Over the years I’ve played hundreds of shows as a keyboardist using my trusty Apex column with various hardware synths. In late 2009 I had a vision to create a new Ableton Live laptop-centric rig using only virtual synths running in Live.
While I wanted to play some keys, I was really excited to add alternative visual, tangible, and spatial controllers and selected Percussa AudioCubes, Tenori-On, a Novation Launchpad. I went with my trusty Remote SL 25 for keys as it also doubles as a controller for Live. In the 11th hour I added a Moog Ehterwave Theremin which was clearly necessary to play “They Walk Among Us” live :^).
I’ve played enough shows to know that you can’t always count on basic lighting and P.A. to be adequate, so I added these elements to my requirements as well – just in case. My goal was to be able to run a room of 80 people if needed with just my rig. My other goal was 4 trips from the car load-in max with a 15 minute setup time or less.
The sketch above shows all this on paper (click the image to see a larger view). After months of slowly building up gear, the reality – sans lighting – is shown in the fun little time-laps video embedded video below.
Here is a list of what's in the rig:
- Laptop: Windows 7 32-bit, HP DV6t-1200 Pavilion w/Core2 Duo P8700 @ 2.53 GHZ, 3G memory, 7200 RPM Drive (Update I now use an HP Envy 14 I5)
- Soundcard: Novation NIO 2|4
- DAW Software: Ableton Live 8 Suite
- Primary Controllers: Novation Remote SL 25 (updated to MKII), Launchpad | Tenori-On | Percussa AudioCubes
- Primary Virtual Synthesizers: Tone2 Gladiator 2| Native Instruments Absynth 5 | Camel Audio Alchemy | U-He Zebra 2, ACE | Ableton Sampler, Operator… | SonicCharge Synplant | Lennar Digital Sylenth1 | reFX Vanguard, Slayer2 | Image-Line Harmless, Toxic Biohazard | Cakewalk Dimension Pro | FAW Circle | DCAM: Synth Squad…
- Hardware Synthesizers: Moog Etherwave Theremin, Waldorf Blofeld (not pictured)
- PA: Bose L1 Compact
- Stand: Odyssey ATT2 Table, Odyssey L2 Laptop Stand
Links to lots of the software I use here:
I’m the proud owner of the new Akai APC40. I’ve already integrated it into my workflow along with my Novation Remote SL. I’ve put together a video of how I’m using these controllers with Live 8.
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This video is a step-by-step tutorial describing Ableton Live 8’s new custom parameter mapping methodology. The video illustrates how to map select parameters from VST plug-ins into devices and then control these parameters via the Novation Remote SL and the new Akai APC40. The video also discusses how to add and access more than 8 parameters. Lastly, the video covers use of instrument racks and macro controls to map parameters from multiple devices to an 8 knob group.
Stay tuned for more posts on controllerism and the Akai APC40.
I just purchased the Pro edition and thought I’d share my notes on the install. Ok, it’s all software, but the term Unboxing still seems to fit. I took some wrong turns along the way so I hope these notes will save you some time. I highlight my mistakes in red and recoveries in green.
First off, I’m running Windows Vista, Ableton Live 7, and use a Novation Remote SL running at 4.1.09 as my controller.
- I purchased online here http://www.focusrite-estore.com/novation/software/automap_30_pro/. I was sent a confirmation email with a download link and a serial number.
- I downloaded the software and ran the installer. Usual splash screens and such. Installation ended without talking to my Remote SL. The background app ran and prompted me to verify which VSTs I wanted to wrap with Automap. I clicked ok and it settled into the tray. That was it.
- At this point I thought it was odd that my Remote SL didn’t get updated. I went to the download are on Novation Music and it pointed me back to the Automap 3 installer. Hmmm. I thought I missed something at this point so I reinstalled. Steps were the same.
- Well, at this point I figured perhaps it might just work with 4.1.09 so I fired up Ableton Live. This was was the step Novation was expecting me to take. Automap’s HUI popped up indicating I was running Automap 3 standard and started talking to my Remote SL and it automatically detected my controller and determined I need an update :^). It then took me through a series of “wizard” screen walking me through the update. Very clear step-by-step wizard – nicely done Novation. I've shown most screens below (click images to see larger version).
After installing this update, my Remote SL is at version 4.1.12.
I was then presented with a screen that had an button to “Get Automap Pro!”. I clicked it and was presented with “Offline Activation” and “Install License”. I chose “Install License” since I bought online. Wrong. This popped up a file explorer dialog clearly indicating it wanted me to select a key file on and I didn’t have one. I chose “Offline Activation” which took me to a web page where I could enter the code mentioned in Step 1.
- I was then taken to an activation page where I was able to download the file needed in Step 5. Note that according to this screen shot you only get 4 activations. I'm going to email support to ask what happens if you need another activation. Look in comments of this post for more info.
- I chose “Install License” and pointed at the key file (which I stored in my vst folder so I would not accidently delete it).
At this point I was running Automap 3 Pro :^). So, barring a few hiccups it went rather smoothly. My feedback to Novation is that they might want to mention that the firmware update will occur with a splash screen in the 1st installer so I would not have wasted time hunting. Also, the confirmation email should have explained activation so I did not waste time in step 5.
I’ll report out on features in a future post.