EM's Mike Levine (left) and Adam Cohen of Akai
Akai Professional APC40 ($399)
Ever since Ableton Live appeared on the scene, users have been trying to conscript their keyboard, knob-and-slider and drum-pad controllers into service triggering Live''s clip slots. The Akai Professional APC40, designed with Ableton for just that purpose, makes life a whole lot easier. Its matrix of 40 backlit clip-launch buttons is easy to orient even over very large arrays of clip slots. Sliders, knobs and additional buttons give you equally fast access to mixer, transport and plug-in functions. Although APC stands for Ableton Performance Controller, the unit is as handy in the studio as it is onstage. It's an elegant solution to a formidable challenge.