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Djing with Ableton


TRIBE Member
So I've finally got a setup I could take out and play with for Ableton live (APC40 and Behringer ddm 4000). While I'm fine with playing my own music I'm curious how people use it do DJ tracks and in particular how to prepare tracks of other artists.

Not really interested in just playing the tracks as-is. What kind of preparation do you do? Do you cut the tracks up? Kind of lost where to start tbh.

Links to any good tutorial videos? Not just of people playing but of what kind of work to do on the tracks first.


TRIBE Member
I know Eric Downer uses Ableton and use about 4-6 columns gor his tracks with a few fx sends... Pretty sure tracks are broken down to 16 bar loops... Like I said I've only observedthis visually and this is how I would go about it... You'll have to warp that shit...

le bricoleur

TRIBE Member
that's it: break it into its constituent pieces. play it through in sequence, chop it up, extend the break, use the drums from x with the vocals from y, profit.

I really love the rapid fire launch capability of Ableton. You can keep an amazing momentum of super high energy going infinitely - just keep launching dope clips one after another.


TRIBE Member
I had been DJing for about a year on Ableton but decided to switch to Traktor (or just use CDs) a few months ago.

I was using an APC40 and a MOTU sound card that let me output 4 separate stereo channels. So I would still use the DJ mixer in the venue to mix the tracks together.

I'd do a lot of looping. Playing three tracks at once. Tease some tracks in. Accapellas etc.....

But in the end I felt like I was losing the ability to play to the crowd and was too wrapped up in doing my own thing. Too worried about picking tracks that were in the same key (Mixed in Key) rather than picking tracks for their energy level. Plus to haul all that equipment and set it up each time was a pain in the ass. Maybe if I was a big DJ who was playing 5 hour sets and could get away with doing my own thing I'd consider it again. But even Sasha has abandoned Abelton for the most part and seems to be playing digital files off of portable harddrives on Pioneer 2000s now (this is awesome, I just wish all venues had 2000s).

I still use Ableton to do studio DJ mixes though.

Blue Meanies

TRIBE Member
If you warp the track first then you can start cutting out loops.
In clip view warp the entire track. Save
Duplicate the clip
turn on Loop and set the first loop, maybe first 32 bars. Rename the clip.
Duplicate the clip
set the second loop maybe the next 32 bars. Rename the clip.
Duplicate the clip
set the third loop maybe the next 32 bars. Rename the clip.

Keep doing this until you have the entire track cut up into loops (in separate clips) with the first clip being the entire track.

Then highlight all the clips and drag them back into ableton folder system and ableton will make a new folder called loop/sample project. It will also create an .asl file saving all the clips togther. Then while performing you simply drag that .asl into the clip view and it will load all the clips (loops) for you.

Ableton is an amazing tool both in the studio and on the stage. I have been using it for productions since version 2 and love it. For djing its a blast like others we (G.M.B) run all our channels in ableton out through a focusrite Firewire card and use all 4 channels of the club mixer. All of our audio effects racks for each channel are handled with a novation slmkII. You can even use solo clips of bass/synth lines (we've composed) and acapellas layered over each other and basically create on the stage instead of JUST playing other peoples music track for track. I guess when we perform we are doing just that... a proper performance instead of simply djing other peoples music. However in our studio we have recently purchased an allen&heath DB4 so that plus the macbook will be the new live setup soon. For the record I have been djing for 13+years now and I could never go back to vinyl or cdjs, just feel very limited in what can be done with them compared to what I can do live with ableton. :)
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