It’s an instrument. It’s a DAW control surface. It’s a DJ controller. On certain days, maybe it’s also a gaming pad. The new OhmRGB by Livid Instruments is anything you want it to be, because it’s extremely open-ended; at the end of the day, it’s nothing but a bunch of buttons, faders, and knobs, like almost any controller on the market. But, unlike most control surfaces, the OhmRGB doesn’t include labels, and doesn’t tell you what to do with it. Complete creativity is at last yours to behold.

Sure, with a little electronics and programming know-how, anyone could create a box of buttons ready to be assigned to software. However, it’s hard to think someone could match the aesthetic joy the OhmRGB offers. The rounded square buttons with muted LEDs, the rotary-lit knobs, and the professional-grade DIY look of the OhmRGB are simply without comparison, and the wood-and-aluminum styling just offers something a black plastic APC40 lacks.

Speaking of the APC40, it’s probably easy to tell from looking at the OhmRGB that it makes an excellent controller for Ableton Live. Whether DJing, producing, or simply performing signal processing, the OhmRGB provides an ideal setup for exploiting all of Live’s best features. The central button grid, with its customizable LEDs, makes a fantastic clip launcher, and can even be expanded to control multiple pages of Live clips. The eight faders allow for mixing of up to eight channels at one time, and the sixteen rotary knobs can be used to control sends, effect parameters, and much more – limited only by your imagination.

Not only can the OhmRGB be used to control DAWs like Ableton and Reason, but the Ohm can also function as an interface for virtual instruments within your studio projects. The central grid can be turned into an array of 64 drum pads, meaning you’ll never have to change kits in the middle of a set again. The OhmRGB also makes a great virtual synth controller, offering a 64-key keyboard and 28 parameter modulation controls. In fact, this musical functionality can extend beyond the studio; the OhmRGB can easily be incorporated into a stage setup to become a dedicated live instrument with the help of audio synthesis programs.

Interestingly, the OhmRGB also works as a flexible controller for DJ programs like Traktor or Virtual DJ, even without the jog wheels. As an effects junkie, I really like the idea of being able to control all of Traktor’s twelve effects units at once, without having to switch layers on my control surface. If Native Instruments ever opens up their new Remix Decks to full MIDI control, the OhmRGB has the potential to become the world’s greatest sample launcher.

While it’s true that the OhmRGB design is extremely simple and not inherently creative, this lack of flair is a blessing for those who’d like to claim the creative control for themselves. The OhmRGB isn’t designed to do any one thing really well, it’s designed to do anything you want it to do with the greatest finesse. To be honest, the current MIDI market could use some more controllers like the OhmRGB – simple, customizable, and without formatting constraints, allowing for ultimate expression and creativity from today’s growing DJ and producer population.