DJing with Ableton Live
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Old 29-09-2014, 06:01 PM   #1
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DJing with Ableton Live

Hi All,

I am using Ableton Live to DJ; which is to say I will be mixing songs from my library and not necessarily "performing" my own tracks. My goal is to be able to do everything with my midi controller(s) so I don't have to use my laptop once I get going.

With that in mind...
The only way I can make this possible is to load in 100 or so songs to use during the set into an audio track. I can then copy that track so I have two "decks" each with the same 100 songs; call them Deck A and Deck B (assume all the songs have been pre-warped to be in time). Now I can launch any song I'd ever need for that set from my APC40 and use Deck A and Deck B in the traditional sense of mixing one song into the next.

The problem is that navigating through all these songs is a massive pain in the ass. Is there any other way to accomplish my goal? Should I just forget the whole idea and just use the laptop to choose songs? How do you DJ with Ableton Live?

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Old 29-09-2014, 07:06 PM   #2
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

In my experience dj'ing tracks from your library is a pain in the ass. I found that to beatmatch two tracks properly - I had to manually warp a lot of tracks and insert my own warp markers. If you have the time to do that with all your music that's cool - but it took the fun out of it very quickly for me. If you're happy to do that or you're actually cool with how Live warps tracks when you're adjusting the BPM in a live situation...hey - go for it .

As for navigating the setlist - you could use an ipad with something like Touchable or Lemur to see your Session view and toggle clips from there, but then you're still just looking at another screen so you may as well use your laptop. That said I still enjoyed using the Launchpad to play clips rather than clicking it with a mouse...but then I had launch quantization turned off so it was more intuitive to play clips with physical buttons.

If you're really wanting to dj I'd rather look at Traktor or something. Live is great when you're working with your own clips / stems, but for dj'ing a setlist it becomes a bit sterile and monotonous.
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Old 29-09-2014, 08:01 PM   #3
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

When I've done it, I've either had the songs prearranged in the order that I want to play them and just work downward on the first couple of tracks, or I've had a few audio tracks to the right with the songs organized by BPM/genre/whatever and I drag them over to the left when I figure out what I want to play. Also, I like having a third track for drum loops/acapellas/transitions/whatever to spice things up a bit. Also, when I prepare the songs I sometimes strategically select a loop point if I want to loop while transitioning into the next song. At the very least, I'll have a loop toward the very end of the song so the music doesn't stop if I fall asleep at the wheel which has probably happened. Also, I like to change the cue level knob so that it controls the tempo of the session and change the last fader on the APC so that it controls the cue level.

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Old 02-10-2014, 01:35 PM   #4
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

Quote:
When I've done it, I've either had the songs prearranged in the order that I want to play them and just work downward on the first couple of tracks, or I've had a few audio tracks to the right with the songs organized by BPM/genre/whatever and I drag them over to the left when I figure out what I want to play. Also, I like having a third track for drum loops/acapellas/transitions/whatever to spice things up a bit. Also, when I prepare the songs I sometimes strategically select a loop point if I want to loop while transitioning into the next song. At the very least, I'll have a loop toward the very end of the song so the music doesn't stop if I fall asleep at the wheel which has probably happened. Also, I like to change the cue level knob so that it controls the tempo of the session and change the last fader on the APC so that it controls the cue level.
Thanks for the tips! Mapping the cue level to a fader is definitely something I'll need to try. Also, I'm thinking about getting the Will Marshall APC40 DJ template to make it a bit more flexible.
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Old 02-10-2014, 03:21 PM   #5
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

i used to do this although i used to use my itunes library to grab songs from, you can drag and drop directly from Itunes.

My .asd files did end up in my itunes library but i was DJing so frequently (twice a week for about 2 years) that it didnt bother me much. Warping tunes on the fly or while waiting out the prior song was commonplace until about a year in when i had the majority of my stuff warped.

it did require dragging songs from one app to another but worked well enough for me. I had 1 or two crashes during that time, which to be honest, i found impressive. Says a lot towards the stability of the app.

That said, if i went back to DJing i would use CDJ's and Serato. pressing GO on tracks and eq/effectsing lost its appeal.

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Old 26-10-2014, 07:55 AM   #6
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

as some of the previous users mentioned, i find it diffcult to dj with ableton as you have to warp each individual track
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Old 04-11-2014, 01:00 PM   #7
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

Ableton live is more about life performance as in triggering samples/Stems.
Dj'ing, although not impossible, is hard and it's kinda broing after the preparations unless you go whacky with effects and such. Which can seem a bit noobish though..
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Old 05-11-2014, 01:22 AM   #8
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

Yea I figured it's more geared toward "performing". For my purposes I just want to keep the tracks playing, not fuss about with effects. I'm just wondering about ableton because as of now I only have an APC40 to practice on. I wouldn't want to buy more equipment if I can make due with what I already have. Also, since I'm already experienced with Ableton I figured making smooth crossfader racks for transitions would be fun.

Although I have seen the downsides... cluttered interface, no tagging system, the necessity to pre-warp tracks. As far as being boring to DJ with, would you say that's because you don't beat match like you do on other programs?
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Old 10-11-2014, 07:18 AM   #9
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

Check out Madeon's way. He has a great approach to it. I think that electronic producers that don't want to fall on the typical DJ stereotype could use ableton to play tracks and perform their music.
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Old 12-11-2014, 03:46 PM   #10
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

This is a tricky one... I warp all my tracks beforehand, I also make use of two tracks. The problem with the APC is that there is no way that you know what track fills what block. I know the the new Novation Push solves all these issues, as you can colour code your tracks and you can see the track references on the LCD display.
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Old 12-11-2014, 03:54 PM   #11
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

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Originally Posted by edwingeraldvanwyk View Post
TThe problem with the APC is that there is no way that you know what track fills what block. I know the the new Novation Push solves all these issues, as you can colour code your tracks and you can see the track references on the LCD display.
Or if you use an ipad with livecontrol, touchable (my favorite), lemur etc. you can get clip names displayed on the device which is cool. Would be nice if Push allowed you to press a pad and see the clip name on the Push display.
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Old 12-11-2014, 03:56 PM   #12
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

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Or if you use an ipad with livecontrol, touchable (my favorite), lemur etc. you can get clip names displayed on the device which is cool. Would be nice if Push allowed you to press a pad and see the clip name on the Push display.
I would love to get my hands on the PUSH, just a little bit too expensive for my taste.
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Old 05-02-2015, 01:42 PM   #13
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

I remember listening to dj-mixes from Four tet (such as the mix from the Plastic People Closing Party with Floating Points) and hearing him play some of his own tracks, although clearly not the album versions but rather play them like he would in ableton. The idea of having a mix of playing vinyl or cd as main dj-gear and having ableton on the side for you own tracks, samples and effects seems to me like an ideal solution.
Although, now that I think about it, 4T probably just recorded a live version at home and then brought it to the show on a cd.
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Old 03-03-2015, 04:30 PM   #14
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

I've heard about Deckadance. I'm not using it right now but I'm planning to try it in some days.

Deckadance is like Traktor or Virtual DJ but it can host VST's but can also be hosted as VST in your DAW.
You can load tracks in Deckadance and play loops and effects in Ableton. Just use MIDI assignment to control Deckadance.

The link is to a video demonstrating how you could set it up. To bad it's more about timecode and not midi control.


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Old 23-03-2015, 02:13 PM   #15
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

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I've heard about Deckadance. I'm not using it right now but I'm planning to try it in some days.

Deckadance is like Traktor or Virtual DJ but it can host VST's but can also be hosted as VST in your DAW.
You can load tracks in Deckadance and play loops and effects in Ableton. Just use MIDI assignment to control Deckadance.

The link is to a video demonstrating how you could set it up. To bad it's more about timecode and not midi control.


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far out, from the sounds of deckadance, it sounds like something i should have started using a lot earlier. didn't know you could link it up with ableton via vst or anything like that. thnx monkey p.

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Old 23-03-2015, 02:15 PM   #16
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

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far out, from the sounds of deckadance, it sounds like something i should have started using a lot earlier. didn't know you could link it up with ableton via vst or anything like that. thnx monkey p.
That was my reaction too when I first heard about it. Any experience with it yet?
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Old 23-03-2015, 02:28 PM   #17
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

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Originally Posted by Monkey P. View Post
That was my reaction too when I first heard about it. Any experience with it yet?
no not yet but i will try it out asap

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Old 06-04-2015, 07:12 PM   #18
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

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Originally Posted by Monkey P. View Post
I've heard about Deckadance.
Deckadance is, IMO, the best virtual DJ software and very "playable" when it comes to looping and effects and stuff. Really allows for a fair amount of live remixing control despite being fairly simple to use and learn. Deckadance can be used in VST mode in ableton or FL Studio as I recall but, I didn't find that much more productive than using it Solo.

As for using Live, it's definitely best to pre-warp all your tracks. But it does give you the ability to drop in other things that you wouldn't necessarily have with a standard 2-4 "deck" virtual set-up like Deckadance or Traktor. I often have loops and samples that I cut up and add into things I am mixing. When you're doing it fairly often, even if you are using a lot of new tracks, once they are warped, that's it. Every time you drop them into a set they are good to go. More labor intensive in the beginning, but I think you can do more with it than a virtual DJ set-up in the long run.
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Old 12-04-2015, 06:15 PM   #19
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

I would personally find a better program to use. I used ableton with a mpc40 one night in front of luckily only a few people and I pressed a scene button on accident and it completely stopped the audio and reset the whole track

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Old 12-04-2015, 11:11 PM   #20
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Re: DJing with Ableton Live

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I would personally find a better program to use. I used ableton with a mpc40 one night in front of luckily only a few people and I pressed a scene button on accident and it completely stopped the audio and reset the whole track
Well, don't do that, LOL.

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