There are simpler, more minimal interfaces, and more tangible interfaces for Ableton Live. But when it comes to all-stops-pulled, touch-everything control of the full depth of Ableton Live, it was already hard to beat TouchAble for iPad. Now, with an update, that app closes even more of the gap between what you can do on the iPad and what you can do through the standard Live UI.

The standard computer model – mouse, keyboard, display – places some distance between you and a graphical user interface (even if that mouse is quite precise). The advantage of something like an iPad is, you can touch that interface directly. Part of the reason I’ve criticized that interface is, you’re still short of true tangible control with feedback – and there’s a great “rant,” far more articulate than I have been, on the topic, one that deserves further discussion soon.

But, as a middle ground, TouchAble is impressive. It’s very effective as a kind of “cockpit” for most of Live’s functionality.

New in this release, in brief:

  • On-the-fly looping
  • Beatjump / loopjump from a clip, among other shortcuts
  • New mixer, with crossfader
  • Velocity-sensitive drums
  • Control Impulse, Auto Filter, Pingpong Delay
  • Lots of other enhancements; see the full update list

In fact, with the new Devices, velocity-sensitive Drums, and Looping, TouchAble goes further toward making an iPad-centric “instrument” out of Live.

Odds are, you own just one iPad. But if you’ve got more – or some friends – the new version also supports up to four iPads at once. The video’s shaky, but we get to see that feature in action.

Sylvain Garcia, aka “Le K”, of TouchAble played with all four iPads at Wild Renate here in Berlin last weekend, and sends us documentation. The TouchAble crew also tell us there’s more to come, particularly with artists.

For more in-action videos — proof that this can work in practice, there are two YouTube playlists:
TouchAble Featured Artists
TouchAble Artists

TouchAble @ App Store; via DE:BUG [in German]

  • I love the promo video. But 4 iPads, really? Why not get a job as a stock trader? For one, you'd get the hang of looking at multiple terminals, which is a real thrill for both you and people looking at you. And you'll need the money and the moral unscrupulousness to rationalize why you need 4 ipads when there are so many other things to do with your money in life.

    It kind of defeats the purpose as a light weight alternative then, doesn't it? I get it that some gigs don't merit grabbing all the outboard gear. But those are typically the same bookings that would rather you use a playlist right off your ipad, rather than use it as a controller. I'd be more inclined to use some Djay software in that case.

  • @James

    Nobody says you need 4 iPads at all. In this video I play with 4 ipads cause I usually play with 2 and I had 2 more at my disposal, and I though it would be a great experience to play my live with, which it was.

    But the 4 ipads features makes sense whenever you want to have a very large control surface to avoid at (its maximum) cluttering (like in these video) but also it allows up to 4 different peoples to play and control  with 4 iPads  the same liveset. the 4 ipads feature also provide a very interesting link feature which provide a lot of flexibility, check this pic:


  • Nice post, nice videos…I work in remote areas in Asia where solar+battery power is sometimes the only option – Touchable + MPK mini combo is fantastic…

  • Sylvian, Yeah there is an alternative scenario which I considered after I wrote that, and that is when or if you're tag teaming for the night with other players. It would be fun for a gang to all bring in their iPad and work off a master set. And yes, of course, you can always borrow your buddies iPad to add it up and not be labeled by contrarians like myself as "the system" (Tongue and cheek Occupancy reference. Insert chuckles here.)

    Further pinch of salt: it really does come back to how things sound and where you're taking the audience, in my opinion. The Touchable level of performance does sound fun.

  • J

    Is there an app to control Max for Live as well? Or do you just use the usual Max control apps?

  • Really wish Ableton would enable a "delete clip from controllor" option still 🙂 .. anything that is clickable in the UI or that has a keyboard short cut should be map-able to midi input or python call backs. 

  • looks like an impressive work! Personally I wouldn't trade in my launchpad for it, but that's just me. I ca see how this makes things a lot easier!

    I wonder what the next step will be? once a controller becomes so advanced you start to wonder what the "standard" ableton UI is there for, why not integrate the controller in Live directly (like Usine does for instance) and stop having to use two (or more) computers to do the same thing. I know Laptops lack touch and the iPad won't run Live. Still that's the future I guess.