Ableton Tutorial: Setting Up Your MIDI Controller

In this tutorial, we’ll take a look how to set up your MIDI Controller to work with Ableton Live. Before starting you may need to install driver software that came with your controller. So check the instructions that came with your hardware. First, put the square side of the USB cable into your controller and the wide side into a USB port on your computer. Some controllers get the power they need just by connecting them to the computer’s USB port. But if your controller doesn’t you need to connect it to a power source and then turn it on. Now onto Live. Go to Live’s preferences by hitting [Cntrl +,] on a PC or [Cmd +,] on a Mac. Click on the ‘MIDI Sync’ tab. If your controller’s set up properly, you should see one or more input and output entries forward in the MIDI’s Port section. Now turn on the tracks which form your controller’s input port. Your controller should now be set to play instruments in Live. We can check this by playing the controller and seeing the yellow flashing square in the upper right hand corner. Live supports MIDI’s Controller surfaces with instant mappings. These natively controlled surfaces will automatically adjust Live’s built-in devices and will reassign themselves when you select a new device. To see if your controller supports instant mappings, go to the ‘MIDI Sync’ tab and Preferences and click on the drop down menu in the Controllers surface column. After selecting your control surface, select the MIDI Ports it is connected to. Instant Mapping functionality varies depending on the Controller. For example, with the MPK25, every time the device’s track is selected, its macros will instantly map to these eight knobs. The ‘hand icon’ in the title bottom of the device shows that it is kindly controlled by the control surface.

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