iPad Controller Review: touchAble

The touchAble iPad app is ¥2000 (introductory price) and the app that runs on the host computer is a free download from their website.

In their own words: Navigate around your live set with the touch of a finger, tweak Lives mixer, instruments and fx with full automapping and unlimited tracks & parameters.

touchAble allows live users to walk away from their computer and perform live from anywhere within Wi-Fi range while keeping latency at a minimum.

Play your favourite synths with the unique double keyboard or record your rhythms with the 16 drum pads, including 5 velocity steps & octave selectors.

Access the most important transport and clip functions without losing focus on your set and tweak the same set with two iPads with the unique Dual-User-Mode.

You need to adjust volume, launch a new clip and play a device?

Don’t worry – a smart and intuitive screen menu empowers the user to arrange and switch modules on the fly.

Set Up: The software takes some time to set up/sync but the instructions are fairly easy to follow and once done everything works as stated.

Issues: Button response is occasionally not accurate, I find myself tapping away at some areas of the menu more than necessary and the dual split screen, while a great feature, sometimes doesn’t quite load and needs a bit of coaxing if double tap mode is selected.

Again the menus nested within menus is a little exasperating, but at least I can control two different devices on one screen — to a degree — and as with any controller this will just take some time getting used to.

Another small niggle is that touchAble only seems to load on the iPad when both Live and Touchable are running on the host computer and it makes demonstrating the GUI impossible unless my whole rig is present.

Speaking of the GUI, I am not so keen on the overall design, it’s a little bit cheap and chunky. The brown menu buttons are difficult to read, the pastel color scheme is bland and unexciting and the visual cohesion between screens is a little loose. (Compare for example the Drum Pad Screen to the Keys Screen, it looks as if they come from different apps.)

Thoughts: Well worth the wait touchAble definitely stamps itself as one of the foremost and formidable iPad live Controllers on the market. It is easy to set up and its clip manipulation features — the ability to change loop lengths, pitch, start point and so on in real time — are inspirational.

TouchAble adds a whole new dimension and depth of control to playing live and producing in the studio and makes it easy and fun at the same time.

Link:

TouchAble

More Controller Reviews:

Griid

Midi Katapult

Livecontrol/TouchOSC

Context:

I invested in an iPad because after an exhaustive search I simply could not find a ”hardware” controller that satisfied my needs as a live performer.

In my live set I already use two Novation Remote Zero SLs controlling Ableton Live and I wanted to get a separate clip launcher without needing to take up any more space than I already do. I also like to have dedicated controls for each function in my set because I do a lot of simultaneous manipulations across multiple tracks and a lot of the newer controllers I looked at don’t seem to cater to this way of working.

It is for this reason that I am not a big fan of the Akai APC40 and the Novation Launchpad. They rely on multiple layers to access devices/features and have these one-at-a-time device-you-are-looking-at-now controls that make controlling effects across multiple devices and tracks awkward and unintuitive for me.

I am also amazed that neither support velocity sensitivity on their pads and buttons, and their overtly plug in and play feature, particularly that hideous Automap software, drives me nuts. (Anyone who knows how to disable it completely on the Zero SL please let me know.)

These kinds of controllers are squarely aimed at the bedroom DJ/Producer market and will clearly be obsoleted by newer versions of themselves in the months to come so I found myself at a loss for what to do until someone suggested I get an iPad.

Now I am not ashamed to admit I had my eye and dreams on the JazzMutant Lemur Interface for years and when Apple announced the iPad my very first thought was, wow a Lemur for a fifth of the price, but for some reason I just couldn’t get my head around what an iPad actually was and what is was good for, until I saw the apps being developed for music software control.

I am not an early adopter, I like to leave the line waiting and the bug battles to those who care more deeply about that kind of thing so a lot of the software I am talking about here is not necessarily new or revolutionary, it is just software I have tried out since getting the iPad and some of it has left me disinterested and a little confused and some of it has simply blown me away, inspiring and enabling new interactions with my software and instruments and opening up a whole new level to my live performances and studio production.

I hope these insights assist you in making a decision on which app best suits your setup.