I was recently commissioned to create a piece of classical music. Since I didn’t have a full orchestra to hand – or the budget for one – I delved deep into the fascinating world of making classical music on a laptop.

I was really impressed by the quality of samples and instruments that are available, at highly affordable and accessible pricing.

I regularly rave about the Labs plugins – I love their soft piano sound – and they have a great collaboration with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. This plug-in brings the power of the orchestra to your fingertips, and it’s possible to get it for free if you fill in a survey on their website.

Another plugin that has also had some of its instruments included in Ableton Live 11 Suite is Spitfire, making their amazing sounds even more widely available.

However, even though these plugins sound incredible and bring the subtlety and expressiveness of an orchestra to your computer, the one thing you quickly realise while playing with them is that they really do need midi controllers to bring out the best of them.

The instruments of an orchestra swell and fall, rise and retreat. So it’s only really possible to imitate that level of expression with some kind of midi controller.

Best midi controllers - photo of ableton push

Controlling your instruments

Fortunately, I quickly discovered some of the best in the business, which is created by a company called Monogram. I actually first learned about them by watching a YouTube video with the founder of Spitfire, who was using them.

These midi controllers look beautiful, and they are fully modular, allowing you to choose the elements that you need to enhance your creativity and expression. They feature smooth and expressive sliders and faders, which are ideal for making fine adjustments, and tweaking with confidence. 

The modules snap together satisfyingly and feature nice backlighting. With a simple aluminium casing, they have a great aesthetic to them.

Adjusting the dynamics and expression of your sounds and instruments just feels right using these high-quality devices. I particularly love the Traveller Console, which is sturdy and really easy to throw in a backpack for making beautiful sounds wherever you are.

The only downside is the price tag, which is pretty steep. Fortunately, you can use our referral code to get $40 off your purchase. This coupon code makes them a bit more affordable. So if you have the budget, you won’t regret buying them – they are a joy to use. 

Grab your $40 discount on a Monogram Creative Console.

If you like this article, you might like these as well:

New Plug-In and Module Open up the OP-Z
The Best Free Piano Plugin on the Internet
Game-changer! Adding bluetooth sampling to the Elektron Digitakt

Until next time,


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