Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Audio Dropouts When Changing Track View in Ableton 8 - Organizing Outputs

A new (at least to me) problem has started occurring for many ableton live 8 users that didnt seem to happen in the past. People are recently complaining about audio dropouts, clipping, and general buffer problems. This can be such a rough process to figure because there are so many variables in the equation. One specific problem some users are having (and I had) is when changing track views from one track to another, it would make audio dropouts. (especially with the Launchpad)

First, I will get to the a very possible solution to that problem, and then mention a few other things worth checking.

A simple fix for the audio dropouts while switching tracks can be by simply cleaning up your inputs and outputs. (this totally fixed my problem) When you start using other stand alone programs, midi pipe or other midi routing, and IAC Bus drivers, or Network Sessions, you can really start to confuse your ableton ports. You will start getting huge lists of ins, outs, & sync. Even if you have a great understanding of your ins & outs, it can sometimes can get confusing if not documented. One big recommendation is (assuming you understand ins, outs)...to one by one go through and clean up your ins and outs and make sure everything that CAN be OFF, is OFF. Leaving inputs and outputs activated...(that dont need to be on) seems to be one of the major factors in track view clipping. I dont know why, but as it jumps from one tracks ins and outs (within your view), to the another, there tends to be small audio dropouts (without being a large jump in CPU usage). So, go through and clean up your ins and outs, and then document them. I use my blog outlet to keep my notes daily, so here are mine from today.

Understanding Ports -


Synth -microKONTROL (Port A) - Track & Remote (this is the keys) - So audio FROM within a track comes from (PORT A)

Synth - microKONTROL (Port B) - Track & Remote (this is the knobs) - This must be on for knobs to work.

Outputs can be off totally for synth.

Launchpad Input/Output - Track/Remote (no sync)

IAC Driver (Monome Bus I Made) Output - Sync Only

Network Session - (Out SYNC on if master, IN sync if slave)

Midipipe Output - Track & Remote

Trigger Finger Input - Track & Remote

from nonome-launchpad-poly-osx1 Input - Track & Remote

VCM OUTPUT - Should turn this on when not using midi pipe. (Track & Remote)

I just took small notes of my ins and outs that I use with midipipe, and a few notes about when I would NOT be using it.

Even if a lot of this is common sense, its just nice to take notes because you always seem to find yourself in different set situations where you will be changing these for some reason, and its good to have something to look back on....(even a screenshot would be useful)

Now after I did this, my dropouts totally disappeared. I had a few things activated that shouldnt have been....but now it sounds great.

A few other things to take into consideration when dealing with dropouts is your buffer size, and the effects that are within a track.

With buffer size, its best to play around in multiples of 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, etc. Its also good to restart your soundcard after changing the buffer size (and even restarting ableton as I have noticed live 8 will sometimes shut down after changing soundcard settings....mine being the FA-66, but I have also seen it with some other soundcards).

Another thing is, and I cant say this for sure (only hearing from other users), is that certain effects will make dropouts. I heard that live 8's new frequency shifter has been known to make dropouts. I have heard that having a compressor can sometimes do it. I dont know how true these are, but they are things to at least think about. Users on forums sometimes have an even better understanding of the program than the makers because they really get deep into small features within the program.

Also, goes without saying, but shut down other programs running when using live. This can help with CPU load, and is just generally a good idea.

Thats it on dropouts. Lets weed those little fuckers out of ableton. Any other ideas on this topic are greatly appreciated.


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