5 Tips On Optimizing Ableton Live’s Performance During A Live Set

5 Tips On Optimizing Ableton Live’s Performance During A Live Set.

The worst thing that can happen to a live performer using a computer is a complete onstage crash. One fantastic thing about Ableton Live is that it’s a remarkably stable program – if used right. I’ve used Ableton Live since 2005, starting with version 3, for live performances. Since then, I’ve played hundreds of shows and in all of those, I can count only 3 times when the program crashed. Two of those instances came from playing outdoor shows on hot summer days with the sun directly on the laptop which happened to overheat the computer and drastically slow the processors. I’ve even dropped a computer off a DJ booth onto a dance floor (ouch) and when I picked up the laptop, the Live set was still up and running.  Here are five ways I’ve found over the years to keep my live sets from ending with a computer fail.

1. Clean and Organize Your Sets Before A Performance

As an Ableton Certified Trainer, I consult with artists on their live Ableton sets. It’s amazing how many people I’ve seen come in with seemingly infinite numbers of tracks, scenes and clips for a 45 – 60 minute set. Before the show, go through your tracks, clips and scenes and clear out anything that you know you are not going to use. I do this before every performance. So invest a bit a time into it if you haven’t before and make it a habit.

2. Keep Plug-Ins Native As Much As Possible

Ableton’s native plug-ins work quite smoothly and are incredibly stable and efficient. Although I use plenty of outside plug-ins in production and mixing, for live performance I try and avoid them as much as possible. If you absolutely need to use them, use them with caution. Instead of putting a bunch on different tracks, can you put just one into a send? Can you take parts that are played with MIDI and an plug-in synth and convert them to audio? I think a lot of what’s kept my performance Ableton happy has been my avoidance whenever possible of external synths and effects.

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Comandante Zero (CØ) Ableton Live Set.

Comandante Zero (CØ) Ableton Live Set.


MMNY Panel Discussion With Adriano Clemente

Here’s a podcast I did in April for Make Music New York with my fellow Dubspot instructor and Ableton Certified Trainer Adriano Clemente at the Cornelia St. Cafe in NYC.  We talked about how digital technology and controllerism is shaping live performance and give a live demo of some of our instruments including the Ableton PUSH. 


Dubspot NYC Ableton User Group – July 22, 2014: 9:30 – 11:00

This Tuesday, July 22 the Dubspot NYC Ableton User Group is back with Brent Arnold.

Dubspot NYC Ableton User Group

Words To Live By…

With the news becoming unbearable to watch, here are some words that were shared by Tim McCarthy which I found incredible apt.

“Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible to life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return. One must negotiate this passage as nobly as possible, for the sake of those coming after us.”- James Baldwin.

Matt’s Blondie Set-Up

I’ve known Matt for quite awhile.  Fantastic musician.  Here’s his description of how he uses Ableton Live to trigger tracks and sounds for Blondie.


New Dubspot Video

Here’s a recent video I did that is the first of a series on different ways of using Ableton Live with analog instruments.  Enjoy.