hardware and software for electronic music 
Thu, Jan 03, 2013, 12:40

Better workflow for Aalto

I was making a little music with Aalto over the holidays. I was trying to set up a flow where I could just tweak the knobs while recording audio out of Aalto, and record a lot of tracks that I would just mix together to get the finished piece. But, as you may have found, this is easier said than done! I have ideas on how to make things better.

Tweaking while recording

One problem is that the main DAWs don't let you record audio while tweaking knobs of a synth or effect. Logic has a real time bounce, for example, but locks out control changes while it's going on. Live won't record audio out of a synth unless you are in render mode.

One workaround is to use Numerology from Five12. It's great for on-the-fly sequencing and tweaking, and will let you record audio while you do this. It's a little less than ideal in that the audio is all sent to automatically-named files that you have to sort out later. But in even allowing recording while tweaking it offers a cool feature that the big DAWs don't. The drawback for me is that it's not the environment I want to mix in.

I checked out Reaper and did not get far enough to decide whether this would be a good solution for live recording. I could deal with learning to mix in it if it offered this capability. Anyone tried this in Reaper?

Finally, one solution might be a simple record button in Aalto. But I try to avoid adding things that the DAW should be doing well. Anyone up for writing a DAW this year with Live’s ease-of-use and timing, Logic’s MIDI implementation and Reaper’s efficiency?

Resetting

Another problem with the flow as it stands is resetting Aalto back to a patch at the start of a loop or arrangement. I'd like to set up one patch, do a take of knob-tweaking, and then automatically have Aalto recall a previous patch or saved state back at the beginning to set up the same jumping-off point for exploration. This is a little difficult now.

One way to do it, currently, is using MIDI program automation. Aalto 1.3 added the ability (underdocumented, currently) to switch programs via MIDI program change messages. See here for details. So, you can make a patch, save it to the "MIDI Programs" directory, and record a program change message in your DAW of choice. This is fairly easy in Logic, and in Live looks clunky but possible. There's an extra step of saving a patch, though, every time you want to define a new starting point. Not ideal. Maybe I don't care about the patch in general but just as an element in one song.

Resetting the patch is also needed to make the flow sort-of-good in programs like Live and Logic that don't allow control changes. An offline bounce (much faster than real time) after each tweaking pass may not be a bad price to pay for recording in my environment of choice, and so I can simply record the parameter change data---but the reset is also essential here.

There are a few ideas I have for a solution. One is to add a menu choice "broadcast all parameters." This would do what it says, allowing parameter automation systems to capture the entire state of the plugin. I think that with more than 100 parameters, though, this might overwhelm the capabilities of the DAW, and would certainly make a mess of the param menus.

A refinement of that idea is to have two menu options, one to say "start keeping track of what parameters I changed," and another to reset only those changed parameters. This would definitely work, the only drawback is a little added complexity. You would still need to be careful to save your song with all the params at their initial states!

I'm happy that Aalto 1.3.1 is very solid after the 1.3 shakeup, and I'm looking forward to working on some of these workflow details now. I welcome your suggestions!

Thu, Jan 03, 2013, 14:26

Hello randy , I've made a quick video to show you the way i use Aalto in Sensomusic Usine, i first show how the preset manager can store each change, even the patching ones or program changes, then i use the conductor to store bigger sets with fade time change.

you'll notice strange un-synchonization between video and sound after a while, it's because i record sound with Usine and screen capture with an other software with different frame rate.

maybe this can give you some inspiration

here the link

Fri, Jan 04, 2013, 07:57

One solution I have used in addition to the Numerology recording, is to use Audio Hijack from Rogue Amobea. It can be set to take audio streams from any program or audio source on your Mac computer. http://www.rogueamoeba.com/audiohijackpro/ . It also saves the files with the name of the program and date, but you can edit the tags and set all the various recording parameters, send to an external editor for further manipulation etc. Highly recommended! Cheers, Scott edit: I didn't see the reply button on your original post so I have also started a thread in the Software forum.

Fri, Jan 04, 2013, 08:20

"Live won't record audio out of a synth unless you are in render mode."

you can just create a new audio track and set its input to 'resampling'. it will record all the audio going on inside Live. i use it all the time.

Fri, Jan 04, 2013, 11:14

@garf this is what i was going to say

except i use send audio to track X and on the audio track receive audio rom aalto's track

but that usine video is awesome i assume you are using the pro version, is this correct?

do you also have max/msp by chance? i already own max and have only used the live demo a couple times but would rather use something else more modular in its appproach

also in max/msp you can you quick record/capture or whatever it is called to record aalto

Fri, Jan 04, 2013, 11:54

you can just create a new audio track and set its input to 'resampling'. it will record all the audio going on inside Live. i use it all the time.

THIS. Thanks! Live is great but has been hard for me to get my head around in some way, so I've missed some features for sure. It helped when I decided to ignore the clip view.

Fri, Jan 04, 2013, 12:07

Hello randy , I've made a quick video to show you the way i use Aalto in Sensomusic Usine, i first show how the preset manager can store each change, even the patching ones or program changes, then i use the conductor to store bigger sets with fade time change.

Usine looks very useful indeed. thanks for sharing.

Fri, Jan 04, 2013, 14:04

OK, I've got a pretty good idea to try. I was fooling around with Live’s Clip / Pgm Change section. It's particularly easy to select program 128 in the UI (127 actually because they list all the numbers off by 1) because that's the end.

So what if I make Pgm Change 127 mean "return to the most recently saved program"? This works in Live, and in Logic with a bit more work, for very quick loop-restore functionality. Along with a "quick save" feature some have asked for, I think it will make working with loops and tweaking very easy and powerful.

Sat, Jan 05, 2013, 08:16

For those using Live and with an iOS device, Liine's Kapture Pad may be of interest for creating and selecting snapshots. Seems to work well with Aalto and has the ability to morph between snapshots.

You can find it at http://liine.net/en/products/kapture-pad/

Sat, Jan 05, 2013, 12:15

Well, I feel silly now, there are probably numerous ways to manage this in Reaper, but as far as a quick way to get going, setting the envelope recording status to "Latch" means it will track whatever you grab in the VST. I just got Aalto, and I don't have a scheme yet about how I intend to set up my controller, but I had immediate success tracking and playing back my CC to the VST. This will render an audio file immediately after recording, which lines up with the MIDI perfectly, no muss no fuss, as many times as you like with little or no pressure on the CPU, which is a consideration on my tiny laptop. And yes, I can't wait to look at Lemur for controlling this thing....

Mon, Jan 07, 2013, 08:15

"Anyone up for writing a DAW this year with Live’s ease-of-use and timing, Logic’s MIDI implementation and Reaper’s efficiency?"

Why didn't you mention Sonar? It's got a MIDI scripting language built in, craploads of MIDI edit tools, was the first DAW I saw with 64-bit internal summing, runs as fast as Reaper here, and is easier to use out of the box than Live by a mile.

Mon, Jan 07, 2013, 11:54

I use Mac OS day to day so that's why. I do keep hearing good things about Sonar.

Mon, Jan 07, 2013, 11:59

So I implemented this "return to saved" feature this weekend and I am really enjoying using it for this remix. I want to add the "quick save" bit people have been asking for while I'm in this code. Then 1.3.2 will be a quiet little release soon.

Mon, Jan 07, 2013, 15:24

will this feature be midified?

Mon, Jan 07, 2013, 19:29

midified

Oh yes, it is, that was the main idea, it's on pgm change 127.

Wed, Jan 09, 2013, 00:12

Has anyone tried AU Lab? I seem to recall recording with it.

Wed, Jan 09, 2013, 10:58

I use AU Lab for testing nearly every day, but it's more of a demonstration program, not really too useful for getting music done.

Wed, Jan 09, 2013, 12:16

"One problem is that the main DAWs don't let you record audio while tweaking knobs of a synth or effect. "

In Digital Performer you can route the Aalto instrument track to an audio bus and set this as input for the audio track you want to record. You can tweak Aalto whilst recording audio. If you use a midi controller, you create a Midi track with the controller as input and Aalto as destination and you can record the midi signals,too.

Thu, Jan 10, 2013, 11:12

Thanks for the info!

Fri, Jan 11, 2013, 18:49

Hi Randy,

I pretty much use audiomulch to record straight to wavefile. You can also record multiple waves files coming from a few Aalto.

Sat, Jan 12, 2013, 14:18

I'm a noob and have only been using Reaper but I thought this was a normal function of any DAW ! Any reaper track lets you choose a stereo output for recording, hit record and tweak away. Recording midi might be a different matter. Think it requires a controller mapped out for that.

Sat, Jan 12, 2013, 17:19

Ways to make real-time DAW audio recordings of knob tweakage:

1) In Logic:

  • Set audio output of a synth track to "Bus X"
  • Set audio input of an audio track to "Bus X"
  • and voila! (this is also nice for tweaking audio parameters of an effect, etc. in real time and saving the results as a separate audio file.)

2) In Ableton

  • Set audio input of an audio track to be the output of the instrument track. (THe aforementioned Resampling works too, but this way is nice if you just want to record the output of the one synth track, i.e. if there are other tracks happening that you don't want to record.)
  • I like doing this in clip view, because it's very easy to go back post ex facto, isolate a fragment of a huge take, and split it down to a new clip.
Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 16:21

Thanks Andre!

Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 17:07

Live: What everyone else said!

Additionally, note that there's a significant difference between recording of automation parameters in Session and Arrangement views. In arrangement views, any real-time tweaking will be recorded in the automation lane (and can of course be recorded after the fact, in overwrite mode - you can loop, record midi, and tweak away as needed). Then a simple rendering to a resampled audio track will take care of the rest of your needs.

However, you cannot record automation this way to Clips, and therefore this cannot be accomplished in Session View. What's more, without curves, it's difficult to draw-in automation outside of steps and ramps. While there's ways around this involving routing midi, it's clunky to say the least. (Note that interestingly, this even applies to parameters mapped to Live's X-Y routing).

Ableton someone famously claimed this could not be changed (mainly because of the differences also between the way Clip automation records relative % as opposed to the automation lane's absolute values for controls). However, this (and the addition of curves) are promised additions to Live 9, which will make Session View a killer for performance looping / recording.

There's a lot in Live like this - try figuring out how to route and individual Drum Rack pad to an external send - it's a forehead-slapping moment when you do :)

(One last item - you can in fact record a single instrument track to an Audio track by selecting that track as the audio track input - as opposed to setting the input to the default Ext. In or Resampling)

Mon, Jan 21, 2013, 22:34

It isn't relevant to your Mac OS workflow, but just to let you know, the live recording is easy as pie in FL Studio.

Sat, Jan 26, 2013, 12:00

Are you talking about allowing automation of patch cords?!

If you did allow automation of patch cords, I'd appreciate an alternate or pop up matrix view to keep track of what's going on.

I love the flow of patching in Aalto as I'm jamming, but if I wanted to make adjustments after the fact, I think working with the the connections would be the same issue that faces a hardware modular, the spaghetti monster! :)

And the DAW automation would be worse with different rectangle on/off "pulses" telling you what was going on.

I'm a big fan of sequenced switches in my hardware modular and it'd be great fun to get that control over Aalto, through DAW automation, or Numerology LFOs, more likely! :) I love playing notes while patches connect and disconnect. I currently send note sequences to Aalto so I can patch while it plays, but I'd rather play while automation patches it! :)

Fri, Mar 01, 2013, 22:00

Realtime DAW audio recording of knob tweakage in Zynewave Podium:

  • Right-click track header and select "Enable Realtime Record Bouncing".

  • Ctr+click the B (Bounce) and R (Record) track buttons.

  • Hit record.

Knob tweaks, midi notes and program changes are recorded as an audio render (bounce)as well as note and automation lanes. Playback of either can be toggled.

You can then move the bounce to another track and record another take. Or export the bounce to .wav or .aiff file.

Also, the bounce can be rendered at any point in a track's hierarchy. ie:

  • Aalto's output.
  • Output after insert effects.
  • Output of nominated insert effect slot.

Note:

Switching presets with Aalto's interface, while recording, will yield an automation lane, in Podium, for every parameter.

Use Podium's preset manager to write one lane for patch/bank selection :(

Usine trumps Podium when it comes to this function but well worth mentioning :)

p.s. I'm a newcomer to Aalto. Based on a number of recommendations, audio samples, and fiddling with the demo, I was charmed into adding it to my virtual studio.

Fri, Mar 01, 2013, 22:47

I love the flow of patching in Aalto as I'm jamming, but if I wanted to make adjustments after the fact, I think working with the the connections would be the same issue that faces a hardware modular, the spaghetti monster! :)

You may know this, but the patcher makes it easy to move a single patch cord even if there is a mess of spaghetti going on. If you click repeatedly at one point, you will cycle through selecting all of the patch cords that run through that point. When you see the handles of the one you want, you can drag them to move only that cord.

Fri, Mar 01, 2013, 22:48

p.s. I'm a newcomer to Aalto. Based on a number of recommendations, audio samples, and fiddling with the demo, I was charmed into adding it to my virtual studio.

Thanks and welcome!

Mon, Mar 04, 2013, 09:50

Hi Randy, Pro Tools allows you to do what you want easily. You just create an instrument track for Aalto to live ion (or MIDI/Aux separately), and route the audio output via a bus pair to an audio track. You can record the MIDI data if you're tweaking and want to capture the performance that way too. While there's not direct RTAS or AAX support for Aalto yet, you can use FXpansion's VST>RTAS wrapper to run Aalto natively within Pro Tools. I think most DAWs should allow you to do this (someone mentioned similar workflow in DP below too).

-- Dave