The Akai APC40 controller – Can it stand the test of time?

I thought I’d do a mini review on the Akai APC40 now that I’ve had it for a while.  Most reviews are after someone has fiddled with it for an hour, this one has been on the road and gigged over the past few months so I think that allows a more realistic perspective.

I do love the APC 40, it is now my number one choice for DJing after having spent a couple of months building a DJ set template and FX units inside Ableton.  I hardly have to touch the mouse now which is great, and the response and action on the faders and knobs is fine.

My main gripe is that I snapped a fader clean off by tripping over my headphone cable – the force of the headphones sliding off the APC40 managed to somehow snap the metal fader stick out of the base.  I think that was just unlucky, but I have read similar things happening to other users, so it isn’t bombproof.  I’ve also lost some of the black plastic tops to the knobs just by having it in my bag – surely they could have been glued in at Akai? Also it is all a bit plastic looking compared with something like the Livid Ohm 64, but that costs twice the price simply for aesthetics.  One day when I have bugger all else to do I might do a custom paintjob on it like I did my UC33e years ago 🙂 (see below).

I still havnt found a use for it in my studio production work flow, aside assigning a few parameters to sliders and faders here and there. when a mouse and hot keys arent enough.  But I do know other producers that use it like a master mixer.  It could be useful if you like mixing down to audio and applying FX on the fly to give it a bit more of a humanistic element.

The bottom line:  would I recommend it? Yes.  Definitely for Ableton DJs, maybe for producers, but it doesnt feature in my studio work much currently. I got it considerably cheaper in the US ($275, less that 200 green queens), but I think prices are dropping in the UK now.  And I’d definitely go for it over the APC20.  Hope that helps any of you sat on the fence.

The LiebeKontroller in all its customised glory, served me well!… (and there’s one of the great synths hiding in the background for you gear sluts)

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  1. #1 by Paul Graham on November 24, 2011 - 12:28 pm

    You mention you had a UC33e how does the Akai APC40 controller compare to it ? Looking for a MIDI controller and I’m in two minds whether to go for the UC33e or the Akai APC40 controller. Any info would be much appreciated.

  2. #2 by Dave on November 24, 2011 - 12:49 pm

    Hi Paul,
    The APC40 has a lot of added Ableton functionality and the trigger pads, although fewer knobs than the UC33e. Both are great controllers, if you just require something for automation while in the studio then I’d probably recommend the UC33e but if the extra money isnt an issue and you perform live with Ableton I’d go for APC40.
    Hope that helps!

    p.s. we have moved to please change your bookmarks, cheers!

  3. #3 by Paul Graham on November 24, 2011 - 7:32 pm

    Thanks mate.

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