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Ableton Live 8 Essential Training with Rick Schmunk offers a comprehensive overview of Ableton's live audio and MIDI sequencing software and the techniques required to compose, record, and edit music, in real time, on stage, or in the studio. The course includes tutorials on compiling live sets from audio and MIDI clips, loops, or samples, applying MIDI effects, warping audio, and recording and producing songs in any number of contemporary styles. Exercise files are included with the course.
While Ableton Live includes a library full of useful audio and MIDI clips, as well as a collection of great virtual instruments, it's likely that at some point, you'll also want to record audio into an Ableton Live Set. In this video, we will discuss the signal path through a computer-based recording system, how to set the resolution for the audio you want to record, and the basic considerations in preparing to record. So the components of a recording system include the sound source which you are going to record, and then usually a microphone which converts a sound pressure wave to an electrical signal, then an audio interface whose primary components are audio converters: first, analog-to-digital converters which convert the audio from an electrical signal to a digital signal, and then so we can listen to the audio coming out of computer, digital-to-analog converters which convert the digital signal back to an electrical signal.
Note that Ableton Live will run without an external audio interface, instead using the computer's built-in converters. However, these converters are not nearly as good as those found in an audio interface, and the resulting recordings will not be as good. The next component in your system would be a computer running Ableton Live. And lastly, you will you will need headphones or speakers which convert the electrical signal back to sound pressure waves, so you can actually hear the audio. In preparation for recording, check the connections for the components in your system and make sure that you've left enough room for the cables to firmly attach and avoid bending the cables where they attach.
When preparing to start a recording system, it's best to connect the audio interface to the computer before turning the computer on. Also, remember the rule of "last on" and "first off" in regards to your speakers. This will avert any damage to the speakers due to pops that might occur from turning any of the other components on or off. So I have got Ableton Live opened here, and when you open Ableton, it opens a default project. If we need to create a new project, or a new Set, you can just go up to the File menu and choose New Live Set, or use the key command Command+N on the Mac, or Ctrl+N on PC.
Next, you want to set the preferences that determine the audio file type and resolution. The Preferences are located under the Live menu, or you can use the key command Command+Comma, or on a PC, Ctrl+Comma. I am going to click the Audio tab, and we will begin there. First, let's look at the Sample Rate parameter. The options on Ableton Live are 44.1, 48, and 96 kHz, with 441 being the consumer audio CD standard. 48 and 96 are higher- resolution audio options.
I am going to go ahead and choose 44.1. And before we move on, I am also going to also take a look at the Latency and Buffer Size parameters. Now remember that larger buffer sizes allow the computer to operate more efficiently, and when you're mixing and editing that's okay. But when you are recording, you are going to want to use a lower buffer size. So, options usually are in presets of 64, 128, 256, or multiples. Note that Ableton Live will allow you to type any figure into this field, but that might cause a conflict with your converter, or your audio interface, so make sure you know what those options are.
In this case, I will go ahead with 128 samples. Okay. So the next thing you will probably do is connect a microphone. And if that microphone is a condenser-type microphone, then you want to locate the phantom power button on your interface, and that's normally labeled +48V. We are just about ready to record, but we will need a track for that. Now the default set has an audio track. Or, if we need one, we can go up to Create menu and choose Insert Audio Track, or use the key command Command+T on a Mac or Ctrl+T on a PC.
I will go ahead and use the default track. And before I record, I am going to want to name that track, because the audio files that are recorded to that track will be named based upon the track name. So in Ableton Live, we can rename a track by clicking on the track nameplate and using the key command Command+ R on the Mac or Ctrl+R on a PC. So, I will just call this "Voice Over." Okay, the next thing I want to do is address the input that my microphone is plugged into, so that Ableton Live can see that. And I do that by coming down here and choosing the Input type, which in the case of an audio interface would be external- in--I can click that and see the other options, but in this case, we are ready to go--and then choosing the input that that microphone is plugged into.
So this particular interface has two inputs, and I can either go stereo or mono 1 or 2. I would only use the stereo input if I have actually got two microphones or a stereo microphone plugged in. In this case, my microphone is plugged into channel 2, so I will choose that. And lastly, before we get ready record here, I am going to record-enable the track. But before I do that, let me add that if you've got speakers that are turned on in the room, this will cause a feedback loop. If you are on headphones, that's no problem. So I'll go ahead and record-enable this, and now we can see there's audio level on the track.
So now that we have discussed system setup, audio file parameters, and prepping to record, we are ready to begin recording audio into Ableton Live.
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