MusicTech review: Live 6 lacks audio quality!!

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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headquest
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Post by headquest » Tue Oct 03, 2006 11:12 pm

Tarekith wrote: If someone asks me to mix a string quartet for them (this happened recently), it'd be nice to know which is the best tool for the job. There's a reason it's called "audio engineering".
Interesting point. But surely if the job in hand is to mix a string quartet, you would not be using warp modes? (I know I wouldn't).

By the same token, if you are a pro audio engineer recording other people's stuff for a living, Live would not be the obvious tool for you to use anyway?

In that context I would personally use Audition. BUT... I am entirely happy with the quality of Live's mixing. And because I have read the manual and worked out a more more about LIve than the MTM reviewer bothered to, I know how to get good results in Live (better than certain other sequencers I have used, in fact).
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Post by Tarekith » Tue Oct 03, 2006 11:23 pm

Interesting point. But surely if the job in hand is to mix a string quartet, you would not be using warp modes? (I know I wouldn't).

>>>LOL, of course not, unless they wanted a 185 BPM gabber version. It was merely to illsutrate a point that until we do tests like this, or my other thread (which this example pertains to more), we just don't know. <<<

By the same token, if you are a pro audio engineer recording other people's stuff for a living, Live would not be the obvious tool for you to use anyway?

>>>First of all I don't record, I only mix or master what people send me, so that's out of my hands. As for Live as a professional audio tool, you know, I'm not so sure about that lately, which is why the sudden interest in this from me. Having compared the outputs of SX and Live, and shown that as long as you don't warp or factor plug ins into the equation they produce identical outputs, why not? The jury's still out though on this one :) Let's keep it all in operspective, no matter what, this is all better than the quality of gear we were using 15-20 years ago anyway.<<<

In that context I would personally use Audition. BUT... I am entirely happy with the quality of Live's mixing. And because I have read the manual and worked out a more more about LIve than the MTM reviewer bothered to, I know how to get good results in Live (better than certain other sequencers I have used, in fact).

>>>And really that's all I'm trying to get at, what do I need to do in Live to minimize the impact to the audio, unless I WANT to impact it for artistic reasons. What little tips and stuff can I apply to maximize my results when using Live as a more traditional DAW applied to acoustic instrument recordings, as well as my electronic projects? Or are there fundamental issues that mean it's not the right tool for this type of job? To be honest, I don't think this is the case, but I'd like to look into it personally rather than relying on people quoting ages old hearsay or misinformation. <<<

headquest
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Post by headquest » Tue Oct 03, 2006 11:30 pm

Sure, I hear where you are coming from, and was really trying to just emphasise a good sense of perspective.

Your test are interesting, useful, and have more creidbility than the rubbish in the MTM review that led to this thread. It is obvious that warp modes will not be 100% transparent, and useful to know how to get the best results when using them.

I am also really interested that without warping, Live and Cubase produced exactly the same results. This confirms the point that digital summing should technically be equal between hosts. 8)
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Post by dj superflat » Wed Oct 04, 2006 12:22 am

still confused: one of the posters suggests that even repitch mode causes problems at same tempo. so do we have consensus on which warp mode doesn't affect quality? (from what i can gather, tones and complex aren't the way to go, repitch has been questioned.)

and fwiw, i'm with taraketh, i think this matters because certain types of content should have no glitches or artifacts, it's no just academic (the human ear is very good at picking up slight anomalies in (e.g.) a recorded human voice).

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Post by melocoton » Wed Oct 04, 2006 1:02 am

dj superflat wrote:still confused: one of the posters suggests that even repitch mode causes problems at same tempo.
Yes, that was me. I made a video to demonstrate and I'll post it as soon as I can figure out where to put it.

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Post by Anubis » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:03 am

Ohhhh, that is just fecking great. I use tones and texture on most of my bass samples... and now you're saying that is the crappiest mode. But when I listen to them they sound cleaner that in beats mode. What's up? Is all my music shit now? :cry: And all this time I thought my music was pretty clever yet I don't want it to sound sub par.
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Post by Tarekith » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:08 am

Dude, back up and reread what we are talking about.

NO ONE is saying that those two modes are worse sounding for your music. We're talking about when you apply a warping mode to an audio clip that technically doesn't need to be warped, ie, it's tempo is already at the exact same setting as the project. The point of these tests were to see which mode is the least obtrusive if you wanted to do things like apply clip envelopes (whcih require warping turned on), and what not.

It's a purely academic exercise, and in no way a judgement on sound quality in everyday writing for the vast majority of people here.

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Post by forge » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:37 am

Tarekith wrote: Anyway, so it looks like certain warp modes DO in fact impact the audio, even when the audio is left at the same tempo it was recorded. This is not a bash at Ableton, far from it. In fact it shows that you can probably use the other warp modes if you want to retain Clip Envelopes and the like without negatively affecting the audio quality.

And as always, if you spot a flaw in my testing, let me know and I'll try and correct it.
there is no question that Live's warp engine - even complex - is totally geared up towards Live use and is not as good as what can be done with offline pitch/time stuff

My girlfriend is a singer and I showed her how to use Live to change the key of her backing tracks, which she was doing happily, and it was probably fine for some of her gigs, but recently I had to do her a new demo so I loaded in the tracks she'd pitched (only changed pitch in complex mode) and they sounded pretty ordinary, so I got the source files and used Waves Soundshifter - and let me tell you the difference was staggering. The waves plug-in was such a long way better.

So unfortunately that means now she wants me to go over all of her tracks and do the same! :?

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Post by forge » Wed Oct 04, 2006 2:46 am

Tarekith wrote:Interesting point. But surely if the job in hand is to mix a string quartet, you would not be using warp modes? (I know I wouldn't).

>>>LOL, of course not, unless they wanted a 185 BPM gabber version. It was merely to illsutrate a point that until we do tests like this, or my other thread (which this example pertains to more), we just don't know. <<<

By the same token, if you are a pro audio engineer recording other people's stuff for a living, Live would not be the obvious tool for you to use anyway?

>>>First of all I don't record, I only mix or master what people send me, so that's out of my hands. As for Live as a professional audio tool, you know, I'm not so sure about that lately, which is why the sudden interest in this from me. Having compared the outputs of SX and Live, and shown that as long as you don't warp or factor plug ins into the equation they produce identical outputs, why not? The jury's still out though on this one :) Let's keep it all in operspective, no matter what, this is all better than the quality of gear we were using 15-20 years ago anyway.<<<
just to add...

without warping there is no reason you couldnt use Live - I always hated the plug-ins in Cubase anyway - I was always amazed at how crap they were because I really liked the sequencer - over logic, but Logic's plug-ins were in a different league

I havent used SX since version 2 though, but I used it since cubase VST years ago along with the earlier versions of Logic (i never understood why Logic took SOOO long to get multiple undos)

anyway, my point is I really like Live's plug-ins - EQ8 is now pretty closely on a par with some of the waves EQs now, I've got very used to the compressor, the reverb on "first class" mode is good, and saturator is a total staple in my diet

I'm totally happy with the sounds you can get from Live

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Post by Anubis » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:31 am

Tarekith wrote:...The point of these tests were to see which mode is the least obtrusive if you wanted to do things like apply clip envelopes (whcih require warping turned on)...
Yeah, which is used on every single track by default by most peeps using Live. I just assumed (since version 2) that this being the pivotal feature in Live, it would have been implemented in a totally transparent fashion.
Although I'm sorta bummed out by the revelation, I really appreciate research such as yours that exposes the limitations of the tools that we use to guys like me who aren't quite as saavy.
I still intend to use Live as my main "axe" because it is the most creative tool that I have stumbled upon. But at least now I know why I have to take my projects into Wavelab and pump them up. :roll:
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Post by forge » Wed Oct 04, 2006 3:38 am

Anubis wrote:
Tarekith wrote:...The point of these tests were to see which mode is the least obtrusive if you wanted to do things like apply clip envelopes (whcih require warping turned on)...
Yeah, which is used on every single track by default by most peeps using Live. I just assumed (since version 2) that this being the pivotal feature in Live, it would have been implemented in a totally transparent fashion.
Although I'm sorta bummed out by the revelation, I really appreciate research such as yours that exposes the limitations of the tools that we use to guys like me who aren't quite as saavy.
I still intend to use Live as my main "axe" because it is the most creative tool that I have stumbled upon. But at least now I know why I have to take my projects into Wavelab and pump them up. :roll:
I thinkit's as much technology limitations as anything - trying to do all that stuff in real time requires ALOT of processor power - hence why the waves ones I just mentioned have 2 versions of the plug-in - one for offline use and one as an insert

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Post by headquest » Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:15 am

Tarekith wrote:Dude, back up and reread what we are talking about.

NO ONE is saying that those two modes are worse sounding for your music. We're talking about when you apply a warping mode to an audio clip that technically doesn't need to be warped, ie, it's tempo is already at the exact same setting as the project. The point of these tests were to see which mode is the least obtrusive if you wanted to do things like apply clip envelopes (whcih require warping turned on), and what not.

It's a purely academic exercise, and in no way a judgement on sound quality in everyday writing for the vast majority of people here.
Once again I'm glad you did the test and it is certainly interesting and useful. BUT the fact is that because this is so OVER discussed it creates a perception that Live's audio quality is not up to the job. That is why the guy was confused.

It is also why MTM came out with their nonsense, suggesting that (without warping) plain audio files in Live do not sound as good as they should. They preceded their criticisms by suggesting that lots of Ableton users think the audio quality is below par... presumably based on internet chatter and threads that have regularly appeared on this forum (and others)...

They clearly did not do any testing of their own, and don't even claim to. They offer no evidence at all... the whole negative tone of the review is based on the fact that they listened to internet chatter rather than properly testing the software for themselves. They did not distinguish between the discussion some here are having - which is useful in terms of knowing which warp modes to use when - and normal non warped audio at all. Their damning of Live is simply about perception.
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Post by headquest » Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:16 am

forge wrote: My girlfriend is a singer and I showed her how to use Live to change the key of her backing tracks, which she was doing happily, and it was probably fine for some of her gigs, but recently I had to do her a new demo so I loaded in the tracks she'd pitched (only changed pitch in complex mode) and they sounded pretty ordinary, so I got the source files and used Waves Soundshifter - and let me tell you the difference was staggering. The waves plug-in was such a long way better.
Pitch shifting is a whole other ball game again, and Soundshifter is one expensive plugin. However, I decided to have a go and see how I fared with this...

So I fired up a demo of soundshifter, along with Live, Audition and Sonar's V-Vocal for comparisson. I tested them on a organ riff, a rhodes chord pattern, and a single acoustic guitar chord (very nice - rich harmonics content 8) ). Here's what I found:

Soundshifter: Very nice indeed. Good clean results up to transpositions of a perfect fourth and sometimes beyond that too. No arguments here!

Live 5.2: Some of the warp modes sounded pretty bad. But "Complex" mode sounded VERY good. On the organ and rhodes it was *almost* as good as the soundshifter. On the guitar chord it was in fact BETTER to my ears up to a trnaspositon of a fourth, but less good on more drastic transpositions, where soundshifter had the edge.

Audition 2.0: I;m a big fan of Audition, and find its timestretching second to none. So I was suprised to find the results with its pitch shift effect quite disappointing on this material. Live and soundshifter were clearly much better.

Sonar V-Vocal (Roland Variphrase): I expected this might be the winner, but in fact I was unable to get anything decent from it at all. Perhaps a user error, or maybe its not designed for larger pitch shifting operations. Also it was very CPU intensive, and on my first attempt it crashed Sonar and I had to reboot!

To conclude, I think that Live came out VERY well in these tests - the complex mode was far better on all three clips than either V-Vocal or Audition. Soundshifter was better in some cases, though given the cost I think it would be hard to justify the investment if you have Live.
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Post by Tarekith » Wed Oct 04, 2006 11:26 am

Yeah, which is used on every single track by default by most peeps using Live. I just assumed (since version 2) that this being the pivotal feature in Live, it would have been implemented in a totally transparent fashion.

>>>As mentioned above, it's impossible to do this type of thing in a 100% transparent fashion, though Ableton have come very close if you play with the settings and choose the right warp mode. Any time you stretch or compress audio data, you're changing the file from it's default and thus by definitetion alone it's impossible to get complete transparency. <<<

I still intend to use Live as my main "axe" because it is the most creative tool that I have stumbled upon. But at least now I know why I have to take my projects into Wavelab and pump them up. :roll:

>>>What is it you're doing in Wavelab that you can't do in Live? I'm a long time Wavelab user and I've never felt the need to use that app because Live couldn't do 'something'. Are you refering to using Wavelab's compressors versus Live? If so, that's completely besides the point we are discussing here.

Understand, I'm not trying to come down hard on you, I just want to avoid people quickly skimmin this thread and misinterpreting what we are realyl talking about. The point is not to come away thinking Live is inferior. <<<

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Post by forge » Wed Oct 04, 2006 11:38 am

headquest wrote:
forge wrote: My girlfriend is a singer and I showed her how to use Live to change the key of her backing tracks, which she was doing happily, and it was probably fine for some of her gigs, but recently I had to do her a new demo so I loaded in the tracks she'd pitched (only changed pitch in complex mode) and they sounded pretty ordinary, so I got the source files and used Waves Soundshifter - and let me tell you the difference was staggering. The waves plug-in was such a long way better.
Pitch shifting is a whole other ball game again, and Soundshifter is one expensive plugin. However, I decided to have a go and see how I fared with this...

So I fired up a demo of soundshifter, along with Live, Audition and Sonar's V-Vocal for comparisson. I tested them on a organ riff, a rhodes chord pattern, and a single acoustic guitar chord (very nice - rich harmonics content 8) ). Here's what I found:

Soundshifter: Very nice indeed. Good clean results up to transpositions of a perfect fourth and sometimes beyond that too. No arguments here!

Live 5.2: Some of the warp modes sounded pretty bad. But "Complex" mode sounded VERY good. On the organ and rhodes it was *almost* as good as the soundshifter. On the guitar chord it was in fact BETTER to my ears up to a trnaspositon of a fourth, but less good on more drastic transpositions, where soundshifter had the edge.

Audition 2.0: I;m a big fan of Audition, and find its timestretching second to none. So I was suprised to find the results with its pitch shift effect quite disappointing on this material. Live and soundshifter were clearly much better.

Sonar V-Vocal (Roland Variphrase): I expected this might be the winner, but in fact I was unable to get anything decent from it at all. Perhaps a user error, or maybe its not designed for larger pitch shifting operations. Also it was very CPU intensive, and on my first attempt it crashed Sonar and I had to reboot!

To conclude, I think that Live came out VERY well in these tests - the complex mode was far better on all three clips than either V-Vocal or Audition. Soundshifter was better in some cases, though given the cost I think it would be hard to justify the investment if you have Live.
that's interesting - TBH I'm only talking about full mixes of tracks-which I found to be HUGELY better with the waves plug-in on quite a few tracks - of course it all varies depending on what the track is made up of

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