What is Ableton Live and why do you need a controller for it?
Ableton Live, launched in the early 2000s, is one of the best DAW programming options for producers and musicians. The software looks to give users an option that is perfect for both home production and live performances. The app comes with a user-friendly interface, which allows for an easy workflow that has a parity of efficiency and versatility. Due to this balance, users are able to produce professional-quality songs, and also remix and reorganize during live performances.
The potential of Ableton Live as a tool of live performance is accepted widely, and if you intend on using the software before a large crowd, you’d definitely love to have a box with a lot of pads and buttons that can be used to trigger clips, and knobs to tweak parameters. All of these can only be provided by the best Ableton controller, which answers the last part of the question.
Features to consider before buying a controller
If you are really serious about buying the best controller for Ableton Live, then you need to take the following factors into consideration when making your final decision.
Pads and controllers
Nowadays, most controllers come with buttons, knobs, and faders. With all these options available, you have sufficient direct control to accelerate your time of production and fully showcase your creativity. Modulation wheels, sliders, and knobs enable you to have a real classic feel. Also, there are some controllers that come with auto-mapping tech allowing the faders and knobs to match with your Ableton Live.
Some controllers feature inbuilt keyboards which is a nice addition to those in love with composing music apart from just mixing. Here the key action should be considered carefully. Simply put, key action is the feel of the keys when they are pressed. Keyboards can be either full-weighted, semi-weighted or synth-action. Synth-action keys utilize springs rather than weights to take the key back to its previous depressed position. Consequently, they are much quicker and feel much lighter than semi-weighted keys which have weights tied to every key to give them a heavier feel. In a semi-weighted keyboard like the Alesis V49, every press has more resistance and bounce back when the keys are released, which is similar to how a piano feels. Full-weighted keys feel exactly like an acoustic piano’s ones and are more often seen on digital pianos rather than controllers.
While synth-action keys will not tire out your hands as much as semi-weighted keys, they feel a bit cheap and spongy. In the end, choosing between them always boils down to personal playing style because neither of them is better.
Weight and dimensions
You will also have to figure out which one to choose between a full-sized controller or a compact model. For instance, due to the fact that most individuals that buy 25-key controllers don’t use them for serious piano playing, it is not surprising that compact keyboards continue to rise rapidly in popularity.
Apart from being cheaper, compact units are also much more portable and handy and will fit just about any desk. Of course, you’ll have to make due with smaller controls. Because of the smaller keys and buttons, some individuals find compact units a bit too cramped and would prefer to rather use a full-sized model.
You might also want to look for extra features when shopping for your controller for Ableton Live. Cables, backlighting and LED indicators are useful things to look out for making your purchase. You should, however, keep in mind that the more extra features a controller is equipped with, the more expensive it will be. So, you might want to reconsider some features that may end up being useless in the long run.