Workflow, Clutter and Technology

So I’m in a big transition right now. I have just moved so I’m thinking about the idea of rebuilding my studio and how I want to set it up.

First off though, I’m trying to get my laptop set up as I have just bought a new laptop in the last couple of months and it is not fully configured yet.

I have upgraded to Live 9.5 (9.7 was released today) and there are some significant changes. I couldn’t get past Live 9.3 due to my old laptop being 32 bit. I have gone fully 64 bit but that is seriously affecting my vst’s.

I’ve decided that I’m just going to have a few vst’s and instruments and get to know them well rather than have 100’s of vsts to the point it was sort of overwhelming to choose sometimes.

That brings up the point of having vst’s that are 64bit compatible, but there is always this push pull thing with software and hardware. I’ll check out a vst bridge system if I have to.

I don’t know, random production thoughts as I try to get my 64 bit Reaktor 5 vst’s to show up in Live (re-installed it and put it in my custom directory and it’s now working).

To give you a little perspective, my studio is not as simple as putting my instruments on a table and going from there although I am thinking about that aspect.

Here was my studio in Seattle. That sampler has been retired for quite a few years, but I’m thinking about putting back into action again. But this is a broader, longer project. I’m just trying to get my laptop functional right now.

Which is another thing. I need a stereo audio editor. I’ve been using SoundForge for years but the license was bought by my old job and registered to my old job’s email account. SoundForge has been bought out, so I don’t even know if I’m going to go down that route.

I guess I’m learning Audacity in the meantime.


No question really, just some rambling stream of consciousness as I’m thinking about all of this while updating audio programs on my laptop.

So, simplifying things in regards to VST clutter. Going all 64bit has significantly reduced my vst options, but I think I’ll will roll with it. I would like to get my Waves vst’s on my laptop but they still require a usb dongle which I haven’t set up yet. I really dislike dongles.

I’m thinking about new workflows as I rebuild my studio. I’ve been acquiring some gear that would allow me to work in a hardware setting without a computer, but really I want a hybrid kind of thing which is how I’ve been working for a long time.

It’s late here and early where you are so I’ll talk more later, but yeah, a lot of text flowing tonight.

1 BigUp

we have the same monitors :itslove:

also i use jbridge to load 32 bit vsts in ableton, does the job fine for me

1 BigUp

Wave Editor Opinions / Field Feedback:

Wavelab 9 is where it’s at bro. I went through the same exercise looking for a good audio editor recently. I read tons of reviews and debates online, but all either were aiming their reviews at people with simpler, more common needs than I, or debating based on stubborn bias instead of actually comparing features that mattered.

Back in the day it was much easier. Cool Edit Pro, or Soundforge… Period, they won. Not so simple these days. Not only does it seem the quality and featureset of modern editors hasn’t kept pace since then, but the progress almost seemed negative in some areas in regard to clean UI.

I ended up grabbing and trying pretty much everything I could find, and am glad I did because it led me somewhere I didn’t expect.

Ultimately, the openSource Audacity with which you are currently working seemed to be #2 in line to Audition for a while, until I revisited an old friend from my distant past.

I got turned off by Steinberg in the early 2000’s because it seemed they were sacrificing stability for features, but prior to that I used Wavelab a good bit due to the fact that it could tie in to the ASIO that Cubase had engaged, to allow use of both tools through a single ASIO layer. It wasn’t geared toward my particular mastering and editing styles, so I didn’t keep it around afterwards.

But I was shocked to see how far they’ve come with v9. Especially in regards to flexibility in drawing selections and in their mastering toolset.

The “Master Rig” VST3 plug-in that comes standard with it has literally everything you need to get market-ready masters with very little effort. It blew me away. It’s like Ozonex100, but with presets that actually sound good, so you don’t have to build everything from scratch.


Workflow and Clutter:

You mentioned workflow and clutter in the subject, so I assume you’re looking for ideas and people to bounce ideas off as you get them to help design your physical and virtual spaces around a more concise workflow, to prevent the abundance of gear from become more of a distraction than a tool. (sounds like i know the pain, eh? LOLz)

first thing i can think of, and as painful as it is to do, i would take a look at each of your pieces of gear and ask yourself if it provides any UNIQUE benefit to your environment. I count at least 4 sets of keys that would all provide SYSEX and multi-channel MIDI controls (5 if that analog synth at the top could push SYSEX)

unless you have the extra 2 arms that I’ve been wishing for my whole life, i’m guessing you already see my point. Obviously some of those are going to have better knobs, some have a fader set, some semi-weighted keys, etc. But I’m guessing there’s probably 2 of those 5 that can cover almost your entire gamut of needs as far as input.

Even the synthesizer is a requirement from one with a weaker controlset, it doesn’t require prime real estate. You could shift it to more of a rack role and give it less surface area in your valuable areas of space.

you may also want to consider replacing your mixer with something like the Aira MX-1. You could catch a fair price for yours with it appearing to be in good shape, to offset the moderate $600 tag for the MX-1. It would allow you to get your analog stuff in/out, while also give you direct fader control over Ableton, and give you an external Time Sync on all devices, even those with only 1/8" sync cable options.

Plus, it is designed with Ableton’s intended workflow in mind. So it can perform various functions at various phases of your workflow, and work as the center of your operation regardless of whether your sequencing a track, bouncing channels, mixing your tracks, or mastering a mixdown, and also provides a TON of high quality controls assignable to whatever hardware or software you have in focus. Example, if you hide a synth somewhere, and your preferred keyboard controller doesn’t have the knobset to support full control over it, you can use the MX-1 to control synth expression while using the keys you prefer for inputting notes.

finding more multi-purpose items like can function as the core, and minimizing the amount of analog bouncing you have to do seemed to be the keys for cleaning up my space, and ultimately they are what even introduced me to the concept of production workflow. before then i just did whatever, whenever, with no attention to efficiency. 10% of my tracks ever got finished, and i was frustrated all the time.

now about 80% of my tracks get completed, and there is a lot more joy in my process and less grumbling and cursing.

hope my feedback helps put a little ammo in your decision making ammo box for you bruh! good luck my fellow gear slut. :wink:


Oh, and about your comment regarding considering bringing back the sampler into your current setup…

Gotta let that go bro. I know she’s been good to you and you’ve made same dope joints in the past. But you gotta let that stay in the past and keep looking forward.

Unless there’s a unique sound or featureset, (which is rare with all the virtual replicas available), try and keep from revisiting instruments for purely nostalgic reasons at times when workflow and clutter is even a concern. It would be counterproductive to your actual efforts in the long run.

(Not saying it wouldn’t be fun, and potentially even inspiring. But it’s not helping your overall dilemma)

Yeah, the sampler was replaced with a softsampler years ago.

I guess I’ve kept it around because it was the most expensive electronic instrument that I’ve purchased but now it is worth barely anything.

But yeah, lots of great music (imo) made on that thing.

I think I am going to re-evaluate my hardware to see what I really want to use but that brings us to the concept that I’ve had for a very long time about having a unique studio and a unique sound.

I never wanted to be one of those people using the same instruments as everyone else.

I’ve never used Massive… :badteeth:


Most of my synths are rack mounted. On the keyboard stand you see at the bottom an Akai MPK49 which is my main MIDI controller, above it my Juno-106 which was my first synthesizer and something I’ll never get rid of and above that a Yamaha CS-5 from 1979 which is pre MIDI. I could maybe get rid of that one, but I do like my old analog synths.


Oh, if the MX-1 doesn’t provide you enough analog ins, you may also consider something like the Soundcraft Signature 12 (Only the MTK edition, the regular Sig12 doesn’t offer full 12x12 digital interface)

It would still allow for you to keep your mixer at the center of your production environment, and assist in the moderation of workflow in the physical space, as at extension of Ableton’s workflow negotiating abilities, but with more analog inputs.

You sacrifice much of the other device control featureset and ability to create “combi” layers to control or sequence multiple devices at the same time. But you still get your mixer controls for Ableton, full 12x12 channel digital IO to your DAW, a few really nice onboard effects, and the ability to use it as a standard external mixer without your DAW or computer even running.

They also have a 22 channel model.

The mixer is something I’d consider upgrading. It’s a Mackie 1604 VLZ. When I got that thing it was a REVOLUTION!!

It really facilitated my dubwise concepts and using the mixer/studio as an instrument.

I feel ya bro. I have a 106 that just won’t go away also. LOL One of the worst sound-design UI’s on the planet, with the one little 2 digit LCD display and crazy matrix you have to memorize to get control of all the base parameters for the oscillators and original ADSR (pre-fader), but with powerful and unique signature sounds (as you get with most legendary analog synths)

And I assumed those were mainly rack synths and not effects based on how many direct channels on your mixer were being used. You’d need more Inserts and less Channels if you were funneling mostly effects through the mixer from those racks. Nothing about that should change, that’s optimal workflow, except that it’s a royal PITA to deal with having to hardware mix, then freeze the tracks, only to have to refreeze again later if you want to change the automation or create an alternate melody.

The new generation of analog-in digital mixers that are designed to function as mixer control surface simultaneously with being a hardware mixer are the only thing that can bring together your workflow any tighter than you already have it. Nice looking stack btw…

And hey, what worked well to tune my workflow may ultimately not work for you. I know this. I’m just throwing out things I can identify with from your photo and recalling various things that helped me get past similar struggles from the ones you described. Hopefully it helps you decide what will be best for your setup.

1 BigUp

I feel ya. That’s why I was hoping you’d be receptive to that notion. There was only one other comparable mixer out back then, the Yamaha O1V… and you needed an ADAT (or stack of ADATs) for it to be fully functional.

I gathered you were pushing it’s limitations already, and could see freedom right on the other side. LOL

100% integration of multi-channel AD/DA conversion and modern mixer capabilities into a single device are the last step that was needed to open that doorway really. (at least, for me)

It was like seamless integration of a Scarlett 18, or MOTU 24 into that Mackie or Yamaha, which removed the additional workflow steps regarding change-of-ownership of tasks during bouncing and freezing tracks.

Also, they’ll (usually) give you more Ableton-specific control abilities as an added benefit. Allowing them to become even more at the helm of your workflow and center of your system architecture.

As in modern software design philosophies, re-usability is the driving force behind efficiency in a rapid development cycle.

If you used Massive, the rest of your rig may go on strike. LOL

I can’t say I managed to avoid it. But it was responsible for the beginning of my workflow-centric composition style, and retirement of several analog synths. (I have a “tribe” of retired Korg Mono and Micros. LOL)

Unfortunately, with the extreme advancement of software-driven tech, it’s getting harder to rationally steer clear of the mainstream. ATM, Serum is completely squashing all competition, and making it difficult to find alternative methods to achieve equal sound diversity and quality. You need a half dozen other synths to cover all of the features it has.

I hate to be a lemming as well, but I also have to be rational about what’s best for the art and ultimately follow that path.

Not saying that’s what’s best for YOUR art, but for mine there is, unfortunately, no real option besides following the mainstream at this point.

All I can do is try and push boundaries in my composition to offset the standardized toolset. :wink:

Just curious, what there is to do with Serum that Alchemy 2 + FM8 can’t do?

I don’t like the UI for Audacity but I guess I’m so used to SoundForge. I haven’t spent much time with Audacity yet. I might just get SoundForge again if their new company doesn’t mess it up.

I used to use Wavelab for an Internet radio station I used to work for, I’d be curious to see how far that program has come along.

I’m probably going to get jBridge just to have it around just in case I really want to use one of my 32bit VST’s.

So you have Event 20/20 monitors? Are they active or passive? If they are passive, what kind of amp do you use to power them?

Mine are passive. I use a Hafler amp for mine.

ah, so almost the same monitors. i have the active (20/20p) ones. some guy threw them in for free w/ a guitar pedal i bought when i was like 12. i had no clue about monitors/speakers back then so i just assumed they were junk and had them sitting in the attic until i got into production a few years later.

when i first started using them i ended up finding some sort of large nut/seed blocking one of the ports after hearing a buzz, and only a year or two ago, when i replaced a blown out driver, i found 2 tubes of solidified gogurt, some crumpled paper, and a couple small plastic action figures

how do you rate them compared to other monitors? the only other pair i can reliably reference against are my mate’s m-audio entry level ones

spotted the mks 50 and the s5000 in the rack, anything else interesting?

Yeah, there’s an MKS-70 and I have the PG-300 and 800 for both of the MKS’. Novation BassStation Rack, Roland JV-1080 and JV-2080 loaded with expansion cards (I don’t think the 2080 or the 1080 were in that pic). And a Yamaha TX-81z plus some effects, compressors, EQ’s, audio interface, MIDI interface etc.

I’ve been using this audio editor for a while now, it’s great. Quite simple but very useful. I have keyboard shortcuts set up for fades/normalising/cutting to new file.

1 BigUp

I recon audacity is the best. I mean it’s bloody free too which is nice.
I never rly liked soundforge income how found my self.taking ages to do anything