"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who only consider price are this man's lawful prey." - John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

I dig on Ableton Live very much. The only thing is when I'm DJing I don't want to feel like I'm working an office document. Especially since I came through the roots of using something as straight forward as using vinyl records on Techinics turntables.

The problem is that despite all my efforts to get round the need to use a mouse and keyboard whilst DJing in Ableton there are still many useful functions and features in Ableton that can't actually be assigned to some kind of MIDI control in its default and untainted state as far as the application goes. Sure there's nothing wrong with using the computer mouse and keyboard but there just seems to be something a little lame about it whilst using them to control a serious DJ/performance rig in a live real time context. It looks and feels too much like I'm working some kind of office app rather then DJing.

Stranger still, given that Ableton has such an in depth array of functions and custom assignable functions (including dedicated assigned clip launch) to the actual computer keyboard its a wonder why no one has thought to produce a specialised Ableton keyboard that might incorporate design considerations along the lines of how a DJ might want to/actually use it within a DJ workflow. Sure the custom assignable keyboard element could quite easily be negated via the use of a MIDI controller and is in fact very useful in situations where a MIDI controller can't be accessed for whatever reason. But in situations where some kind of MIDI controller is accessible it still leaves the problem of not being able to assign keyboard command short cuts (whether single key strokes or key combinations) if you do actually want to get away from needing to use the text input keyboard whilst DJing/performing using Ableton Live.

Software bridging (command translator)

If you're actually clued up about programming it might actually be possible to bridge this by producing some sort of program that can learn text keyboard inputs (key input combinations) and assign them to some kind of MIDI CC signal. After which you could then just assign the CC signal to your chosen MIDI controller. The only problem with this is that it could increases digital signal/signal relay to controller latency response times which is seriously lame when trying to DJ with it. For example you might be cutting a track in and out as a mixing effect using kill switches or more simply a MIDI press button of some kind. This kind of thing often rest on precision split second timing in order to sound right and nail it properly and there is no delay at all on an analogue mixer. But on a digital rig that uses midi, with massively increased signal latency times its all going to be a little off beat and all off time. A more native and direct solution would be a lot more efficient.

hint: You don't actually need to buy Max for Live or Bome (MIDI translator) Pro in order to control/trigger Music software key stroke/hotkey commands with a MIDI controller. If you own a Mac there's apparently is a very easy to use free tiny 45 Kilobyte app that will do it for you, but I haven't personally tested it since I don't have a Mac. However there seem to be a couple of free options for the PC too that are a little heavier with a boat load of more features or require some programming knowledge in order to access more complex configurable automations within the array of extended MIDI control interfacing. 

Bome's MIDI translator Classic

Although the pro version is trialware that needs a $89 payment to ease the unlock process into motion there is in fact the classic version that allows for keystroke to MIDI control assignment too. All the features of the classic version are fully unlocked and free to use. The only slight drawback being that there is a little nag screen that encourages you to buy it that pops up and counts down for 5 seconds or so. You can't actually remove the banner by clicking OK till its finished counting down.  Buying it for 29 euro simply removes the nag notice.  

Bome's MIDI translator classic In testing on my particular rig

As much as I'd like to say it worked perfectly without any issue at all, I can't. However you might have much more luck on your particular system. I actually thought at one point that if I actually paid the 29 euro it might work perfectly without issue but this was kind of stupid to say the least as it should actually function even with the nag notice still present if only to prove it will function without issue before parting with cash. If it was the case that it would cut out after a certain period of time with the nag notice still present as standard it should in fact actually stipulate it.

The problem...

After making the MIDI to keystroke assignments via the Bome classic translator software it appeared to work but only for 5 to 10 minutes at a time. What would happen is that during a set the assignments would work perfectly to then suddenly cut out during the set.  After which the only way for me to make the assignments active again was to drop into the Bome classic app to then un-tick and then re-tick all the assignments active again. This went on for 3 or 4 cycles till I eventually got to thinking "I can't just keep doing this just to use it".  Also it was around the 4th try that Bome translator ceased to function at all after causing Ableton to lock up and crash mid session on my system for the first time ever.  Restarting a new Ableton session after it crashed didn't seem to bring the Bome classic software back to functionality. Restarting the Bome app wouldn't work either nor did un-ticking and re-ticking that MIDI to keystroke assignments, however after a complete system power cycle Bome's functionality returned. 

After power cycling the system the length of time the assignments made in Bome classic actually increased to around 20 to 30 minutes. But it wasn't until after I'd stopped to log and make notes about the issue that it actually stayed functional for the entire duration of a 60 minute test DJ set. After finishing I left the applications open and the system on and went away from the system for roughly 10 minutes. Upon returning and trying to use it again the assignments made in Bome classic once again completely ceased to function at which point I decided to call it a night.

The following day I recommenced testing and again it seemed to stay functional for roughly 10 minutes at a time before having to do the same re-activation procedure for each of the assigned MIDI to keystroke commands for a couple of runs. After which it again managed to stay fully functional for duration of another 60 minute test set. 


The reliability of the application on my particular system was a little bit too hit and miss for any serious usage, that’s even before the general frustration it was generating. However I'm very much inclined to believe that it might not have necessarily been the Bome software or my MIDI hardware that was causing the issues here. Whilst monitoring my MIDI hardware in real time diagnostic mode all the CC note midi signal were consistent and without error. Each midi control manipulation that I was making was making on the MIDI controller was registering perfectly with no sign of signal loss or double CC control note/signal bleed over as might happen when using a cheaper-poorly made midi interface.  Just to double check that it wasn't the fact that the MIDI controller was in a daisy chained configuration as a secondary that was causing the problem (...a very unlikely cause to begin with...) I also tried assigning the same set of MIDI CC note to keystroke commands to a different MIDI controller that was directly connected. The same pattern of failure was still persistent despite no signs of CC note/signal errors or signal loss showing in the real time event log window. 

At one point I also thought the fact that I was using the custom scripts that come supplied with Live 7 for the LV2 MIDI controller (which also contains midi to keystroke assignments) might have been interfering with the assignments in Bome. But the fact the same issue still occurred when testing it with a different directly connected midi controller device in pure midi that wasn't using custom pre-made scripts proved that the custom midi control scripts weren't causing the problem.   Besides, there are no assignments for cut and paste in the custom pre-made scripts for the LV2 to begin with meaning it would have been unlikely to be root cause of the issue. 

I also didn't over look the fact that the keystroke/keyboard short assignments made in Bome are in fact globally applicable within the OS whilst actually functional. So application focus will matter too. Switching to another application will in fact cause Bome to no longer apply any of the keystroke/keyboard assignments within Ableton whilst another application is at the fore. But this wasn't really of any consequence on my local computer since the issue was constantly occurring with Ableton being the Application that was constantly in focus. 

Generally though despite all the issues I'm having with it, if you can get it to work properly with your particular rig it would certainly be a seriously worth while and essential piece of software for any serious digital DJ or digital producer DAW rig.

The quote

My problem with it as some kind of generalistic retort? Well I know of some very famous premium genuine (as in none fake and official) products by very famous brand names that don't actually cost much to produce in relation to their recommended retail price despite the actual or perceived quality. They're also usually excellent quality due to the fact that they are produced by manufacturers that already have the means to produce them to such a standard against the context of experience, knowledge, and also being able to harness economies of scale. They've also had the opportunity to refine and improve the manufacturing process as well as the product itself. They also usually have a very stringent threshold of what they actually allow off their production line for the purpose of being sold as a product in their range.

But in actual fact some of these physical goods are sold at over 500% to 900% the cost of actual development and production (some even more). Software is a little different for obvious reasons. In some cases its done for the specific purpose of selling to a particular market segment and maintaining a prestigious brand perception. In other cases where none producing third party sellers are involved its more likely to purely be for the purposes of turning massive profits. This is true of a number of electronics and computing products that I'm aware of but more generally would be more so the case in relation to premium clothing lines and certain premium food products that are marketed and sold in more developed regions of the world.