Akai APC40 – Ableton Performance Controller

Akai APC40 - Ableton Performance ControllerThe critically acclaimed APC40 is a performance software controller designed by Akai and Ableton to give you the most comprehensive and seamless software integration solution on the market. The intuitive 4 tier layout takes the Ableton Live interface directly into the hardware realm via USB – with its main attraction, The Clip Launch Matrix.  The 40 button grid, modelled on the infamous Monome controller, allows easy navigation through the clips and scenes in your set and displays the status of each clip through the colour coding of the backlit buttons. At the same time this provides you with a Session Overview of your entire Live Set with the touch of the shift button. With 8 channels and one master fader, each selected fader in the mixer section corresponds to the Track Control section, 8 knobs with 4 banks defaulted to pans and sends; and the Device Control Section, 8 knobs with 8 banks. Aside from standard transport controls, the global controls such as tap tempo and nudge allows other mediums such as vinyl and CD to be used in conjunction with Live. Last but not least, the replaceable cross-fader makes use of Live’s A-B channel function.

Akai APC40 - Ableton Performance ControllerNo matter your background, if you play or make loop and sample based music the APC40 will help you find a more innovative and performance orientated way of doing it on stage or in your studio. For the noob, it’s a great way to get your head around Ableton Live and by far the easiest way to produce music I’ve ever seen. For the pro, whether you’re into Max/MSP on Reaktor, Monome emulation on Ableton Live or using the touch tracks function within Apple Logic Pro’s environment, the  customisation options are simply phenomenal. From re-mapping the clip matrix to key commands, writing new midi message scripts to live step sequencing there’s not much it can’t do. Oh, and if you’re a vintage drum machine head, you will own this thing – I bet Richard James wished he had one a few years back.

As the first controller of its kind to hit the consumer market, the ACP40 has caused quite a stir indeed. Its lightweight yet robust design make it a very desirable addition to your live rig or studio setup and what’s more, it sits rather elegantly on a laptop stand. When it comes to software control, I fear the term “hands-on” falls somewhat short in describing the experience of using the APC40 with Live, or when properly calibrated with any other audio application for that matter. The ability to simultaneously manipulate multiple clips, while punching clips in and out of record on-the-fly without even reaching for the clicker is an absolute dream come true for Live users.  For this one, I’d have to apply my gear head’s rule of thumb, If Trent’s got one – get one. I have no doubt the APC40 will become an integral part of production studios and stage rigs worldwide.


  • Dedicated control of Ableton Live
  • Unique 40 button multicolour backlit clip matrix
  • Exclusive bidirectional communication between APC40 and Ableton Live
  • 16 knobs with 96 possible encoder assignments in total
  • USB plug and play connectivity for PC and Mac
  • Good build quality with metal chassis
  • Integrates with all major music production software applications

Akai APC40 - Ableton Performance ControllerPros:

  • Limitless power of the button matrix
  • Extreme ease of use
  • Fully customisable
  • Smooth fader action with high resolution knobs


  • No audio interface built in
  • No onboard template memory
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