In this app overview, Dubspot contributor and Ableton Certified Trainer Josh Spoon looks at the Conductr Ableton Live Controller for iPad.
Conductr iPad App Overview
Conductr is a relatively new kid on the block of Ableton Live controllers for iPad, and boy do they have a new perspective. Conductr’s slogan is, “Made by musicians for musicians” and they nailed that spirit. Here are the 4 reasons you should download this freemium app today.
1. The Design
I’ll just come out and say it, Conductr is a sexy app. It’s minimal but has style. It’s flat look and colors work together to pull your eye to what is important on the screen.
The Conductr Server that you install on your computer works like a charm and connects to Conductr easily. The Project section is where you can create or choose from different projects. Meaning, with the premiums unlocked, you can customize features for every one of your Ableton Live projects.
The Playground section is where you choose between System Modules (Clips, Mixer and Master Module) and User Modules. These modules can be added to 4 different view modes: 4, 3, 2 or 1 views on screen. So if you are left-handed and want easy access to your favorite modules, you the the ability to do that. Conductr also allows you to track volume on the top-left or a wide view of clips on top and XY-4D Pad with a Master Module displaying send.
2. User Modules
The User Modules are where you can dial in the Ableton Live parameters for quick access to what is important in your current project. You can quickly map up to 8 parameters in one module and depending on the parameter Conductr will display faders, crossfaders, buttons and quantized scales to aid you visually to what you have mapped.
A feature that makes thorough use of the iPad is Conductr’s ability to detect the number of fingers touching the screen on the User Module faders, which Conductr uses to modulate the corresponding fader. So, if you want to raise the fader on the 6th parameter, just place 6 fingers down and raise up. This is a great feature that keeps you from being an iPad zombie when performing.
3. XY-4D Pad
You may be confused by the word “4D”, it’s simply a plane. You get a horizontal (X), vertical (Y), a pinching axis (Z), and an on/off parameter by tapping (K) to express a combination of changes or effects with one or two touches. You can have up to 4 4D-Pads in one module, allowing Conductr to house 16 XY-4D Pads and 64 parameters at your fingertips. I like to freeze, let’s say, pad A in a certain spot and then modulate pad B for a while. Then freeze pad B’s location and unfreeze and modulate pad A again.
I truly enjoy this 4D pad. I hook it up to Dub Machines‘ Diffuse and get lost in the delay. The XY-4D Pad can be used to change the Repeat with X, change Regen (feedback) with Y, Diffuse (distance) with Z and sometimes the device on/off with the K plane. It helps create smooth textures with 2 fingers, something that is a little harder with encoders and faders.
4. Smart Faders
If you have been using Live for more then a month you will know that it has the ability to raise the track volume to +6 db. This isn’t much of a problem when producing, but when performing live this can be a nightmare if your volume is already loud and you accidentally raise it up with a traditional fader. So the people at Conductr fixed that for us with Smart Faders that don’t go over 0db (the feature can be easily toggled off).
In addition, the Smart Faders will snap to -inf when you slide low enough, so you don’t get a track that you thought had the volume all the way down just playing at a low volume. The volume readout is a very nice addition; it’s meters are responsive, displaying peak and RMS levels.
Conductr is an all-around great companion to Ableton Live. The free version gives you a sweet taste of what is available but it really opens up with the Full Pack. It has most of what you need to personalize your Live experience.
If you have read my review on touchAble 2.0 you may say, “how does it compare?” It has a lot of strengths that touchAble doesn’t have and vise-versa, but it stands on it’s own with unique features and design. The biggest thing missing is a piano roll, keys and drum pads but I’m sure that is in the pipeline. If you own other Ableton Live controller apps, you definitely need to at least download the free version and see how it may fit in your workflow.
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Anyone who comes by will have the opportunity to ask our instructors in-depth questions about our programs, curriculum and philosophy, and watch live music production and DJ demos. You can even sit down at one of our workstations and take it for a test drive. If you are still trying to decide what you are looking for, we suggest you stop by one of our Open Houses to learn more about the school, understand what the learning process at Dubspot entails and help you decide what is best for you. We can also help with scheduling details and payment options.