Livid Block

Review: Livid Block with Expansion Ports

Livid make handsome controllers. Block is the mid sized of the three in their current stable, but Livid have produced many more than just three models. With a production process focused on refinement Block, like its brothers Ohm64 and Code, has received tweaks and updates over its lifecycle to bring it to where it is today. We’ve got the newest version, which features a DIY expansion adapter on top of all its existing features – let’s see how it does in the lab…


Mac, Windows or Linux operating system – standards compliant USB MIDI.


  • Good looking
  • Well built
  • Expansion ports

  • Single colour LEDs
  • Comparatively pricey
Price at review: $399USD 

Block looks and feels great, it’s easy to set up and it’s got that ’boutique’ feel. At the same time it lacks some of the polished features that some of the big boys have and it can’t match them on price, but its expansion ports edge it into worthy competition.

[like action=like]

The first thing you’ll notice when you receive Block is that it travels light. Frugal packaging earns Livid environmental brownie points, and the spartan approach carries through to the lack of any ‘bumph’ – all documentation and software is online, so there’s not even a CD in the box. We’re not totally sure how we feel about that… on one hand it ensures that there’s no confusion when it comes to getting the latest versions of the software, on the other it does feel a little bit too much like scrimping.

Pull it out of the box and looks wise Block is difficult to fault.

Pull it out of the box and looks wise Block is difficult to fault.

A 64 button matrix in a sleek, formed aluminium chassis with bevelled edges and wood end panels, all of Block’s buttons glow ice blue. If you’ve the readies, you can even customise Block with red, white, or green lighting, a black or white chassis finish, and a selection of exotic woods for the side panels. It’s obvious that there’s been a lot of love poured into the hand crafted design of Block, and that’s something that transfers its way into your studio environment.

It’s not just all looks, though; Block feels good in your hands.

the buttons have nice bouncy feel to them

The faders have studio style caps on them, which makes them better suited to tweaking than live play, but they’re very smooth and have standard 4mm stems for you to connect a different cap should you prefer. The slits are smoothed off nicely, although we’d have liked to see them rounded off even more. The knobs are smooth, and the buttons have nice bouncy feel to them that you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ever played with any number of Monome inspired controllers before. As well as the matrix, there are also some extra buttons which are useful for transport and other controls.

Pages: 1 2

Review: Alesis QX49


Miniaturisation has been vogue for some years now – 25 key keyboards were first, and then mini controls blocks saw 49 and upwards sized keyboards increasingly forgotten in the budget market. Alesis know that when it comes to keyboard control, bigger can be better; here we have the QX49, a 49 key controller with a host of features. How does it fare?

In/Out: USB out, MIDI out, MIDI out from computer.

Bundled: Ableton Live Lite 8 Alesis Edition

Dimensions: (WxDxH) 32″ x 9″ x 3″

Weight: 5.9lbs

Styling wise, the QX49 nails the smart casual look with matt black plastic, round bevelled edges and an ice blue backlit display.

The QX49 nails the smart casual look

The pads illuminate red when pushed – the transport controls don’t, though, however much they look like they might.

The QX49’s main attraction however is the sheer number of controls it features for its knockdown price. As well as a 49 key keyboard with dedicated pitch and mod wheels there are eight faders, eight pots, four velocity pads, transport controls and system buttons. You also get expression pedal input, a MIDI out for the keyboard and a thru from the computer. There’s a 9V DC power option for controlling other hardware (not included), although the QX49 takes power directly over USB.

All these features do come at a price, though… and in lieu of the actual price tag going up, build quality inevitably takes a hit.

The top panel bows when banging on the pads and tweaking the controls

The top panel bows when banging on the pads and tweaking the controls, and whilst it doesn’t feel like there’s any danger of it breaking it does have have an effect on the feel.

Pages: 1 2

Hello. Add your message here.