Eight Hour Ableton Live Mix Test

climbing_the_wall.jpgI this test last weekend. The idea was to see if Ableton Live 6.0.1 could handle eight hours of continious live mixing, as in a very long DJ session.
It worked. Eight hours and two minutes. Standard MacOSX 10.4.8, latest M-Audio drivers, 2GB RAM, 2×2.0GHz PPC, 23″ studio screen.

Lessons learned:

+ No crashes. I spent the first four hours doing Sasha-like mixes of various elements, but then when my .als files run out, I switched to manual loading of audio and moving the playloops by hand and doing loops on the fly. I could even save the final eight-hour session, there was a short SPOD (spinning beach ball) of about 10 seconds and then the file was saved, 3.8Mb in size, as it just contained the changes in the session. I think a clean laptop environment should indeed handle an eight-hour session, provided you are really careful with the setup, no odd things running, latest drivers, tested, and so on.

– Do not do midi map changes while in session, recording stops. I did this by mistake 30 minutes into the session, so only 7:30 minutes or so was recorded. I tried to reproduce this later for bug reporting to Ableton, but was not able to get into this same situation. So I still don’t know if this is a real bug or a fluke.

– The autowarping in 6.0.1 is not that super-accurate, there’s always a need to go in and fix it, and do this during live… I avoided using any non-prewarped and checked out files in this session…. This is
another thing that I think Ableton should fix in post 6.0.

– It’s indeed hard to keep track of songs used after a while. I will send Ableton a report with possible ideas how to for instance flag used .als project files with a color in the browser.

– Eyes, eyes. I woke up the following morning with a tension headache. I watch screens all day long at work, but eight hours straight looking on the Ableton screen is tough. Maybe having a stronger contrast setting would have helped. Or then just try to not always focus on the screen during a long session. It would also help if the next round of Ableton had a cleaner screen setup, for example bigger font/graphics support, and more layers to turn on/off.

+/- It’s important to mark up the material concerning song key, BPM tempo and so on. I have my own system, but I realized things I want to change now after this test. The more you know upfront, the better. Again, there’s only a certain amount of text info present (I will fire another feature request to Ableton about having automatic popup support with meta-information about tracks…). I will also mark my clips better concerning sections with only drums, so no cueing is needed when saving such tracks for later use.

– Electro/minimal is boring, at least that’s how it felt for me. What I ended up doing was to spice it up with clips from earlier tracks that I put aside in two audio tracks (drums, misc) that I could trigger from time to time. Especially minimalist drums, for me, are not that strong, so having more drum tracks running helps.

+/- It’s good to know your tracks inside out. The ones I knew, I hardly bothered doing any cueing, as I knew the format.

– I did about one to two mistakes every 30 minutes. Means I need to practice more.

+ Especially in a possible club environment, you don’t have a chair, so you need a good stamina, and a healthy posture. Yoga helps.

Sorry this was long, but this was interesting, and I recommend anyone else doing it, in case you have time! For me, I’m really happy Ableton 6.0.1 held up, I was prepared to file off a long list of bugs, but I never needed to write these down in my notebook.


  1. Wow, very impressed. I should give that a try one day.. maybe a 4 hour set.. 8 hours seems daunting!!

  2. Thanx for this valuable information. I will be performing somewhere in the beginning of next year with my own liveset working together with a VJ who is a good friend of mine, my stamina won’t be the problem, however I’m not so sure about our hardware’s stamina :) Luckily I was never able to crash Ableton on my laptop, yet.

  3. Worked for me too, ran a 4 hour set of imported audio files along with setting some triggers, cues, loops etc. Also i was able to still send midi cues over OSC to the vj at the time without the whole thing crashing. Worked well enough for me..so i think it should do the same for anyone else :)

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