I got to get up close and personal with the just-deliver Ohm from Livid Instruments. It’s a new MIDI controller with a 6×6 grid of on/off pads, two times four knobs + four faders (that is, eight total of each), lots of custom buttons, and a DJ-style crossfader with a lovely wooden handle. Price is US$750, but it comes bundled with Livid’s full VJ software, Union, for Mac and PC.

Livid is first and foremost a visual software developer, and the controller is unusually well-suited to visuals, so it was a natural for Create Digital Motion:

Hands-On: Livid’s New Ohm Controller, Custom Control Geared for Visualists

Music folks have been equally interested, though, which raises the question of how to use it.

As a DJ controller, or Ableton Live controller, it looks very interesting. You could use the 6×6 pads as clip triggers or sample triggers, then assign the mixing functions. In fact, while initially it appears to be short on knobs, the fact that you have eight faders means you could assign a combination of effects and mix levels to cross-faders — or just set up a basic two- or four-channel mix and focus on effects and other settings.

Readers were split on its potential when they first saw it last year, as you can see in comments. But I’ll be interested to hear how people actually using it respond. I was very impressed with the physical feel and handcrafted design in my hands-on — not enough to shake me from my own favorite controllers, but then, I think the future of controllers is more choice, not less.

And if you think you can do better than the Livid team, keep your eyes glued for the MIDI DIY. It’s the control board / brain of the Ohm, ready to be turned into any project you desire. (With 128 note contacts and 32 control changes, you can do something pretty hefty.) More on that when it ships. It won’t be for the first-time DIYer, but I know we have some advanced readers out there.