Is Ableton the only viable live performance option
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Old 23-04-2018, 05:38 PM   #1
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Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

Not 100% sure if this is the right spot for this question, but I've been thinking about possibly playing some live shows in the future, and am wondering, as the title states, if Ableton is the only viable way to play your stuff live?

I know that there are many out there who play with modular and live synth/drum machine setups, but what about for those who have written all of their material in DAWs other than Live?

What are your guys experiences/setups? Do you guys compose and write in another DAW and import to Live or do you have another way you prefer to play your material?

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Old 23-04-2018, 06:02 PM   #2
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

It ends up that electronic musicians were performing decades before the advent of Ableton Live. Triggering via MIDI is doable in any modern DAW. What you lose are the on-the-fly beat stacking and advanced looping options. Live really is meant for live work in a way that other DAWs aren't, but with a bit of preplanning and setup it's absolutely doable with other DAWs. Just think of your DAW as a really big, nice hardware sampler. There's only so many parameters you can control at a time anyway, so pick some that make sense in the context of live performance and treat everything else as long loops or backing tracks.

If you give us some details on what hardware and software you're using and how you envision your live performance, we might be able to give more specific advice.

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Old 23-04-2018, 06:16 PM   #3
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

Maybe not the only option, I think Maschine Jam could too, so would any sampler that can play back loops, but Live seems like the best option by far.

In a way the MPC Live is trying the same with Clips mode, doesn't seem to be there yet but some people on the MPC LIve/X page have done live gigs with clips only.

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Old 23-04-2018, 06:21 PM   #4
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

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Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
It ends up that electronic musicians were performing decades before the advent of Ableton Live. Triggering via MIDI is doable in any modern DAW. What you lose are the on-the-fly beat stacking and advanced looping options. Live really is meant for live work in a way that other DAWs aren't, but with a bit of preplanning and setup it's absolutely doable with other DAWs. Just think of your DAW as a really big, nice hardware sampler. There's only so many parameters you can control at a time anyway, so pick some that make sense in the context of live performance and treat everything else as long loops or backing tracks.

If you give us some details on what hardware and software you're using and how you envision your live performance, we might be able to give more specific advice.
Thank for the quick reply. I just finished an album on an old Mac Cheesegrater in LPX, and recently switched over to Reason 10 on a PC Tower. I'll need to get a laptop for live gigs. I also have an old KAOSS Pad (Quad), I'd like to have the song playing in the background, while possibly playing some parts live and/or manipulating filters/reverbs/distortion. I'm not 100% sure on what I'm looking to do because I'm not really sure what my limitations are or what direction I want to head in when I get said laptop, whether it's just getting a copy of Reason or possibly Live.

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Old 23-04-2018, 06:23 PM   #5
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

Traktor Pro 2 has Ableton style clip launching in its remix decks. With the right controller (Kontrol F1 probably, or two of them). With clever planning and practice you could easily perform your tracks live with up to four simultaneous remix decks. Maschine is probably the other software option.

And honestly an iPad with Novation Launchpad software and a Launchpad could be pretty powerful. There are so many options now. Sounds like you are already moving into hybrid territory with the Kaosspad, maybe a little more hardware is the way to go. It can all get complex pretty fast. Currently working on some live stuff for a gig myself.

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Old 23-04-2018, 07:47 PM   #6
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

Ableton's real strong suit is being able to record and manipulate on-the-fly. Like you're jamming along and you hit record and then start that loop playing and hit record again and all of a sudden you're building these amazingly layered tracks up from nothing and manipulating them in real time. In a lot of ways, I think it's targeted more towards live musicians (like a person with a guitar or whatever), though it works really well for EDM stuff where you're using loops. Watch some youtube videos about Live's Session View, as that's where a lot of real uniqueness comes in.

For what you're talking about, there's lots of ways to approach it. Reason is certainly able to handle a variety of MIDI controllers. I'd get your Kaoss Pad hooked up and see what you can get out of it. Adding another controller might be cool as well - either something with keys or pads to trigger individual parts or play along. Anything like that will come with some knobs and sliders as well that you can map to whatever parameters you want (think: filters, distortion, delay, even tempo). Something like an M-Audio Oxygen, Novation Launchstation or Akai MPK can be had for cheap secondhand, and would give you tons of control options in addition to the Kaoss Pad. Also, look into Reason's sequencing capabilities. A lot of fun can be had with "when I play this, also start playing this and this and stop that part". That's the sort of control I'd be looking at for a live performance.

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Old 23-04-2018, 08:02 PM   #7
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

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Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
Ableton's real strong suit is being able to record and manipulate on-the-fly. Like you're jamming along and you hit record and then start that loop playing and hit record again and all of a sudden you're building these amazingly layered tracks up from nothing and manipulating them in real time. In a lot of ways, I think it's targeted more towards live musicians (like a person with a guitar or whatever), though it works really well for EDM stuff where you're using loops. Watch some youtube videos about Live's Session View, as that's where a lot of real uniqueness comes in.
I'm sure Ableton is way more powerful, but you can do this in Traktor as well now with the remix decks.

I'm really not pimping Traktor as a real alternative--I've just been playing with the remix decks a lot lately. I have no special love of it besides their controllers work so much better than standard MIDI...the response is so damn smooth.

Last edited by relic; 23-04-2018 at 08:11 PM..

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Old 23-04-2018, 09:00 PM   #8
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

If you haven't already, you might want to check out [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
, which has come on a lot over the last few years. It enables you to do a lot live, from working with samples and 3rd party VSTs..and MIDI, too. Plus, it's free.



The following is taken from their main page..

"Giada is a free, minimal, hardcore audio tool for DJs, live performers and electronic musicians. How does it work? Just pick up your channel, fill it with samples or MIDI events and start the show by using this tiny piece of software as a loop machine, drum machine, sequencer, live sampler or yet as a plugin/effect host. Giada aims to be a compact and portable virtual device for Linux, Mac and Windows for production use and live sets."

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Old 23-04-2018, 09:02 PM   #9
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

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I'm sure Ableton is way more powerful, but you can do this in Traktor as well now with the remix decks.

I'm really not pimping Traktor as a real alternative--I've just been playing with the remix decks a lot lately. I have no special love of it besides their controllers work so much better than standard MIDI...the response is so damn smooth.
Yeah, I can't imagine Ableton has the market cornered. Though I haven't used it in awhile, Bitwig seems to do a lot of the same stuff in similar ways. Given that Traktor is specifically for live/DJ usage, it doesn't surprise me that it's well suited for stuff like this. It's certainly a lot cheaper, so might be worth checking out on that alone.

I do think we're to the point where DAW really doesn't matter so much. When we talk about Ableton being good at warping or Cubase having great MIDI or Studio One having great routing, we're talking by degrees. I don't believe that sitting down with a particular piece of software means I can't do something, I just can't do it as easily or quickly. Given what early industrial, EDM and DJ acts went through to put on shows in the 70s and 80s, we're certainly spoiled for choice and features. Likely OP could make due with just about anything made this decade if necessary.

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Old 23-04-2018, 09:11 PM   #10
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

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Originally Posted by A.M View Post
If you haven't already, you might want to check out [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
, which has come on a lot over the last few years. It enables you to do a lot live, from working with samples and 3rd party VSTs..and MIDI, too. Plus, it's free.



The following is taken from their main page..

"Giada is a free, minimal, hardcore audio tool for DJs, live performers and electronic musicians. How does it work? Just pick up your channel, fill it with samples or MIDI events and start the show by using this tiny piece of software as a loop machine, drum machine, sequencer, live sampler or yet as a plugin/effect host. Giada aims to be a compact and portable virtual device for Linux, Mac and Windows for production use and live sets."
Oh dude. I'm so checking this out : )

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Old 23-04-2018, 09:13 PM   #11
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

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Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
Yeah, I can't imagine Ableton has the market cornered. Though I haven't used it in awhile, Bitwig seems to do a lot of the same stuff in similar ways. Given that Traktor is specifically for live/DJ usage, it doesn't surprise me that it's well suited for stuff like this. It's certainly a lot cheaper, so might be worth checking out on that alone.

I do think we're to the point where DAW really doesn't matter so much. When we talk about Ableton being good at warping or Cubase having great MIDI or Studio One having great routing, we're talking by degrees. I don't believe that sitting down with a particular piece of software means I can't do something, I just can't do it as easily or quickly. Given what early industrial, EDM and DJ acts went through to put on shows in the 70s and 80s, we're certainly spoiled for choice and features. Likely OP could make due with just about anything made this decade if necessary.
It's almost become self defeating...you sit around thinking "what is the best way to do what I want in my performance" and there are a zillion options. I've wasted a ton of practice time just deciding how to perform. Even FL Studio now has a "live mode" with pre-made mappings for all the major MIDI controllers.

Luckily the crowd I'm playing for will probably be impressed by the fact that I can blend/mix two tracks, so I'm lucking out in that regard...


My other general piece of advice is to just choose a method quickly and get to practicing. Unless its a crowd full of production nerds, very few people are likely to care how you are doing what you are doing. I think newbies to playing live, these days, get to worried about what it looks like they are doing on stage. At least for myself and the dance music world, few people (even fellow DJs) often intently watch how someone is performing...its a party after all!

The other thing I'd say about Traktor is you can set up tons of what I call "event" points on tracks in the "traditional decks" so when you play a track it will automatically loop at a cue point, how begin to fade to a track in another deck. Not stuff I would use in a DJ situation, but if you are trying to juggle a bunch of live stuff at once, might be nice to program some basic stuff to happen automatically, again, Abelton probably has better options.

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Old 23-04-2018, 10:34 PM   #12
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

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Oh dude. I'm so checking this out : )
Seriously, A..let me know how you get on, when and if you do. I've had it sitting on my system now for a good while, but have never gotten around to even trying it. It's just a case of making the time..always meant to, but never did.

I'm going to have to take it for a test drive myself, but would still love to hear how you get on with it.

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Old 23-04-2018, 10:45 PM   #13
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

This is coming at a perfect time for me as I'm setting up a live set as well! I'm using fl studio 12's performance mode since I'm already familiar with FL, I just use version 10 day to day because it's more stable for me. But Gaida may be worth checking out if it's lighter weight, as I either need to remaster all my tracks as individual stems or run a live master chain. Ideally the latter but more realistically the former, to get better mono mixes as well.

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Old 23-04-2018, 10:56 PM   #14
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

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This is coming at a perfect time for me as I'm setting up a live set as well! I'm using fl studio 12's performance mode since I'm already familiar with FL, I just use version 10 day to day because it's more stable for me. But Gaida may be worth checking out if it's lighter weight, as I either need to remaster all my tracks as individual stems or run a live master chain. Ideally the latter but more realistically the former, to get better mono mixes as well.
Likewise, J..let me know what you think of it, if you give it a try..the more feedback and thoughts the better.

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Old 23-04-2018, 11:53 PM   #15
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

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Seriously, A..let me know how you get on, when and if you do. I've had it sitting on my system now for a good while, but have never gotten around to even trying it. It's just a case of making the time..always meant to, but never did.

I'm going to have to take it for a test drive myself, but would still love to hear how you get on with it.
I will defo try to report back. If it plays nice with MIDI controllers I might use this instead of Traktor for some of the more improv/not two turn tables and a mixer type stuff I have planned.

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Old 24-04-2018, 12:15 AM   #16
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

Thanks for all the great replies, guys. I think I might look into traktor, it might have the functionality I need without having to jump ship!

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Old 24-04-2018, 03:07 AM   #17
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

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Thanks for all the great replies, guys. I think I might look into traktor, it might have the functionality I need without having to jump ship!
DJ Tech Tools and Dubspot both have some good tutorials on what the remix decks are useful for. The Dubspot one is kinda specific to the Kontrol F1 controller, but still demonstrates the remix decks well. The F1, for $199 new, is kind of a no brainer if you are gonna go with Traktro Pro 2.

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Old 25-04-2018, 07:00 PM   #18
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

Came across this article while doing some more research (I have a month or so before the busy season for work starts and get flush with $$$$):
[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


Has some pretty great tips and tricks. Thought I'd share for others in the same conundrum. Also found out that the Novation Launchpad pro comes with Ableton 9.5 Lite, which is a pretty good deal and may soften me to the idea of just getting Ableton. We shall see.

Also found this cool tut on using Kong & Dr. Octorex in Reason, for any fellow Reasonites out there:

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Old 25-04-2018, 07:12 PM   #19
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

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Originally Posted by Garruden View Post
Came across this article while doing some more research (I have a month or so before the busy season for work starts and get flush with $$$$):
[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


Has some pretty great tips and tricks. Thought I'd share for others in the same conundrum. Also found out that the Novation Launchpad pro comes with Ableton 9.5 Lite, which is a pretty good deal and may soften me to the idea of just getting Ableton. We shall see.

Also found this cool tut on using Kong & Dr. Octorex in Reason, for any fellow Reasonites out there:
[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
I defo like what Minilogue says about not obsessing over the tools. The more I jist sit down and start DJing using the software and two controllers I have the more I find myself finding "flow" and being abke improvise some cool stuff.

Last edited by relic; 25-04-2018 at 07:31 PM..

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Old 30-04-2018, 08:46 PM   #20
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Re: Is Ableton the only viable live performance option

Quote:
Originally Posted by A.M View Post
If you haven't already, you might want to check out [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
, which has come on a lot over the last few years. It enables you to do a lot live, from working with samples and 3rd party VSTs..and MIDI, too. Plus, it's free.



The following is taken from their main page..

"Giada is a free, minimal, hardcore audio tool for DJs, live performers and electronic musicians. How does it work? Just pick up your channel, fill it with samples or MIDI events and start the show by using this tiny piece of software as a loop machine, drum machine, sequencer, live sampler or yet as a plugin/effect host. Giada aims to be a compact and portable virtual device for Linux, Mac and Windows for production use and live sets."
Looks awesome, like stripped down version of Ableton. I'm just testing it out, and wonder how to trigger bunch of clips in a row like in AL.

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