The Loop Loft has announced the release of their latest Ableton Live Pack, Dry Drums Vol 1. This new loop and sample library features a collection of dry, fat and punchy drums tailored for Ableton [Read More]
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The Loop Loft has announced the release of their latest Ableton Live Pack, Dry Drums Vol 1. This new loop and sample library features a collection of dry, fat and punchy drums tailored for Ableton [Read More]
You want to improvise with Ableton Live. You want to reach out and turn a knob, and know what it’ll do. You want to be able to grab controls that have something to do with clips that are playing.
Yeah, so Merry Christmas to us. Permit me being a little excited, as I am immensely grateful to the developers. It’s a rare case where you say “wow, I wish that this –” and then suddenly get what you asked for nearly before finishing the sentence.
Just last month, we saw a way to get grids in order using LaunchSync, a tool designed to make it easier to synchronize multiple controllers. Combine them for more control; synchronize them so that, for instance, the faders on a Novation LaunchControl XL can correspond to the clips on Ableton Push.
But we asked for more.
We asked for more hardware compatibility. Well, the creators gave it to us – for free.
We asked for more controllers. That’s available in LaunchSync PRO, which adds four pages of controls that follow the “Red Box” so you have more hands-on parameters with whatever you’re playing.
But, wait, wouldn’t it be great if your iPad could also sync up with your hardware. So, for instance, you look at touchAble, the most extensive iPad app for controlling Ableton Live, and have it stay in sync with whatever your hardware was doing. (That’s doubly useful, because the iPad can easily show more parameters and reveal clip names all at once.)
I asked the developers at Isotonik and the one developer of touchAble to make it so, and… well, they did. It’s amazing. They did this in their free time, as independent developers, on their own. (I actually stuck them on a shared Facebook chat and watched as they buzzed back and forth.) So, please, go buy stuff from them, so they do this more often. (That script is only 5 pounds; touchAble is easily worth the App Store cash.) Here’s how it all works:
And remember the Novation LaunchControl XL, the hardware I said was nearly a perfect selection of knobs and faders – limited only by software?
Well, it isn’t limited any more.
The LaunchControl XXL Remote Script lets you do powerful things with LaunchControl XL even if you don’t have Max for Live. For GBP9.99, the LaunchControl hardware does everything you wish it would.
- You see a Ring Focus Box, so you know which tracks correspond to the faders on your LaunchControl hardware (instead of having to guess).
- 24 pots control parameters of any in-focus device.
- You can enable and disable devices, and select devices, parameter banks, and tracks.
Max for Live patchers get access to the User Two page so you can combine custom Max creations with the default functionality – you don’t have to choose.
In fact, you’ve just gotten so much under the tree from Santa Claus, it’s good to take stock.
1. With touchAble 3 for iPad and LaunchSync, sync your iPad display with a wide range of supported hardware. (Max for Live required.)
2. With LaunchSync PRO for GBP4.99, add parameter controls, too. In fact, just go ahead and buy that, because doing so supports the development of #1. (Max for Live required.)
3. With a Novation LaunchControl XL and the GBP9.99 LaunchControl XXL script, get total control over everything from Novation’s faders. (Max for Live not required.)
Combine #3 with #2 and… you sort of conquer the galaxy, because everything is in sync and there’s control of everything. And that’s before we even get to Isotonik’s terrific step sequencer script for the LaunchControl XL. But even if you don’t own the Novation hardware, #1 and #2 are fairly revolutionary.
But there is no Santa Claus. Ableton doesn’t have magic elves. This is actually the work of Darren, Christian, and Lee. So do go buy this stuff, because, well, it’s fantastic. And tell your friends. Grab some egg nog and jam together on Live. God Bless us, every one.
Manuals, downloads, and more details on the Isotonik site, but hopefully I’ve made it clear why this is so cool.
See also the developer behind LaunchSync: Sigabort
And the cast of characters:
Get Your Ableton Grids in Order, Free, with Launchsync [but do pay those 5 pounds and get the fancier version and buy the developer a sandwich in the process!]
The post Wish Granted: Ableton Live Control The Way You Wanted It appeared first on Create Digital Music.
Let’s get straight to it: there are two big problems with controlling Ableton Live from an iPad. One, relying on WiFi means risking disaster if a connection is unstable for some reason (OS updates, wireless interference, gremlins and demonic possession, whatever causes that). Two, you invariably wind up with remote controls for some things you need, but not others. It’s like having a remote control for a TV with half the buttons missing. You wind up going back to the mouse just because you can’t work out any way to turn such-and-such knob.
touchAble 3 fixes both problems.
There’s loads of stuff in this update, but … that doesn’t matter. All you need to know:
1. Plug in your Apple USB cable, and skip the WiFi whenever you want. See bottom. (Being able to choose wireless or wired – good.) Works on OS X and Windows.
2. Get the add-on (in-app purchase) Live Template Pack, and you get some 42 templates for Live’s instruments and effects that look like the on-screen ones, only adapted to the iPad. Use them, and skip the mouse. See top.
(Note that you can’t use those devices on iPhone yet, but I suspect that’s a smaller group of you.)
There’s also a recoded server that starts as a system service on both Windows and Mac. That way, you don’t have trouble if you’ve forgotten to start the server, and it re-starts automatically if Ableton crashes. (System resource use is apparently negligible – if you’re not connected; it’s asleep.) One missing Device from the templates that I’m sure a lot of you want – there’s no Looper. Apparently issues with Ableton’s support of that device in the Live API are to blame. (Yes, Ableton, please fix this!)
It’s clear to me that touchAble is the Ableton Live controller to beat. In fact, if you already own an iPad, it’s a must-have – now, certainly, with the add-on template pack. Conductr I think remains interesting, partly because it does less – focusing on big, tough-to-miss controllers that work well in live performance. But for an app that controls everything in Live, touchAble is what you want.
US$ 21.99 for the Live Device Template Pack.
And thanks to the new Bundles feature, they’ve put a combination meal of touchAble for iPhone / iPod and the iPad version on sale for US$ 28.99 for a limited time. Put those two together, and I think it’s well worth your fifty bucks, especially compared to a plastic controller that might not solve your problems.
Two more use cases:
You can split the screen between Devices.
And, also as shared on the touchAble Facebook page, you can make custom templates. Here, one user went completely nuts:
The post touchAble 3 Controls Ableton Via Wire, Mimics Live Devices on iPad [Gallery] appeared first on Create Digital Music.
In live electronic music, the endless free expanse of the computer screen tends to run up against the limited ability of your brain to tell just which freakin’ track am I on, anyway? In the studio, it can be annoying. Live onstage, it can be train wreck-inducing.
Ableton Live’s Session View has for years exacerbated this problem. You can limit your options to eight (or even four) tracks. But that doesn’t always work. You might need more than eight tracks for particular routings of audio or MIDI. And unless you use Device Racks and chains, you’ll also need extra tracks to switch instruments.
Launchsync is a solution to that problem. Instead of all of your controllers going their own way and controlling different parts of Live separately, they can now move in tandem. So, rather than doing scrolling on multiple devices and squinting at the screen to see where the heck you are, you can navigate on one controller and everything else follows.
1. One Ring to Rule Them All. Have every grid controller assigned to the same block of clips, and move around together (one clip at a time, or “paging” in bigger groups).
2. A Wider or Taller Grid. Make a bigger grid. For instance, a Push and a Launchpad, or two Launchpads could be next to one another, moving together – 16×8 or 8×16 or whatever you like.
3. Faders Synced with a Grid. Get your faders following your grid. I love Push, but I’ve hesitated to use it live because I can’t easily mix on it. Now, I can have my LaunchControl XL follow the launch grid of the Push.
It’s free, but requires Max for Live (included in Ableton Live Suite 9). I’ll say this, though, now with confidence – if you’re serious about using Live, just get Suite (or a discounted version of Max). Seriously. I haven’t talked to one person who regrets that. They’re getting it to use tools like this, even if they’re not patchers.
Akai APC40 (not sure yet about the mk2 series)
Allen and Heath K2 (via the additional Isotonik2
Novation Launchpad, LaunchKey, and LaunchControl (all models)
Livid Instruments Base (all models)
I’d love to see this work with tools like iPad controllers, too, so I’ve put touchAble in contact with Darren, the developer at Isotonik. We’ll let you know if they make it work!
Watch the video to make this clearer:
Thanks to the terrific Ableton Live Expert for this coverage and the video (I have to start reading your site more often)!
EXCLUSIVE to Ableton Live Expert – Free Novation Launchsync Max for Live plugin!
I’ll back up for a bit of history. When Ableton and Akai announced the APC40 at the beginning of 2009, they added a red rectangle on the screen that gave you feedback on what it was controlling onscreen, allowing you to map its eight controller strips and grid of clip launchers to more than eight tracks. That box is technically called the Ring Focus Box (though I haven’t heard the name used much outside Ableton).
By fall 2009, Ableton and Novation added the Launchpad to the offerings. Immediately, they added the ability to have more than one Ring Focus Box, in different colors. That way, you could control more clips with additional connected controllers. Compatibility with the Ring Focus Box is dependent on installed scripts, and you need a particular manufacturer partnership with Ableton in order for Ableton to provide support for adding it, though various hardware and software have hacked their own compatibility. (It’s even possible to use simple user scripts to add your own.)
What’s nice about Launchsync is, by better controlling where that focus ring is, you may not need to look at the computer screen at all. You can instead rely on one piece of hardware for feedback or (soon, hopefully) an iPad visualization of clips. That’s better than a dinky colored rectangle on your laptop screen, anyway.
The importance of this feature means that I hope Ableton addresses the API for all hardware and control software (iOS, Android) in a consistent way for upcoming versions. Doing so would better standardize control support across the range of tablets and faderboxes and knobboxes and custom-built gear and whatnot that Live users now use.
For now, though, you have a very workable solution for a range of hardware. And it’s another reason I’m keeping my LaunchControl XL around. It may have been designed as the faders missing on the Launchpad – but it’s the faders missing on the Push, too.
“MAKING EVERYTHING PLAY NICELY TOGETHER JUST LIKE THEY SHOULD”
Follow up to yesterday’s review:
Novation’s LaunchControl XL Has the Faders and Knobs You Need for Ableton, MIDI [Obsessive Review]
The post Get Your Ableton Grids in Order, Free, with Launchsync appeared first on Create Digital Music.
Sometimes, you just want to grab a fader.
Maybe it’s not about elaborate custom parameter assignment, or clip launching, or playing an in-tune Phrygian scale on a colored, light-up grid as you solo on a bowed marimba sample. You know, you just want to fade a track.
There are surprisingly few controllers out there tailored to this application. So, that makes the new LaunchControl XL from Novation a potential stand-out. It’s just faders and pots: 8 faders, with three knobs each. Each column also gets two triggers; these are switchable when used with Ableton Live to control mute, solo, and record arm functions. As on the Launchpad, Novation also provides separate user/factory templates you can access with a push-button, and switches for selecting tracks and sends, all mapped to Ableton Live.
The upshot is, you’ve got a MIDI controller that makes it exceptionally easy to mix eight tracks. And this being a Novation controller, it’s also lightweight and compact: the footprint is the same as the Launchpad, and it weighs in at under a kilogram. You can use it anywhere, because it’s bus-powered and driverless, so it works with iOS, Windows, OS X, and Linux.
I expect Ableton Live will be the most popular use case, though, so let’s begin with how Live integration works.
Ableton Live Control
It’s hard to remember, but a few short years ago when Novation unveiled the original Launchpad, there weren’t any mass-market controllers dedicated to the software. (Boutique maker Faderfox, for instance, was a pioneer.) Now, they’re all over the place. In addition to Ableton’s deep and beautifully-made Push hardware, Akai alone has three new additions to its APC family introduced just this year. Ableton works in collaboration with some of these vendors to make integration work so well, and it shows.
When you want dedicated mix controls, however, many of these devices disappoint. Ableton’s Push is a great example: you can adjust track parameters, but only on encoders (not faders), and it requires switching modes. That can be confusing if you’re in the middle of playing and just want to reach for a send or volume. Others will provide faders and knobs but in combination with clip launching. If you use an iPad for clips, or you have another hardware controller, or you focus on instrumental playing, that’s overkill.
That’s where the LaunchControl XL hits a sweet spot. Its main selling point is its eight 60mm faders. These aren’t the fanciest faders you’ll ever encounter – they’re single-rail and so you’ll feel some slight wobble, as on nearly all controllers in this price range – but there’s enough resistance to mix with some accuracy. Each strip is coupled with three rotary pots. These have center detents so you can use them for pan (oddly, all three of them, not just the one labeled pan). That detent is subtle enough that you can also ignore it – for example, if using as a send – though that makes me worry slightly about wear over time. There are simple LED indicators below each to see which is active.
Each strip also has a Track Focus switch for quickly moving Live’s display to a particular track, plus a second trigger that mutes, solos, or record arms tracks. For device control, there’s also a Device switch, useful in conjunction with Instrument, Drum, and Effect Racks.
There’s no Ableton logo on the LaunchControl XL as on the Launchpad, but it definitely feels like a Live controller when used with that software. There’s literally no setup whatsoever for Live. Plug in the hardware, start a compatible version of Live, and you’ll instantly be in control. There’s not even so much as an installation; you only need to download something to use the custom editor.
I love Ableton’s Push, but the LaunchControl XL quickly addresses some of its shortcomings – particularly when used live. You’re never more than one button away from selecting a track you need, or two buttons away from quickly record enabling. (The latter is essential to me as a keyboardist for switching instruments.) And until Ableton comes up with its own mixing-friendly controller (Ableton Fade, perhaps?), LaunchControl XL is essential.
The LaunchControl XL isn’t limited to mixing, either. Thanks to the User/Factory template switch, you can assign one layout to something like a custom instrument or Max for Live device, and another to the main mixing functions, then toggle between them easily.
For studio work, then, I like having the Novation kit alongside Push as much as the obvious application of sitting it alongside a Launchpad. For live performance, since I don’t necessarily need to play on a grid, it’s quickly become the one thing I always put in my bag, just because it’s light, it’s rugged, and it does something you almost always want. For Launchpad owners, too, it’s likely to be a no-brainer, and you can fit this and a Launchpad into a bag with less weight and girth than a Push. Not to offend Ableton here; Push is great. But I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to leave Push on my desk for starting tracks, and take along something more basic for live gigs, especially since I sometimes focus my performance on hardware or a keyboard. It’s just another example of how diverse live rigs can be.
Dude, Where’s My Track?
There’s just one feature missing, and it’s a big one: the absence of a display means it’s too easy to get lost. If you have more than two sends, you have to toggle using the Send Select up and down buttons. If you have more than eight tracks, you use the Track Select buttons. (You can only move by one at a time, too, not “pages” of eight at a time.) In each case, the only feedback on the hardware is the colored LEDs that show send and track state, which don’t give you very clear bearings.
Onscreen, things aren’t much better. You can tell which sends, pan, or volume mostly only by twiddling knobs or moving faders – and then, it means looking at the computer display rather than the hardware.
A Ring Focus Box, the colored rectangular outline that provides a visual indication of which clips are currently mapped to a controller, might help. It would still mean looking at your computer screen, and the LaunchControl XL is selecting tracks, not clips. But currently the Ring Focus Box is made available to hardware out of the box for the APC and Launchpad devices as part of a support collaboration with Ableton. (iPad apps use their own custom installers.) CDM is working on possibly providing a custom hacked script to those who want it unsupported.
This isn’t just a LaunchControl XL issue, though; it’s generally an issue with keeping track of larger sets, visually and mentally. And it’s compounded when you have more than one person playing (I now work in several projects that are collaborative). For now, my approach has been to limit some live performances to eight tracks, which is conceptually simpler as well as solving control issues. If you have thoughts, I’d love to hear them.
If you are using the LaunchControl XL with another piece of kit – like the Launchpad – there’s an excellent solution, so long as you have Max for Live (included in Live Suite). It’s called LaunchSync, and it moves multiple controllers in tandem. So, if you change which clips are active on one controller – via Push, APC, Launchpad, or even Livid Base – everything else moves. This solves both the visual feedback problem and the question of getting confused with multiple controllers.
Free Launchsync Max for Live plugin [Isotonik]
As a Generic MIDI Controller
Another reason to buy the LaunchControl XL is that its usefulness isn’t limited to Live’s own interface. It’s also a terrific generic MIDI controller, which opens up both custom control applications in Live and giving it utility with other software.
To be honest, at first I didn’t realize there even was an editor for the hardware’s mappings because it’s pretty useful out of the box. Without any drivers, you can connect to a computer and start sending MIDI, or even connect to an iOS device with a Camera Connection Kit.
The LaunchControl XL is especially nice in that nearly everything is MIDI-assignable. The send and track toggles on the right send MIDI messages away from Live (or in Live, with the User template). Once you do open the editor, each assignment is customizable.
Novation has gone one better, too. Not only have they made every single colored LED addressable via MIDI, but they’ve done two implementations (one with MIDI notes and one with System Exclusive data), and written a handy programming guide that clearly explains how to do it:
This is the way hardware should work; I’d love to see more manufacturers adopt this approach, and the only way to convince them to do so is to loudly reward those who do.
I had to double-check that I hadn’t lost my mind and forgotten something, but in fact there aren’t many direct rivals that do what the XL does.
The Akai APC is probably what most people will consider. An APC40 does the job reasonably well already, even before looking at the recent mk II model (hint: it’s flatter). And if you just want faders, there’s the inexpensive APC mini, though the build is much more satisfying on the (more expensive) Novation gear. But what you won’t get is sends right next to the channel strip, which for a lot of us is hugely desirable. The APC line wins on all-in-one functionality with clip launching, but the LaunchControl XL is a better mixing surface.
Ableton’s Push, as I said, is brilliant stuff. But it’s too complicated to use as a generic programmable controller, and mixing means twisting encoders and using toggles to get at the settings you need. It’s just hardware that solves a different set of problems.
If it’s only faders you want, there’s the Faderfox UC3, which is tiny and has a brilliant build quality, plus encoders with pages of assignments. You could even use that crossfader as a master fader and ignore the fact that it’s sideways. But you only get eight encoders, and no toggles for Live integration, so I like the UC3 better as a controller for devices and synths and so on rather than Live’s mixer.
Livid has a couple of offerings to look at, too. The Alias 8 is a great solution, and has a master fader, which the LaunchControl XL lacks. The faders are shorter-throw, but feel really good. You’ll mainly sacrifice the convenient toggles on the LaunchControl XL for Ableton Live integration.
Livid’s DS1, made in collaboration with Dubspot, is probably the most robust competition as a mixing control interface, with both a master fader and tons and tons of knobs. In fact, the DS1 is the only controller I know of that allows either a bunch of sends or dedicated EQs for each strip. It was designed specifically for this digital mixer use case I describe. But I’m not getting one. Why? Apart from cost, I’m just happy having something lighter and smaller, so I’m willing to make some sacrifices to use the Novation.
Behringer’s BCF2000 is of course major competition, with motorized faders, though it doesn’t have the dedicated send controls of the DS1. Again, it does add weight. I would choose the extra sends of the DS1 over the single rotaries on the BCF, but the motorization is convenient and street prices of the BCF are around US$ 200. It lacks faders, but with tons of rotaries, there’s also the BCR2000, made more appealing by the recent availability of a terrific step sequencer.
Finally, there’s Novation’s own original LaunchControl. If you just need some knobs for sends and/or device control and toggling track state, it’s cheap and tiny. But, of course, the XL is for those of you who wanted faders, so that’s no question.
I didn’t really appreciate how much I wanted the LaunchControl XL until I lived with it for a while. Sends plus faders plus track toggles plus lightweight and small equals stays on my desk and in my bag and doesn’t go on my Shelf of Lost Gear.
It’s not perfect. Finding which track you’re on is a chore, which makes me long for displays – though the Max for Live sync plug-in is certainly helping. And there’s hardware that feels a bit better (Livid, Push, Faderfox).
US$ 249.95 list is a bit high by Launchpad standards, though that’s hitting a street of about US$ 200. (Similar street pricing is available in Europe and the UK.)
All in all, the LaunchControl XL might not be alone, but it’s for me uniquely perfect. Never underestimate the value of faders you can easily drop in a bag.
Ableton Live and Ableton Push afford new ways of working, allowing you to put loads of parameters beneath your fingertips. Of course, the means of doing that may not be immediately obvious, behind the dance between grid, encoders, and automation envelopes.
Leave it to Montevideo-born, virtuoso dance music maestro Gustavo Bravetti to show us how it’s done.
Gustavo pairs the MeeBlip SE, the enhanced “digital freak” original version of our synth, with Live and Push. To connect the hardware with automation of the external synth, he uses a Max for Live patch for the MeeBlip (which you’re free to download yourself if you own the MeeBlip/MeeBlip SE).
(The MeeBlip is not the first open source synth, as the video might imply, but could be considered the first widely-produced, ready-to-play hardware synth to be under a fully open source hardware license; others were available in kit form.)
The lessons here, though, work in any hardware synth. And you could also apply them to controllers other than Push, if you prefer.
In particular, note some particular tips:
- The Max for Live device automates sounds on a single voice by associating melodic steps with different sound presets.
- Preset automation will overwrite live tweaking, so you can tweak variations freely.
- Built-in morphing in his patch creates still more variations.
- You can use this as either a live performance tool or an arrangement tool – and even get obsessive with the latter, since it writes automation envelopes into your arrangement.
Check out the MeeBlip SE Remote patch – for your MeeBlip or another synth, if you feel like learning from it.
Meeblip Se Remote 1.0
It’s funny to hear the original MeeBlip again, as I mostly spend time these days with MeeBlip anode, which is now in stock from us and various dealers in America and Europe. (A sale is on now for US$ /EUR€ 129.95.) The original character is still in anode, but the unruly temper is more of the desirable variety, thanks to the new analog filter and streamlined design. (We also abandoned presets, which work better here in software.) And Gustavo promises an anode version soon.
Full description from Gustavo:
The Meeblip Se is an incredible synthesiser with a very interesting and distinctive sound. This sound is produced by (at first sight) a relative simple sound engine… but once you start playing whit its possibilities you realise that this little digital freak with an occasionally fretful temper, has a defined personality capable of a wide range of sonic possibilities.
The Meeblip Se default preset system can store up to 16 presets. To store and recall them, you have to use a combination of buttons and switches. Thinking on use it on my live performances, the Meeblip Se’s default preset’s system seems at first sight to be short-legged, unpractical, and overcomplicated, and in fact… kinda it is!
After creating dozens of very interesting and useful sounds on my Meeblip Se, and realising that most of them was lost in action, I decided to work on an alternative to store, recall and organise my Meeblip Se’s presets. Because I want to use the Meeblip Se on my live shows I also need to be able to recall those presets remotely and/or automatically in any given moment. At last but no least, I want to be able to control all the Meeblip parameters from a most informative surface controller, the Ableton-Akai Push Controller.
Lucky me that all parameters on the Meeblip Se can be controlled with MIDI CCs, the answer was pretty clear, a device in MaxForLive would be able to do all what I need an much more… and that is was bring us here.
Gustavo is an extraordinary producer – proof positive that you can mix hackery with the kind of dance prowess to move festival-sized crowds, all as one artist. (No, he’s not hiring teams of nerds. He’s entirely DIY.) Follow him on Facebook:
And I hope we hear more from him soon.
The post Learn to Jam with Just One Synth Voice: MeeBlip + Ableton Push vs. Gustavo Bravetti [Video] appeared first on Create Digital Music.