Akai recently dropped the APC 40 MKII. This is the reimagined APC, redesigned with keen attention to detail where bringing Ableton Live to life in the physical with its design esthetic was key. So, we left the APC 40 MKII alone for a while with our reviewer Anthony Jacobs. Anthony took the APC for a spin at one point having a Maschine Studio and a Maschine Mikro working together while the APC 40 MKII did the heavy lifting where Ableton / DAW control was concerned.
Here is what Anthony has to say about the APC 40 MKII
Recently I was given the opportunity to test out the new Akai APC40 MKII. Before I’d ever been given this opportunity I was not too Ableton “handy”. I do own Ableton 9 live suite. However, as an Audio Engineer I mostly use Pro Tools for work. Still, as a beat maker, I never really developed a great workflow in Ableton prior to being given the APC 40 MKII for review. So, I gladly embraced this opportunity to get a more in-depth experience with Ableton and all its features.
Upon receiving the device I could not wait to try it out. After opening the package and unwrapping the device, I noticed that it has a very nice feel to it. It was well-built and a bit sturdy. In fact, all of the buttons are very thick and sturdy too with smooth comfortable movement. The build quality will easily withstand the test of time and any long-term frequent usage. It’s worth noting that there is a power button (not typical for controllers) but there is no power adapter insert so, like most other controllers, the Akai APC40 MKII is bus powered via usb.
The 5 x 8 Grid has faders at the bottom of each track. These faders feel great, with the perfect amount of resistance while sliding smoothly up and down. Each row has an encoder placed above each channel. These encoders have a great quality feel when rotated. Circled with LEDs, the encoders do a great job at letting you know your place in the value range. Then there is the master fader with a clip control row above. Each channel has a select button, A/B fader button, Solo, and record buttons. These buttons are completely accessible to the scene view in Ableton. There is a device section to control all your devices set up in Ableton, which you can toggle through. Akai APC40 MKII is a definite live performance DJ device but there is certainly no reason why a studio dweller wouldnt be able to make good use of the APC40 MKII’s conveniences.
The device is very well laid out. So much in fact that it didn’t take long at all to get the hang of it. The ease of activating clips and automating FX is what makes it so appealing. It really takes performing to an entirely new level. The encoders placed above each track can be toggled through pan, sends, and user modes, which creates a great inline workflow! The Crossfader assignment is also a great feature for creating buildups and drops quickly. This is a huge step and makes this device highly competitive in the DJ market. The Bank button in the master section makes it easy to navigate through clips if necessary. The clip buttons are color coordinated to your preference but they are not velocity sensitive if you are using them as an instrument.
You can do so much with this device, such as changing the global quantize, nudging, tap tempo, solo, record enable and on and on. The session record button is a great compliment to recording automation and overall performances in Ableton Live. The cross-fader is pretty nice for live performances but I can imagine plenty of creative uses for it in the lab as well. Imagine morphing between tracks with drum pattern variations or bass line variations or even automating FX. The possibilities are endless. Comparing the MKII to the original, I’ve found the ease of integration and the immediacy of control for Ableton was the basis on which this device was imagined and it seems to me that Akai hit the mark. Everything is so much more refined and easy. The Akai APC40 MKII will prove to be huge compliment to any DJ using Ableton in their performances. The Akai APC40 MKII can be used alone (with Ableton Live) but it really shines in use with any type of live midi performance devices and other midi devices. Anyone creative type can find great benefit from Akai APC40 MKII’s massive features.
#Apc40mkII cross fading between user defined track “a” and track “b” A video posted by BboyTechReport (@bboytechreport) on
Overall, the AkaiAPC 40 MKII is a must have for anyone in the #abletonGANG. The lay out that mirrors Ableton Live 9’s lay out is its own reward. The size and portability make it great for “on the go” and gigging musicians/ beat makers/ DJs. Still it feels right at home in any studio. In fact, spending time with this device in use has inspired me to spend more time using Ableton. The APC40 MKII makes it easy to harness Ableton’s power to mix live on the fly and of course make beats in the lab more creatively. In the end, the price ($399) is not a much of a chunk out of your wallet compared to other mixing decks. The price makes it a pretty good value when considering all of the features and tactile control that it gives you over Ableton Live’s massively deep feature set. I would highly recommend the APC 40 MKII.
Be sure to check out our APC40 MKII gallery on Facebook and “LIKE” us while you are there. See you next go ’round.