Arranger MIDI workflow questions

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Adrian Myers
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:11 pm

Arranger MIDI workflow questions

Post by Adrian Myers » Sun Mar 31, 2013 3:19 am


I'm new to Live, and am very impressed with how competent and "tight" Live's Arranger view is as a primary MIDI sequencing environment. I'm switching over from more traditional DAWs, and for the most part have been having a lot of fun.

However, there are a few sticking points that don't seem to have obvious solutions. I'd like to ask here if other users have good workarounds, and if not, move on to the Feature Request forum. The points are (with screenshots):

1) MIDI clip position - ... lip_pp.jpg

When clicking in the main project timeline (Arranger timeline in Live) in other DAWs, the local position pointer of any open MIDI clip/key editors is updated to match the new global song position. In Live, there is an indication on the Arrangement view of where the current clip editor's local position is (the little triangles above and below the time bars), but there is no way to set the clip editor's position to match the Arranger position.

The utility here is tremendous for complex projects. Since you can't see or edit multiple clips at once in Live, it can be difficult to match position quickly. In orchestral work, you very often have dozens of tracks, and must retain clear relationships between them. Live leaves you working in the dark a lot, and this very small addition would make a huge difference to workflow. It would be very nice to have the behavior seen in Cubase or Studio One, for example, where a click on a clip in the main timeline updates the clip editor's position to match. Adding it on shift-click or ctrl-click would break nothing, I think?

2) Automation editor hotkey - ... keymap.jpg (bottom)

As Live's automation editor is not always accessible as it is in Cubase or Studio One, it would be very convenient to have a keybind to bring it up. The toggle seems to be one of the very few UI elements that is not mappable.

3) MIDI-only track VST editor - ... toggle.jpg

In large projects, it's often best to create only a few instances of a VST, such as Kontakt, load a number of instruments within those instances, and then create several MIDI-only tracks with no plugins that route their output to a given channel of a particular Kontakt instance.

However, when working this way, you lose the ability to quickly open the VST editor. On a large enough project, it can actually take quite a few motions to open the VST editor, as it can easily be dozens of tracks away, and requires a context switch and another click to display.

Cubase and Studio One both offer a VST/Instrument Editor toggle on each track, and in the case of MIDI-only tracks, it follows the routing and opens the VST instance. Again for what seems like a reasonably small UI change, this would be a major quality of life improvement.

If anyone has workarounds or magic fixes for any of those issues, they'd be appreciated! I love a lot of things about Live, but these three issues have come up quite a bit already. I don't particularly want to move to Cubase 7, since I like the clean and intuitive approach Live takes very much. But I would gladly pay Live's cost again for just these few changes.

Thanks for any replies!

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Re: Arranger MIDI workflow questions

Post by darkenedsoul » Mon Apr 01, 2013 4:10 pm

Live is sorely/sadly lacking in the MIDI editing department. I don't know what their priority is for making it much better, but don't get your hopes up for anything any time soon. We've been asking for this for some time (some of what you mentioned). I also have Studio One but haven't gotten down into it since purchasing it later last year when on sale. I was thinking of using it for multi-track MIDI editing work and mastering tracks from Live in it but so far haven't done much in either application, working on getting back into things still....sloth-mode.

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Adrian Myers
Posts: 18
Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:11 pm

Re: Arranger MIDI workflow questions

Post by Adrian Myers » Mon Apr 01, 2013 5:23 pm

Well, I made a few posts in the Feature Wishlist forum, so I guess we'll see.

Studio One: I'm really torn on this. On paper, they do everything really well. It's missing features from Cubase, but it's also a lot cleaner than Cubase. The MIDI and multi-timbral VST workflows in particular are really as close to perfect as they can get.

But it feels like it's held together with tape. The UI is sluggish... it can take a half second or more for the insert marker position to update. CC changes lag by a bit. When you clone a selection of notes in the editor, they sometimes can't be moved to snap positions near the original start position, but only sometimes, no direct cause that I can find. I know it's a young program and I wish it the best, but although it's getting all the high-level stuff right, the low-level implementation feels rough to me and I will pass for now. But on paper, if it performed as well as Live does, it would be an easy choice.

Meanwhile, although Cubase has some annoying uglies like that floating UI (which can be made to act like Live's, but it's fake and it shows), no single-tool MIDI workflow, and oddities like not being able to rename VST instances (leaving you trying to remember if Kontakt5 8 or Kontakt5 9 has the taiko ensemble), it is fast, feature-rich, handsome enough, and does all of the little things exactly right. So I may just trudge wearily back to Camp Steinberg for the time being.

It's really a shame though. These are such little things, really incredible minor in the scheme of things. Maybe not worth complaining about, sure, but also borderline trivial to just implement. And I'm a lot more concerned about little things than major features in many ways, especially since Live and Cubase both cater to wildly different producers, and I'm neither.

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