Akai pushes its APC Ableton Live controller with the APC64 into standalone

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Akai Professional updated its Ableton Live controller APC64 with an all-new design, 64 RGB pads, eight touch strip faders, and an internal 8-track 32-step sequencer. 

Before the Push era, musicians relied on the Akai APC series as the flagship MIDI controller to control Ableton Live. APC20 and APC40 were the best sellers for a long time. My first Live controller was the APC20, which I recently sold after many years in use. There were APC revisions, the design changed to be thinner and lighter, and the lineup received more features.

The journey of the APC series is not over. Akai has introduced the APC64, a completely revised model that explores standalone areas.

Akai Professional APC64

Akai Professional APC64

The original APC series was once developed in collaboration with Ableton Live to offer a MIDI controller that works perfectly with the clip-based software. With the new APC64, Akai is breaking new ground for the first time and pushing the controller into standalone fields.

The APC64 remains powerful for Ableton Live but is now also a flexible hardware controller. It features an 8×8 pad matrix with 64 customizable RGB pads with polyphonic aftertouch. Each pad responds to subtle taps up to rapid strikes for every playing style and performance. This means the pads are at the same level as the Push 3 controller, which also has polyAT.

Knobs and the hardware faders from the previous versions have been omitted. Akai has decided on eight assignable touch strips here, four on the left and four on the right. These can be freely assigned to performance features like pitch control, mod wheel, vibrato, or simple parameters like the cutoff frequency of a synth.

In mix mode, the touch strips can also control the Ableton Live mixer devices (volume, insert effects…). And with the RGB LED indicators on the sliders, buttons… you always have a full overview of what’s happening and talking about buttons. The APC64 also features a large set of button shortcuts for Ableton Live. With these, you can reach features or areas much more conveniently and quickly without detours.

Not to forget, it also hosts a color LED screen on the button that delivers important track information and also guides you through the menu system of the unit.

Akai APC64


The new APC has taken a big step in external gear control, if not the biggest.  Thanks to its massive upgraded I/O interface, the new APC64 is no longer an exclusive Ableton Live controller but also a solid hardware controller.

Akai has added eight TS CV/gate outputs to the new APC to interface with analog gear and modern modular racks. Then, it has a MIDI interface with an input and two outputs on TRS jacks for controlling synths, drum machines, and more. Well, there would have been space for a full-size MIDI interface. 

A big highlight of the new APC64 is a new internal step sequencer with eight tracks, 32 steps per track, and 16-note polyphony. It supports both note and drum steps and is an innovation for an APC device. It works over USB, MIDI, or CV/gate; thus, it’s also a full standalone MIDI & CV/gear controller sequencer. 

AP64 is bundled with a copy of Ableton Live Lite.

First Impression

This is some serious competition for the Ableton Push 3 controller. Akai won’t win any beauty awards with this controller, but it is an exciting further development of the popular APC controller. The standalone aspect, in particular, makes this very interesting.

However, I miss real encoders and don’t know whether the touch slider-only decision can be seen as perfect here. Looking at it another way, the touch strips allow you to move several parameters simultaneously, which is impossible with classic encoders. I think you have to get used to the touch. Either way, it’s a solid further development. 

Akai Pro APC64 is available soon for $399 or 429€. 

More information here: Akai Pro

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