In this article, what we’ll be doing is focusing on the lesser-known techniques & menu items in Ableton Live that may be overlooked by production artists either transitioning from other DAW platforms or looking to get more out of Ableton Live in general. First and foremost, we’ll start off with a couple of short key commands that will help you eliminate some of the tedious point-and-click processes you may be going through within the program.
- Ctrl/(Command for Mac) + E = Split (Can be used on audio or midi tracks, will split the file wherever the indicator is based on the timeline in Arrange mode).
- Ctrl/(Command for Mac) + I = Insert Scene (Useful for on-the-fly Session Mode ideas, you can also double click on any empty clip slot to insert a clip in those new scenes).
- Ctrl/(Command for Mac) + D = Duplicate (Can be used in Arrange & Session Mode to copy a highlighted areas attributes across your timeline. Will also include any automation from the original clips within your duplicated ones as well).
- Ctrl/(Command for Mac) + J = Consolidate (Can be used if you’ve split a bunch of audio or MIDI data amongst a timeline in Arrange Mode to put it all together into a single clip. Also helps save CPU space by putting the consolidated clips into the project folder where the Ableton Live file is located while processing any effects that may have been on the track being consolidated.
Now that we have a little bit more knowledge about some of the shortcuts available at our disposal, let’s look at ways to decrease CPU usage while still getting the most of our sounds.
When you’re working on projects that are audio and midi-heavy, the freeze option can come in quite handy to decrease the CPU load on your production, which will prevent latency issues and other sorts of lagging mishaps. Freezing tracks basically pre-renders the audio with whatever effects you have assigned to the track so that you can continue to work in Ableton Live and have your “frozen” tracks pre-rendered so they aren’t hogging up CPU, especially useful for processor-heavy VST’s or effect chains. Keep in mind that if you have an effect in a track linked to another track (for things like side-chaining for example) then the freeze option will not work.
A good workaround for this is to cut(command+x) whatever device is being changed to another track, freeze the track, assign it to a group & then paste your device into the group effects, that way you can retain whatever dynamic effects that can’t be pre-rendered, without using the extra processing power to run whatever instrument you’re building the sounds from in the first place.
Another handy tool with the Freeze option is that you can take a MIDI instrument (like Native Instruments Kontakt, Arturia Minimoog, etc) and freeze the track, create an audio track underneath & duplicate (alt+drag the clip in arrange mode) the midi data to the audio track to get a quick “bounce” of a sound! Very handy for sound manipulation techniques.
The midi track above was frozen + duplicated into the audio track to show as an example of this technique.
Other Latency Solutions
Other ways to solve latency issues can range from going into your preferences (cmd+,) going into your audio tab, and increasing the buffer size. This will increase the latency between your MIDI and computer, so keep that in mind and make sure to change the buffer size between working on studio sessions in Ableton Live and going into the live performance setting with the DAW.
If you’ve been using Ableton Live for a couple months now or you’re brand new to the workstation, these quick tips should be able to help you navigate the program a little easier so you can begin to develop your own workflow. Stay locked onto producerspot.com for more quick tips & information relating to Ableton Live + many other programs relating to audio production!
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