Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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mariohardleft
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Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Post by mariohardleft » Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:38 pm

In my previous bands, I used a hardware sequencer and various samplers, and I was able to load each song basically instantly from the sequencer. Zero waiting time.

Turns out I was spoiled and just didn't know it.

Now, with my new band, I'm doing a lot of looping using Ableton Live, and even on my fairly powerful Macbook Pro (2015, 16 GB, 512MB SSD), it takes about 10-20 seconds to open a set (which for us means a single song).

That's not bad at all, compared to other set-load times I've heard about from other Ableton Live users, but as you know, a waiting time on stage of 10-20 seconds is a terribly long time, and it just isn't going to work. That's like saying, "Would everyone please leave the dance floor?!"

I'm looking for advice on how to open sets faster. (Believe me, there's no way I can combine songs into a single set. I have a really convoluted setup for each song to make the loops record and play at the right times throughout an arrangement, and adding even just 1 more song to a set would be nuts.)

I do have an older MBP — a 2009 with 8GB Ram and 256 hard drive — if that would help, and a separate soundcard I could use with it (a focusrite saffire 24). But honestly, I can't figure out how, if at all, I'd incorporate this 2nd computer into the mix. But I thought I'd mention it, just in case anyone has any great ideas.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

mariohardleft
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Re: Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Post by mariohardleft » Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:41 pm

I should add that there's another complication:

The keyboards, guitars, bass and vocals all run through my computer (through my soundcard and Ableton Live). Again, that's because we do a bunch of on-the-fly looping, which means I need the sounds running through my rig.

This basically negates one good solution, which would be for the band to just kind of vamp at the end of a song without Ableton Live while the next song loads. But while a song is loading, the band cannot play anything! Not audibly anyways...again, because the sounds are routed through my Ableton Live rig, which means that during loading, there's zero sound.

Thanks again for your suggestions!

timday
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Re: Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Post by timday » Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:34 pm

This has always been an issue for me. I have tried two solutions

1) Buy a cheapo sampler such as the AKAI MPX-80 to start the loops while Ableton is changing over. With a bit of practice it's possible to turn off the sampler and turn on Ableton reasonably seamlessly (although I never got it perfect). Works best with drone -type loops and a DJ mixer to get it seamless, or alternatively you could use the push tempo feature to get drum loops changing seamlessy if you fancy developing your DJ skills.
I have to say this never worked for me because I'm a pretty rubbish DJ.

2) The experiment I'm now trying it to accumulate everything into one giant set. It helps to group all your drum tracks etc and collapse the groups to stop the set taking up 10000000 tracks, if that is possible with what you do. This is working rather better for me especially since I bought a Mk 2 launchpad and colour coded the masters so I know which song I'm in. Building the set up from songs takes a while especially if there is automation involved but in theory there is no on stage changeover time at all.

mariohardleft
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Re: Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Post by mariohardleft » Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:54 pm

Thanks, timday!

Interesting idea about using a standalone device to start loops. I need to think that one through, as our drummer gets a click from Ableton Live, and he'd need to be pretty close to the right tempo so that he could seamlessly lock into it. It's a good idea to mull over though.

For us, one big set probably won't work. The short version is, I have midi mapped each slot on about six tracks to automatically record or to automatically play a clip. So, for instance, the 16th row (scene) in a set might be the chorus of a song, and that has a particular midi # mapped to it. Then I have another track with a dummy clip that tells the other track, "Hey, record the keyboard player's audio from the chorus (row 16) and play it back on the three next choruses (row 21, 24, and 27, for example).

So if I were to add another song to a particular set, then all of my midi mappings would be wrong, and I'd have to change each one (very time-intensive). And so on for each additional song I added.

Does that make sense?

timday
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Re: Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Post by timday » Mon Aug 14, 2017 8:43 pm

Yeah that makes sense. It's still cheaper than buying another MacBook though.......

I've always had an issue with changeover time. The giant set is the best option I can come up wiht but I can see it might not work for you. 20 seconds doesn't sound long but it's a lot of dead time onstage.

mariohardleft
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Re: Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Post by mariohardleft » Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:51 pm

I already have a second MacBook....I just can't figure out how I would use it to help things along.

If I had a song on the 2nd MBP ready to go, so it was ready to play while the 1st MBP was loading, how would I get audio into it? I mean, all of my instruments — bass, guitar, vocals and keyboards — are running into the soundcard (Clarett 8pre) for MBP Number 1.

So if I started a song on MBP #2.....well, the audio wouldn't be getting to this second computer, for starters, because it's all routed to the 1st computer's soundcard.

Ugh....

mariohardleft
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Re: Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Post by mariohardleft » Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:18 pm

Any additional suggestions, anyone?

scheffkoch
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Re: Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Post by scheffkoch » Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:33 pm

...why don't you just create one big set with various tracks according to your needs?...however...this http://pp-labs.net/wp/pptc/ let's you save different setting combinations as presets AND with the songswitch device you'll be able to recall the settings on a per song basis...
macbook pro late 2016, osx 10.13.6, rme multiface via sonnet thunderbolt expresscard adapter + thunderbolt to usb-c adapter, ableton live 10.0.1, push 2, komplete 9, maschine 2.7.6, touchable

Khazul
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Re: Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Post by Khazul » Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:12 pm

If your computer has enough grunt, perhaps just run another audio app on it that can play an audio clip and launch it in sync - one that can slave to midi. Feed it a midi-network clock using OSX virtual midi routing.

Maybe there is such an app that supports link protocol (dont know if that supports loopback) that would be better than virtual midi.

Using link over wifi, perhaps running a suitable app on an iOS device might work? Maybe NI Machine 2 on iOS might help if it supports link? Connect the iOS device to mixer via an NI audio DJ 2 (cheap little audio interface, but perfectly good for the job).

When Ive dealt with this in the distant past, I used to record 'transition' loops on a an external device to give me some room around variable load times of sets - the most primitive of which was an ipod nano. Later used a midi sync'd MPC2500.

Two machines should work using link.
Nothing to see here - move along!

mariohardleft
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Re: Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Post by mariohardleft » Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:30 pm

Thanks, Khazul, great ideas!

With a second computer, where I'm stuck is how I'd use it to drive the audio that's already routed through my other computer.

Would I literally need an A/B switcher, where it switched the audio from running into one computer to running into the other computer?

Tagor
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Re: Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Post by Tagor » Fri Aug 18, 2017 5:17 pm

it really depends on your audiohardware
otherwise see each unit like a turntable and hook them up via dj-mixer.

i think this woukld be the best set-up.

win-user can try to run 2 instances to ping pong tracks on one machine, but the controller assignment
can get whipplywobbly a bit. also the LIB will be only accesable to one instance.

i did not check how it goes if you try do this with the beta as second instance, but i achieved
stable runs upto 10 tracks ping-pong between push and apc40 on one machine without loose controller assignment
after loding new tracks.

shitty is that you need to make apc-tracks and pudh tracks... so its limiting.

better have 2 pc, 2 push, 2 apc and one mixer.

i think thats would work great, because you really can DJ your tracks, not this frickling around compromissfull megasets,
also you can do nice things having the same track paralel ect.. for sure its the most expensive set up for a "bedroom-producer"

only thinking of 2 RME`s make my stomache grumbling... but yes.. having this you can be sure your over-vst`ed HITeK-Trance track will be integrate. transition and d`accord with the Bongo-Proggy-Dideridoo live-Track of your Multitalented Friend who is up there with you.

another great solution would be a perfomance-mode in ableton live which allows to load 2 tracks in a DJ-Split mode.
also they could turn of editing or saving, whatever it needs.

a little mixing-programm that connects 2 loaded .als into a userfriendly mixing surface would make sense ?!
then mouse is choosing which of them i want control. this would be the inexpensive user-friendly way, but selling 2 push is better and maybe makes more fun.

just myhalf cent

Angstrom
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Re: Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Post by Angstrom » Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:37 pm

I'd just get a rackmount mixer, use the second computer to play some bridging pieces. Get a little old novation mini launchpad or something to trigger just that. Make the sounds on the bridging maching be obviously non songs, some shakers and a soundscape.
I'd manually control the tempo, because I'm weird like that. Wait for the new song to load then move your bridge setup toward the destination tempo and "DJ start" the new song. Mix it in.

Back when I used to tour (in a previous century) the main sequencer was an AtariST (!) it took forever to load each song off the floppy(!). So, I had a midi merge and a switch that allowed me to flip over to an MPD8, and some drum machines during the load up. I'd play a tape of weird ambient noise in the background and jam a quick beat over the top, then when the next song had loaded slowly shift the tempo of the sequencers to match the new tempo, then start the new song. Flip over the switch, guaranteed stuck note, press the panic button, realise the analogues are all on the wrong patches, panic some more, continue to panic, play song without bassline, realise at the end, unmute it, accidental sync mod patch at 1400 decibels. Incorrectly routed Delay feedback joins in and bursts into flames. SH101 is a semitone sharp for entire gig because of pitchbend error. Crowd goes wild. Best gig ever says everyone.
We wore onions on our belts because that was the fashion at the time.Etc.

So, thats what I would do.
Use old laptop to play interlude music into a little rack mixer, manage tempo like a man

mariohardleft
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Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:24 pm

Re: Need to open sets faster at gigs. Use a 2nd computer?

Post by mariohardleft » Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:47 pm

All great feedback (manage tempo like a man — haha!). Thanks, all, for taking the time to help brainstorm some solutions. Very cool of you, and much appreciated!

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