnification onscreen, that'll be preferable to a tiny LED screen, anyway — we'll have to see.

  • Yes, I think navigation with all the clips with no indication what will be somewhat tough. Also the need to load new projects along the evening…

  • This device looks right up my alley except for a couple of things. I certainly hate the fact that there are no MIDI ports.
    But this is a live tool and the way I see live is with simplicity, so I won't have a million of plugins on 4268932789 channels going on, for sure.
    Also as that, I don't need a screen too much. I hate looking at a notebook on a gig, I'm not a "mail checker" πŸ˜›

    I love my MPD24 so I will be looking forward to this one!

  • Anyone have any guesses on price or availability date?

  • CV!

    I look forward to a smaller version with just the Matrix part as well.
    I'd love to see Novation do a 37 sl with that matrix on the left side instead of the knobs and drum pads.

  • awesome!!!!!!i ordered mine today.i don't need to buy a mackie control universal pro anymore now.saves me money

  • to Tony:i saw somewhere that it will cost 399 dollar if i'm not mistaken,and it is planned for may 2009

  • this is to the people talking about what it SHOULD have additionally(with the utmost respect to all of you)
    CREATIVITY COMES FROM WHAT ISN'T THERE.it creates tension which you transform into new creativity,creating evolution in creation.

    there is one Universal constant: Evolution

  • @wasili: right, but if that's the inspiration you're looking for, you should use a really radical controller that looks nothing like this. You should try to use only four knobs. And you should have the power to impose limitations, not just the hardware.

  • Give em a mile, they want a lightyear.

    I think this thing is genious, and most of the complaints above seem far-fatched to me. The shortcomings that result from not having a screen or LED colors will likely fade as you use it more, just like any new interface. Especially when you bring Max into the discussion.

  • my point is misunderstood.oh well,Carlie Rosenbury has a really good point.MASTER your stuff,and you will become a MASTER in what it is you REALLY want to do(with your hart)

  • give em a lightyear,they want a Universe

  • contakt

    I was truly blown away by Ableton at NAMM and I am incredibly impressed with how they have listed to their customers.

    I got a personal demo of the APC at both the Ableton and Akai booth as well as having some hands on time and I love it. Build quality is excellent.

    I hear you on the screens, but truthfully, I don't love the display on my MPD32 so I don't mind not having one, I am sure it also keeps the price down. MSRP is $400 so my guess is $300 street and I believe this is out in March or April, I have to check my notes.

  • chupathingy

    Holy hot shit, dude, I've had dreams of playing with this kind of sequencer. Literally, I'd get really drunk and listen to Underworld, get an old junk keyboard, and imagine that I'm triggering all the sounds with this kind of setup.

    Ableton, add one stunned musician to your user base!

  • One other thought on the screens, as I squinted last night playing my Novation live. (Ahem.)

    I do think heads-up displays could be the answer. No one is offended by seeing a laptop onstage any more. And I don't think the problem is having to look at a laptop screen, the problem is having to hunch over a laptop or not being able to see.

    This, of course, is what my friends at plasq had said years ago when they created Rax for the Mac, though few noticed its innovative OnStage performance mode screen at the time. (Apple must have noticed, as something very similar called MainStage showed up in Logic Studio!)

    There is a new heads-up display feature in Novation's Automap 3, which I'll try to cover over the weekend. But yes, I'd love to see something similar in Live. One possibility: you could build it in Max for Live and just have it running as a window instead of as an overlay. (The Jitter output window I think does not support transparency.)

    Or you could even plug in a small display and use that. πŸ™‚

  • @Peter Kirn

    really curious about Automap Pro and what that can do.i saw that you can use multiple devices(well,you could already use a maximum of two in the same DAW with the previous version of it,provided that one was in MIXER automap(and renamed this in the audio/midi prefs on your computer)and the other in PLUGIN automap.

  • Mike

    Touch screen, live was made with touch screen in mind, coming soon with the next mac os? No more buttons please this is 2009

  • Victory

    aaaaaa that would be great mike, using live on a touch screen, hope to see it someday

  • Vogsa

    Mac os touch screen version? Following the iphone success? Maybe that's why apple is shifting to glass screen laptops

  • bim0x
  • @bim0x Very cool. And much as I like the idea of Max for Live, in many cases if I'm going to be using Live I'd rather not have to add another layer of stuff happening.

    How exactly is that working in terms of routing those MIDI messages out?

  • Nothing against Mac OS, folks, but touch capabilities are available in Windows right now and baked into Windows 7, which ships before the next Mac OS is likely to ship. There's already multi-touch capable hardware.

    Anyway, whether it's 2009 or not, buttons have tactile feedback, touchscreens don't. (And the so-called "haptic" touchscreens don't do much, because they still make positioning your fingers a challenge.)

    I'll choose buttons for this kind of work any day. Touch is great, but not exclusively.

  • mercury

    can you use this as a controller for other software like FL studio, etc, in addition to Ableton? I would hope it acts as a basic MIDI controller via USB…but I won't assume…

  • @mercury: I haven't seen any evidence that the APC can't be used with other software. Curiously, Akai hasn't made *any* mention of that either way. (I mean, obviously they'd emphasize the Ableton angle, but still a bit odd.) It uses MIDI, so I expect it will work. The catch is, I don't know what will happen with the lights on the encoders or the triggers.

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  • frabo

    but it is not powered by usb ..!?hmmm

  • Aaron Liven

    I'm really interested in buying this, but only if it's compatible and works properly with other software as well.

    I've also found the lack of information on the topic from Akai interesting and slightly suspicious.

  • Aaron Liven

    To follow up on my own comment, I asked Akai about the compatibility question.

    They stated that some CC messages are hardwired into the APC40 for use with Ableton. Therefore, the hardware messages cannot be changed, but as long as the software supports remapping it's controls to different CC messages it will all work fine.

  • Ben

    Would be good to have EQ for each channel – create more knobs (yes i know!)
    just a basic hi-mid-low instead of having to filter in between base lines to get a decent fluent mix.

  • Michael

    Anyone know if the APC40 will have the ability out of the box to assign the faders to one group of eight tracks and the clip matrix to another?

    I'm gonna be sadly disappointed if every channel strip is hardwired together and us poor saps have to wait for Max for Live to remap them…