Ableton is one of the most popular DAWs in the world and works competently as session recording software and as a live performance tool.
If you are looking for a best ableton controllers for that purpose it can be difficult to find a high-quality one as there are so many options on the market and it leaves you so confused. To find the right Ableton driver, you need something that can balance this recording and performance aspect of the DAW.
In a hurry? Here are quick links of our top 7 recommendations of best ableton controllers:
- Ableton Push 2 Controller
- AKAI Professional APC40MKII
- Novation Launchpad Pro Ableton Live Controller
- Nektar Panorama P4-Controller Keyboard
- Akai Professional MPD226
- Alesis V49 MIDI Keyboard Controller
- Arturia MiniLab MkII 25 Slim-Key Controller
Whatever your budget, here you can find an ideal choice of the best controller for ableton live and all other areas of your life that demand pristine performances.
Check out my personal favorites and see what arouses your interest. My list of the best ableton controllers includes affordable, expensive, beginner-friendly controller.
These are some of the best controllers for ableton you can buy today.
Best Ableton Controllers: Our Picks
Its review time! We have chosen some of the good keyboard controllers brands that will meet the needs of most musicians. Use this list to get the most out of your next instrument purchase.
Here, we will provide a review of the best controller for ableton live in detail so you can shop knowing everything. Let’s get started.
Ableton Push 2 replaces the outgoing Push 1 model. It solves many of the problems that plagued the original Push.
You get a slimmer profile, a revamped design, a higher resolution screen, newer buttons, and better integration with Live 10.
Of course, it’s still expensive and an over-the-top feature for beginners, but if you have money to spare, this should be your first choice for Ableton controllers.
If you want to be faithful, or if you’re an Ableton purist by heart, then the Ableton Push 2 may make more sense for you.
If ever there was an Ableton controller designed specifically for professional musicians, this might be the one.
Push 2 is ready to plug and play out of the box with Ableton Live 10. It does a great job of editing samples and is highly responsive even in complex workflows.
Its 8×8 grid is nothing you haven’t seen before. However, it is the rest of the user panel that makes the difference.
With Push 2, you can take full control of multiple tracks and perform simultaneous editing, looping, and monitoring without having to remap the pad grid.
The built-in display provides an accurate display of what is happening by displaying various readings such as reverb, delay, effects, synths, modes, etc.
The only downside is that this midi controller isn’t cheap. All of its features and superior sample rates come at a price that many beginners don’t love.
The Akai Professional APC40MKII Ableton Live Performance MIDI Controller is meticulously crafted for a dexterous explanation.
It includes landscapes, samples, and one-shots that ultimately create and perform a song from scratch using 40 responsive triggers.
It also includes RGB lighting that is radiant and provides visual feedback and displays three clip states, which are record, playback, and upload. So you can perform without looking at the computer.
With a seemingly cheaper build than the Ableton Push, there are a few reasons why many producers choose to buy the Launchpad Pro over the Push.
Launchpad Pro is smaller and easier to transport. It’s easy to put the Launchpad in a bag and go on a trip with it.
Additionally, the Launchpad Pro is designed to work with other MIDI equipment, software samplers, and DAWs. While Push is aimed exclusively at Ableton Live, you have more flexibility with the Launchpad, which works perfectly as a pad MIDI controller on other third-party VST instruments like Native Instrument’s Komplete series.
With 64 RGB backlit press and speed buttons along with 32 RGB backlit round mode buttons, you can easily switch modes to quickly change controller layout when playing drums or instruments.
The pads light up according to different modes so you can easily play notes like a chromatic scale even if there are no keys for them. It’s also cheaper compared to Ableton Push, so this could be an option for many aspiring growers.
The Nektar Panorama P4 really comes to life once you enter its reason-centric world and frankly there are cheaper alternatives if you just need its generic control features.
If you use Reason and are looking for an all-encompassing controller, then the Panorama should be the perfect fit.
It’s not cheap, especially since it doesn’t offer audio input/output functionality, but it does its job well.
The keys are semi-weighted and responsive. They don’t have the goofy spring action of normal synth keys and mimic the weight of a real piano keyboard. The end result is a keyboard that is far more fun to play than it has the right to be.
Another feature that I love is the motorized fader. It works seamlessly with Ableton and allows you to create intelligent automation.
In addition to the above, you also get full DAW controls, including extremely useful Mute and Solo buttons.
And of course, all the standard pad/fader/knob settings are shown here as well. 12 pads, 16 encoders, 10 assignable LED buttons, and 9 faders.
If you’re looking for an Ableton controller that you can also input notes into, the Nektar Panorama would be an amazing addition to your music desktop.
The Akai Professional MPD226 controller was the best and most popular drum pad controller.
The Akai MPD 226 is a comeback of the predecessor model, although this time it features a sleek black casing and a 16-pad backlit setup.
To take full advantage of the small interface, the manufacturer included four control buttons, four switches, and four faders, each capable of assigning a particular control.
The pressure and velocity-sensitive attributes only enhance the natural sound you get when you’re playing – it will send data depending on how soft or hard you hit the pads so it’s not robotic, giving each hit its own flavor or volume.
The pads are also RGB-illuminated, giving the unit a standout appearance in your recording studio or if you intend to be on stage.
The unit features 16 high-quality MPC drum pads, 64 assignable pads accessible via four banks, and 36 assignable controls as well.
The other buttons are also illuminated and there is a small screen for easy navigation. The whole device is very slim to adapt effortlessly to any type of configuration.
However, due to the compact design of the device, the drivers are understandably too small and could be problematic for some users.
Additional Tips on Buying a Controller for Ableton Live
It doesn’t matter which instrument you choose; Quality, durability, and performance are the most important factors in finding the best Ableton controllers.
If you really want to buy the best controller for Ableton Live, you should consider the following factors when making your final decision.
What is an Ableton Controller?
Ableton Live, released in the early 2000s, is one of the best DAW programming options for producers and musicians. The software seeks to provide users with an option that is perfect for both home production and live performances.
The application comes with an easy-to-use interface, which enables a simple workflow that has a parity of efficiency and versatility.
Due to this balance, users can produce professional-quality songs and also remix and rearrange during live performances.
Music composers basically use an Ableton controller and it’s probably one of the best purchases you can make if you’re serious about music.
Some people are good with various instruments, recording, punching, and compiling different types of sounds; however, this can be difficult at some point.
Ableton controllers help you record, compose and sample your musical composition, all while sitting at your computer.
However, you will need to combine the control with the appropriate software, and with the addition of a personal computer, you can begin your musical exploration.
These drivers look different; however, they all have the same basic design. The layout is ultimately a rectangular array filled with buttons, so they’re pretty easy to spot.
Why Do You Need an Ableton Controller?
Some would argue that having a controller that has already been reassigned for Ableton Live makes using the program too convenient to pass up. Others would argue that it is the software’s potential as a live stage instrument that makes a controller mandatory.
However you look at it, a midi controller is essential if you plan to use any DAW software as a hobby or for a living. Pre-assigned buttons and pads make it easy to keep track of your work in Live Session mode.
Not only that, but it can also help speed up your composing, mixing, and mastering times.
Can You Use an Ableton Launchpad Without a Computer?
If you are wondering if you can use Ableton push without a computer, then the answer is yes.
The trick is to use Audio 4 or iConnectivity MIDI instead of the computer.
Then when it comes to the MIDI processing part, you can use an Android or iOS device or even an Arduino.
There are some launch pads that will only work without a computer if you use standalone mode and it is only available on your recent models.
You can load your samples onto some hardware, activate a drum machine, or any other non-computer application you can think of.
So, which is the best Ableton Controller right now?
The best controller for Ableton Live really depends on what type of controller you are looking for, what level of performance you are on, and how you want to use it. Our best choice for the best Ableton controllers is the Ableton Push 2 Controller.
We chose this one because it gives you everything you need for a pleasant Ableton Controller playing experience – great design is needed to go with the gear and most importantly, wonderful authentic sound. This combination of price, quality, and appearance makes this controller our best option.
- Hardware instrument for hands-on playability with Ableton live 10
- New sampling workflows: slice, play and manipulate samples from push
- Play or step sequence beats, notes, chords and automation
- Large multicolor display and 8 touch-sensitive encoders for controlling mixer, devices and instruments, and live browser navigation
- Includes live 10 Intro
- Complete Command Of Ableton Live - Seamlessly Integrates With Ableton Live (V9.1.3+) Providing Hands-On Control Of Ableton'S Clip Matrix, Mixer Parameters, Virtual Instruments / Effects And More
- Create, Jam, Produce - Trigger Clips, Loops And Samples Using A 5X8 Clip-Launch Matrix With Rgb Feedback For Clip Status And Colour Coding.
- Essential Control - Take Command Of Daw Parameters, Virtual Instruments And Effects With 9 Channel Faders, 8 Control Knobs, And 8 Device Controls That Seamlessly Maps With Ableton Live
- Assignable Crossfader - Conveniently Located Assignable A/B Crossfader For Dynamic Dj-Style Mixing On The Fly
- Hassle-Free Setup - USB-powered plug-and-play connectivity for Mac and PC
- Enhance your live performance with hands-on control of clips and tracks using five simple modes, including Scale Mode; Plug it straight into Logic Pro and play it like a keyboard
- The 8x8 grid of RGB pads light up to match the color of your clips in Ableton, so you can concentrate on triggering and combining your loops and ideas
- Make dynamic beats, play like an instrument and mix without losing focus and ontrol any effect or instrument mid-performance to add expressive effects like reverb or filters
- Software for Mac and PC, Including: Ableton Live Lite, XLN Audio Addictive Keys, Novation Bass Station and V Station virtual instruments and over 4GB of Loopmasters samples
- Launchpad Arcade is an interactive demo that you can use with or without your Launchpad Pro for immediate playability, right out of the box; NOTE: Refer the User Manual before use. Novation now offers a 3-Year Warranty on this and all other Novation products.
- Nektar's most advanced MIDI Controller. 49 semi-weighted full-size velocity sensitive keys + aftertouch. Amazing number of controls available includes 100mm ALPS motorized touch-sensitive high resolution fader.
- Deep DAW integration for Cubase, Logic, Studio One, Bitwig Studio, Nuendo, Mainstage, Reason and Reaper.
- Comprehensive MIDI functionailty. Compatible with all MIDI music software applications
- Mac and PC compatible
- Includes PreSonus Studio One Artist DAW
- Standalone Piano Style Keyboard – Portable mini keyboard and USB MIDI controller with 25 velocity-sensitive synthesizer action keys, pitch/mod joystick control, plus 128 sounds and 10 drum kits
- Play Anywhere – Built in speaker, 1/8-inch headphone output and battery powered specification (3 x AA batteries – not included) for performing and producing on the go
- Beat Maker Essential – Two banks of eight ultra-responsive backlit MIDI drum pads with Note Repeat and Full Level functions for drum machine style performance and music production
- Tweak, Customize – Two banks of four knobs (eight total) to tweak internal sounds or software parameters; in standalone mode control chorus, reverb, filter, EQ and envelope controls
- The MPC Production Experience - Includes MPC Beats Software complete with the finest features and essential production tools from the Akai Professional MPC Series
- MIDI Keyboard with 49 full-sized, velocity sensitive square-front keys, perfect for playing Virtual Instruments
- 8 velocity- and pressure-sensitive backlit pads for beat production and clip launching
- 4 assignable knobs and 4 assignable buttons interface with your music software. Seamless, visual feedback via illuminated buttons and knobs
- Octave Up and Down buttons let you access the full keyboard range and Pitch and modulation wheels deliver expressive, creative control
- Premium Software Included - Includes Ableton Live Lite, Xpand 2 virtual instrument software by Air Music Tech and MPC Beats
- THE BEST MUSIC-MAKING FLOW: MiniLab MkII is an easy keyboard controller that adapts to your needs, your style and your workflow, so you can make music just the way you like it. An ideal small controller for musicians on the move and studios where workspace is limited, it features versatile controls, perfect integration, and a superb bundle of included software!
- PORTABLE, YET FULLY FEATURED: Lightweight but rugged, MiniLab MkII is a go-to small controller for producers in the know. It’s powerful, hands-on, and unrivaled in quality, built to streamline your creative process. Add USB-powered functionality to the mix, and you can get creative no matter where you find yourself.
- PREMIUM SOFTWARE INCLUDED: Get thousands of world-class presets spanning dozens of timeless instruments (Analog Lab Intro); make great-sounding tracks in full (Ableton Live Lite); and enjoy the sound of the famous Steinway Model D grand piano in your own home (Uvi Model D). MiniLab MkII offers all the creative software you need.
- CONTROL HARDWARE, SOFTWARE AND YOUR DAW AT THE SAME TIME: If you prefer to create music ‘in the box’, MiniLab MkII can also help your creativity come alive. Easily sequence and arpeggiate your virtual instruments, sync it with your software studio, and switch to the dedicated Control mode to control parameters in your favorite synths and effects.
- 2-YEAR WARRANTY: MiniLab MkII is a controller that you can count on. It comes with a 2-year warranty, so you can get creative safely in the knowledge that it can go the distance.
Today there are many inexpensive, high-performance controllers on the market that come pre-mapped and ready to use with Live.
Ableton controllers offer fantastic features and you need to take some time to learn about all the features and benefits it provides.
We hope we’ve clarified your decision to choose a MIDI controller to use with Ableton Live.
However, keep in mind that different musicians and producers have different approaches to playing and performing with a MIDI controller. Get creative and create your own workflow that works for you.
Whatever your wishes, you are now a more educated buyer and you will definitely be more satisfied with your equipment.
We hope this guide has helped you choose the best Ableton controller that best fits your needs!