Posts categorized "Midi/USB Keyboards & Controllers" Feed

Options.txt: Improved Wacom Tablet Support in Ableton Live 8.0.2 + Entering Text into Kore2 and other VSTs


Better Support For Wacom Tablets in Live 8.0.2
For the past year, I’ve been using a Wacom Bamboo tablet as an alternative input device for a mouse. It works well with VSTs. However, in Ableton Live, the pen stroke length to move a knob through it’s entire range of values is too short.

In the recently released Ableton Live 8.0.2 update, there is a new improvement:

“Added an option for the Options.txt file to support Wacom Tablets. Adding the line ”-AbsoluteMouseMode” into Options.txt file switches Live into absolute mouse position mode.”

I just installed 8.0.2 on Windows Vista (32) and I am happy to report that pen control is now MUCH better. It takes a much bigger stroke to move a knob through it’s entire range. Therefore, it is much easier to move the knob to the value you want.

Options.txt Parameters
In order to enable this feature you need to modify (or create if it doesn’t exist) a file called options.txt. Live reads the parameters within this file on startup. As the 8.0.2 description indicates, this file supports a new parameter “-AbsoluteMouseMode”. Adding the parameter adds the new Wacom support.

I want to also mention another parameter you may not be aware of,
-_EnsureKeyMessagesForPlugins”. Add this parameter if some of your VSTs won’t accept keyboard input when hosted from Live. Native Instruments plugins such as Absynth and Kore2 come to mind.

Adding Parameters to Options.txt

  1. Find/create options.txt
    The file resides in the preferences sub-folder:

    MAC: userxxx/library/preferences/ableton/live 8.x

    XP: C:\Documents and Settings\userxxx\Application
    Data\Ableton\Live 7.0.15\Preferences

    Vista: C:\Users\userxxx\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Live 8.0.2\Preferences
  2. Use a text editor to create or edit the file.
  3. Save the file and restart Live


Mark Mosher

Videos of Jordan Rudess and His Korg nanoKEY

Over the holidays I picked up a Korg nanoKey and nanoKONTROL. I was skeptical at first but I have to say that I use them all the time – especially when on the go or when making music with a laptop on the couch. The build quality is no where near what you’d see on an expensive controller, but well within reason for the $50ish price tag. I put them on my Best of 2008 list.

imageI mentioned using them on Twitter and got a few replies about the nano series which made me hunt for some videos of the controllers in use. I found this videos of Jordon Rudess of Dream Theater jamming out with a nanoKey MIDI controller. Enjoy.



Watch Jordan Rudess and his nanoKEY Part 1


Watch Jordan Rudess and his nanoKEY Part 2

Watch Jordan Rudess and his nanoKEY Part 3

Mark Mosher

Sonic State Behind the Scenes Video - Howard Jones, Robbie Bronnimann, and Laura Clapp On Tour in Australia

Howard_jones I found this series of vides via pedx1ng’s post on the Ableton Live forum, who found it on Matrixsynth. These videos by Sonic State cover Howard Jone's tour in Australia. I've re-blogged them here with annotation.

I've always liked Howard Jones's music and the fact that he's not all about nostalgia but is still writing and experimenting with technology in Live performance.

Also, my first exposure to Ableton Live was at a Howard Jones show back in the day of Ableton 3.0. Like now, he was using it to play scenes on the fly so he wasn’t locked into one arrangement for the whole song. After the show, I ran home and did some research and then bought Ableton Live 3.0 right away. Thanks Howard and Robbie and Ableton for changing the way I compose :^).

Video 1: In this first installment, Howard Jones has Robbie Bronnimmann leave a blizzard strewn UK and head for Australia and meet up with Laura Clapp in Adelaide Australia. He also talks about he now uses the Roland Fantom G8 to simplify his rig and work in a graphical way. He also discusses the polyphony and feel of the Fantom.

Video 2: In this video Howard Jones and Robbie Bronnimmann are in Perth Australia and explain the how they use Ableton Live, and bus powered devices (Motu audio interface, Novation Remote SL, Novation Nocturn) on their tour in Australia. Robbie describes who he uses Live to trigger sequences on-the-fly, do real-time FX processing on backing tracks and live vocals using built-in Ableton Live plugins.

Video 3: Howard Jones has Robbie Bronnimmann, Laura Clapp at sound check in Brisbane. A little taste of "Always Asking Questions". Laura discusses how shes uses TC-Helicon Voice Live and a Novation ReMote SL Compact to create harmonies and vocal effects on the fly. The also explains that he's his own warm-up band as he's doing a 30 minute acoustic set prior to the electronic trio taking the stage.


Mark Mosher

Novation Automap 3 Pro Unboxing and Time Saving Installation Notes


I blogged earlier about the release of Novation’s Automap 3.

I just purchased the Pro edition and thought I’d share my notes on the install. Ok, it’s all software, but the term Unboxing still seems to fit. I took some wrong turns along the way so I hope these notes will save you some time. I highlight my mistakes in red and recoveries in green.

First off, I’m running Windows Vista, Ableton Live 7, and use a Novation Remote SL running at 4.1.09 as my controller.

  1. I purchased online here I was sent a confirmation email with a download link and a serial number.
  2. I downloaded the software and ran the installer. Usual splash screens and such. Installation ended without talking to my Remote SL. The background app ran and prompted me to verify which VSTs I wanted to wrap with Automap. I clicked ok and it settled into the tray. That was it.
  3. At this point I thought it was odd that my Remote SL didn’t get updated. I went to the download are on Novation Music and it pointed me back to the Automap 3 installer. Hmmm. I thought I missed something at this point so I reinstalled. Steps were the same.
  4. Well, at this point I figured perhaps it might just work with 4.1.09 so I fired up Ableton Live. This was was the step Novation was expecting me to take. Automap’s HUI popped up indicating I was running Automap 3 standard and started talking to my Remote SL and it automatically detected my controller and determined I need an update :^). It then took me through a series of “wizard” screen walking me through the update. Very clear step-by-step wizard – nicely done Novation. I've shown most screens below (click images to see larger version).
    2-14-2009 12-38-44 PM 2-14-2009 12-40-53 PM 2-14-2009 12-41-42 PM

    After installing this update, my Remote SL is at version 4.1.12.
  5. 2-14-2009 12-42-41 PM I was then presented with a screen that had an button to “Get Automap Pro!”. I clicked it and was presented with “Offline Activation” and “Install License”. I chose “Install License” since I bought online. Wrong.  This popped up a file explorer dialog clearly indicating it wanted me to select a key file on and I didn’t have one. I chose “Offline Activation” which took me to a web page where I could enter the code mentioned in Step 1.
    2-14-2009 12-45-49 PM

  6. I was then taken to an activation page where I was able to download the file needed in Step 5. Note that according to this screen shot you only get 4 activations. I'm going to email support to ask what happens if you need another activation. Look in comments of this post for more info.
    2-14-2009 12-47-13 PM 
  7. I chose “Install License” and pointed at the key file (which I stored in my vst folder so I would not accidently delete it).

At this point I was running Automap 3 Pro :^). So, barring a few hiccups it went rather smoothly. My feedback to Novation is that they might want to mention that the firmware update will occur with a splash screen in the 1st installer so I would not have wasted time hunting. Also, the confirmation email should have explained activation so I did not waste time in step 5.

2-14-2009 12-49-12 PM

I’ll report out on features in a future post.

Mark Mosher

Novation Automap 3 Is Now Available


Automap 3 was announced at Winter NAMM 2009 and is now available. As of this release there are now 2 versions, free and pay.

I’ve pasted details in from the Automap 3 Product page below. For me the Pro version seems the most compelling as it includes key stroke assignments and fully Auto-mappable XY Pad control.

I’ll grab it over the weekend and let you know what I think.

Automap 3? (FREE DOWNLOAD)

  • HUI - HUI control is now fully implemented within Automap, allowing control over all HUI compatible DAW's including Logic, Pro Tools and Digital Performer. This includes control over volume, pan, aux sends, track arm, mute/solo and more...
  • Start-up Screen - A new start-up screen now makes managing your plug-ins and setting up your DAW even easier. It also gives you one-click access to online support, tutorials and the latest updates.
  • Automap 3 PRO is now available to purchase for £19.99 / $29.99 / 24.99 EU, direct from the estore, and has a number of benefits over STANDARD.

    • Multiple device support - Automap 3 Pro supports multiple devices, so numerous Novation controllers can be used side by side.
    • Keystroke Assignments - Automap 3 Pro can assign almost any computer keyboard shortcuts to hardware controls. For example arrow key functions can now be assigned to hardware controls, allowing you to flick between tracks using buttons on your SL/Nocturn. You could also zoom in and out, open windows or create and jump to markers in your DAW.
    • XY Pad Control - Fully Auto-mappable XY Pad control, expression pedal, control pedal and drum pad control. The Automap server can now assign parameters to all these controllers using the ultra-quick learn facility. (Pedal/pad control not supported by SL Compact)
    • Drag and Drop - You can now drag and drop control mappings and control map groups in the GUI, allowing you to re-assign knobs, faders and buttons by simply grabbing them with the mouse and dropping them on the new controller.
    • Autoview Mode - Optional Autoview mode means that the GUI only becomes visible when a controller is touched, then it disappears again allowing you to get back to your DAW.

    Mark Mosher

    Modulate This! - Best Products of 2008 for Electronic Musicians


    Hope you all are having a restful holiday season. I continuously strive for the leanest rig that will give me the best results. In this post I’ll offer a list products that make up the core of my rig. Consider this my “If I was stranded on a desert island” list for 2008.  Note that some products in my list were not new in 2008, but I’m still using them tons so they’ve made the list. If you want to see all the elements of my rig, check out this photo album on MySpace.

    Best DAW – Ableton Live 7, $499
    01_live_midnightFor me, Live has been become more than a DAW. It’s at the core of everything I do and after years of use feels more like a musical instrument to me than some piece of software. See all my posts on Live here. Official Live site is here.

    Best Hybrid Synthesizer - Camel Audio Alchemy , $249
    imageCamel Audio just released a new synth called Alchemy. They've been working on it for 4 years. It's an additive, spectral, granular, virtual analog synth. The interface is really well done with a clever scheme for routing modulation. I think it’s one of the finest virtual instruments I’ve ever used. I’ll be writing more posts about this synth in the future. For now you can learn more about it here.

    Runner up for me in this category is Native Instruments Absynth 4. It’s not new this year but is also a great synth. I also want to mention Spectosonics Omnisphere. I don’t own it and I haven’t tried it (no demo available), but from what I’ve read and seen in demo videos it’s a monster synth. I went with Alchemy because it has a much smaller footprint and has more features for those like me who want to manipulate our own samples.

    Best Virtual Analog Synthesizer - Rob Papen’s Predator, $179
    predator_advancedPredator is a virtual analog synthesizer for Windows or Mac that runs as a plug-in (VST, Audio Unit, RTAS).  It ships with a huge library of presets, and built-in tools for patch browsing and search.  It also has some innovative features such as preset morphing, intelligent preset variation, and chord memory. Even though Predator didn’t release this year, Rob Papen keeps the synth fresh with free updates. More posts here …

    Best Controller Keyboard - Novation Remote SL, Starting at $299

    02_novation_remotesl25 I still love the way this controller and Automap 2 software helps make using software more like using a physical instrument. Check out official site here. I still get a lot of traffic on my posts on the M-Audio Axiom series controllers so it’s clearly a popular choice if you can’t afford the Remote SL.

    Best Controllers for Those on the Go -Korg Nano Series, $49-59


    This year Korg released USB powered slim-line controllers nanoKey, nanoKontrol, and nanoPad. I have Key and Kontrol and can say they are fantastic if you want more control while making music from your laptop. More here

    Best Bang for the Buck USB Audio Interface - Novation Nio, $249
    image Microphone/instrument or line-level sources, low latency effects (Direct Mix Monitoring, 'Overloud' Guitar amp and distortion pedal effects, effects from the Supernova II and signal processing from Focusrite), two headphone outputs, four RCA outputs. All this for $249! See official site.

    Best iPhone Music App – iDrum, Ocarina
    image Hmmm. This is a tough one as there is so much innovation going on in this space. My two favorites are iDrum and Ocarina.

    iDrum has a great interface for making beats on the go and synchronizes with iDurm for the PC and Mac. Read more about it here.

    Ocarina turns your iPhone into a true musical instrument. It uses every feature of the iPhone and has some fantastic social connection features. Checkout the official site here.

    Best Field Recorder – Zoom H2, $179
    image I just got one of these back in November. It’s really fantastic. It weighs 4 ounces and has 4 mic capsules onboard for 360° recording in a W-X/Y configuration. You can also use it as a USB mic. I blogged about it here.

    Buy Online
    Most of these items can be purchased online. Support Modulate This! buy using these links: Musicians Friend, Guitar Center, Zzounds.

    Share Your List
    I’m sure many of you out there have a your own list so feel free to share your list using the comments link at the bottom of this post.

    See You in 2009!
    Have a safe new years eve and I’ll see you in 2009.

    Mark Mosher

    Use Your KORG USB Compatible Synths as Controllers on Vista

    image The latest version of Korg's midi driver for windows, version 1.1.1, is compatible with Windows Vista. This means you can use Korg hardware with USB capability as controller to drive your DAW or virtual instruments. On a side note, I've been running Vista for over a year on my music production laptop and have almost no issues with Ableton Live and my many virtual instruments.

    Off the top of my head, here is a list of Korg gear with USB capability:

    I tested the driver using my Korg TR and it works great. Here is a snapshot of the TR inputs and outputs mapped into Ableton Live.


    You can download the driver for all devices using this link -

    If you are looking to purchase any of this gear online checkout Musicians Friend, ZZounds, Guitar Center.

    Mark Mosher