What key and/or critical limitations should I be aware of when considering purchasing an APC40 for live performance purposes?

I have read through the specs of the controller reasonably thoroughly, and am aware that the Akai APC40:

  • Has a maximum grid size of (64) tracks x (125) scenes
  • Has more dials, but fewer features than the APC20 (eg. 'note mode')
  • Operates similarly to the Novation Launchpad in terms of triggering clips
  • Lacks an XY Controller (or joystick) similar to that of the the Faderfox LC2

Over the years, I am still to find a controller that does not have it's own set of limitations, bugs and/or workarounds (part and parcel really), but with this in mind, I'd love to hear from any of you who have hands on experience with using this controller for performance purposes.

Additional Information

For reference purposes, my current live set involves improvising structure with short audio clips, hits and FX. It uses little in the way of MIDI clips or live recording at present, but I would like the flexibility of adding more of this kind of content some time in the foreseeable future.

My rig currently consists of:

  • Laptop (very modest specs, but likely not relevant to this query)
  • (2)x Faderfox LC2 controllers (custom mapped)
  • (1)x Novation Launchpad (mainly for triggering clips/transport)

I like the transport options the Launchpad gives me, require access to at least (8) faders and (1) crossfader, and enjoy using the joystick(s) of the faderfox; but I'm looking to update my hardware, add some extra dials for FX and simplify my connections without losing too much functionality; hopefully even gaining some.

This is why I have been looking at the APC controllers.



Lo-Key Fu 6 years ago | 0 comments

4 answers

  • neuromodulator
    2 answers
    5 votes received
    2 votes

    I borrowed a friend's APC40 for a bit and was fairly happy with it. It's got a nice rugged feel to it for the price, and seemed fairly intelligently designed. The only real beef that I had with it was that Akai expects things to be used one certain way, and so they've implemented some obstacles that made reprogramming certain functions with Max for Live kind of tricky (unlike the Launchpad, where they expect you to do that, and dedicate some buttons to it).

    If you plan to use the default modes, I'd say go for it. Also, check out Darren's Isotonik application: http://darrencowley.blogspot.com/. It's pretty slick.

    On the other hand, if you want to go custom, I ended up going with a Livid Instruments Ohm64, and they just released the OhmRGB which is even better. A bit more pricey, but if you're going to feel constrained by the default mode, it may be the way to go.

    6 years ago | 1 comment
  • cutwithflourish
    26 answers
    57 votes received
    2 votes

    The main limitation you'll find is that it's optimized for a particular workflow - clip launching, tweaking mixer tracks and tweaking racks with macros.

    If you want to do something a bit different (like step sequencers) controllers that are more of a blank canvas (like the Launchpad, or even more so, the Monome) might be a better option.

    6 years ago | 1 comment
  • Lo-Key Fu
    2 answers
    3 votes received
    1 vote

    For those who are interested, I ended up running with the Ohm64 by Livid Instruments for my live performance needs.

    As I am not a M4L user, the decision was helped along by a strong open source community (hence broad flexibility of controller application), excellent pre-purchase support from Livid Instruments, and a truly superb quality of workmanship in their devices.

    I was initially sceptical about the price difference for what effectively equates to less hands on knobs, dials and faders; but with the arrival of the OhmRGB (very similar to the Ohm64 but with programmable coloured LEDs) I was able to haggle the price down significantly with my local retailer.

    As it stands, and after a week of getting my hands dirty with some rudimentary scripting, and I'm completely in love with my new controller. Can't wait to get her out and about in a performance situation!

    Thanks to those who contributed to my initial question, your input was invaluable.

    6 years ago | 0 comments
  • landrummer
    2 answers
    2 votes received
    1 vote

    My APC40 is great for indoor gigs and in studio, but if you are going to be performing outside, as I do often, forget about it. The lights on the buttons completely wash out with the slightest amount of sunshine, even in the shade. Had I known this ahead of time, I wouldn't have purchased it. 

    6 years ago | 1 comment

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