How to Route Kontakt to Multiple Outputs in Ableton Live

April 14, 2017

Learn how to route Kontakt to multiple outputs in Ableton Live.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to route Kontakt instruments to multiple outputs in Ableton Live.
In the screenshot below, I’ve created an instance of Kontakt in Ableton Live with four sample libraries — Alicias Keys, String Ensemble Essential, Session Horns Pro, and Scarbee Jay-Bass. In Kontakt’s default configuration, all four libraries are routed to Output 1 – 2.
How can we change the routing to the following?

  • Unused: Output 1 – 2
  • Alicias Keys: Output 3 – 4
  • String Ensemble Essential: Output 5 – 6
  • Session Horns Pro: Output 7 – 8
  • Scarbee Jay Bass: Output 9

First, we have to change Kontakt’s default output routing from 2xStereo and 1×5.1Surround to 4xStereo and 1xMono. Click on the + button next to Outputs to bring up the output configuration window.
Use the settings below to delete the existing output configuration, and add three stereo outputs. Make sure you map Soundcard/Host Output to st.1 [1], and select Ascending Output Assignment.

In the screenshot below, you can see the three stereo outputs.
Next, we have to create one mono output for Scarbee Jay-Bass. Click on the + button again to bring up the output configuration window. Use the settings below to create one mono channel. Since we want to use Output 9 for the mono channel, select the ninth option in the Soundcard/Host Output dropdown — surr 5.1 [5]. This time, we’re only adding a channel, so don’t delete the existing channels.

Now, you should see three stereo outputs and one mono output.Next, change the output of each library to the desired output.
Next create four audio channels. Set Audio From to 1-Kontakt (or whatever Kontakt instance you’re working on), and set Monitor to In.
You should know be able to hear each instrument on its own channel. Finally, you can use each audio track’s Audio To setting to route an instrument to its own physical output.
Hi, I’m Brian and I’m an electronic music designer for Broadway shows and other theatrical productions around the world. If you enjoyed this article, click the ? below to let the world know.
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A Macro Overview of a Playback System

December 18, 2016

A functional playback system consists of multiple layers of interaction. The first interaction layer occurs between the operator and the control interface. The second layer occurs between the control interface and the playback software (Ableton Live). Lastly, the playback software talks with a hardware device for audio output.

The Control Interface

An intuitive control interface is integral to the performance of a playback system. Live performance is often a high stress situation, and system operator (often the music director) should never have to make guesses.
In other words, the operator should not have to look at this.

Ableton Live in Session View.
Ableton Live’s Session View resembles a spreadsheet. Color-coordinated spreadsheets are beautiful and fun to look at, but they reveal almost no useful information in performance situations.
This is much nicer to look at.

The Playback Software

A stable playback software will make or break a performance. There are many options out there, but I’ll be focusing on Ableton Live in this series.
Ableton Live is a popular software solution for DJs and producers, but it’s also used for music playback on some of the largest productions in the world.
Why?
Ableton Live’s Session View was designed for playback, and it’s unmatched in terms of organizational capability. You’ll soon realize the importance of staying organized when dealing with thousands of audio clips.
The relationship and interactions between the control interface and Ableton Live is MIDI-based. This MIDI connection can be either a virtual software one or a physical hardware patch.
MacOS ships with a built-in virtual MIDI bus called the IAC driver. On the Windows side, loopMIDI by Tobias Erichsen serves the same function. If you prefer hardware MIDI devices, just route a physical loop with something like the iConnectivity mio10.

The Audio Output Device

The audio output device is the final component of a playback system. This device can be the headphone jack on a MacBook Pro, a RME MADIface XT sending 196 channels of audio, and everything in between.
Smaller productions with lower channel count requirements will often use audio interfaces that convert the digital data coming from Ableton Live into an analog voltage signal to be amplified for speaker output.
On larger productions, you’ll often find digital audio interfaces that use technologies like MADI or Dante. These digital protocols enable high channel count transmission over a single cable

Send 198 channels of digital audio with the RME MADIface XT.

An Overview of Ableton Live

December 18, 2016

What is Ableton Live?

Ableton Live is a music production and performance suite. In addition to traditional DAW functionality, Live also offers a playback mode complete with warping, crossfading, and more.
While Ableton Live is a popular software solution for music producers and DJs, it’s also used as a playback system for Broadway shows, Cirque du Soleil productions, and countless pop acts.
In this series, you’ll learn how to design a flexible and easy to use playback system for your production.

Intro vs. Standard vs. Suite

Ableton Live is available in three different editions.

Ableton Live Intro

This is Ableton’s introductory version of Live. It offers full playback functionality, albeit with limitations in track and scene counts.

Ableton Live Standard

This is Ableton’s mid-tier version of Live. In addition to the feature set of the Intro version, Live Standard removes track and scene count limitations. This is the version to get if you’re on a tight budget.

Ableton Live Suite

This is Ableton’s flagship version of Live. In addition to the feature set of the Intro and Standard versions, Live Suite includes Max for Live and additional software instruments and plugins. This is the version to get if you’re serious about designing a state of the art playback system.
Why?
Live Suite is the only version that comes with Ableton’s full-fledged Sampler, which supports loop point designation at the sample level. This means it’s possible to calculate super precise loop points — you’ll find this is an extremely useful feature for looping musical phrases.
Ableton Intro and Standard ship with a stripped down sampler called “Simpler,” which only supports loop point designation with percentages.

Ableton Simpler in Live Intro & Standard
Ableton Sampler in Live Suite
Click here to view Ableton’s official comparison chart.

Arrangement View vs. Session View

Ableton Live features two distinctly different workspaces — Arrangement View and Session View.

Arrangement View

Arrangement View is set up like a traditional DAW (Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Cubase, etc.). Arrangement View is the preferred workspace for traditional DAW workflows — recording, arranging, and mixing.

Session View

Session View resembles a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Tracks are on the X-Axis, scenes are on the Y-Axis, and each cell block is called a clip. Session View is the preferred workspace for designing a playback system.
Arrangement View and Session View are not mutually exclusive. A common workflow is to edit audio clips in Arrangement View before importing them into Session View. However, I prefer to use other DAWs editing and preparing audio clips. More on that later.

The Building Blocks of a Playback System

Ableton Live’s functionality and flexibility in Session View is derived from three different building blocks — clips, scenes, and tracks.

Clips

A clip occupies a single clip slot in Session View. There are two kinds of clips in Ableton Live — audio clips and MIDI clips.
Audio Clips
An audio clip can be any single mono or stereo audio file. Live supports a variety of formats, but anything other than WAV or AIFF will require some sort of conversion on import. If you’re unsure about what format to use, 16-bit/44.1kHz (Red Book CD audio standard) is typically a safe choice.
MIDI Clips
A MIDI clip contains MIDI note and controller data, and can be used to trigger samples, control lighting rigs, and more. The possibilities are truly endless, so I’ll be going more in depth about MIDI clips in a later chapter.

Scenes

In Live’s Session View, a scene refers to all the clips in a horizontal row. The screenshot below contains a number of scenes.
These are all examples of scenes.

  • 0) WELCOME — 4/4;75BPM
  • m1 – 4/4;120BPM — 4B
  • 2) TREE — 4/4;120BPM — 2B

A scene’s time signature and tempo can be specified in scene name, and the PLAY button will trigger all the clips in that scene.

Tracks

In Live’s Session View, a track refers to a vertical column.
Tracks are used to route audio and MIDI to discrete hardware and software outputs. As you can see, Live’s tracks also feature traditional volume, pan, and send controls.
Consider this hypothetical situation.
You’ve been asked to program backing tracks for a band. They’ve provided you with stems for a string quartet, a brass section, and aux percussion.
What roles do clips, scenes, and tracks play? Here’s one way to do it.

  • Each stem will get a set of dedicated stereo output tracks. Strings on 1/2, brass on 3/4, and percussion on 5/6.
  • Each song will be split into various scenes (e.g. V1, C1, V2, etc.).
  • Thus, each clip is simply a specific section of a specific stem. (e.g. V1 of the strings stem or C1 of the percussion stem).


Questions?

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