January 16, 2009 Akai has unveiled the APC40 controller, designed in conjunction with Ableton specifically for use with Live 7. The APC40 is the first controller to feature bi-directional communication with Ableton, allowing it to give visual feedback on the state of 40 clips and 16 parameters.

With instant access to 40 clips, 16 parameters, five scenes, arm/solo/cue/mute across eight channels, a master fader, tap tempo/nudge and a replaceable crossfader, this could be the device that unchains you from your mouse, keyboard and monitor during your performances, and makes that "just checking my e-mail" look a thing of the past.

The APC40 is a class-compliant USB device, which means plug-and-play operation with Ableton Live 7 on a PC or Mac - with no remapping or tweaking needed to enable any of the functionality. Of course, Ableton power users can easily remap what they need.

It also includes Live 7 APC Edition, a cut-down version of Ableton with limitations on track and plugin counts, so you can get started with production, remixing or DJing without the full retail version of Live, or a save-disabled demo version.

Akai promises the solid build quality we've come to expect from their MPC, MPD and MPK range of devices. No word on price or availability.