Are you searching for the best budget Ableton controller? Here are the six best budget Ableton controllers in 2020 and I’ve tested them all so which one is right for you? Let’s find out and read the full article till the end because if you’ve got a little bit more money to spend I’ll talk about a couple of controllers you should check out as well. But for now, let’s stick to the budget controllers. In this article, I’ll compare features, quality, cost, intuitiveness of control, and more.
|Best Ableton Controller|
Each one offers unique benefits and downside and I will tell you the most important in this article. Don’t forget to check the latest price of all below-mentioned budget Ableton controllers by below-given link. Let’s get started.
1. PreSonus Atom
The first controller in our six best budget Ableton controller in 2020 list is PreSonus Atom. If you need a controller with a very small footprint and includes knobs and pads that feel really good for finger drumming get the PreSonus Atom. The PreSonus Atom is just a little bit bigger than the launchpad mini so it’s super portable. When I first tried this the feel of the pads was my focus. They feel just right. I love finger drumming on them but this is a comparison of Ableton Control features so I’ll move on to that.
The PreSonus Atom’s pads also function as clip and scene launchers in Ableton and the colour of the pads correspond to what you see in Ableton. The form factor makes everything easy and intuitive to control. You can launch clips by pressing them and then shift and pressing one of these pads launches the scene. You have fewer pads and other controllers in this roundup but the Atom has navigation buttons to help that. Still, if your Ableton sessions get really big you may miss the extra pads.
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The placement of the function buttons is just right, play-stop-record and click they’re all in the perfect spot and you’ve got knobs as well. The knobs control the mixer volume and you can change the function of the knobs using the setup button and switching to pans or send. The buttons on the side allow you to show or hide the devices and switch from session to arrangement views. The select button on the right also allows you to arm, solo, or mute tracks I mean you’ve got so much control in such a small device. So what are the downsides to the Atom?
The downside of PreSonus Atom
Well, you don’t get as many clip-launching pads as the launch pads and the Akai devices in this roundup and it’s on the higher end of the price range. But this is an excellent choice for finger drumming. Let’s look at the other controller that’s really good for finger drumming.
2. Novation Launchpad X
The Novation Launchpad X is the same price as the PreSonus Atom, and it is second in our best budget Ableton controller list. But it looks different from PreSonus Atom and it really feels like a more premium product. It’s got some weight to it and the materials feel excellent. The Launchpads have the most intuitive layout for Ableton clip launching in this roundup. This is mainly due to the 64-pad layout and the eight scene launchers. It makes sense right away you can launch clips and scenes and even navigate through your session view. The pads also function as drum or note triggers and are velocity-sensitive on the Novation Launchpad X. So play the drums and even play notes.
|Novation Launchpad X|
If you’ve got a large drum kit, you can see it all right here and the pads feel great. The pads are smaller than the PreSonus Atom. But still, feature really good velocity sensitivity. Now it looks like something’s missing right? Knobs. Well, that’s true but you can still control your mixer in a very innovative way, using the pads. You’ve also got extra functions on the bottom row. You can choose to stop clips, mute, solo, or record arm any of the tracks. Novation has also included the capture MIDI button. If you play something awesome and forget to hit record, this will save you.
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The Launchpad X also features custom configurations which you can set up using the novation components program. The mini version of the Launchpad is a nice option if you need something smaller and cheaper. So lots of good things and it’s well deserved but what are the downside of Novation Launchpad X?
The downside of Novation Launchpad X
Well, I wish it had a dedicated stop button, the PreSonus and Akai controllers in this comparison have a dedicated “stop all” button. Which means pressing that button no matter what you’re doing will stop all the clips.
Now you can mimic this feature by leaving a row empty but sometimes I just need to stop and not fiddle with settings to get to that stop all clips. Also, the Launchpad X doesn’t have device control out of the box so you can’t just adjust parameters and Ableton instruments and effects. The Launch key and Akai devices in this roundup can do that also if you want knobs or faders you’re not going to get them with the Launchpads. But Novation does have some knobs on its Launch Key keyboard and it has Ableton device control 2. Let’s look at that next.
3. Novation Launchkey Mini MK3
If you’re a keyboardist and want the most Ableton features you can find in a keyboard Get the Novation Launch key Mini MK3. The launch key series of keyboards are the best keyboard controllers for Ableton out there right now and they’re a great choice if you don’t need all the pads on the launch pads. You’ve still got clip-launching but you just have two visible rows at one time. Of course, you can navigate the rows by pressing shift and up and down but it’s certainly not as nice as having many rows visible which is why I included the Akai APC keyboard in this roundup as well.
|Novation Launchkey Mini MK3|
Now with the launch key if you think that all you’re getting extra are keys you’ll be surprised. Launch key has lots of other nice features it has excellent device control for Ableton devices. You can control volume pads and sends with the knobs. Also if you like messing with arpeggiators, it’s got an extensive arpeggiator tool built-in and thank you Novation, a dedicated play stop button.
The downside of Novation Launch key Mini MK3
The only issue I have with the Launch key Mini is the key feel. The keys are a little loud if you bang on them and they don’t have the best quality, in my opinion. I actually prefer the Akai APC. we’ll look at that next which could be a good option for being your budget Ableton controller.
4. Akai APC Key 25
The Akai APC Key 25, this fourth in our list, is showing it’s age but it’s still the best option for travelling and performing with large Ableton sessions if you’re a keyboardist for two reasons. First, you’ve got lots of clip launching pads, 40 in total and scene launching buttons as well. You’ve got mixer controls for volume pens and sends it’s even got device control like the Launch key. So you can control your Ableton instruments and effects.
|Akai APC Key 25|
The keypad feels a little better than the Launch key but still with many keys keep your expectations in check I love the dedicated stop all clips button and the knobs feel pretty good too.
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The downside of Akai APC Key 25
This keyboard has some downside, while you’ve got lots of clip pads they are not colour matched to your Ableton session. Instead, they light up yellow if there’s a clip there or green if it’s playing and red if it’s recording. And you can’t use the pads for finger drumming. That could be a deal breaker for you. You’ve got scene launchers to the right side and those same scene launchers can be used to stop clips, solo, record, arm, mute or even select tracks.
If you’re looking to score a really good deal you’ll probably find lots of these on the used market since they’ve been out for a while. If you need lots of clip launching pads this is a great keyboard for you. If you’re not a keyboardist and prefer faders you may want to check out the next device.
5. Akai APC Mini
Fifty and second last in our best budget Ableton controller list is the Akai APC Mini. The Akai APC Mini is very focused on two things, Mixing and launching clips in session view. And for those two functions, it does pretty well. You can buy it for $99 but check the used market you can find decent deals on these. You’ve got a lot of clips to launch, 64 in total and you can launch scenes with the buttons on the right side. I really like the dedicated stop all clips button just like the keyboard version and you can also navigate your session view with the buttons at the bottom.
|Akai APC Mini|
As far as mixer control you’ve got eight track faders and the ninth is for a master fader and they feel pretty decent. You can change these from controlling volume to also controlling pan, sends and even controlling your devices. But it’s much more fun controlling volumes with these faders, they feel very natural. You can use the scene launching buttons to also control solo, record, arm, mute and track select. Now let’s look at Akai APC Mini downside.
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The downside of Akai APC Mini
So you’ve got all the basics but that’s it you can’t play tunes or drums on these pads it’s really just a mixer and clip launcher. The clip buttons also don’t match the colours in Ableton it’s kind of like the keyboard version, they’re yellow if there’s a clip there and they’re green if they’re playing. Honestly, for what you’re paying for this device I’d go with the keyboard version unless you really want the fader feel.
Lastly, The Akai APC Mini feels pretty cheap it’s not up to the standard of the Launchpad X or even the Launchpad Mini which we’ll take a look at next.
6. Novation Launchpad Mini
All right last one in our best budget Ableton controller in 2020 list, is Novation Launchpad Mini. The smallest device in this comparison, Novation Launchpad Mini is excellent for portability. At first, glance just looks like a miniaturized version of the Launchpad X but there are more differences which I’ll cover. You’ve got the same 64 pads but smaller than the Launchpad X and the pads feel different. They have more travel distance when you press them and they’re more squishy to the touch.
|Novation Launchpad Mini|
The pads are matched to the colours of the clips in Ableton which is nice and you’ve got scene launching as well and scene navigation. If you’re trying to use this to play drums and instrument notes you’re going to miss one big feature, velocity sensitivity. So every time you press a pad the volume of the notes going to be the same. You still have the bottom row of functions like on the X you can choose to either stop, solo, or mute tracks.
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The downside of Novation Launchpad Mini
Now you don’t have any controls for your mixer so there’s no volume pans or sends even with the pads like how we saw on the launchpad X. But it does have a user-mode feature which lets you create custom controls using MIDI CC. You could even program the pads to act as faders if you want but it requires some manual setup and manual mapping in Ableton, it’s not as elegant as the Launchpad X.
As a strict Ableton session controller, the Launchpad Mini is great especially because of its size but it really stops there even the Akai APC Mini offers a bit more with its row of faders. But you can’t use the Akai to play drums and notes like you can with the Launchpad Mini.
Conclusion (Best Budget Ableton controller in 2020)
So what if you’ve got some extra cash? Well, the king of Ableton controllers, in my opinion, is the Ableton Push 2. It just takes Ableton control to a whole new level. And if you’re heavy into session view and performance it doesn’t get better than that. If you’re a keyboardist I highly suggest you look into the Novation Launchkey MK3 keyboards which are a little bit more expensive than the devices in this comparison but they have larger keys.
I hope you enjoyed and satisfied with this comparison of budget Ableton controllers. Keep Making The Music You Love.