Microtonic on Ableton

RootNotez100 views6 posts
  • RootNotez

    I'm new to music, new to DAWs. I started out recently with Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators; and have enjoyed making little compositions.

    I watch RealCuckoo's excellent interview with Magnus Lindström; and loved the connection to the demo scene; and the challenges of optimizing fiddly little ASM routines to make powerful musical devices.

    YouTube Video

    I saved up some $$$ and bought the SonicCharge suite. There is so much to learn.

    I've been really struggling to get Microtonic running on Abelton. Part of this is that I don't know what a reasonable workflow in a DAW is. I'm used to composing on the Pocket Operator, and chaining together 16 step sequences. I've been trying to use the Microtonic sequencer to compose bars and patterns; and then bring them into Ableton as MIDI clips. Either by dragging the whole Pattern into my DAW, or by Option-Clicking and dragging Channel Patterns into my DAW.

    Now with MIDI in my DAW, I need to make sure that that MIDI is sent to Microtonic. And that I am capturing the Audio back out from Microtonic I mostly use the VST3. I've used both the Single and Multi VST3.

    I am on Ableton Live Lite 11.3.20, on M1 Macos 13.6.3; the Lite version has some limitations. It maxes out at 16 clips and 16 tracks. It also doesn't have all of the Devices that higher-end versions have; specifically it doesn't have the External Instrument device.
    See: https://help.ableton.com/hc/en-us/articles/209774265-Using-hardware-synthesizers-with-Live#externalinstrument

    This means that I cannot use the Tom Mosler drum rack solution.
    See:
    https://soniccharge.com/forum/topic/71-microtonic-drum-rack-for-ableton-live.

    YouTube Video

    So after chasing that for a while; I set things up where I am using the Microtonic Mulit VST3; but for some reason I only have access to Microtonic Channels 2-8. I could work around that limitation by eliminating a Microtonic Channel (instrument/voice); but it frustrates me that I don't understand why things are like this.

    I see in Midi Config that I can enable pitched Midi on channels 2-8 and 10. Maybe I should experiment with running Micro tonic externally and using those Midi channels? In Ableton I imagine I can send to a Midi Channel instead of sending to a VST3 device.

    I've read the manual, almost completely. There are a lot of options which is great, but I don't know which options best apply to my scenario. It would be great if there were more straightforward tutorials on how to get started with Microtonic and Ableton. I think Ableton is possible the number 1 DAW that folks pick up these days? I could be totally wrong. It's also a little disquieting that the relevant instructional materials are a decade old. When it goes wrong it makes me question whether it's something I broke, or if the material is outdated.

    Finally, I tried to just hook up my Novation Launch Control XL to Microtonic Standalone; to do some jamming. I expected I could use the "learn Midi" functionality and get going quickly. This also did not work; and deepened my frustration.

    I would click Learn Midi CC in Microtonic standalone; the icon would change, I would move a fader or knob; and it seems Microtonic just wouldn't pick up on it. I also tried enabling Midi CC Operate on Selected Channel (Which I presume to mean Microtonic Pattern Channel.)

    I even ran Midi Monitor and am watching the CCs sent on Midi 5.

    I'm just pretty frustrated at this point. Okay, the Ableton stuff is complicated; and the fact I am on the Lite version complicates matters further. Hard for me to justify spending $$$ to upgrade, when I'm still such a beginner in this hobby.

    If anyone uses Ableton and Microtonic extensively, I'd love to hear your feedback. I feel like I should have gotten Midi to work on Microtonic Standalone so I'm not sure what's up with that.

    I know Magnus is doing Jamuary; and I don't want to take time away from that with my measly support request. But you know, I'd kinda like to participate too. :/

    I'm hearing good things, in general and on this forum, about Reaper; so i may give that a shot; but I've just spent a couple months getting the hang of Ableton, so starting anew is dispiriting.

    Thanks for any help or words of encouragement. I'll check back on the forum, or ping me //RootNotez on Insta. Thanks ya'll. Merry Jamurary. :)

  • Dany Valero

    Hey Man, I'm through kind of the same issue but in my case, no matter what I do in that MIDI config menu I can't play chromatic notes but just in drum 1 MIDI channel 1, I'm using the new APC 64 that has 8 MIDI channels and I can't make this happen, in that menu MIDI config, the last 4 options in the options part are dimmed out and I can't make them available, I hope we can get a resolution with this issue

  • RootNotez

    Channel 5, CC 77; the knob shows 77.

    I've set Microtonic Standalone Midi Receive to Channel 5; and to all. I've set input to 1, 5, and off.

    I'm not sure what I'm missing or where else to look.

    With Abelton off, and Microtonic Standalone I have to ask "what is my Midi host". I am supposing it is MacOS via Audio Midi Setup / Midi Studio.

    It seems like Microtonic is not participating in Midi on my system at all; maybe that is what I need to fix?

    Here is an experiment with Ableton Listening to all Midi channels, with Microtonic Standalone set to transmit on Channel 1. And also Ableton is transmitting on C#1; but I guess it is on No Output. Microtonic Ext doesn't show up in Ableton Preferences.

    I've also tried starting the different programs at different times; to see if they need to attach to a pre-existing Midi Network or something.

    I'm sorry if this isn't making sense, I'm tired. I've been at this for hours today, and months overall. :?

  • RootNotez

    I am digging into the question "What is the Midi Host for MacOS"; I may be confusing this concept for a "VST Host". But it led me to dig into Audio Midi Setup on MacOS, where I saw that Microtonic was not in the Apple's list of Midi devices. (Picture omitted as it did not change during my troubleshooting, and there is a pic elsewhere in this post).

    I found another menu in Microtonic; where it chooses which Midi Bus/Network (?) to attach to. This is not in Microtonic Midi Settings; instead if it is in Global Preferences. (Microtonics > Device Settings).

    Perhaps this is in the manual (3.3.4), but a casual search does not reveal it. 🚩

    I think I restarted Microtonic Standalone and it grabbed "IAC Driver Bus ". I believe I have a screen shot of Microtonic Device Settings with the IAC Driver Bus set to none. I'm unsure what order things happened it. It may also be the case that when Microtonic is started and the "Netowork Ableton (Lite)" session/device (?) is running; Microtonic maybe attaches to that, and "latches" to it. I.e. it will still be attached there after closing Ableton. So when I restarted Microtonic, after turning off Ableton, maybe it "jumped" to "IAC Driver Bus."

    With it being on the IAC Driver Bus, I tested with "receive all" and "channel 5 midi"; I'm as confused as ever why Microtonic Standalone won't let me midi map my Novation Launch Control XL.


    Progress!!!! In Microtonic Standalone > Preferences I set Midi In to my Launch Control XL; and now I can Midi Learn mappings, and then play the mappings. I tested Midi ch. 5, which my control is mapped to, and when I changed Microtonic to listen on Midi 6; it stopped working. This was important to me to validate whether this was going over some kind of Midi Bus; or some other direct connect methodology. I also tested "Receive Channel: Any" and it worked for my controller transmitting on Channel 5.


    My MacOS Audio Midi Setup / Midi Studio doesn't seem to look different. Still no Microtonic, not even under my Launch Control XL entry.


    There are several implications for the fact I can set Microtonic to Listen to Launch Control XL "Midi Bus". One is that I cannot use the LC XL to control devices on other Midi Bus. I assumed that a Midi Bus would work as a "Midi Through"; and devices could arbitrarily listen in on it. Perhaps I need to configure this in MacOS Audio Midi Setup. It makes sense to me, that someone might want to have multiple Midi Buses; with certain devices attached; and other complex configurations. I will do more research on this.

    I think this settings should probably be in the manual. Even though it seems maybe it supplies sane defaults for users, and surfacing it more explicitly may confuse users. I'm not pointing fingers, I'm focusing on solutions. 👍

    Ok, I can Jam in some capacity now. I learned a bunch about Midi routing on MacOS.

    :sorry for any typos or confusion arising out of my stream-of-conciousness; I don't think there is an edit button, and I reviewed a couple of times.

    I don't think it's relevant here, but there is an entry for Launch Control XL HUI. Novation explains when to use the HUI device here:
    https://support.novationmusic.com/hc/en-gb/articles/207592439-Launch-Control-XL-HUI-Support

  • RootNotez

    Posting in case anyone's eyes glossed over at that wall of text. 🤣

    I am still interested in hearing about folks' workflow in Ableton. I'm on the Lite version of Ableton, so I can't do the Drum Rack trick. But even if you use that, I'd love to hear your workflow; so I can learn and maybe adapt it.

    Thanks everybody, Merry Jamuary.

  • RootNotez

    Sigh, can't search Reddit for microtonic because it helpfully conjugates the search results to microtonal . Guess what? Ableton recently added Microtonal support. 😭😭😭

    I'm really drowning here and could use some help.

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