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The 10 Best Ableton Controllers Available Today

The 10 Best Ableton Controllers Available Today

Ableton Live is the most popular DAW for producers of hip-hop and electronic music.

It’s easy to see why. Live revolutionized the way artists write music with its innovative Session View.

But at its core, Ableton was always meant to be played…Live. Even in the studio the best way to use Live is to play it like an instrument.

The missing piece of the puzzle is the right MIDI controller to get the most out of Live’s functions for stage right down to the home studio.

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But there are more Ableton controllers out there than ever before. In this article I’ll go through the top 10 hardware devices for controlling Ableton Live.

1. Ableton Push 2

Street Price: $799 USD

ableton push 2

Let’s get this one out of the way first. Ableton created its own controller in-house to be the perfect companion to Live.

Now on it’s second version, Ableton Push 2 is the most comprehensive hardware Ableton controller available.

Now on it’s second version, Ableton Push 2 is the most comprehensive hardware Ableton controller available.

Push 2 gives you hands-on access to your entire production workflow. You won’t even have to bother looking at your computer screen if you don’t want to.

Push 2’s onboard high-resolution display, navigation controls, touchstrip and rotary encoders offer an insane amount of flexibility.

But they also come at a price. If you want the premium Ableton controller experience you’ll have to pay more to get it.

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2. Novation Launchpad

Street Price: $149.99 USD

novation launchpad ableton controller

The main ideas for dedicated Ableton hardware have been around for a while.

Novation was one of the first companies to produce an Ableton-specific device with the Launchpad.

The 8×8 button grid may seem common at this point, but the Launchpad was one of the controllers that made it the standard.

The Launchpad features the classic RGB-enabled grid, plus an additional set of circular buttons around the edges for navigation control and transport.

This is a super straightforward controller that can get you controlling Ableton Live right away.

3. AKAI APC 40 mkII

Street Price: $299 USD

akai apc 40 mkii ableton controller

If you’re looking to get the classic playable pads of early music production stations for your Ableton rig, Akai’s offerings are the best place to start.

If you’re looking to get the classic playable pads of early music production stations for your Ableton rig, Akai’s offerings are the best place to start.

Building on their legendary MPC line, the APC (Ableton Performance Controller) was the original dedicated Live controller to receive Ableton’s stamp of approval.

The APC40 mkII is the latest flagship design in AKAI’s Ableton range.

With a selection of pads, faders, encoders and even a crossfader, the APC 40 mkII is pre-mapped to work perfectly with Ableton right out of the box.

The APC 40 mkII functions as a true music production centre with dedicated controls for nearly every important function of Live.

4. Akai APC Mini

Street Price: $99 USD

akai apc mini ableton controller

The Akai APC Mini is the compact version of the flagship Akai APC 40 mkII Ableton controller.

The APC Mini is a super affordable way to get Akai’s Ableton controller expertise into your setup.

This simplified APC has a grid, sliders and multifunctional buttons to take care of launching clips and scenes.

Despite its smaller size there’s still a ton of hands on music production you can do with the Akai APC Mini.

5. Novation Launch Control XL

Street Price: $159.99 USD

novation launch control xl ableton controller

Not every Ableton user is completely focused on the clip grid.

Not every Ableton user is completely focused on the clip grid.

Novation’s Launch Control XL provides a great alternative for those looking for perfect Ableton integration as well as plenty of rotary controllers and faders to tweak.

All that plus dedicated navigation and enough pads to perform basic clip launching tasks make the Launch Control XL a great option—especially for dedicated knob tweakers!

6. Monome Grid

Street Price: $700 USD

monome grid

No list of Ableton controllers would be complete without the original “grid of pads” controller.

Monome was the boutique controller that started it all.

Now called the Monome Grid, the idea that a controller as minimal as a simple square set of pads could be an expressive musical instrument was revolutionary.

The idea that a controller as minimal as a simple square set of pads could be an expressive musical instrument was revolutionary.

Although it can do much, much more, Monome’s pad array naturally lends itself launching Ableton clips.

You could say that capability was what kicked off the Ableton controller craze in the first place!

7. Any MIDI controller

It may sound obvious, but I mean it! Any MIDI controller can be configured to work perfectly with Ableton.

One of the best things about Live is its extremely straightforward method of mapping DAW functions to MIDI hardware.

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Simply hit the MIDI toggle in the top right corner and move a knob, slider or key or your controller—it’s as simple as that!

Ableton will automatically learn the MIDI CC or Note number and associate it with that function.

8. Novation Launchpad Mini

Street Price: $99.99 USD

novation launchpad mini ableton controller

The Novation Launchpad Mini is one of the most compact, straightforward Ableton controllers available.

It’s shares its format and design inspiration with the Launchpad MK2, but the whole package is considerably smaller and more stripped down.

If saving space and keeping it simple are your chief concerns, the Launchpad mini could be the right choice!

9. Akai APC Key 25

Street Price: $129.99 USD

Akai APC key 25 ableton controller

So far, traditional keyboard keys have not been included on the controllers on this list.

The Akai APC Key 25 puts standard Ableton control features and classic keyboard input in the same compact controller.

This is as close to a one-stop-shop controller as you can get.

If you don’t already have a keyboard controller or you need inexpensive, portable Ableton control, the APC Key 25 is perfect for you.

One of the best things about Live is its extremely straightforward method of mapping DAW functions to MIDI hardware.

10. Novation Launchkey

Street Price: $149.99-249.99 USD

novation launchkey

Here’s another one for the keyboard crowd.

Launchkey is Novation’s take on the hybrid controller style. It takes all the best features of the Launchpad and integrates them seamlessly with Novation’s premium keyboard controller tech.

Launchkey comes in a variety of formats to accommodate any desired keyboard size.

The pads, sliders and transport controls will let you stay mouse free while inputting complex musical passages with the keyboard.

Controller freak

Getting hands on control of your Ableton Live sessions is a game changer.

Staring at a computer can get pretty tiring—even when you’re making music!

Get your hands off your trackpad and into your music with these ten fantastic Ableton controllers.

Michael Hahn

Michael Hahn is an engineer and producer at Autoland and member of the swirling indie rock trio Slight.

@Michael Hahn

Gear guides, tips, tutorials, inspiration and more—delivered weekly.

Keep up with the LANDR Blog.

Latest posts

Michael Hahn

Michael Hahn is an engineer and producer at Autoland and member of the swirling indie rock trio Slight.

@Michael Hahn

Gear guides, tips, tutorials, inspiration and more—delivered weekly.

Keep up with the LANDR Blog.

Latest posts