Both Ableton and Pro Tools have long hand their own dedicated hardware controllers, while the equally popular FL Studio remained relegated to generic MIDI rigs that looked nothing like its onscreen interface. That changes with the AKAI Professional Fire, a hardware controller designed specifically for the DAW formerly known as FruityLoops.
Created in close partnership with Image-Line (the guys behind FL Studio, of course), the device sports a layout that should be familiar to anyone that uses the software, allowing them to take to the controller in a very natural way. Whether you’re a professional who uses the software for your original music, a live performer who uses it in your shows, or an aspiring producer who uses it to make beats in your bedroom, this thing should help enhance your experience while fostering a more efficient workflow.
The Akai Professional Fire has a dedicated browser function that you can use to navigate samples, load files, and open plugins straight from the controller, with a graphical OLED display allowing you to see everything right on the device. A 4 x 16 grid of pads across the device mimics the appearance of FL Studio’s step sequencer, allowing you to create patterns and build tracks immediately. Oh yeah, those pads are velocity-sensitive, too, so you can use them to play drums, keyboard instruments, and anything else that responds to different levels of pressure accordingly.
There are four large knobs that can be programmed to control anything on the DAW, from tweaking the volume and adjusting the panning to tuning the oscillator and adjusting filter controls. All channels and patterns can be controlled directly from the hardware, too, allowing you to do everything you need to finish a session without reaching for the trackpad on your laptop or the mouse on that desktop.
The Akai Professional Fire has a Note Mode that turns the RGB pads into a MIDI keyboard, giving you four octaves of note data for playing any instruments available in the DAW, as well as a Drum Mode that adjusts part of the grid into a 16-pad MPC-style layout for easy integration with FPC and SliceX. There’s also a Performance Mode that automatically optimizes the layout for refining a music production or holding a live performance, as well as a set of buttons providing immediate access to transport controls. Need more controls at your fingertips? You can combine up to four of these hardware controllers, giving you access to a massive grid to fully unleash your music-making capabilities.
It works with FL Studio 20.0.5 or later that’s running on a computer with, at least, 4GB of RAM, and either Windows or MacOS calling the shots in the background. Oh yeah, it’s plug-and-play, too, so you just stick the cable into an open USB port and you can start fashioning beats right away. Each device comes with a copy of FL Studio Fruity Fire Edition, which is the software’s entry-level release (no audio recording).
Want one? The Akai Professional Fire is priced at $199.