[LAU] Akai APC controllers - Experiences?

Harry van Haaren harryhaaren at gmail.com
Thu Sep 1 00:05:03 UTC 2011

For the sake of completeness & the archive:

The AKAI APC 40 works perfectly with Linux, it appears as a standard ALSA
MIDI device. This is in line with the expectations since it is marked as a
"standards complaint" MIDI device on Akai's homepage. There is a mention of
a "proprietary handshake" there too, so I thought I'd clarify that: The
handshake are special messages sent between the APC and Ableton's Live
software. It has nothing to do with the MIDI compatibility of the device
under any other circumstances.

As far as using the device goes, it is (IMO) quite brilliantly engineered,
with some parameters remaining static, and other controllers having "banks"
to switch between.
Eg: Master fader & crossfader stay static, while the lower right set of 8
endless encodes switches MIDI channel, while the CC's stay the same.
The Grid works in a similar manner, with each button (horizontally) sending
the same note on, but on a different channel. Working with the device due to
this fact is very easy, as one can do like so:
parameterSetFunction( 144 - midiByte1, midiByte2, midiByte3 );   // first
arg is the track you want to call on

The controller / grid LEDs respond to the same MIDI message they send,
wether that be a Note on or CC. Note that one must use the right channel to
write to the right "bank" on the device.

Hoping to post a quick demo video using it with Linux soon, -Harry

PS: On a side note, its built like a tank, and the feel of the knobs &
faders is fantastic :)
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