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 Post subject: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 12:10 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:03 am
Posts: 3
After a couple years live looping with synths, loop pedals and outboard gear I decided to make the switch to a laptop/Ableton setup, where I play VSTs live and run them into Looper devices. Changing patches/presets on the fly is an essential part of playing live, and there were a few posts on these forums where people seemed to be running into trouble there.

The two workarounds I saw were sending MIDI program change messages to VSTs, or chaining multiple instances of VSTs set to different presets and changing them with the chain selector. The downside to the first method is that none of Ableton’s instruments accept program change messages, and the MIDI programming can be a little involved. Chaining is more straightforward but it can quickly eat up resources as all the VSTs will be “idling” in your RAM. I could chain about 30 VSTs without overloading, but when I pressed the start, stop, or sustain pedal the CPU would spike to 200%+, freezing the entire set. That’s because the start, stop and sustain messages were sent to ALL VSTs in the chain simultaneously, instantly overloading the CPU and making the set unusable for live performance.

The solution is to load all your VSTs into an instrument rack, but don’t chain them. Instead turn all of them to “off,” and use a MIDI controller to toggle them on/off individually. This way it doesn’t matter how many VSTs are in the rack; your CPU will only process one at a time. I’ve racked 128 instances of VSTs using this method and my CPU still idles around 1%-2%. Using racks within racks, you could rack thousands of VSTs this way without taking a performance hit. This trick is useful for changing patches live but it’s also a good method to keep multiple VSTs accessible in a rack without having them eat up RAM and CPU, especially if you’re using more intensive programs like Kontakt or Omnisphere.

You could use a rotary controller to select patches/VSTs, but if you have large numbers of patches they would be hard to select accurately without visual feedback. I own a Launchpad, and any controller with buttons is perfect for this task; just MIDI map the buttons (in toggle mode) to the on/off button on your instruments. Patch switching is fast and seamless, and you can use the toggles to layer multiple instruments. The only downside is that you have to map each button by hand - if you have hundreds of presets it will take a while to map, but once you’re done you’re done. Hope this helps anyone who’s playing VSTs live.


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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:01 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:02 am
Posts: 4628
Location: Menasha, Wisconsin
I like it.

I'll mess with this a bit. The layering and not relying on a selector does sound like a nice benefit!


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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:43 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2005 5:17 pm
Posts: 235
Location: NYC
Let me understand this: by not putting them in separate chains, do you mean putting them all on the same chain number in a rack and muting that group or turning off the devices for all the one's you're not using? Or do you mean putting all the ivsts into separate pads on a multi-device drum rack? Because technically an instrument would replace the last instrument if you grouped them, no?

BTW, I shifted away from this approach with audio effects, because the lurching of turning on/off effects as they buffer doesn't lend itself to live performance. Also, how is your controller simultaneously turning off all the other instances? You'd get lots of stacking otherwise, no? Also, you'd want to color label them or something in groups of 16 for your pads, just to understand what page and coordinates the button the vst applied to. Otherwise, the impulse to grab the mouse to the browser, shuffle through presets would be a hard habit to kick, even with toggle buttons. I have my midi effects set up this way. It's still a dance with chaos. How about for you?

Maybe I could really use a screen capture...


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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 1:22 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:03 am
Posts: 3
Sure, I'll clarify.

1. Make an instrument rack.
2. Drag your VST into the rack and turn it off.
3. Duplicate the VST; one copy for each preset. At this point if you open the chain selector they should all be at 0.

Image

4. Go into MIDI map mode and select the VST on/off button. Map it to a TOGGLE button with the value from 64-127.

I have a LaunchPad, so in my case I've programmed it to show a grid of 64 toggle buttons. Toggle means press it once to turn on, press it again to turn off. Each button in the grid corresponds to a VST, so if I want to play the first preset I press the first pad. The pad lights up to show me that the preset is selected/on. To turn off the preset I hit the pad again, and it goes dark.

My controller doesn't turn off all other presets when I select a new one - that would probably require some heavy scripting. When I change patches I do have to turn off the old one before I turn on the new one. It only takes about 1/4 of a second but I agree it's not perfect. With the LaunchPad I can see which patches are on so I don't have to worry about accidental layering.

I've organized my patches in rows by type (piano, mallet, string, pad, lead, bass, etc), and since there are only 8 per row it's easy enough for me to remember what's what. 64 sounds is a lot, and it's enough to carry me through a set. It's a good memory exercise, like "Go Fish." That said it would be easy enough to map a button on the LaunchPad to send the channel to my headphones so I could audition my instrument selection before it goes live.

An IDEAL situation would be a rotary control with an LCD screen that showed your current preset, but that would take some deep programming and even then you'd have to remember which preset names sounded like what. I haven't used this with CPU or RAM-intensive VSTs or effects because I don't own any, so I'd be interested to see how this works with something big. Is that what you meant when you referred to audio effects lurching as they buffer?


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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:55 am 

Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:20 pm
Posts: 265
Good solution!
I will now find a job to my old Launchpad (replaced by an APC and the MapEase script). :lol: :lol: :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 4:26 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:03 am
Posts: 3
Update: I've now tried this with Omnisphere, Kontakt instruments & CPU-intensive plugins - it works as before, as in the CPU does not incur any load until the instrument/patch is selected. However: Patches ARE loaded into RAM, so if you have 4gb or more of samples loaded (easy with the newer Kontakt instruments) it will fill up your RAM. This is why I'm patiently awaiting Ableton live 8.4 so I can actually use the 8gb of RAM in my laptop.


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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:13 am 

Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:34 am
Posts: 1052
Thanks for the tip, levelsong.


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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:42 am 

Joined: Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:50 pm
Posts: 8818
You can also map Device On/Off switches to the chain selector so they'll only turn on when the chain selector is over the appropriate chain. You have to go into the map mode settings bar on the left side and change the On/off switch to the chain number the vst is on (each vst would be in it's own chain like above, except each on has a different chain number). By default it would say "64/127" and you would change it to whatever chain it's on like "3/3" so the device is off unless the chain selector is on chain 3. This is assuming the chain selector is mapped to a macro. This way you don't need to map a button for every switch.

If you don't want to load the same vsts multiple times just to access other patches you can use an external plugin like piz's midiconverter3 vst to switch program changes. You put the midiconverter3 vst in a midi track, then have another midi track receive the plugin. It helps to map the program change parameter to a macro knob. Then I use Clyphx to have one button move the macro knob 1 step left and another button to move the macro one step right.

When it comes to Ableton Instruments, I prefer having them on different chains and mapping the switches like I described above. It's a shame we have to do it either of ours ways to switch sounds quickly. Well, there is the snapshot way....

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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:07 pm 

Joined: Mon May 15, 2006 12:15 pm
Posts: 3946
^
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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2012 6:38 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:02 am
Posts: 4628
Location: Menasha, Wisconsin
I believe that part of the intent of the original concept is that in a live situation it is very fast AND allows for layering.


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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2013 12:15 am 

Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:46 pm
Posts: 1
shadx312 wrote:
You can also map Device On/Off switches to the chain selector so they'll only turn on when the chain selector is over the appropriate chain. You have to go into the map mode settings bar on the left side and change the On/off switch to the chain number the vst is on (each vst would be in it's own chain like above, except each on has a different chain number). By default it would say "64/127" and you would change it to whatever chain it's on like "3/3" so the device is off unless the chain selector is on chain 3. This is assuming the chain selector is mapped to a macro. This way you don't need to map a button for every switch.

If you don't want to load the same vsts multiple times just to access other patches you can use an external plugin like piz's midiconverter3 vst to switch program changes. You put the midiconverter3 vst in a midi track, then have another midi track receive the plugin. It helps to map the program change parameter to a macro knob. Then I use Clyphx to have one button move the macro knob 1 step left and another button to move the macro one step right.

When it comes to Ableton Instruments, I prefer having them on different chains and mapping the switches like I described above. It's a shame we have to do it either of ours ways to switch sounds quickly. Well, there is the snapshot way....

Great post


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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:41 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2006 7:58 am
Posts: 64
Just stumbled on this post. Great idea, thanks. Ideally suits what I am trying to do.


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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 11:35 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2006 7:58 am
Posts: 64
There is one major hurdle to this solution that I have just painfully discovered.

If you want to use automation dummy clips to change your presets you are buggered. Apparently with Live 9, new clips take on the parameters for the last MANUALLY set value. So if you use a dummy clip to change say from a Massive bass sound to a piano sound, but the last time you manually selected a sound you selected a trumpet, then when you either insert a clip or record a new clip, it will revert to the last manually set parameter which is a trumpet....not good.

If anyone knows a workaround for this to still allow using dummy clips to change the presets using the above methods, it would be amazing. Right now, I'm back to manual changing (the dummy clips still sets the preset, but I have to repeat the chain selector setting to lock in a manual parameter...painful)


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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:11 am 

Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2005 5:58 am
Posts: 167
Location: seattle
I know this is an old thread, but I just wanted to say that it helped me REALLY clean up my set and streamline my way of playing. Being able to use the macro knobs to control my different synths (like normally) and just using my launch pad to change the racks that contain them is crazy smart. I love not having to hunt for crap. I know that it is a new song, so I press this button here and the lead synth is ready for manipulation. Different song? Press this button.

I really wish it was that easy to switch the redbox view. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Changing Patches Live - The Solution
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:36 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:01 pm
Posts: 1
Location: Ramsgate, Kent
A huge thumbs up to this too. It has helped me out no end, thank you LevelSongD.

Absolutely miniscule quibble: I would love this to be able to easily hold a sustained note/chord and not cut it off abruptly when turning the instrument off.


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