Ableton Push 2
With Albeton completely reaching the summit with Live, their live performance and production DAW, it was almost a no-brainer for them to release their own beatpad to go with it. If you’re after the best MIDI pad controller and are among the Ableton zealots, having their name on the box could be the clincher for you. It’s a 64-pad grid controller with amazing sequencing and the ability to play MIDI clips and Drum Rack beats.
You can also use Push 2 to browse and get going with sounds, presets and devices, and control them with the rotary encoders. It perhaps goes without saying that Push 2 is the most formidable pad controller for Ableton Live, as it was lovingly created by the team themselves. You can even do a certain amount of mixing of tracks with it.
Best MIDI Pad Controllers: Buying Advice
Be careful not to be led into thinking that each of these items offer the same thing, just because they are more or less all square boxes with lots of buttons to press — it’s important to consider what it is you are after for your needs, and if they are able to provide it.
For example, are you sure you don’t need piano keys on your MIDI controller? Because you can use the pads to play your melodies, however for some, having the traditional keys to tinkle the tunes on is a deal-breaker. Bear in mind that many MIDI keyboards also offer a set of pads and other buttons to give you a hybrid device. Check out our best MIDI keyboard controller list here.
Another variation among the products is how sensitive the pads are to your touch, which is what the term ‘velocity sensitivity’ refers to. If there are times you’ll be playing the pads deliberately softly, and then much harder as your track builds, then ensuring the controller offers this will be important for you to help express the emotion of your performance. If it’s more sequencing and launching clips you’re concerned with, then you can save a bit of money usually with a MIDI pad controller that doesn’t have this feature.
And then the last few things for your checklist — do you need backlit, colour coding of the pads for live performance? This isn’t just to make the beatpad look cool — if you’re using it live in a low-lit venue, the coded colours could be vital. And beyond pads, you will also want to ponder on things like rotaries, screens and faders.
But ultimately, the most important reason to get a MIDI pad controller is to make your music-making more fun, so enjoy your shopping journey and then lean into the wonderful, physical process of producing and performing your music!
On a budget? Check out our list of the best budget midi keyboards for pro results that wont break the bank!