Controlling Live and Max/MSP just got really sleek. Livid Instruments' Block MIDI controller (MSRP: $425) might be one of the most streamlined control surfaces yet to be released. Its minimal design and subtle color scheme (think monome) perfectly compliment its 64 assignable clip buttons, eight knobs, seven function buttons, and two faders that stand as the core of the controller's versatility. Compatibility with any MIDI-supporting software and OS, an easy plug-and-play USB interface, access to Livid's open-source software, and lovingly handcrafted wood-aluminum design help lift this portable piece of hardware above its competitors. At first glance, Block may seem like just a lite version of Livid's trademark Ohm series, but sometimes with MIDI controllers, as with the music they control, less is more.