Griid is an advanced clip grid interface which allows you to control Ableton Live (running on your desktop or laptop) from your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.
I downloaded and tested Griid Lite first and after one or two minutes I bit the bullet to pay the hefty ¥2900 price tag for the full pro version but it was well worth it and I have already used it live twice.
In their own words Griid is an advanced clip grid interface which allows you to control Ableton Live (running on your desktop or laptop) from your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. Using specially developed touch objects and simple gestures, Griid is carefully designed with the performance experience in mind.
Finely tuned for rapid navigation, you can enjoy the freedom of playing Live sets of any size with ease. Explicit visual feedback means that you have all the information you need, quite literally at your fingertips. Combined with wireless operation, this means you can perform with Ableton Live without ever needing to look at the computer screen..
Features: Dedicated and super slick control of clip launching functions for Ableton Live with a momentum scrolling feature that sets it above the rest in terms of on-the-fly usability and navigation.
Clips and Tracks appear in rows with real time bi-directional feedback from Ableton so all corresponding clip and track names correctly display on the iPad.
With Griid Pro (on the iPad) the clips and tracks are Zoomable to make the clip launch buttons all the more easy to see and trigger.
There is a handy overview function to navigate to different sections of a large set and a jump-to-currently-playing-clip feature that makes it super easy to get back to where the action is should you get a little lost in all the excitement of a live show.
It is also possible to stop all clips at once or one at a time.
Set Up: The software is time consuming to set up but once up and running it is stable and works as advertised. Just follow the instructions step by step and you should be fine. It took me about an hour or so to get everything synced and working but that is only because, before I got started, I had to brush up my knowledge of ad-hoc networks and setting up IAC busses so there is a bit of a learning curve for end users like me but nothing that can’t be overcome by just RTFM.
Issues: Part of the greatness of the software, its scrolling function, is slightly undermined by the fact that the two other basic and important functions of the software (Zoom and Launch Scenes) are grouped together in the same gesture area. The software relies on a sophisticated algorithm to distinguish between the three gestures but often in my first encounter with the software I accidentally launched scenes out of sequence while scrolling and I only learned how to zoom the Clips and Tracks after contacting their customer support.
After a few e-mails back and forth and a brief Skype meeting (their customer support in my case was simply superb) we determined I was not scrolling hard enough to let the algorithm differentiate between my gestures, so after I couple of rehearsals I got the hang of it and this will be a staple feature of my live sets to come.
Thoughts: A truly professional and elegant app designed for a specific purpose and the best (only?) in its field by a long shot.
It feels very much like an instrument and as with any instrument there is a learning curve in getting to use it just right. It is really refreshing to see a dedicated tool that is not trying to be several things at once.
The creative team at Liine totally get that some artists need dedicated controls for just one aspect of a show and this app might disappoint a few who find out it does does little more than “just launch clips”.
I look forward to seeing how they expand this series and highly recommend this software.
More Controller Reviews:
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.