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Here to beat a dead horse....Ableton audio latency vs Renoise

ableton latency trackers

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#1 antpb

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 21:58

I've been struggling to justify buying Ableton for a very long time. I was extremely close to pulling the trigger on the Suite today and talked myself out of it because every forum/video I could find states that people shouldn't expect it to perform like a tracker when it comes to live audio. I asked that they allow me a beta for Live 10 to test my prior issues to make a decision on buying, but that was to no avail. I knew it was a long shot but, hey, I was looking to be convinced to drop the better part of a grand on a gamble.  

 

My entire reason for moving to Renoise was due to the seemingly magic fix in audio latency and clocking. What I'm finding is that the solution to all my latency/clocking issues was always Renoise and I shouldn't be trying to optimize what is already the best it's ever been. If Ableton is good for nothing more than rewiring more stable DAWs, strictly vst production, or only good for live performance, why the premium price tag?

 

This brings me to my question/discussion. I'm curious if anyone has any insight into why a piece of software with as much money and resources behind it as Ableton is still struggling with latency and clocking issues...is it just that intense on cpu or is there something different happening? Maybe I've been reading through old forums and this is no longer an issue but it feels like trackers are inherently all around better for recording and sequencing samples. 

 

I would bring this discussion to an Ableton forum, but I feel the users are a bit biased and quick to defend their workflow. Here seems like the place artist much like myself ended up. I'm also not keen on strictly software producers, of which make up a good majority of their community, giving insight into hardware issues. 

 

Maybe I'm wrong but I'm considering myself lucky in saving $600 today and will buy myself a nice six pack to celebrate.


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#2 gentleclockdivider

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 01:04

I don't know if the pdc issue is solved in ableton ;

But if you want perfect clocking , midi clock out and what not or syncing hardware .you should check out for a dedicated devicethat does that .

https://www.e-rm.de/.../multiclock.php

 

or innerclocks systems 

http://www.innerclocksystems.com/

 

I think ableton ( and logic) has the best effects offered , cytomic filter , a great fm synth etc.

 

I just can't get along with that awfull gui and arrangment view , track controls at the right , what were they thinking ?

And it's mighty expensive 


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#3 antpb

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 02:53

I don't know if the pdc issue is solved in ableton ;

But if you want perfect clocking , midi clock out and what not or syncing hardware .you should check out for a dedicated devicethat does that .

https://www.e-rm.de/.../multiclock.php

 

or innerclocks systems 

http://www.innerclocksystems.com/

 

I think ableton ( and logic) has the best effects offered , cytomic filter , a great fm synth etc.

 

I just can't get along with that awfull gui and arrangment view , track controls at the right , what were they thinking ?

And it's mighty expensive 

 

I opted to pick up the Expert Sleepers es-8 module. Figure if I was going to drop 600 on software i should probably just get a clean connection from my eurorack into the DAW. Will likely get a dedicated clock eventually but this interface should prove to be much more clean in audio processing and clocking than my Saffire Pro 14. That thing is a mess. lol


 


#4 m.arthur

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 17:43

I use Ableton regularly for professional gigs -- commercials, game scoring, etc. I've never encountered any latency issues. 

I've also used it dozens of times during live shows (for my industrial band, Dead When I Found Her) -- never had any latency / PDC issues there, either.

I also wrote, recorded and produced 5 full length albums in Ableton, and, you guessed it, never had any latency / PDC issues.

 

So when you ask the question, as you did, " I'm curious if anyone has any insight into why a piece of software with as much money and resources behind it as Ableton is still struggling with latency and clocking issues"   I'd encourage you to ask yourself, how do you know that it does in the first place? Are you just choosing to listen to the loudiest, angriest corner of the web? Meanwhile, many artists use it daily to make music, just fine..

 

You  need to recall that one cross section of the angry, complaining internet commenting doesn't always = reality. People have wildly different needs, different things they are trying to accomplish, different usage scenarios, etc. I don't know who the folks are that are still complaining about latency in Ableton; I'm not saying they dont' exist, and I'm not saying they don't have issues... I'm just saying, taking their particular case scenario as "reality for all" is a mistake. Meanwhile, lots of people like myself use Ableton regularly to create music, hobbyist and professional alike. Surely you are aware of the vast number of DJs, electronic musicians, and live acts all making use of Ableton -- do you think they all just manage to somehow overcome some horrible, crippling PDC issue? Nah, they're doing fine. 

 

" If Ableton is good for nothing more than rewiring more stable DAWs, strictly vst production, or only good for live performance, why the premium price tag?"

 

None of the above is true; again, I'd say your core assumptions about the program are simply inaccurate / misinformed. I don't rewire it to a "more stable DAW," I dont' use it for strictly VST production, and it's certainly been of great use far beyond just playing live shows. So, yeah, wrong on all accounts.

 

I kind of don't understand your OP to begin with, to be honest. You say you're so happy with Renoise, but this whole post is about how Ableton tempts you until you talk yourself out of it (based on sketchy info, as noted). Are you fully happy with Renoise, for your specific needs? If so, then why even make this post? Not trying to be on the attack here, just stating my confusion with your situation.


Edited by m.arthur, 07 November 2017 - 17:53.

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#5 antpb

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 17:57

I use Ableton regularly for professional gigs -- commercials, game scoring, etc. I've never encountered any latency issues. 

I've also used it dozens of times during live shows (for my industrial band, Dead When I Found Her) -- never had any latency / PDC issues there, either.

I also wrote, recorded and produced 5 full length albums in Ableton, and, you guessed it, never had any latency / PDC issues.

 

So when you ask the question, as you did, " I'm curious if anyone has any insight into why a piece of software with as much money and resources behind it as Ableton is still struggling with latency and clocking issues"

 

You  need to recall that one cross section of internet commenting doesn't always = reality. People have wildly different needs, different things they are trying to accomplish, different usage scenarios, etc. I don't know who the folks are that are still complaining about latency in Ableton; I'm not saying they dont' exist, and I'm not saying they don't have issues... I'm just saying, taking their particular case scenario as "reality for all" is a mistake. Meanwhile, lots of people like myself use Ableton regularly to create music, hobbyist and professional alike. Surely you are aware of the vast number of DJs, electronic musicians, and live acts all making use of Ableton -- do you think they all just manage to somehow overcome some horrible, cripling PDC issue? Nah, they're doing fine. 

 

For sure, maybe my phrasing was harsh, dont get me wrong, I am very aware of how widely adopted Ableton is and I've recorded a few albums myself with it, but when moving to Renoise everything just worked better. Clocking was more steady, audio lined up perfectly from a recording. I'm completely aware there are a ton of variables that result in that but few configurations really worked for me.

 

I've started a new 30 day trial on another computer to see if I can fiddle around with settings. I'm hoping Ableton has some sort of option to turn off PDC. My negative experience with Ableton was on OSX and I'm now on PC so there's a lot that will be different. Considering the garbage windows audio drivers I'm not super confident it will be better. I also swiped up a new audio interface (ES-8 module) and am going to see if changing my interface helps. From what I researched last night, the ES-8 has some features in the Silent Ways plugins that help adjust/keep clock steady so I'm starting with that. 

 

Worst case I'll just do all my heavy sampling/sequencing with Renoise and use Ableton to record rewired. 

 

I tested that module with Renoise last night and it was seamless.


Edited by antpb, 07 November 2017 - 18:01.

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#6 Medievil-Music

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 17:59

*I know perfectly well what you're talking about. In fact, Ableton uses another software-language to implement additional visualizations and an interface and it uses a lot of resources from the video card + from the processor itself.
Many sub-patches open inside the applet when it is loaded:
1-Live.exe
2-Ableton indexer.exe
3-IO thread
Ableton indexer works in parallel with the program and uses up to 20 percent of the resources of the processor itself.
The IO thread uses almost 10
All the remaining 70 percent are dealt with differently and are distributed depending on the load within the program.
Ableton showed its non-viability, since the work of three cells greatly affects the performance of the program itself.
I, as a long-time user\tester of the Ableton, want to say that the Ableton has not reached its most perfect form yet. His developers are only interested in making the program more expensive. That's why we see all sorts of visual things, bright colors and panels and visual developments, children's toys alike, are supported recently on all devices of Ableton.
Ableton still has not made any collapsal \ cardinal changes in terms of reproducing the sound outcome of the program itself, i mean, Common, it is an AUDIO program in the 1st place.
The results are the same, the rendering protocols are the same since the fourth version. The quality of sound and sampling does not improve, the quality of live playback within the program has been in place for eight years already.
I do not advise spending so much money on a program that behaves like a failed BITWIG, but with a lot of samples and sounds.
If you are a producer that makes a lot of money in life, please , you can buy it. Its is like a decision buying an expensive car.
**DSCLMR : It fits some people in some cases. I have nothing against Ableton propagandists and users. This is just my opinion.

Edited by Medievil-Music, 07 November 2017 - 18:02.

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#7 encryptedmind

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 12:17

Latency is neither an issue with Renoise not Ableton to be a matter of concern. Things like your soundcard drivers, OS and configuration are things that matter more on this regard.

Ableton is stable enough and has a very minimal UI which some might not appreciate but it does keep fluff out of the way. Bitwig looks way more thought out on this front. Ableton offers inbuilt FX which are developed by a team and hence it goes an extra mile in providing a professional experience. They have a successful company with employees and all that and hence they have to maintain their stance with sales being the primary way of getting money it. It's become a bit of a bloat ware in my opinion though. Abelton wave batch export feature is still buggy and it has a certain algorithmic tinge to all the sounds it emits meaning you can quite tell if something was done in Ableton or not. However it works very well for loop based and live performance. It's like a looper on steroids and being primarily waveform and midi data (piano roll) based it does it's job admirably indeed. No latency issues either, I have been using it for a number of years since version 4 to 9 and it works even in a PIII 800 MHz PC routed to Reason via Rewire.

Renoise is however a very different beast that gets to the same destination-make music.

It's tracker UI is world class literally, no other comparison. Maybe in future by sustained interest in the production community we could see some noteworthy competitors that offer an alternative to Renoise of this standard. But for a long time enough now it's the best in class. Using the 'best of' anything means you are getting the premium experience of engaging with it, be it a hotel, a car or a piece of software. It's a thing that you can't really say in an overcrowded DAW market. Sure you have some major competition but which one is the 'best'(?). It's like beauty, mostly in the eyes of the beholder. Different producers have different needs and genres to speak of so their setup changes accordingly and evolves with time as well. Some like all hardware, some go full software some both. Some do scoring, some beat making , some rock tracking and mostly audio work, some are totally midi based and so on. You really can't generalize the software scene like that. The bulk of classical and jazz was invented and written down and performed without the aid of any electronics whatsoever so we are mostly discussing the concerns of the 21st century composers and producers and since the invention of electronic music technology which is about 100 years now, and in that subset the software industry which is about 60 years old now. So it's relatively a young timeline.

How Renoise avoids being a bloatware? It curates and adds features one by one with a very unique mindset approach that caters to the tracker scene, the DAW scene and the samplist scenes respectively. It does tracking exceptionally well going above and beyond any tracker on the market, a key point to note here is the particular use of the computer keyboard to control 90 percent of the software from data entry to song file export and everything in between. That feature alone is worth its weight in gold, since it eliminates the use of an added peripheral like the mouse and makes music production an expressive and super fast process becos you are not fighting the UI or going down the clicking quicksand, when you say writing music you can literally and figuratively say that you are doing it with Renoise on your computer keyboard. No one writes a book using a mouse (never heard of such a thing).

Once that goal is achieved, it hits the sampling target really well with a superbly integrated sampling engine and workflow that is totally reminiscent of hardware beat production units like MPC. Some more algorithms are on the pipeline to be included like inbuilt timestreching but overall the EFFICIENCY in software domain for sampling does not get any better than Renoise, it's truly that good (and fast).

The remaining paradigm is the DAW. It does cater very well for this too if you can understand the quirks in both the workflow and the UI and finally the feature set in Renoise. You have to however understand that the inspiration of Renoise comes from trackers and not tape recorder impersonators (however great they may be). So everything from the transport direction to the visual feedbacks have to be calibrated accordingly when you go about using Renoise versus a 'regular' DAW. Simple things like having no forward and rewind in Renoise can totally put out any sense of convenience and comfort for a regular DAW user. He will search the manual looking for the words forward and rewind and find it strange to see nothing that makes sense. You use the arrow keys and keyshortcuts like F9 to F12 or the mousewheel for instance and that is totally weird to someone using Logic or Ableton. It's a whole mental shift in both workflow and requires some careful investment of time from the user. It's not meant for casual box openers who want to make music but clicking on 'play' and 'record'. Maybe it should in the long run to attract more users but technically speaking it's workflow is perfect. The amount of programming and thought that went to its design is really very professional. FX is there here too but for the price and the amount of time invested in a software of this scale and complexity especially when FX plugins are dime a dozen is something you can always be kind about. You can't find any replacement for Renoise, but for a compressor or a delay plugin, seriously? Like 10000 of those in the overcrowded plugin market both for free and fee. So VST and AU is well supported opening doors to anyone wishing to use those plugin formats.

That leaves us with things like audio tracks visualisation and editing in place (like a standard DAW), horizontal waveform for convenience unlike Renoise's vertical approach to things, piano roll and other bells and whistles. A looper unit like in Ableton or a Geist like performance record to pattern feature might be good additions in future. It's like a mixed bag of features that are inspired or taken by convention formhere and there. So at this point it's a subjective thing really. For a user like me I find this perfect already and so not need any other feature. For other however they might like the above DAW-ish features to be added.

Now here is a point, more does not mean merrier all the time. If that is a case then why do traffic jams fail to entertain us? Similarly, in software it's very easy to get into feature creep and turn into bloatware or try to do everything at once or try to be like everyone and fail at everything precisely because it's spread too thin.

It's unlikely that adding a sheet music engine in Renoise will add any more value to what it already is. Most sheet music folks don't do tracking anyways and their engraving pursuits and featurset will honestly require a dedicated software whereas Renoise will surely distract them from the word go. However when using a scoring program you never hear someone complaining that it does not do sampling or does not have timestretching like Ableton and similar issues. It's because scoring packages have a niche that they fulfill without trying to be everyone at once. It's a recipe for disaster for anyone. It's like trying to find the unified theory of physics. Maybe in future it could be possible for a music software to be amorphous like a putty and people can transform a software UI and feature set based on their wishful thinking, but as of yet it's an exercise in futility for obvious reasons, from business reasons like time spent versus profit obtained, to keeping a legacy and tradition alive versus watering down to something no one like in the end, to being overambitous and failing badly and so on. Software engineering is a complicated field and requires lots of maintenance and things keep changing fast enough. Having a stable core keeps things simple and nimble and fast.

You don't expect your microwave to be your washing machine and TV and fridge all at once, even if it's possible, I would never buy that abomination!

Renoise is unique and does what it does exceptionally well and has already covers a lot of arenas to be very useful in anyones arsenal. There are certain algorithms and features that will surely enhance its usability but we must be careful not to go over board.

Edited by encryptedmind, 12 November 2017 - 12:49.

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#8 ffx

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 12:44

What all DAWs are lacking of is a "parking dsp" functionality. So you can disable a fx in such way that it also isn't adding PDC to the chain anymore (if it requires), so completely disabled. E.g. in combination with some dsp grouping, you later could enable all mastering fx for render, without having its latency while mixing/composing etc.


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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: ableton, latency, trackers