Using Renoise as an Ableton-like DJing Platform?

Hi all,

I’ve recently migrated to renoise from ableton/reason after my mac was stolen. I had been producing for about 8 months prior and have since taken a small hiatus because of school and not having a lot of time to learn renoise. (as an aside, I’m running ubuntu on my new laptop, not windows 8 because… windows 8. it doesn’t have a CD drive so I can’t install/dual boot windows 7 until I find someone that has an external cd drive)

When I had my mac, I would produce most of my music on reason and would DJ using ableton. I actually DJ’d numerous times around at house parties on campus as well as a few fraternity/sorority formals. I really liked Ableton as a DJing platform because it allowed for a lot of creative freedom, you could essentially set up your DJing effects etc exactly how you wanted them to be.

When I first saw renoise, I couldn’t help but to think of it as an alternative to ableton. I’ve seen videos of people on youtube performing live with renoise, nothing extremely advanced, but it still worked. I’ve messed around a bit and have gotten it to work like ableton, to some extent, but I’m wondering if anyone here has any experience with this sort of thing, or an idea of how to set it up to behave in a similar way.

Namely, is it possible to have tracks launched on the fly? Also, is it possible to “sync” track the master tempo (i.e. warping tracks in ableton)?

I realize renoise isn’t ableton, and getting it to mimic ableton precisely would be impossible, but I do miss DJing quite a bit, even as just a hobby to do when I’m bored, and I think it would be awesome to DJ totally within linux with native software.

Haven’t tested this tool by myself but it might point You in to the right direction:

Currently, I think Renoise would be the odd choice for this kind of thing.

If you’re looking for something like Abletons Session view then Cells! is probably the closest you can get (disclaimer: I wrote it). Make sure you read the discussion thread for more details and demo videos.

I wrote that mainly to see just how far you can push Renoise into such a ‘live performance’ mould without it breaking, but ultimately I agree with danoise - using Renoise for this purpose is perculiar.

Both cells!, live-dive (and grid pie) are awesome tools, and suitable candidates for live clip triggering and deconstruction of a song
But I understand DJing as playing entire tracks - like, dropping a beat from a collection of finished tracks.
This would be possible, but you’d need a lot of RAM to do it. And better softwares exist for that purpose

I agree, I’ve spent some (read: a few hours) time with both Cells! and live-dive, and saw a lot of potential with them… but getting renoise to play entire tracks, as you mentioned, seemed to be something renoise just… doesn’t want to do. My main purpose of the thread was to see if there was a better way of doing it, because I’m still very new to renoise and I’m sure there is a better way. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t sound like there is.

At any rate, I just thought it would be a cool feat to DJ entirely in linux. While there are programs like Mixxx, I just don’t tend to like them/they lack a lot of functionality that renoise could provide, but renoise lacks what Mixx has … haha.

I have figured out a way to potentially DJ with a bunch of JACK programs, but the main thing I’m missing is an ableton-like clip launcher (sort of like live-dive and Cells!) which, outside of renoise, I can’t seem to find.

Thanks for the input, though!

Search for Hitori Tori on YouTube.

This is the most interesting usage of Renoise as a DJ’ing platform I’ve seen. It throws everything conventional about DJ’ing out the window, however…

That’s actually really close to what I want to accomplish, but it would be awesome if you could do the same basic thing with already-composed, non-renoise tracks (like, just wave files of other songs). Maybe I’ll fool around with it some more!

Well using renoise, a lot is possible and for live usage indeed a lot isn’t. Do you have, or are you planning to get, any midi gear?

I think I now got it better what you meant.

I have been DJing a lot with renoise. For me the hardest part of djing with renoise is that You need different approach and different way of thinking. In my opinion Renoises power is in its simplicity, I mean in what comes to that how sound is generated in computers.

For example my workflow of DJing with Renoise could be:
I have Rhythmbox open that contains songs from my music folder, but the Rhythmbox is not playing anything. Then I open Renoise and use drag and drop to add songs from Rhythbox(sample is loaded to selected sample slot). I use play button in Sample Editor to get sound out in firsthand. Then in mixer view by adding DSPs to Mst track I can mix/master the sample playing, for example by adding EQ10, compressor, maximizer. Then by using “tempo tap” -tool I find the tempo from the sample. Allready at this point you can do pretty interesting things by adding for example Repeater, Filter or Dealy to the Mst track (By switching the hold button in Repeater device gives two different ways of alter looping).

When switching to next song you have at least two ways of doing it. First is to open another Renoise and prepare song/sample there also. But then you might need to fix your audio configuration to allow two Renoises at the same time. And I have not found a way to crossfade between two Renoise instances.

Another way is to use just one Renoise. I load a song to the first sample slot. And after finding tempo of the song I add it to the Pattern matrix on the first row on Track 01. Then just add enough empty patterns so the song have room to play completely. And by turning on Autoseek from Instrument Settings gives you ability to jump back/forth in patterns. You might need to pay attention to the beginning of the sample data, cut it little to get the beat and the matrix to run at the same time. Rulers in the Sample Editor can be set to “beats” to help recognizing the samples relation to the pattern rows. Then I add another song to the second sample slot, and add it to the Track 02. Matching the tempo of the second sample to existing sound playing on Track 01 might be tricky but if you manage that, then you can have two songs playing at the same time and mix them nicely.

I just found out that there is tool available called “DJ Tools - Crossfader”. This might help you to prehear the second track you want to switch in. Haven’ tested…

Quote from Crossfader tool page:
“”“When ASIO and multiple outputs are available, it is also possible to determine additional send tracks for cueing/prelistening the mixing with headphones. To achieve that, you have to set four send devices: two master and two prelistening sends. Then set per track two send devices: First the prelistening Send with “Keep source” enabled, and then as master with “Mute source” enabled.”""

This is just an example of my workflow and I meant that you just need different approach to build the DJ mix in Renoise. Things like timestretching or automatic beat detection might be little trickier to accomplish but same time you have totally new ways to alter the way how your DJ set advance.

I have also been playing a lot at house/home/campus parties.
And I forget to mention that if you produce your own tunes in Renoise, then it is already fixed in pattern grid, and secondly you don’t need to render your songs to wav. Just use another Renoise to copy/paste stuff or as a song to switch to. You retain full control over notes, tracks and mixer effects.

My initial feeling was that Renoise is a bizarre choice for DJing, but honestly the way I would like to play live with it isn’t far off from DJing, and Linux is pretty meh for DJ software options.


Cells! has its own time-stretching, so this is a very good solution for DJing. I highly recommend it for what you’re trying to do.

A tool that might come in handy for preparing sets: TempoTool (If you like the idea I’ll compile a proper xrnx, learning git to be able to spin might not be for everyone)
It enables the user to set Renoise global tempo to a samples length. So if you cut a perfect loop sample from somewhere (eg. render pattern to sample) you can simply have renoise compute the BPM. (todo for me: make setting line sync option beforehand unnecessary by providing GUI with list of options)
And I might mention my first tool ever, too; MidiSkip let’s you skip to a pattern line by way of midi command. It’s on git too, and can be downloaded on this page.

One thing that I feel should be added to renoise in this perspective too, a very simple one: add the option somewhere in the control panel to not record note-offs.

You can do this with midi input

Deselect ‘note offs’ to not record them.