Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Lo-Key Fu
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Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by Lo-Key Fu » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:18 pm

This idea has been bouncing around with me for some time - primarily with a view to making an ultra compact live rig for touring - but thus far, I'm yet to test it out.

Obviously an external pro soundcard would be necessary - and relevant attachments for controllers and the like - but from looking at various benchmarking sites, it seems that even today's cheaper netbooks have similar processing power to that of a mid-speed P4. A little dated for most studio applications sure, but I'm guessing it should be ample to run a live set that doesn't rely on a bucketload of individual effects or too many external VSTs.

Not having had much chance for a decent play with a netbook thus far, one thing that conerns me is the snippets I catch on various IT oriented sites that suggest netbook OS's are somewhat limited in terms of capability. Anyone know anything more about these limitations or is it just bluster from the bigger/better/faster/more brigade?

Anyhow, I was wondering if anyone out there has actually tried installing Ableton on a netbook and giving it a go as yet.

Any takers?

Klauser
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by Klauser » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:31 pm

I tried installing live 6 on a netbook a couple of months ago, and it worked, but not so great. I could only run about 11 tracks, using some plugins and then the audio started to crack and jitter.

I would definitely just use a laptop. You can get quite small laptops with good specs. I wouldnt want to risk playing live with a netbook and live when it struggles to handle processing comfortably.

But maybe others have had more success.

Lo-Key Fu
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by Lo-Key Fu » Thu Jan 13, 2011 8:38 pm

Klauser wrote:I tried installing live 6 on a netbook a couple of months ago, and it worked, but not so great. I could only run about 11 tracks, using some plugins and then the audio started to crack and jitter.
Cheers for the feedback KLauser, interesting to hear.

Out of curiousity, were you using the onboard sound or an external card when you tried it out? And do you know if that particular model of Netbook had a Solid State drive or a more standard HD?

Klauser
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by Klauser » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:22 am

It just had a standard hd. And I tried it with the onboard sound processor, but was unusable. Audio jittered like mad.

So used an m-mobile ( was the only USB interface I had ) and had a small success with that. Could at least play some plugins, and audio clips. Not useable for production unless you were extremely efficient.

Lo-Key Fu
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by Lo-Key Fu » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:53 am

Thanks once again for the info Klauser.
Klauser wrote:Not useable for production unless you were extremely efficient.
Not stress on that one, it would literally only be for live shows and I'd have nothing else installed other than the OS and any relevant drivers. I'd most likely need to be able to play 6-18 clips of audio at any given time - which I'm guessing might be a pinch - but I'm also expecting to get far better response from a netbook by playing from the same USB stick I currently use in my live rig laptop.

Despite benchmarks and the like, it's still very difficult to gauge how it might perform without giving it a hands on road test, so it seems like I'll be hunting a suitable model to loan and get stuck into a proper test run.

From all I've read online however, I've found no reason it shouldn't perform at a similar level to my current live system; given the use of a USB stick and a reasonable sound card of course.

Appreciate your help mate, cheers!

ukslice
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by ukslice » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:44 pm

Netbooks are only for browsing web.

globalgoon
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by globalgoon » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:57 pm

I've been using an asus eeepc 901 for a couple of years for gigs. I only have a maximum of 8 tracks playing at once, never tried more than that. I use a novation nio soundcard.

Works well and means i only need one small bag for gigs

pepezabala
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by pepezabala » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:02 pm

I had a student with a shiny new netbook last october and she couldn't run live8 properly. 3 audio tracks and one simpler made it choke.

can't remember the specs of that computer, though.

bupper
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by bupper » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:11 pm

I have an MSI Wind U90x, the first ones, I can run live. You have to be carefull on the cpu & calculate all effects that you use BUT the msi wind has 1 advantage over most netbooks in that you have an inbuilt turbo nmode which overclocks it by 25%. I use 2 or 3 tracks of samples + guitar track + effects + vocal + effects &so far I use about 38% cpu. This has been quite painstaking to get it to work like this by toning down a lot of 3rd party vst effects & trying to find similar settings using just the inbuilt ableton ones. Up to now have only used it on 3 gigs but never had an inkling of a problem with it.

Forgot to add, I upgraded the RAM to 2Go instead of the stock 512 mo, I'm gonna try running a set off a usb drive to see if this gives me any better results
Last edited by bupper on Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Digital_Damage
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by Digital_Damage » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:24 pm

Runs on my Alienware M11x with no issues.

ollyb303
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by ollyb303 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:21 pm

ukslice wrote:Netbooks are only for browsing web.
The clue's in the name....
.:O:B:1:.
ob1techno.com

Lo-Key Fu
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by Lo-Key Fu » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:13 pm

Really appreciate the info so far people - thanks for taking the time to post!

As discussed earlier, I can't imagine a current netbook being too much of a production workhorse; but the fact that a couple of people have successfully run sets with 8-11 tracks is looking promising for performance applications.

ollyb303 wrote:
ukslice wrote:Netbooks are only for browsing web.
The clue's in the name....
Now now... If we only ever used gear how it was conceived by the manufacturer, we'd be without a whole bunch of modern kit that you already take for granted. Speaker distortion would be a great example, ditto the sounds of the Roland TB-303.

Think outside the box and live a little.

:D

Lo-Key Fu
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by Lo-Key Fu » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:32 pm

bupper wrote:Forgot to add, I upgraded the RAM to 2Go instead of the stock 512 mo, I'm gonna try running a set off a usb drive to see if this gives me any better results

On my laptop I've noticed a significant improvement by playing from a USB stick rather than the internal HD (7200rpm). After benchmarking a bunch of different HD and USB options a couple of years back, I found that while USB keys usually had lower maximum speeds (20-30 megabytes/second vs 60-80 megabytes/second from a 7200 rpm HD), but they were infinitely more consistent. This is significant in that you don't actually need a lot of bandwidth to run a bunch of audio tracks; but I found dropouts or audio glitching would occur due to wild variations of internal HD speed in regular operation.

Although the info is from a few years ago, there's some more forum links collected into this thread if you're interested:
http://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=83567

Good luck!

ollyb303
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by ollyb303 » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:31 pm

Lo-Key Fu wrote:
ollyb303 wrote:
ukslice wrote:Netbooks are only for browsing web.
The clue's in the name....
Now now... If we only ever used gear how it was conceived by the manufacturer, we'd be without a whole bunch of modern kit that you already take for granted. Speaker distortion would be a great example, ditto the sounds of the Roland TB-303.

Think outside the box and live a little.

:D
Yeah, for sure... I forget that sarcasm doesn't always come across properly in writing... And that was kinda double sarcasm, if you catch me...
.:O:B:1:.
ob1techno.com

Lo-Key Fu
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Re: Running Ableton Live on a Netbook?

Post by Lo-Key Fu » Fri Jan 14, 2011 10:47 pm

ollyb303 wrote:Yeah, for sure... I forget that sarcasm doesn't always come across properly in writing... And that was kinda double sarcasm, if you catch me...

All good mate, I'm picking up what you're putting down. :)

As an aside, I'd hoped that by now forums would have sarcastic smiley's included by default; but it looks like the best we've got is the 'I've been awake for a while and can't remember where I left my pants' option.

8O

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