Ableton + Serato: The Bridge Fuses DJ Sets, Live Sets; Full Details
Live maker Ableton and DJ and virtual vinyl developer Serato today announced the results of their partnership. First off, this isn’t what many of us originally speculated: it’s not a DJ deck inside Live. Instead, the collaboration seeks to bridge (ahem) the gap between the way DJs perform and the way Live users perform. The result focuses on the way a performance set is assembled in the two paradigms, an attempt to guide the flow of music between the two programs. Here’s how it works.
Bring Serato “mixtapes” into Ableton Live: Save a DJ mix – called a “mix tape” – in a Serato product, and export it to Live, and what you get is all of your edits in a form that can be further manipulated in Live. Waveforms and automation data from your DJ session, however they’re manipulated and transcribed by the Serato software, appear in Live.
Put the Ableton Live Session View “inside” Serato: Here’s where things get in interesting. Rather than put Serato inside Live, we’re getting Live inside Serato – after a fashion. Ableton Live runs in the background. Integrated into the Serato interface (as seen at the screenshot at top) are all your Session View clips from your Live Set. Serato’s control – via audio input from vinyl or CDJs, or an ITCH control surface – manipulates the entire transport of the Live set.
Pricing: Free. Own Serato Live/ITCH and Ableton Live (full version or Suite)? The Bridge costs you nothing. (Yes, this seems to be a departure from the arrangement from Max for Live.)
Availability: “No release date has been set yet.”
Naturally, all of this begs the question: do you really want to do this? And I expect that question is about to get turned over and inside out all over comments here on CDM and around the Web. It’ll naturally depend a lot on who you are.
Taking Serato sets into Live is clearly great for Serato users. It means you can get a head start on assembling an arrangement just by DJing, or alternatively, that you have the ability to use Live as a way of editing your Serato set. (Now, again, this appears to be a proprietary format – but that raises an interesting point. Ableton now uses an open XML format, meaning you could also presumably deconstruct this new Serato export and enable it to be used somewhere else, whether intended or not. But I digress.)
It’s the more ambitious reverse direction that’s both the most interesting and the most potentially controversial. After all, if you’re using Session View inside of Serato, why not just use Session View? Will it be more useful to put Live inside the virtual vinyl environment than the virtual vinyl inside Live? (If it turns out you favor the latter, you have other options – not least the recent evolution of Max for Live patches for Ms. Pinky. More on that in coming days.)
Side note: check out the VIDEO-SL integration. That makes this all even more interesting as an a/v, virtual vinyl environment; see our ongoing coverage of VIDEO-SL and other vinyl visualism for Create Digital Motion.
I’m not a turntablist, though, so I think the real question is what their take on this is. And kudos to Serato and Ableton for taking the gutsy route here as far as combining these products. We’ll get a closer look soon, and I’m curious to hear the reactions – however impassioned they may be. (On your mark … set … comment. Oh, boy.)
The Bridge provides Ableton Transport Control (ATC), giving you turntable-style control of your own multitrack productions. Simply drag an Ableton Live Set to a deck in Scratch Live or ITCH and use your turntables, CDJ or ITCH controller to control the transport. With ATC, Scratch Live or ITCH provides your productions with deck control, mixing, nudging and DJ style looping, while you can remix, mute/solo tracks, use virtual instruments, change drum patterns, manipulate audio, tweak effects and launch loops on the fly in Ableton Live.
A Window into Live
Activating the ‘Ableton View’ in Scratch Live or ITCH opens a representation of Live’s Session View, where you can launch clips and scenes, control instruments and devices, mix, mute and solo—all from within your ITCH or Scratch Live user interface. If you need more detail, just switch to the full Ableton Live application for complete control.
The Ableton View displays critical information from your Ableton Live Set, including:
- Clips, including clip name, color and play buttons
- Track levels
- Level meters
- Sends A and B
- Device control for effects
- Track solo, arm and mute
The Ableton View can be customized to show 4, 5, or 8 scenes, and 4, 6 or 8 tracks.
When both programs are open, an Ableton Live Transport Track appears in your Serato library. Drag this onto a deck in Scratch Live or ITCH, then use the deck to control Ableton Live’s tempo and playback.
All the controls in the Serato user interface apply to the Live Set. Change the tempo of your Live Set, nudge the transport position and loop Live’s transport, all from the comfort of your Serato Scratch Live or ITCH interface.
When ATC is active, Serato’s Main Waveform Display gives you a visual indicator of bars and beats, so you can correctly line up the downbeat of your Live Set to a track playing on ITCH or Scratch Live’s Virtual Deck.
Free up a deck in Scratch Live or ITCH by syncing the special ‘Ableton Player’ to one of your decks. The Ableton Player now controls playback of your Ableton Live Set, and is automatically locked to the groove and timing of the track on that deck. The Ableton Player is ideal for dropping in spot samples, vocal drops, one-shots and additional instrumentation over your DJ set.
Apart from your Serato hardware, using an additional dedicated controller such as the Akai Professional APC40, APC20 or Novation Launchpad opens up your game for more mixing, effects handling and for triggering clips.
Behind the scenes, Ableton and Serato have implemented a two-way communication link to connect the programs. ATC’s timing is ultra tight and it doesn’t matter which program you open first.