Ableton Live’s iPad-augmented control can take some forms. There are apps that do everything, replicating the mouse so that you can go directly to touch for every single task and avoid your computer completely (Touchable, for instance). There are specialized controllers, which focus on a few tasks or a particular device or Max patch.

And then there’s Conductr, and it’s something a bit different.

First, as of June, it’s free – or freemium, anyway. The free version is limited to four tracks and eleven scenes, but it’s enough to give you a taste. And with user modules, it’s easily a workable complement to other controllers like Push, even without touching the in-app purchases. (That seems to me a use of in-app purchases that actually makes sense.)

But most importantly, Conductr focuses on giving you controls that are well suited to the iPad. This isn’t about the iPad screen pretending to be hardware faders and knobs, or about cramming a mouse-style interface under your fingers. Instead, the Barcelona-based developers of Conductr have made an interface that intentionally does less. It’s cleaner, easier to see, and less crowded. You can leave just a few controls, use gestural controllers, and even set up layouts that don’t require you to look at your iPad. As a keyboardist, and someone who finds the iPad sometimes as clumsy as I do invaluable, it’s great.

And today’s update is really the best development of that concept. The XY-4D is simply the best X/Y controller I’ve seen on the iPad yet. It’s totally user assignable, and makes your iPad into something like a 21st Century, Star Trek-chic KAOSS Pad.


There’s a single user-assignable XY-4D pad now free in the free edition of Conductr, so you don’t have to listen to me drone onto it, but here’s what it does:

  • 4 XY units inside
  • Each unit, four parameters (horizontal, vertical, pinch, tap to toggle on/off)
  • Reset, freeze
  • Up to four modules per view (for up to 64 parameters)



It’s so nice, in fact, that I’d love to assign this to other tools, too. (Maschine, for instance – though I can do that now within the host, which is probably where I’ll start.)

It’s also great to see them using pinch; hopefully more controllers take advantage of the various gestures possible on iPad.

I hope the developers, PatchWorks, continue on this path. It really does seem better suited to what the iPad is. Let us know how you wind up using it.

Here’s there manifesto, in a recent press release, which I appreciate:

We do not want to replicate hardware on a touchscreen; we want to get maximum advantage of multitouch technology to give musicians the kind of resources that they can’t get from a hardware controller. From an ergonomic interface that adapts to any momentary need —in other words: you only see what you need at any given time— to a gestural mode that allows the user to play without watching the iPad and a modular basis that will permit the app to grow through the addition of complementary modules.

More on the controller and how it works:

And here’s another freebie for you – a loop pack from Hermético and Sr. Click on netlabel Inoquo. It’s pre-mapped to Conductr, so a nice way to explore the tool:


More at their site – and also check out some very nice artist profiles and blog entries; they’ve been rather busy!