Replace Expensive Mixing Desks With A Twister + Ableton

Making music is all about getting in the flow so your creative ideas get translated directly to songs without getting caught up in the computer. Many serious producers buy expensive mixing desks with flying faders and LED tracked encoders to stay in the moment. Today, we show you how a simple MIDI controller and a good Ableton script can accomplish the same thing.

Do It Like Pro Studio Producers

If you’re lucky enough to peek into the studio of any industry veteran, you’ll immediately notice one thing – a lot of gear. This isn’t just some assortment of random gadgets that look cool and make funky noises. Every last bit of gear is there for a reason. Compressors add character, mixing desks dramatically improve workflow, speakers and acoustics let you trust what you hear, and MIDI controllers help you work faster so you don’t lose a moment of brilliance.

Pro’s have taken the time to transform their studio into a finely tuned creative space and battle station, ready for the war of art.

Flying Faders? Synced Control Surfaces? What They Do + Why They Matter

One thing many pros rely on are flying (motorized) faders, with visual feedback. As a parameter gets changed in the software, the fader itself moves. This means you’re not staring at the computer trying to figure out which knob is mapped to what. Mix engineers and producers love this type of control surface since it lets them quickly change a vocal level, or increase a reverb send while still completely in the moment. This helps them stay in a flow state.

The Importance of a Flow State

Every producer seems to say their best work happens quickly – and this is what the modern studio is designed for. In Nick Hook’s recent interview, he mentions how he never turns his gear off so he’s always ready to record – day or night. “When an idea’s ready if you can’t capture it that second, everything was a waste of time. I’ve never turned off anything ever cause if you want to call me at 3 am and we’re ready to rock, I need to walk right in here and go. This room is always live. This is like a boxing ring in here – if you want to come in, let’s go.”

Some people call this a flow state  – described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as:

“being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

Flow is what your environment and equipment should help you achieve. Flow helps transform ideas into reality. Flow states helps you feel – not think – the music.

How To Emulate A Pro Setup That Promotes Flow

Professional music producers know it’s okay to invest in themselves. They spend a bit of money up front to stop wasting time doing tasks that don’t serve them – like tediously drawing in the perfect automation curves or volume levels.

If you’re also dedicated to making music there are two simple things you can do: improve your studio environment and choose the right gear to speed up recording (below).

There are a few controllers that achieve this and are very popular with producers:

Mackie Control: $1099

  • 9 Fully automated flying faders
  • 8 Knobs with LED ring
  • Dimensions + Weight: 20 x 7 x 21.1 inches, 21.1 Pounds

Behringer BCR2000: $150 (used)

  • 24 high-resolution encoders
  • 20 Buttons / 4 virtual groups
  • Dimensions + Weight: 14 x 6.3 x 14.8 inches, 7.9 pounds

APC 40 MK2: $299

  • 40 pad (5×8) clip-launch matrix seamlessly integrates 1-to-1 with Ableton Live
  • 8 channel faders, 1 master fader, and 8 device controls map to Ableton directly
  • Premapped controls and plug-and-play setup
  • Dimensions + Weight:: 10 x 16.7 x 1.8 inches, 5.2 pounds

Novation Launch Control XL: $149

  • 24 Knobs, 8 faders, 16 buttons
  • No LED Ring Indicators – doesn’t sync perfectly with the software (requires knob “takeover”)
  • Dimensions + Weight: 9.4 x 9.4 x 1.5 inches, 2.2 pounds

Midi Fighter Twister – $219

Whether you are looking to use a Midi Fighter Twister on its own or complement your existing setup there are things it does which can replace a full on expensive studio desk – while still fitting in your backpack:

The Importance of Studio Workflow & The Twister Script

The Ableton Script

Divided into three main sections, this script aims at giving you hands-on control for most of the parameters you’ll need while making, mixing or mastering a song in Ableton. Best of all, unlike traditional MIDI mapping it carries across all your projects without having you to map the controls you need every single time.

The first two banks emulate a 8 track control desk with your standard volume/pan/sends and mute/solo/arm/select controls. Thanks to Twister’s LED feedback you can easily navigate larger projects and every control will stay in sync at all times, even if they are automated.

The second section offers a selected track focused view offering all of the controls listed above for that channel and adds device control. Not only it allows you to control the first 8 parameters but it also supports device banks to extend these and you can just as easily navigate between different devices to ensure you get the right controls when you need them.

Finally, the 4th bank is left free so you can bundle controls you normally use and have them just a button press away. This last bit is particularly handy if you want to tweak specific parameters regardless of what track is in focus (like the filter on your lead synth). Unlike the rest this one needs to be mapped per project but that is probably for the best since not all tracks are equal.

Don’t own a full license of Ableton? No problem, it will work with any license as long as you are running 9.6 or higher.

Download The Twister Ableton Script Here


After downloading the script file and unzipping it, you’ll have a folder with contain this guide and three more files: “Twister_Ableton.mfs” and a folder named “Script”.

  1. Open the MF Utility and import the “Twister_Ableton.mfs” file via “File > Import Settings”.
  2. Copy the contents of the “Script” folder (_Mono_Framework, _Tools and Twister) to your Ableton Live’s MIDI Remote Scripts folder. Located in “C:\Program Files (x86)\Ableton \Live x.x\Resources\MIDI Remote Scripts\” for Windows or right click on your Ableton’s app and click “Show Package Contents” and navigate to “\Contents\App-Resources\MIDI Remote Scripts\” for Mac OSX
  3. Launch Ableton Live and the script should detect your device and set itself up. If this doesnt’t happen go to Preferences and under MIDI Sync tab select Twister in the Control Surface drop down list, remember to set the correct input and output MIDI ports.
  4. That’s it! Now every time you open Ableton with your Twister connected everything will be tightly in sync.

Don’t have a Twister? Get one from the DJ Techtools Store; or learn what makes it your perfect studio companion.

midi fighter twisterProductionstudio
Comments (18)
Add Comment
  • Damian

    What if I want to make my own midi script for Ableton, do I need to learn to write the code?

    • Ezmyrelda Andrade

      I would do a search for “Selected Track Control”. It is a MIDI remote script that was created to be universal. You look at the guide for what you want to map and then change the midi requirement to that in your devices midi configuration utility. Works like a charm.

    • ameganoise

      Hi Damian, you can create your own custom midi remote scripts using
      You use a visual interface / web app, no coding needed and you can create all kinds of really powerful scripts with it.


    Would be cool to see a video of how this works exactly, especially the third bank 🙂

  • Ezmyrelda Andrade

    Having just put in a good 8 hours of mapping and conflict resolution.. I have to say.. Articles like these are lovely.. but.. they don’t always tell the entire story..

    and it’s very convenient when a piece of script comes along that gives you an idea of what a particular strength is about..

    All of that said.. This is unlikely to be “that thing” for the majority of people out there.. A few people will be overjoyed at something that is almost exactly what they were looking for.. But most will continue to struggle with a workflow that doesn’t have their aches and pains boiled into it..

    Which is why it is my most sincere belief.. that if you want an Ableton Live mapping set up that fits you.. you will go through the long hours… weeks, years, of study and trial that are required of getting a workflow that exalts you.

    Default set, default tracks, Midi remote scripting, mapping.. they are all part of the puzzle.. A puzzle that sometimes includes just whittling down your experience to the plugins which sing to you.. AND don’t give you more options than you know what do with.

    • Dubby Labby

      That’s why I’m so happy with Blocswave/Launchpad apps and novation Launchkey controller… just plug and play!

      Since I left Ableton I’m more and more productive and happy.

      • Ezmyrelda Andrade

        I’m pretty stoked that I found Selected Track Control.. It’s like MIDI remote scripting for everybody.

        • Dubby Labby

          Check the isotonik XL maxforlive devices. These are the near to zero hassle 100% control you can find.

          • Ezmyrelda Andrade

            They are all.. If I can remember correctly attached to the requirement that I shell out money.. That’s completely fine for those not in my situation.. But I’m not in their situation.. I have nothing against those who charge for their work.. I also live in a society that requires the mentally ill to suffer through “gainful” employment that only allows one to.. Actually I can’t even say that I could ever break even.. I tried taking a shot at offering the public what I can do well, and it has repeatedly declined over the years while it has offered those with financial and social capital opportunities at every turn even when those people had virtually no experience next to me… I can rock a floor.. nobodies ever given me the opportunity to do anything but open.. I’m over it.. Sorry… probably TMI.. I’m just kind of broken at something somebody on this site replied to me recently.. I have been humble at every opportunity for a real chance to share my art.. instead.. I get people criticizing me on issues they know nothing about from the safety of anonymity under the supposed guise of need for privacy because they are stealth as they tell this to a trans woman who will never be able to afford stealth..

          • Ezmyrelda Andrade

            But they declined my challenge to battle on the decks.. so.. yeah.. they ain’t shit.. “requirement for the right to privacy” my non-passing ass.

          • Dubby Labby

            I don’t know what has to be with my comment but anyways forget about internet hate. Just make your best and let your work talk from itself. It’s a shame you can’t afford these devices but maybe you can try talking with Darren and find a winwin situation…
            Isotonik crew are great professionals but also better people in my own experience. 🙂

          • Ezmyrelda Andrade

            It doesn’t.. at all.. and I’m sorry I vented.. but I see this.. assumption.. from everyone.. everywhere.. the assumption that people have money.. and the assumption is that one needs to have money in able to eat and live.. and.. this is fundamentally wrong.. The world shouldn’t run on the assumption that people have money.. because.. most people in the world.. do not.. not enough to eat, not enough to keep a roof over their heads.. And the assumption follows.. if you don’t have money.. that’s your fault. always.. It never comes down to the people who have money to look at their situation and wonder why it is they have that job.. It’s always their hard and little else.. It’s the lie of success.. That when you become successful at anything it’s always because of your work, and every little imperceptible favor done by the people around you has nothing to do with it.

            It’s just that I can’t follow any investments of time where something needs to be paid for.. and to be completely honest.. While I am a fan of all of their work.. I know from looking at all of their work.. that all of it… would still end up as a workflow I didn’t create and I didn’t intuitively know.. Which is why I like selected track control… There is nothing that Isotonik can offer that I can see myself perfectly fitting into… If I had the money.. I would buy all of their products.. and go through them at my leisure and see if anything stuck.. But I don’t so it’s irrelevant.

            Internet hate is something that is VERY easy to forget about, yes.. but this wasn’t internet hate.. This was hate from somebody that was A. Supposed to be from dance culture. B. A person who was supposedly also trans.

            So, I thank you for being the the person that gets a comment from a person struggling with a lot of weight and mental health issues and doesn’t take it personally.. If everyone on the internet were able to just say “I don’t see what that has to do with me, but let me offer you something that could help” there wouldn’t be any internet hate.. at all.

            You’ve always been super cool and chill to me so I really appreciate you continuing to be that way.

          • Dubby Labby

            Money is important in our society of course but Love is more important in our souls. Money can buy Love as Beattles song reminds all of us but music could be the medium for spread education even in Love… so all of us, as musician/djs have the relevant task to share and spread from our souls. That’s it and it shouldn’t be a hard work than a natural pleasure in the quest for hapiness. How to be happy if I can’t see Love in others? How to find Love outside myself if I can’t share from my inner?

            Just love yourself and resonate in your own… darling, Love will return as bee come back for more honey 😉

          • Ezmyrelda Andrade

            I’m crying right now.. as I listen to the song you sent me.. Thank you.. I really really needed that. <3

          • Dubby Labby

            Raul Midon is an angel 😉

          • David Brown

            Ez, you’re a human being. Like the rest of us. You’re brave as FUCK already to be an out trans DJ. I don’t know where you’re from, but it doesn’t matter. That’s something that most of the world fears because they are decades behind understanding it.

            A part of being an artist is learning that you’re different from others, and that others may not want what you’re selling. This other trans DJ’s publicity and success shouldn’t mean anything to you whether it’s legit, internet hate, or otherwise. [They’re] not you. You shouldn’t want it because they acquired it by being an artist other than yourself.

            I’ve always admired your comments on this site in general; you’re not afraid to say what you believe, and you’re not hiding who you are.

            In this world, that makes you stronger than most.