I often hear from people who say they are running Multitracks in Ableton Live, but can’t seem to get them to be in-sync with the Ableton metronome no matter what they do.
This is a frustrating problem. It occurs whether they have “Warping” turned on or not, so this is not a Warping related issue. The BPM of the session is set correctly, but the Ableton metronome is still slightly out of time with the multitracks or printed click track. If you’ve had this problem, it’s probably been the most noticeable if you have a printed Click audio track and have the Ableton Metronome turned on as well – they both sound a little “off” of each other, and the printed Click is slightly behind. Here is an audio example for you:
So, What’s the Problem?
99% of the time I hear about this problem, it’s because the multitracks being used are MP3s and not WAVs. I’m going to let you in on a little secret… are you ready? MP3s are the worst.
Haha… ok, but really. For multiple reasons:
MP3s are compressed audio files… which means that to get a smaller file size, audio quality was compromised. If you’re serious about running tracks on stage, the last thing you want is bad sounding audio.
When WAV files (the original, uncompressed audio file) is converted to an MP3, the MP3 conversion codec adds it’s own signature to the audio file. The “signature” is basically milliseconds of time that is added to the audio file itself. But where? The WORST place possible… at the beginning of the audio file!
Here are a few images that show you what I’m talking about. Notice below I have 2 tracks. The top track (green) is an uncompressed WAV file of a Click. The bottom track (purple) is a compressed, mp3 version of the exact same file. I have the tempo of the Ableton session set to the original tempo of the song (162 BPM). You can see that the WAV file lines up perfectly with the grid. The downbeat of the Click lines up perfectly at bar 1.1.1. However, you’ll see that the mp3 track is slightly off… or late.
The empty space that you see at the beginning of the mp3 file is the “signature” I was telling you about. The MP3 codec adds it’s signature, or time stamp, at the beginning of the audio file. This is ok when you’re listening to something in iTunes, but when you’re running multitracks on stage, the last thing you want is added time at the beginning of a stem. That “extra time” will throw off the timing of all of your multi tracks and make it so they will not line up with each other in Ableton grid.
Why use Ableton’s Grid? For a few reasons.
Ableton is a powerful audio editing software… not just something to playback audio. If you want to just playback audio, stick with iTunes. Not using Ableton’s grid is ignoring the powerful features that Ableton has to offer for editing, re-arranging, customizing and recording audio.
If you want to use warping in Ableton Live to change the tempo or change the pitch of your audio, it’s best if you are on the Ableton grid.
If you’re jumping around to different sections of the song with a foot controller, or doing live Looping, you want to make sure you are on the Ableton grid.
How to Solve the Problem
Best way to solve the problem is to use WAV files in the first place. ALL audio that you download from LoopCommunity.com comes as high-quality WAV files. File Size is not as important as Quality and Usability. Not all sites provide you with WAV files, so be aware of what types of files you are purchasing.
You can fix your MP3 files by taking them into Arrangement View and trimming off the first few milliseconds of time. Line your files up in the Ableton grid, trim back the extra time and re-export them as WAV files.
Turn off the Ableton metronome, ignore the problem and forfeit using some of the most powerful features of Ableton Live.
Stick with WAVs. Your Ableton life will be Easier.
I’ve talked to many people who are frustrated by this problem and I hope this post helps solve the issue for someone. If you guys have any questions or comments, please post below!
The world of creating music has changed so much through the years. As worship leaders, sometimes it’s hard to stay current with everything in the music creation world. So when I heard the term “DAW” for the first time, I thought I was hearing some audio engineers talking in code about some special tool only they knew about. It was one of those conversations where you nod along acting like you know exactly what they are talking about. The funny thing is that I had already been using a “DAW” for about a year. So what is a DAW? DAW stand for Digital Audio Workstation. It is music software specifically designed for recording, editing and playback of digital audio. The first DAW was created in the 70’s by a company called SoundStream. Now we have a variety of DAW options for recording and creating music.
A DAW is a powerful tool that worship leaders can use to enhance their weekend services. We have these tools so readily available to us at such a low cost that each worship leader should know at least the basics of how a DAW works. I currently use a DAW program called Ableton live. I believe this is the most versatile DAW. Not only can you use this to record and create music but this program is specifically designed for live performance. One of the industry standards that you can find in most recording studios is a software program called ProTools. Logic is another DAW that is widely used. I recently started using Logic for recording some small projects. Many love Logic because of the sounds included in the software. A couple other great DAW’s are Garageband, Acid, Cakewalk, Propellerhead Reason, Cubase, and PreSonus Studio One.
So what DAW do you use? What question do you have about DAW’s?
We have been creating music since 2011. We were in a band prior to starting Sophmore 64, we were both guitar players. In August of 2011 Jake had to have spinal fusion surgery and we needed something to keep us occupied as he healed so we decided to use gameboys and the commodore 64 to create music.
What has inspired you in your creativity?
Henry Homesweet, who also makes chiptune music in England.
What programs or software are you using to create your sound?
We record our music with Propellerhead Record 5 and use LSDJ to create it.
What excites you about the music you create?
The reaction of the people who hear our music is what drives us.
It is a software that we write onto a blank Gameboy cartridge. It turns our Gameboy into a totally customizable sequencer.
We program certain notes and sounds using all the setting that are within LSDJ.
What do you guys see for the future of Sophmore 64?
We just want for our music to reach out to as many people as possible, so that they can experience this style of music and hopefully appreciate it as much as we do.
Check out this video for more info on LSDJ and making music on a Gameboy.
Apple Mainstage is another performance software that you can use to run loops. Used alongside Apple Logic or Garageband, Mainstage allows you to import loops to play them back with markers.
Mainstage allows you to create custom buttons, knobs, and displays so that you can show and control exactly what you want. The above set uses a Mainstage template which is now available at Loop Community. All items in the template are pre-configured to accept audio files bounced from Logic or Garageband with markers. After dropping in your audio files, the marker list becomes available and the buttons activate.
With this template, you can start the song from a specific marker, jump around between markers live, cycle a marker, and more. The main difference between Mainstage and other DAW performance software is the software workflow- Mainstage is configured to simply press play and let a pre-determined roadmap run its course. During live performance, youcan jump to portions of the song on the fly but if you make no action during the song, it will progress through your roadmap.
Pick up a copy of the software (only $30 now on the Apple App Store) and LC Template to start using Mainstage today (by calvin at dresshead tech). We have additional content available on our Training page as well as personal training offered by our in-house Mainstage expert, Kyle Disterheft.