Going Native...

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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R.
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:15 pm

Going Native...

Post by R. » Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:45 pm

Producing, Mixing, Mastering....all in live? Of course this IS possible but does it mean it gives you a professional result?

I've been working on a live set and, for reasons to are too long and not well thought out enough to explain, I am looking to keep all of my instruments and plugins native to Ableton - i mean why not, when it comes to building sounds and effects chains Ableton is dope.!

When it comes to mixing though, Im not certain that it's the best path to take. Not because I know this as fact, but because its hard not to get sucked into the vacuum of chat surrounding the merits of 1000 different hardwares or vst plugins. I've tested a fair few and yep yep yep, I can hear a difference, but its never something that I feel a final mix would fall apart at the seems because it is missing. Take this analogy...if my tracks were t-shirts (wtf is this analogy?!) then they would be the same colour, same material, same size same EVERYTHING if I was using native plugins or external VSTs, the only difference would be that the thread colour used to sew them together would be different. Thats not to say you can't choose a complimentary colour and the whole thing will turn out great.

The other day I was having this discussion with a reputable engineer, it went a little something like this. If you take 4 different Eq units and boost them at 2K by 4 db then they will all sound different. This was no surprise to me, but he then went on to say its good to have a variety of EQ units to call on because this very difference in sound colouration helps to increase separation between instruments in your mix that you simply cannot achieve simply by throwing EQ 8 on everything. hmmmmmmmmm, food for thought.

My response to this wildly thrown curve ball was simple. What about Recondite? I know he is exclusively Ableton. I also heard on the grape vine that Skrillex is all about live. My question to you is....what is your experience and what do you think? And can you give me examples of any other producers who use live and its native plugins exclusively?

Thanks

Da hand
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Re: Going Native...

Post by Da hand » Wed Apr 03, 2019 6:39 am

Any software and hardware limitations will be different for every person depending on what they want to do with these tools, so I wouldn't really worry too much about whether other people are doing it that way or not. Do it and see if it is right for you and then you will see the limitations that apply to you.

It all really depends on the music YOU want to create, the sounds you need, the way you like to work, etc, etc. Many people will have valid reasons as to why they like aspects of Live and why they don't, but it will always be in the context of their own needs, wants and experience - not yours.

For example. You can sample some cool piano sounds in Live that can be used in all sorts of music to really great effect and in the context of a mix sound terrific, but if you are a concert pianist looking for a specific type of solo piano sound, maybe Live's instruments will fall short of what you are looking for in term of sound and playability. Same thing can be said for almost any acoustic instrument.

For drums, if you want a TR-808 drum sound for example, again Live can offer up many samples of the drum machine to get you some nice beats, but if you are looking for something very close to the way that specific drum machine functions and swings- and to push it beyond more or less generic beats, Live might fall short again - even Roland's own machines can fall short as well. Of course, Live offers other ways of making drums that can be really fantastic sounding and swinging - just maybe not exactly like an original TR-808. It depends on what you need and want.

Same thing for synths. Do you need specific types of sounds - TB-303, moog, modulars, etc - or are you open to exploring what Live offers in their range of instruments? Neither approach is really wrong and many people choose a combination of both - to use vsts or hardware to zero in on specific sounds they want and explore with Live other sounds.

With mixing tools it is the same. Do you need an EQ that has XYZ parameters that may be missing in EQ8? Some people may need those parameters for specific reasons of the way they like to work, but maybe you do not need to work that way. Then EQ8 would be perfect for you to use. Same for compressors.

I can keep going on and on, but I think you will see what I am getting at.

If you try it and see that what Live offers is right for you and you are getting great results all in Live, then of course use Live for everything. If there are some aspects of Live that become limiting to what you want to achieve and you are struggling to get the results you want, even with workarounds, then seek out other tools for those jobs.

fishmonkey
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Re: Going Native...

Post by fishmonkey » Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:14 am

i would hazard a guess that most people have far more tools than they have expertise in using them. the software/hardware music industry is constantly waving shiny new things in our faces. funnily enough, often the shiny new things are old things with shiny new faces.

however, until you are really familiar with working with one EQ and one compressor, then even comparing different EQs and compressors is very difficult to do in any meaningful way.

and then there are a bunch of different other things to weigh up: functionality, ease of use, aesthetics, CPU hit, stability, ongoing support, maintenance and upgrade costs, etc.

the "colouring" of sound is mostly to do with non-linearities and distortions. you can create these by stacking or racking basic tools, or you can use a single plugin that does it for you. it really depends on how you like to work. and if you are living off your production work, then workflow is really important. if you can achieve the same thing in 30 seconds or 10 minutes, and you need to do the same thing hundreds of times, which will you choose?

all that said, for some people having a ton of different tools works for them. they know and like the specific thing that each particular tool brings to the table.

there's no straightforward answer really. for many reasons i really like Fabfilter's stuff, and i have almost all of it. but that's just me.
Last edited by fishmonkey on Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

jestermgee
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Re: Going Native...

Post by jestermgee » Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:53 am

Take this analogy...if my tracks were t-shirts (wtf is this analogy?!) then they would be the same colour, same material, same size same EVERYTHING if I was using native plugins or external VSTs, the only difference would be that the thread colour used to sew them together would be different.
Kind of sums up the argument really.

A t-shirt is designed to cover your chest primarily. You could easily get by in life with just 1 plain shirt, it will do the job it was designed for. But sometimes you want a different style, different material, suited for a different occasion or different weather. So it can be good to have a choice of a number of shirts. Some people spend time selecting and coordinating their outfits, some just grab whatever is there and throw it on and make it work to some degree, and some like to go completely topless.

Some people choose very carefully when they shop for clothes, some people just go nuts when the season sales roll by and some people don't have a clue how to shop and just buy whatever the stars wear.

Not all shirts are equal either. Some are warmer or cooler than others, some have buttons or zippers, pockets, cufs, collars. Lots of different features that divide them, but they still do the same basic thing just with some additional functionality or style thrown in.

Personally, I wear shirts I bought 15 years ago still because I like to spend my money on plugins instead.

R.
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:15 pm

Re: Going Native...

Post by R. » Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:06 am

Thanks for your responses - as you both allude there are lots of factors to take into consideration, and each decision will lead to a different outcome.

I guess on reflection the question of who is doing what is pretty worthless because, well everyone can do everything and each will yield a unique result.

To add flames to the fire, this morning i devised a relatively elementary but also v effective compressor shoot out. I took 6 compressors, with relatively similar settings and similar Gain reduction and tested them on a variety of audio material. I knew the results would be different but I was quite surprised at HOW different they were. It was really cool actually.

I want to stick in live because as the project grows I am super concerned about CPU usage - and I know native is good for this. (small side note any idea how to work out the actual cpu usage of a single plug in?). Another possible reason was an aesthetic choice - Ableton's plugins will lend a certain sound to my productions and there might be a case for uniformity/consistency across songs.

Workflow speed is not essential at the moment, and gaining knowledge/experience of software and hardware will certainly pay off in the long term. I think for now I am going to create a number of 'shoot out' racks so every-time I make a mix decision I can quickly replicate this across a selection of plugins and work out a favourite. I guess time will tell what the CPU usage is like.

If you have any other suggestions of ways to carry on then they'd be welcome :)

R.
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:15 pm

Re: Going Native...

Post by R. » Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:08 am

Some people choose very carefully when they shop for clothes, some people just go nuts when the season sales roll by and some people don't have a clue how to shop and just buy whatever the stars wear....
loving that the t-shirt metaphor is kicking off....it's seemless haha

doghouse
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Re: Going Native...

Post by doghouse » Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:50 pm

People get way too hung up on tools. If you think about the history of recording music, people made do with limited track counts on tape and having to play everything in real time while creating timeless classics. All DAWs have really done is make everything cheaper, easier and more convenient to do, saving both time and money.

If you are not using any external audio sources (mikes, DIed guitars, hardware synths, etc.) then the sound will be just as good using a $300 laptop as a $$$$$$$$ maxxed out tower.

Will using some other DAW or plugins sound better when in the hands of a real master of recording/mixing/mastering? Probably...but how much are you willing to spend for how much gain?

Adding my voice to the choir: learn to really use the tools you have in Live and you'll be a lot happier than wasting lots of money on more plugins.

P.S. Having used both Cubase and Logic, I'll say that in many ways mixing is better in Live because it's so much easier to set up sends, busses, groups, complex channel strips, etc.

Fanu
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Re: Going Native...

Post by Fanu » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:49 pm

The only really weak link in Live's plugin arsenal for this use is its Limiter; not capable in the least for decent master limiting (eats all the transients).
Color Limiter in Creative Expansions pack works a little better, but still not mastering grade (transients are OK but distorts easily and no ISP protection in the least).
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Tarekith
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Re: Going Native...

Post by Tarekith » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:52 pm

Agree 100%. I happily use all the native tools for my own productions, and I'd have no issues using them on client work either. EQ8 and Compressor are really well done and sound great.

The limiter though.... it's pretty basic and doesn't do well when pushed hard for mastering duties. Fine for individual track limiting, but for mastering work it's still the one tool I use a 3rd party option for every time.

jlgrimes
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Re: Going Native...

Post by jlgrimes » Thu Apr 04, 2019 5:12 pm

R. wrote:
Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:45 pm
Producing, Mixing, Mastering....all in live? Of course this IS possible but does it mean it gives you a professional result?

I've been working on a live set and, for reasons to are too long and not well thought out enough to explain, I am looking to keep all of my instruments and plugins native to Ableton - i mean why not, when it comes to building sounds and effects chains Ableton is dope.!

When it comes to mixing though, Im not certain that it's the best path to take. Not because I know this as fact, but because its hard not to get sucked into the vacuum of chat surrounding the merits of 1000 different hardwares or vst plugins. I've tested a fair few and yep yep yep, I can hear a difference, but its never something that I feel a final mix would fall apart at the seems because it is missing. Take this analogy...if my tracks were t-shirts (wtf is this analogy?!) then they would be the same colour, same material, same size same EVERYTHING if I was using native plugins or external VSTs, the only difference would be that the thread colour used to sew them together would be different. Thats not to say you can't choose a complimentary colour and the whole thing will turn out great.

The other day I was having this discussion with a reputable engineer, it went a little something like this. If you take 4 different Eq units and boost them at 2K by 4 db then they will all sound different. This was no surprise to me, but he then went on to say its good to have a variety of EQ units to call on because this very difference in sound colouration helps to increase separation between instruments in your mix that you simply cannot achieve simply by throwing EQ 8 on everything. hmmmmmmmmm, food for thought.

My response to this wildly thrown curve ball was simple. What about Recondite? I know he is exclusively Ableton. I also heard on the grape vine that Skrillex is all about live. My question to you is....what is your experience and what do you think? And can you give me examples of any other producers who use live and its native plugins exclusively?

Thanks
I think it's totally possible to use Ableton alone but I wouldn't totally rule out 3rd party. There is too much good freeware and inexpensive plugins to pass up on that are amazing.

But yeah learning Ableton's basic plugins well will take you far.

R.
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:15 pm

Re: Going Native...

Post by R. » Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:53 pm

The other day I was having this discussion with a reputable engineer, it went a little something like this. If you take 4 different Eq units and boost them at 2K by 4 db then they will all sound different. This was no surprise to me, but he then went on to say its good to have a variety of EQ units to call on because this very difference in sound colouration helps to increase separation between instruments in your mix that you simply cannot achieve simply by throwing EQ 8 on everything. hmmmmmmmmm, food for thought.

My response to this wildly thrown curve ball was simple. What about Recondite? I know he is exclusively Ableton. I also heard on the grape vine that Skrillex is all about live. My question to you is....what is your experience and what do you think? And can you give me examples of any other producers who use live and its native plugins exclusively?
Having taken this discussion and embarked on the tireless process of auditioning a thousand and one plugins for every mix decision I can tell you I've arrived at some much more pleasing results using 3rd party plugins than with Ableton (There have for sure been occasions when native plugins have been my plugin of choice though).

I guess the question now comes down to that of workflow - for that ease of integration of 3rd party plugins using push (yes its a pain in the ass.!) - CPU load, and finally aesthetics. With that in mind does anyone have an insight in how I can 'compare' cpu load of plugins? This might help me whittle down a shortlist for future use.

Thanks :)

Btw if you want to experiment with this kind of stuff yourself I would recommend starting off comparing Eq's - safe to say the differences can be quite staggering.

fishmonkey
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Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 4:50 am

Re: Going Native...

Post by fishmonkey » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:58 pm

R. wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:53 pm
Btw if you want to experiment with this kind of stuff yourself I would recommend starting off comparing Eq's - safe to say the differences can be quite staggering.
interesting reading for you:

http://ericbeam.com/?p=361
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

R.
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:15 pm

Re: Going Native...

Post by R. » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:26 pm

http://ericbeam.com

You can’t compare EQ’s by matching dials & numbers, You will get different results. If you use an analyzer & match signals/curves you will unveil “the magic”.
Amazing thank you - gonna read this again tomorrow and emulate some of these tests.

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