Mapping, drivers, and other MIDIs when utilizing a DJ controller with Ableton
Why not use a DJ controller instead if you've been getting into generating beats and sampling things in Ableton but don't have a specialized Ableton midi controller?
Is that even conceivable, you may be asking. What MIDI signals is it transmitting? With the different buttons, could you utilize it to start certain samples? Could Ableton chain selectors be used with the jog wheels?
If a DJ controller sends a MIDI signal, it can be used with Ableton (so it can be mapped). After setting up the settings and mapping, utilizing the pads and the other knobs for modulating and controlling, like the tempo fader, will be simple.
In this extensive manual, I'll detail how to:
- Ableton's DJ controller map
- How to proceed if Ableton fails to detect drivers
- Utilize DDJ-400 and Ableton.
- Utilize additional MIDI controllers with the DDJ-400
- Ableton Live turntables connected
I think you'll find all you require. Let's begin straight away!
Ableton mapping of a DJ controller
You ought to be able to map everything just well to control your audio decks if Ableton detects your controller through the MIDI ports.
Before it does anything, you must configure it in the settings as a MIDI input/output/controller device.
When you select MIDI mapping mode, you should see extra MIDI mappable options below your audio tracks and above your master fader volume.
For instance, the up and down arrows above the master fader volume scroll the currently chosen area. The clip that is in the chosen region will be started by pressing the play buttons above your track faders.
Therefore, you just need one pad for each of the play button and the stop clip button if your mixing decks consist of two audio tracks.
Additionally, you can scroll through scenes by turning the '11' midi item over the master volume knob.
Again, viewing these is only possible while MIDI mapping mode is used, but this ought to resolve all of your issues.
For Ableton to map a DJ controller:
- Select MIDI mapping by clicking it.
- To map a fader or button, click it.
- Move the controller control around until the list on the side appears.
Apart from that, it's simple. You might need to adjust some of the numbers so that things like EQ pots zero out correctly.
- If you are mapping encoders, a drop-down option for several encoder modes appears at the bottom of the screen in midi mapping mode. Continue doing so if the encoder does its thing even if you may need to tweak that from time to time. Encoders can also take a few tries to map.
Don't worry if the controller's lights go out occasionally. Everything is normal.
Utilizing DDJ-400 and Ableton
If you're trying to use your DDJ-400 as a 2-channel midi controller for Ableton, in the Mixer Output tab of the driver, you'll need to set USB 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, and 7/8 to match with your Ableton tracks 1, 2, 3, and 4 independently.
All of the Ableton tracks will be connected to their matching outputs using Ext. Out.
Now that Ableton tracks 1-4 are routed Ext, the only audio passing through your Ableton Master will be the Send FX if you wish to send your Ableton Master channel to a different output in my mixer so you can hear it.
You can send the DDJ's output digitally to Ableton.
Only RCA outputs and a USB connection to the laptop are available on the DDJ. This is how you can use DDJ-400 and Ableton live at the same time from the same RCA output.
- To map an effect to a controller, start by touching the midi button in the top right corner of Ableton, then the effect you wish to transfer.
- The map will be added to the mapping list on the left when you map it. You'll see a yellow bar at the bottom of the screen. In terms of how the mapping is translated from the controller, this gives you various alternatives.
Making crossfader function
To map the DDJ-400 crossfader to the crossfader in Ableton:
- The automap control preferences should be opened. the layout, please.
- In the automap, click the crossfader.
- Move the crossfader in Ableton after pressing the learn button on the nocturn.
You might also attempt this if you have a Macbook:
The Mac Audio MIDI setup now includes a DDJ-400 controller (not sure if this is required).
- MIDI ports' Link MIDI tab
- Enter DDJ-400 (make sure Remote is set to On)
- Hit the MIDI assign button in the top-right corner of the main Live panel; then, highlight and move the DDJ-400 crossfader.
DDJ-400 and other MIDI controllers for Ableton
The issue with using the DDJ-400 with Ableton is that occasionally the RCA output of the DJ controller and MIDI controller, such as the AKAI MPD218 cannot be used simultaneously.
Windows' "Exclusive mode" is the source of the issue; if you turn it off, you can use the DDJ-400 as an audio output, but Ableton won't recognize any other midi controllers. And you continue to use the exclusive mode, else Ableton won't connect.
The approach that might function with a mixer is:
DDJ400 to the mixer, followed by the audio interface and the mixer, and finally the speakers.
But as I was using Ableton Link to sync digitally between Rekordbox and Ableton while putting the analog output on the audio interface later, I realized that latency might be a problem. You therefore believe that the laptop wouldn't be able to handle it even with an external audio interface.
DDJ-400 connection to Ableton & Rekordbox
First off, running two large, low-latency applications (Ableton and Rekordbox) simultaneously will be challenging if you have only one laptop or PC.
Additionally, audio low latency routing will be difficult (Macs are easier than PCs).
Rekordbox and Ableton Link work reasonably well, but you must completely devote yourself to sync (so you need to beat grid everything correctly). You can utilize Ableton's offset to make up for persistent latency.
If you have a 44 interface, you can connect it to an external mixer by bypassing the mixer part of RB and sending each deck independently.
You can do some wizardry with Core Audio Virtual devices and a Loopback driver like Blackhole. This should enable you to set up two stereo Rekordbox outputs (one for each deck in "external mixer" mode), which you can then use as input channels for two Ableton tracks.
Then you could cue both decks and any number of Ableton channels using the speakers and headphones as outputs.
What Should I Do If Ableton Is Unable to Identify Drivers?
If you attempted to configure a DJ controller with Ableton as a general mappable MIDI controller, you can run into an issue with the drivers being installed but being ignored by the DAW.
You shouldn't require drivers for anything other than ASIO support because a controller is typically a class-compliant USB, MIDI, and audio device.
This happened to me when I used the MIDI mapping feature in Ableton Live with my Pioneer DDJ-1000. I discovered it was sending MIDI into Ableton whenever I utilized any of the controls other than the master volume while I was using it as a sound card for my monitors connected to my laptop.
If Ableton is unable to identify drivers, you should
- To activate midi mapping mode, use command+m.
- Select a variable.
- Turn one of the knobs until the menu appears.
On a Macbook, you can set it up as a midi device by going to your audio midi devices utility (in your utility folder in your Applications folder).
After that, your laptop ought to "get" what you're doing with your controller.
Adding a Different MIDI Device to a Standalone DJ Controller
You could play a set live on a controller like the XDJ-RX2 in Ableton and then layer effects from another MIDI device on top of your live performance.
You wish to utilize it independently (through a USB stick) and connect a different MIDI controller.
The DJ controller's analog outputs would then be sent into your interface, and you would record the two sources on separate channels in Ableton to edit and apply effects, etc.
Technically speaking, it could be challenging to mix because of the system's potential for substantial latency (delay). Other related issues like phasing and some of the effects can sound weird, but if handled properly, they can give your live performances an added dimension!
For me, using the configuration you advise solely for DJ effects was not worth the hassle and complexity. A hardware effects box would be preferable if you want more effects than the DJ controller provides.
With all those effects, I don't meddle with Ableton for DJ effects (even if I have a workroom running Ableton + a studio packed with synths + hardware effects - Korg chaos pad).
Turntables and Ableton Live connectivity
Using Ableton, I've been producing for a while. I would put my track into Rekordbox and use my DDJ-400 controller to scratch samples into my tune. As soon as I made the decision to upgrade to the real thing, I bought two AT-LP120 turntables (Amazon link) and a mixer.
I was wondering whether it was possible to have a track playing in Ableton while turntables were connected to the software so that samples could be added through scratching. Would I also need to purchase an audio interface to do this? Would I need to connect the interface to my MacBook via USB and the RCA wire, even though I've never used one?
I managed to find all the solutions, although it was not simple.
You can incorporate samples into your music by connecting your turntables to Ableton Live. The simplest solution is to use an analog DJ Scratch mixer and a separate audio interface. The turntables are connected to the analog DJ mixer, and the outputs of the DJ mixer are connected to your computer's audio interface.
In this case, your DJ equipment is similar to any other analog instrument (such a violin) or microphone. You go bonkers setting up an audio track for the DJ mixer in Ableton Live. All of your Ableton's audio effects are available for use with the DJ rig signal. Very cool. One drawback is that you cannot use your DJ mixer to change your Ableton Live sounds. Suppose you wanted to crossfade between your Ableton mix and a record.
Audio interfaces digitize and send audio from virtually any source, including microphones, guitars, turntables, telephones, TVs, and more, to your laptop. An audio interface with two inputs is required if all you want to do is set up your turntables. Look for audio interfaces with four or eight inputs if you want room to expand your set-up.
I would advise doing something similar.
In order to connect your mixer to the interface, you would also need to purchase an RCA to 1/4" cable. comparable to this
Reasons I Enjoy DJing in Ableton Even if it isn't ideal
Using Ableton allows me to custom-edit each song I play, elevating my performances.
Although Rekordbox/Serato/Traktor can assist you in setting loops and cues, changing a song requires extensive knowledge of which cue point to press when. And once I make an edit, I may use it in every set indefinitely.
For professionals, CDJs or vinyl are the standard. This, however, is distinct from Rekordbox or any other DJ program that uses a DJ controller.
I know I'm not the only one that enjoys DJing using Ableton. Richie Hawtin discussed how he started using Ableton in his DJ performances and eventually switched to using it exclusively.
I occasionally become obsessive and re-edit each and every song, but I set a time restriction of 20 minutes every song for preparation. This includes both warping a loose drummer, like in rock, reggae, or funk, as well as creating a speedier cut with an intro and outro.
The "follow" actions are yet another aspect of DJing in Ableton that I adore. 1 & 2 & & (which is often just the intro again).
Then, depending on how the music is feeling, I may either shift from part 1 to the outro right away or, if I'm feeling it, utilize the "follow" actions to move to a different part of the track to extend the length of the song.
Why do I do all of that, you ask? Because after all of that training, I'm a hell of a lot more proficient at using Ableton to compose my own tracks, something I'm way poorer at than DJing. However, I can now use Ableton's basic copy, paste, zoom, loop, etc. functions much more quickly. Being effective increases the pleasure of producing. You will essentially learn skills that you can apply in two different contexts.