Having full control of a complete mix and session from your MIDI keyboard – without having to move your hands to the mouse or shift your focus to your computer screen – can be an addictive, if elusive feeling. Here’s a look at one way to accomplish that objective using the new Axiom Pro keyboards from M-Audio and CDM reader favorite Ableton Live, thanks to a first-look video provided to CDM first.

We’ve seen efforts to make this happen before, notably including the Korg Kontrol keyboard series working together with Propellerhead Reason and Novation’s Automap with software like Ableton Live. M-Audio’s Axiom Pro line has a new twist on the idea with what Avid calls “HyperControl.” Several details make HyperControl unique. For one, it doesn’t require any intervening software or drivers; the keyboard is USB class-compliant and plug-and-play, and you don’t have an additional software layer as with Automap. Also, the Axiom Pro is natively capable of sending keyboard commands, and even has a numeric keypad on the front panel of the unit. But most importantly, the Axiom Pro has its own workflow for different editing and performance functions. My suspicion is whether you love or hate HyperControl will probably hinge on how you adapt this feature.

Avid has been kind enough to give CDM an exclusive scoop on an extensive video they produced walking you through the process of setting up HyperControl with Ableton Live, step by step. Now, normally many of the videos from hardware makers make me cringe. John here has done a really terrific job, however. It’s really a tutorial and not a sales pitch, and while I’m a fan of writing and reading, this would be really confusing without the video.

Much of the working method focuses here on controlling the whole session rather than performance parameters. If that doesn’t appeal to you, skip to about seven minutes in for a discussion of “Device Mode,” which is when you finally map those eight encoders to the eight macro parameters for Device Racks so you can tweak your live synth sound. What’s nice here, though, is that you could couple that technique with the tips on recording clips, so you can play, record those clips, play back lips, and tweak all at once, one-man-band/one-woman-band style.

Have a look at the video, and let me know what else you might like to know. What isn’t covered? What other ways might you want to use a keyboard-and-software rig like this?

And don’t worry, while this week is becoming Controller Week (like shark week for MIDI nuts?), it doesn’t have to be The Ableton Live 24 Hour News Network. HyperControl also supports other software, including Avid’s own Pro Tools. Apple just released support in Logic Studio 9 and MainStage which I’m researching now. And while HyperControl is a slick moniker, I’m also researching more conventional control methods, which can even support Linux thanks to the fact that the hardware (unlike Novation’s) is class-compliant. So let us know your priorities in comments, and I’ll see if we can make them happen.

Axiom Family at M-Audio (now Avid

I Want My CDM TV

We’ll be putting more videos onto CDM TV very soon, and now you can subscribe to videos easily via iTunes, Miro, and RSS. Transcoding is fixed, too, so you can load up this video on your iPhone / iPod touch and balance it on the end of the Axiom Pro while you practice these techniques, if you like!

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Still a little thinner than we’d like, but expect this channel to heat up for the …um, fall season.