Samstag, 24. November 2012

How to use Native Instruments Maschine in Ableton Live the right way

Native Instruments' Maschine (probably) is a very cool Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) (actually I never tried it out to the end). I am working with Ableton Live and I love Ableton Live and I don't want to use (and learn) a second DAW in my primary DAW. But I like some of Maschine's drum-libraries (Dark Pressure for example) and I want to use them in my productions.

I can do so by adding a Maschine VST to multiple tracks in Ableton Live, letting the first one play the kick, the second one the clap and so on. That means that several Maschine instances are running, each using their own memory and cpu performance. There may is a better way to do this without loosing the possibility to add different Live effects (or any other third party VST) to each sample.

Loading the samples

First of all we have to load different samples to a Maschine VST in one (!) Ableton Live midi-track (and we call it "MASCHINE" for later reference). Now we choose the "Sound 1" row in the "Group A" panel by clicking on it, browse the library in the left upper window and load the desired sample with another mouse click. We repeat these steps for any "sound row" (=sample) we need, in this example I load a kick, a clap and a hihat. Now Maschine is weaponed for our later use.

Problem: Only the active (=chosen) sound row is playing

Right-click on your kick (in sound row 1) and open it's "Sound MIDI Settings" dialog. In the "Status" group click on "enable" and save your changes with "OK". Repeat this step for each loaded sound. Now the samples are playing independent from the selected row.

Problem: All sounds are playing at once

Go to the "map" tabulator of your kick and watch for the "low note" and "high note" entry. Change both to C3 by holding the left mouse button down and moving the mouse up or down to the desired value. It is a bit tricky especially when changing the second value, because in case you are going too far you change the first value, too (NI, could you please change this?). Repeat this step for all samples, setting the second one to C#3, the third to D3 and so on. Now the kick is just playing on C3, the clap on C#3 and the hihat on D3.

Problem: The samples are playing with the wrong timbre

Well, actually they are playing with the timbre you are triggering them (by pressing the keys on your keyboard), so at the moment the kick is playing in C3 (which is correct, because C3 is the root note of Maschine), but the clap is playing in C#3 and the hihat is playing in D3. That means that both are playing too high (they are played correct on C3 like the kick). We can change this in the "map" tabulator, too.

The kick is ok so there is nothing to do here. Change the "root note" in your second row (in my case the clap) from C3 to C#3, this is the same note we used to define the "low note" and "high note" for the clap. Similar we change the hihat "root note" from C3 to D3. Of course, if you want another root note for any of your samples change it here. Maybe the clap sounds much better when playing lower.

Now that everything is playing correct we can create one MIDI clip to trigger Maschine, like we used to do when working with an Ableton Live drum-rack. I guess I don't have to explain how to do this.

Problem: All sounds are playing in the same Ableton Live track

Of course they are doing so, because we just run a single Maschine instance. But we can change that easy. Create new audio-tracks in Ableton Live, one for each loaded sample. We call them KICK, CLAP and HIHAT. In the io-settings of each track turn the "monitor" to "in", select the Maschine midi-track (the one we called "MASCHINE") in the "audio from" selector for each track. In the second selector use "Out 2" for the KICK track, "Out 3" for the CLAP track and "Out 4" for the HIHAT track. Now go to the Maschine VST and go to the "SOUND" panel (next to MASTER and GROUP). Select your kick and change the output to "Out 2", go to the clap and change it's output to "Out 3", finally choose "Out 4" for the hihat. That's it, the single sounds are routed to their individual Ableton Live tracks.

Now you can do panning, put an EQ on each audio-track for cutting the lows, use a compressor to work on the transients, send clap and hihat to a drum-room reverb and so on like you normally do on percussion.


Finally now that everything is working as desired, we can clean up a little bit. As our midi-track has no more output (as we routed it to the different audio-tracks) we can change it's "audio to" value to "sends only" to make clear, that there is no audio in this track. Then we can group the midi-track together with the audio-tracks to a drum-group by selecting them all (with shift click), right-click and choose "group tracks". Call the new group "DRUMS" or something like that. You can put a bus-compressor, EQ or any other useful effect here.

Enjoy making music...