I have been looking for some hardware device to play my music live with Ableton, since the prospect of just using a laptop is not very appealing, so i was thinking about purchasing a used monome unit (since buying a new unit is pretty much impossible).
As i watched the price for used monome 64 units plummet on Ebay (due in part to the recession, i am sure) from $900 to around $500-600, and i was ready to bid on one, i read about the Akai APC 40 controller, which was built for, and integrates seamlessly with Ableton Live.
So let’s make a comparison between the monome 64 and the Akai APC 40.
-built in the usa (you may think this is a con if you live overseas hehe)
-community supported via open source software. Tons of apps can be downloaded for the monome and run via MAX runtime.
-good hardware documentation: can be extended, expanded and hacked
-Made of Sturdy Wood and aluminum. Strong enough to stand on (see pic below)
-Expensive (even when purchased used)
-Scarce, It takes months of waiting to purchase brand new.
Akai APC 40
-Cheap! ($399 with free shipping from some vendors in the USA)
-Available in most music stores. No need to wait for months to get a new unit.
-programmable (only using Ableton MAX $$)
-Has more controls and offers better Ableton integration than the monome 64
-hardware and software support from Akai
-Can only be used with Ableton.
-Need to purchase Ableton Max to program the unit.
-Build quality could be low (i am sure it is built in China)
-Closed architecture. Cannot be easily hacked.
-“Chassis” is supposedly made of “metal” but the whole thing is mostly made of cheesy plastic (see pics below)
After weighing the pros and cons (specially the price) i think (in my humble opinion OK?) the Akai APC 40 is a winner just because of the price, only if you plan to using Ableton.
If you are lucky enough to get a monome kit for cheap, i think the monome is the winner.
Either way the reviews for the APC 40 are good.
Check out this video review by DJ Tom Cosm which demonstrates some of the APC 40 features.
As Tom Cosm says at the end of the review, the APC40 is going to revolutionize Live DJ / music playing as thousands of artists will be able to afford and use one.
Disclosure: I am in not being sponsored by Akai and i am in no way associated with them.