Ableton Controller?
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  1. #1
    Tech Wizard
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    Default Ableton Controller?

    Anyone know about anything new in the controller realm for ableton coming soon? I have been a Traktor DJ for quite some time (before that old school Vinyl) and I just made the switch. I have been looking at the VCM-600 and APC40, anyone got a better suggestion? I like the multiple clips but I like the DJ style of the VCM600. Anything new coming soon?

    I also have the NI S4 & 2 Kontrol X1s that I am using with Traktor, anyone map them to Ableton? Thinking about selling the S4 and getting something new to play with..

  2. #2
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    The VCM-600 is brilliant for Ableton. Don't worry too much about not having a clip grid…if you're DJing (as opposed to doing a live set) their solution is pretty good. The knob on the bottom right sends 3 different note values (twist cw, twist ccw, and push) that–by default–change the selected scene up and down and fire all clips in the scene respectively. I un-mapped that last one as soon as I got mine.

    The play buttons fire clips on a per-channel basis.

    And if you really want to, you can add the red box that the APC-20/40 use and make a 6x5 clip grid out of the obvious buttons (L, M, H Kills, mute, and solo buttons) and move it with the scene knob. It takes a bit of scripting to work, but I think someone on the ableton forums already released it…just drop the python file in the midi remote scripts directory and select it instead of the default VCM-600 mapping. Though IDK where it is, exactly.

    And, I think the VCM-600 is the best way to DJ with Ableton. I spun that way exclusively for about 1.5 to 2 years b/t SSL and Traktor Pro. It really is about as close as you're going to get to a mass-produced Maven.

    And, yes, it works fine on bus power.

    The only real complaint I have about the thing is the effects section. They're pots–as opposed to encoders–so you have to use Live's midi takeover to not have settings jump if you change what you're controlling. But…if you wrap everything in Effects Racks (or instrumet or drum or whatever) and map the macros the way you want them with the buttons to select which effect rack it's controlling and use value scaling…it's actually pretty darn good.

    The biggest problem is looping. You can map the loop in/out/active buttons to be clip-specific instead of affecting the whole project pretty simply, and that works. Or you can use duplicate clips for songs if you have time to set them up. It's not ideal, but it works.

    A lot of people really like the APC40, but I can't wrap my head around it. I've been using mixers for so long that having what should be a channel strip spread out that much just doesn't jive with the way I think.

    Also, if you're interested…I'm not using my VCM anymore and still have the box and everything.

  3. #3
    Tech Mentor D.S.M.I.T.'s Avatar
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    I don't know if it is what you are looking for but a Novation Launchpad is an inexpensive way to get messing with Ableton.
    Allen&Heath Xone:22 - NI Kontrol X1 - Novation Launchpad - Akai LPD8 - Traktor Audio 2 DJ - Pioneer HDJ-1000/Klipsch S4i in-ear headphones - Traktor Pro 2 - Macbook Pro 13" 2011 (Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM)
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  4. #4
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    I am a Dj first so that is why the vcm is appealing to me. I do like the clip launch but I guess I can get a launch pad for that later. How much are you asking for the vcm600?

  5. #5
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    Mostapha why are you selling it? Using traktor instead?
    Traktor Scratch Pro 2, Ableton Live 8, Vestax VCM-600, Technics 1210 MK5 (2), Audio8DJ, Vintage Urei 1620 Rotary Mixer, Bozak CMA-10-2DL Custom Mixer, Kontrol X1 (2), Pioneer EFX-500, Facebook www.DJJasonPaul.com

  6. #6
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    I saw some deal on a website called htfr for around 239 british pounds. Any word on this being legit? Also does that website ship to the states ?
    mk128, maschine, oxygen25, firewire 410, ableton suite 8

  7. #7
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    @zhao, htfr does ship to the US IIRC, and they are legit. That price might be too good, though. I'd be careful it wasn't a b-stock or referb, because google shopping shows them at $700-900 still.

    @JasonPaul, Live became a hassle for a number of reasons. Don't believe any of the "live is limiting" BS that people try to say…it's garbage. There's a lot you can do. But, it's true that it does take a bit more prep work. If you're really taking advantage of Live, it takes a lot of prep work.

    The first big fault was that I got into midi remote scripting. I got my VCM to do some pretty cool things using a python script, but it was turning into a coding project…which is not what I wanted out of music. It was a lot of fun, but getting it to work felt like actual work instead of playing with toys. I wound up in a situation where half the VCM wasn't mapped and everything else was mapped with a python script…so to change the mapping or add something, I didn't just hit command-m, click a control and turn a knob…I had to actually edit code. It's way more powerful to do it that way, but I don't think it was worth it. Plus, I don't really use effects that much and found myself making the VCM able to do things just because I figured I could and not because I wanted to.

    Back in 2007, I did a set that was literally nothing but firing and stopping clips. It's on my mixcloud if you want to hear it. It was fun, and I think it turned out really well. But it seemed a huge waste to use a $400 piece of software and a $1000 controller as play buttons. Plus, it's faster to prep tracks in Traktor because of auto gain that actually works.

    I switched to Traktor and am working on incorporating Maschine because I think it's faster to do some things than Live is. It would be simpler to switch back to doing the DJing with Live and still using Maschine the same way because i wouldn't have to worry about midi sync or routing…I could just run it as a plugin. I've seriously considered it before and would probably do a set with it before I sold the VCM just to make sure it wasn't worth it in the long run. But I might use an X1 to control Live instead of the VCM if I did it that way.

    Mostly…I think it's too much to carry around if there's any chance I'll be playing in a cramped booth. And, I really like X1s.

    Traktor is hands-down not as powerful as Live. But I just wasn't using much of what Live added and Traktor was simpler…so I switched. I also found myself having to look at the laptop more than I'd like. The one downside of having the VCM is that it doesn't make any sense to have an external mixer…and I like being able to see level meters when I spin. I can say that for the VCM: it feels good enough that the only thing I missed from having a real mixer was the level meters. And, I never found a good way to map them onto the VCM. I also never really figured out how to use 6 channels except to organize tracks. 2 is limiting…3 is ideal…I could see using 4 if you're using samples and a drum machine. But I could never figure out how/why to use 6 unless it was pure Live PA, which I think the APC40 is better for.

    I feel like Traktor is more straightforward than Live for the way I spin…but it's a very small thing that makes it win: skipping through a track. It's just faster to hold shift and turn the browse knob on my x1s than anything I figured out how to do with the VCM. If it had a few more encoders instead of knobs or faders in the master and effects sections…I probably never would have switched. Apart from not being a complete functional clone of the Maven and being wider than it is tall, that's the VCM's only real failing.

    And at this point in my DJing, I just want simple. I really just want a DJR-400, an X1, a Maschine, and a MBP. Live would fit into that better than Traktor and the DJR if they made a rotary 3-channel version of the VCM-600.

    I do really miss having a pitch fader, though. It's a PITA to match Traktor to another DJ using an X1.

    As a side note, If I had the cash, I'd offer to trade it and money for your Urei in a heartbeat. I don't suppose you'd take it and a painted blue xone:62 that needs a more thorough cleaning than I've gotten around to in trade………
    Last edited by mostapha; 11-28-2011 at 07:48 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mostapha View Post
    @zhao, htfr does ship to the US IIRC, and they are legit. That price might be too good, though. I'd be careful it wasn't a b-stock or referb, because google shopping shows them at $700-900 still.

    @JasonPaul, Live became a hassle for a number of reasons. Don't believe any of the "live is limiting" BS that people try to say…it's garbage. There's a lot you can do. But, it's true that it does take a bit more prep work. If you're really taking advantage of Live, it takes a lot of prep work.

    The first big fault was that I got into midi remote scripting. I got my VCM to do some pretty cool things using a python script, but it was turning into a coding project…which is not what I wanted out of music. It was a lot of fun, but getting it to work felt like actual work instead of playing with toys. I wound up in a situation where half the VCM wasn't mapped and everything else was mapped with a python script…so to change the mapping or add something, I didn't just hit command-m, click a control and turn a knob…I had to actually edit code. It's way more powerful to do it that way, but I don't think it was worth it. Plus, I don't really use effects that much and found myself making the VCM able to do things just because I figured I could and not because I wanted to.

    Back in 2007, I did a set that was literally nothing but firing and stopping clips. It's on my mixcloud if you want to hear it. It was fun, and I think it turned out really well. But it seemed a huge waste to use a $400 piece of software and a $1000 controller as play buttons. Plus, it's faster to prep tracks in Traktor because of auto gain that actually works.

    I switched to Traktor and am working on incorporating Maschine because I think it's faster to do some things than Live is. It would be simpler to switch back to doing the DJing with Live and still using Maschine the same way because i wouldn't have to worry about midi sync or routing…I could just run it as a plugin. I've seriously considered it before and would probably do a set with it before I sold the VCM just to make sure it wasn't worth it in the long run. But I might use an X1 to control Live instead of the VCM if I did it that way.

    Mostly…I think it's too much to carry around if there's any chance I'll be playing in a cramped booth. And, I really like X1s.

    Traktor is hands-down not as powerful as Live. But I just wasn't using much of what Live added and Traktor was simpler…so I switched. I also found myself having to look at the laptop more than I'd like. The one downside of having the VCM is that it doesn't make any sense to have an external mixer…and I like being able to see level meters when I spin. I can say that for the VCM: it feels good enough that the only thing I missed from having a real mixer was the level meters. And, I never found a good way to map them onto the VCM. I also never really figured out how to use 6 channels except to organize tracks. 2 is limiting…3 is ideal…I could see using 4 if you're using samples and a drum machine. But I could never figure out how/why to use 6 unless it was pure Live PA, which I think the APC40 is better for.

    I feel like Traktor is more straightforward than Live for the way I spin…but it's a very small thing that makes it win: skipping through a track. It's just faster to hold shift and turn the browse knob on my x1s than anything I figured out how to do with the VCM. If it had a few more encoders instead of knobs or faders in the master and effects sections…I probably never would have switched. Apart from not being a complete functional clone of the Maven and being wider than it is tall, that's the VCM's only real failing.

    And at this point in my DJing, I just want simple. I really just want a DJR-400, an X1, a Maschine, and a MBP. Live would fit into that better than Traktor and the DJR if they made a rotary 3-channel version of the VCM-600.

    I do really miss having a pitch fader, though. It's a PITA to match Traktor to another DJ using an X1.

    As a side note, If I had the cash, I'd offer to trade it and money for your Urei in a heartbeat. I don't suppose you'd take it and a painted blue xone:62 that needs a more thorough cleaning than I've gotten around to in trade………
    hahaha, I don't think I would ever trade my Urei! I use live now with multiple tracks and loops, so far I have used up to 8 tracks at once since I make my own loops. I think I could easily get all 6 tracks running and then some in a set once I get it all set up. Right now I have each bank set up with a style of tracks, Vocals - Deep, Dark, Groovin, Alternative, etc.. Beats - Deep, Dark, Tribal, Groovin, Afterhours, etc.. Plus I have them all in harmonic order using mixed in key and I am now adding kit and loop sections to add to the basic tracks as I mix. Some use live to trigger samples across the board but I doubt I will be doing that yet, maybe later on but that isn't as DJ oriented as I plan to play. I may add this style of play to the bottom of the track banks and trigger 6+ clips at a time of my own music.. :0) all in due time, I just like the studio effects and the more plug ins I get and the more I learn at Berkleemusic.com the more studio DJ oriented I get..

    Traktor was my top choice for the last few years, I really likes the sample banks but that is limiting and not always perfect when remixing house on the fly. Hence why I jumped into Live, I wanted to add loops over mixes and effect the Sh!t out of things. I am keeping Traktor Scratch Pro 2 with my turntables so I may sync live with that and really go to town down the road. If I want to DJ like a DJ I will use Traktor, if I want to remix and really get creative I'll use live. I found a controller for $400 shipped, I may jump on it and give it a test ride!
    Last edited by JasonPaul; 11-28-2011 at 08:06 PM.
    Traktor Scratch Pro 2, Ableton Live 8, Vestax VCM-600, Technics 1210 MK5 (2), Audio8DJ, Vintage Urei 1620 Rotary Mixer, Bozak CMA-10-2DL Custom Mixer, Kontrol X1 (2), Pioneer EFX-500, Facebook www.DJJasonPaul.com

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