The first eyebrow-raising announcement comes from Akai, manufacturer of the MPC series of audio samplers and sequencers that have become a cornerstone of hip-hop music. As reported on the Create Digital Music blog, Akai has unveiled its design for the APC40, a stunning live-performance MIDI control surface designed specifically for use with Ableton Live's popular music software.
The APC40 is designed as a plug-and-play device that connects to your computer over USB with no drivers required. Once connected, you can set up the APC40's multiple buttons, knobs, and faders to control whatever virtual buttons, knobs, and faders appear in your software.
While USB MIDI controllers are nothing new, the Akai APC40 differs from most by including an 8x5 grid of buttons (upper left corner) that correspond with Ableton Live's unique grid sequencing software and support multiple on/off states reflected by different colors. In other words, if you or someone you know is way into making music with Ableton Live, but is tired of creating music by pointing and clicking through the software on their laptop, news of the APC40 should elicit squeals of joy.
Unfortunately, Akai's APC40 announcement doesn't include details on pricing or availability. But that won't stop me from dreaming.
For the full specs on the Akai APC40, check out Create Digital Music.