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Best Ableton Controllers For DJ’ing

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The Best Ableton Controllers For DJ’ing

Whether you plan to use your controller for a live performance or to record some new tunes at home, the best Ableton controllers can make your life a whole lot easier.  Ableton controllers are digital gears that are specifically designed to integrate with Ableton Live.

They aim to give you easy control, navigation, and maximum capabilities in all your recording sessions and live performances as a DJ. If you’ve just gotten your DAW (digital audio workstation) you don’t really need a MIDI controller.

If navigation on the platform is a daily activity for you then you better get shopping. Of course, that’s just my opinion. You’re free to buy a controller at the same time as your DAW and then learn to use them both simultaneously.



Ableton, together with AKAI, makes for one of the most popular DAW controllers. They are used by musicians of every type and genre. They are ideal for live performances and music production. Its features know no limits.

There are some cases where the Ableton Push 2 is the reason that people start using Ableton Live in the first place. The 8×8 grid of the backlit RGB pads integrates perfectly with Ableton which gives you real-time note input capabilities as well as clip launching.

There are eight touch-sensitive rotary knobs that you can use for mixing adjustment, library browsing, and so much more. These responsive controllers are just what you need to execute the perfect performance.

The Ableton Push 2 scale mode lights up the pads that align with the notes in the selected key and scale. There are tonnes of controls that come with the Push 2. These include the ability to add effects, change the type of scales, or even apply automation within step sequences. The large display with stunning color will show you everything you need to mix some wild tracks.


The less-compact AP40 MKI still has its place in my own home recording studio. The new AKAI APC40 MKII is far lighter and doesn’t have a build that’s as bulky as the original model.

I find that the quality isn’t quite on par with the previous model nor does its ergonomics square up but I still count it as an excellent choice for anyone who needs a controller for live performance and studio recordings.

This new, lighter, and slimmer model of the APC40 Ableton controller provides the same features as the first model. You have complete control of the playback of clips that you have in your project.

It has 40 RGB backlit clips, 9 faders, and an abundance of launcher and function buttons that ensure you can put on a performance to remember. The main concern that I have with this model is its build quality.

I found tons of unhappy reviews on the web regarding malfunctions with its buttons. The pads aren’t that sensitive to velocity, and if you are planning to play instruments you won’t be able to perform with this controller due to the fact that it doesn’t offer step sequencer like the Ableton Push.


If you liked the Ableton Push but can’t afford the hefty price tag, fear not, for we have a similar option that is far cheaper and more portable than its premium counterpart. Novation Launchpad Pro is a great entry point into grid-based controllers.

The Launchpad has 64 RGB backlit pressure and velocity buttons. It also has 32 round mode buttons. Its main use is as an instrument, but you can also use it for instant access to all your mixer controls.

You won’t even have to insert a separate mixer mode. Its scale mode makes it virtually impossible for you to play out of key and when you have it in Note Mode, it will automatically switch the layout for drum or instrument devices.

Launchpad Pro isn’t just designed to run with the Ableton Live, it also lets you use other DAWs such as Logic Pro, and can be connected to other MIDI equipment, software samples, and third-party ST instruments like the NI Komplete series.


I use both controllers and MID keyboards during my live performances. Seeing as they’re both rather heavy, it isn’t exactly my idea of fun to carry them around whenever I have to head from gig to gig.

If you need both pieces of equipment but you’re working with a limited budget, the AKAI APC Key 25 is definitely the right Ableton controller for you. AKAI professional worked together with the creators of Ableton Live to put together this amazingly lightweight and unimaginably portable MIDI keyboard controller.

It has stunning software integration that is on-par with all of the controllers in the premium price range. As with all lightweight gear, you’ll need to be a bit more delicate when transporting this controller as any hard impacts may damage its internal components.

This double-octave keyboard controller provides 25 synth-action keys, 5×7 tri-color clip launch buttons, eight knobs, and numerous other control buttons.


Another result of AKAI-Ableton collaboration is the AKAI MIDImix. The MIDImix sends all of its mixer settings to Ableton Live at the push of a button. Though it isn’t aimed completely at Ableton, there is minimal documentation on its compatibility with other DAWs.

The AKA MIDImix has a very simplistic design. It has 24 knobs, 16 buttons, and 8 line faders. The package comes with the Ableton Live Lite version meaning you can start producing music immediately. This controller is pocket-sized and weighs in at under a kilo.

Its footprint is around equal to that of an 11” Macbook. The MIDImix is a great portable controller that can mix and process all your projects wherever your musical journey may take you.


There is an abundance of choices when it comes to buying a new Ableton controller. The variety of brands, features, and price ranges is something that would’ve limited to the imagination of the musicians in the 60s. We hope you enjoyed our list, keep rocking!

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