Controlling DJ Paramaters with TouchAble’s XY Pad

Got an iPad? Got Ableton? Got TouchAble? (You really should have the later, too!) Tadhg Leonard shows you how TouchAble will fast become your app of choice for controlling Ableton Live from your iPad.  

If you own both Ableton Live and an iPad, then there is no excuse not to add TouchAble to your collection. TouchAble is the ultimate iOS app for controlling Live, so much so in fact that you will barely have to look at your computer screen again. Furthermore, the update to TouchAble 1.2 includes an XY Pad that lets you control up to 12 Parameters at once using four dots. In this tutorial we will look at setting up this XY pad for your DJ Set.

Once everything is synced and working properly, enter the XY pad by pressing the ‘XY’ button at the bottom right of the TouchAble interface. You will now see something that looks akin to a 1980’s computer game with four dots floating about the screen. 


Step One

Let’s configure the first dot to control the sends from Track One. Touch the black space above Dot 1’s Info panel to enter the Configuration Menu. 

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Here you will see an overview of all the assignable parameters in your Live set. Touch the X panel, followed by the A-Return button in Track One and then the Y panel followed by the B-Return button. Repeat this step to assign the Sends from Track 2 to Dot 2. Tap ‘Done’ to come back out to the XY interface. 

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As we are controlling these FX in a live environment it may be a good idea to disable the dots movement once you stop touching it. To do this, tap the bouncing ball icon in the bottom left of both dots info panels.

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For a more randomized result of the dots movements, TouchAble allows you to edit the rebound speed and gravity of each dot.


Step Two

For the third dot, we are going to record automated filter sweeps for Track One to add to our live performance. Assign the frequency of a low-pass filter to the X-Axis of the dot and the frequency of a high-pass filter to the Y Axis. After you tap ‘Done’ press the ‘Record’ button at the bottom left of the interface. 

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Drag the dot around the pad or let it bounce around the walls. Tap the ‘Record’ button again to stop recording. Repeat until you are happy with the effect. At the top of the XY Pad, press down the ‘Assign’ button and drag your finger to slot 3. Do the same with the ‘Length’ button to set the duration of the effect. The preview of the automation will now appear above Dot 3’s Info panel. Tap the dot’s play button to trigger the automated sweep during your performance. Repeat this step with Dot 4 to customize filter sweeps for Track Two.

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You can also loop and reverse the automation from the configuration menu.


Step Three

Finally TouchAble also allows you to use the ‘Z’ axis on each dot for further control of Live’s parameters. The Z axis comes into play when you press down on the dot, effectively turning it into a momentary FX control. The Z Axis can have effects assigned to it in the same way as the X and Y axis and is a great way to trigger Beat Repeat and Loop Roll FX.

Obviously this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to configuring the XY pad for your DJ set, but hopefully you will now have a good understanding of how to control your FX in this unconventional yet extremely fun way.


I have been an audio enthusiast and DJ hobbyist since I was a young lad. I currently work as a researcher on The Gadget Show on Channel 5 in the UK where I specialize in all the audio and music tech related content on the show. Before that I have worked in the sound department on a number of feature films doing everything from locati... Read More

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