Kinda summed list of improvements

Fist of all let me thank you Martin and Robin for your work, for making our musician dreams come true!
I hoped the day will come and someone will marry a looper to a sequencer in the way you guys just did.

Speciality of my work as a mixer, a composer and a guitar player requires experience in using of several DAWs including Cubase, ProTools, Reaper and Ableton on a regular basis. I’ve spent some time and made a comparison between those DAWs and ALK2. I have several criteria in mind of what makes a DAW a good one.

Below are my suggestions about what to improve or add to make ALK a better DAW.

1. Starting with improvements. User Interface & Logic
a) Main cursor that indicates the position on the timeline. It would be much better if it will be ticker and will be running across all the tracks.
b) Any kind of animation of elements of the interface is excessive. Maybe just get rid of it?
I meen
-glow animation,
-rubber scrolling.
-selecting tracks on mouse hover.
Just make it as simple as possible and convenient. If you need to select a track than you just point and click on it and it stay selected no matter where the cursor moves.
c) Separate windows or areas for the list of tracks and for properties/settings of a selected track. Just need to see everything on the same time while editing, the list of track on the time line and settings for the selected track.
d) Tools panel on the right. Eating too much space. Better to rotate it by 90 degrees and join to the main transport panel at the bottom.
e) a mixer view on a separate window. ‘cause all the volumes, pans and routings of every track is better to have on the same view.
f) parameters and keyboard input. Every parameter that has a numeric value is better to have somewhere near the corresponding wheel or fader. It’s a big time saver when you see the actual value, but not only a pair of pixels of the indication bar. The same is for the keyboard input. If you know the value the fastest way is to just input it.
g) Default values on mouse double-click or Cmd+click. Sends, Pan, Volume etc. Saves time.
e) Marker track. Necessary for navigation

2. Necessary add-ons. Time & Synchronization
a) Tempo track. ‘Cause tempo may change during a composition.
b) Midi (Beat) Clock. Synchronization to incoming clock and ability to send external clock. Without it it’s impossible to synchronize with external gear (synthesizers, drum-machines etc.)
c) Rewire. To integrate ALK into common DAWs
d) MTC/SMPTE. Synchronization to incoming clock and ability to send external clock

Please feel free to discuss. Tell if you agree or not and why. If my suggestions will be useful, then I will dig deeper and debug more. Let’s make ALK the best DAW among all the loopers!


It could be thicker, perhaps it’s not as visible on non-retina screens (Apple is clearly moving to retina, and we optimized for this). I’ll have a look into this. Also it does run across all tracks in play mode, but in stop mode you want to see which lane it’s on because that will be the top-left target e.g. for paste commands. (An earlier version should the playhead across all tracks as you suggest, but we decided against this because it was hard to tell which track was selected.)

There’s going to be more, not less, animations. Sorry – we like animations :wink: But I can imagine giving an option to switch them off in the Preferences – that would make a lot of sense.

Good idea, we’ve actually been discussing this. There will be movement on this front relatively soon I think.

It would be more standard to put it at the top, but basically you have the right idea.

Totally agree – it will come, but I don’t want to make specific promises on time.

If I understand what you mean, you want to see the current value of a rotary or fader displayed as text, and you want to be able to edit it. Assuming that’s what you mean, I think that makes sense – @RobinFisher has been asking for the same thing, but we had to prioritize other things for this release.

We use right-click (two finger press) for this purpose. We say this unapologetically: ALK is optimized for use with trackpad… on trackpads, to finger press (or tap) is very easy gesture.

Totally agree — and we’re going to add a Master Track too, soon. With proper metering for clipping.

ALK allows tempo to be automated (use Scripted Command Regions with Transport->Tempo destination) e.g. between songs, but tempo changes during composition are not currently supported due to difficulty with recorded audio. You basically need to realtime warping, which e.g. is not possible in Ableton.

We keep getting requests for this, so we will consider it carefully. I can’t make any promises about time thought; it’s a really tricky protocol to get exactly right, requiring a lot of UI stuff to deal with all the issues surrounding the protocol (mainly drifting, but this is a real nightmare). I have yet to hear of musician who’s used Beat Clock without some serious headache which was so bad that after a while they just ditched it…

In 2018 best way to do this is Ableton Link, and we will definitely support that – soon.

Receiving clock is something we’d consider, sending external clock is again can of worms due to jitter… this is not a priority for us currently.

Hope this helps, and thanks very much for your input, @gigging!

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Hi @gigging

Thanks for your carefully thought out feedback. I think our next move will be to make a voting system on this community page where users can suggest and vote for new features and improvements. This gives us a clear view of what the user base is looking for. I will add in a number of your suggestions to this list.

If the hover auditioning is getting in the way of your workflow you can turn it off by right-clicking the track and unticking “Hover Auditioning”. Then you can audition in the way that you described. Hope that helps.

Yes that’s exactly I’m working with, a non-retina mac. When the cursor is blinking it disappears totally, blends with the grid. It will be better if you cold make it as thicker as in the play mode to see its position on the screen all the time.

It would be great if you make that option. I’m not an animation hater at all :grin: But whet you work with more than just few tracks (I just imagine a project with 50+ tracks and 200+ objects) than I guess there will take a place a significant increase in (video) CPU load to render all those smooth movements, glows etc. for each object. I’m just afraid of if there might be a lack of stability.

Yes, that’s exactly what I mean! World be great to have that ability.

Oh! There it is! Works well) I didn’t mean smooth change from one value to another one. Have it in steps/jumps from value to value is just enough.

About synchronization / integration and all kind of stuff like SMTE/MTC, MMC, MIDI Beat Clock, Ableton Link, Propellerhead ReWire.

I’ve digged a bit deeper. Here is my conclusion. Tell me if I wrote something wrong or missed something.

Ableton Link is a better, a more stable, a jitter-free reincarnation of MIDI Beat clock.
And it can be sent or received over Ethernet connection. Which is very useful.
But it’s still a clock only. There are no play/stop commands, no timecode, no play position and no audio flow. So here we’re talking only about TEMPO synchronization.

But in the real world there are so many scenarios when we need clock(tempo) AND play position AND play/stop state synchronized.

Ableton Link give us clock only

ReWire give us all three components plus audio data interchange but only within one machine.

SMPTE/MTC give us only the play position in a chosen frame rate

MMC – 2 of 3 - play position AND play/stop state

That’s why I’m asking about ReWire support. But Ableton Link support is also necessary.

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Hi @gigging, I’ll answer your other points in more detail later, but Ableton Link does (recently) have start/stop commands.

Yes @seertaak I red this yesterday while clearing up info about synchronization. I also tried Link connection between Ableton and Reason to prove my theory. The title says that Link has kinda start/stop sync but with different meaning.
The main disappointment is that nothing stops or plays automatically. When you establish a Link connection between devices they become synchronized by tempo. To run a sequence you need to run it on each device independently by physically pressing play. Yes they will start playing in synchronized tempo but theirs starts will take places in different periods of time. In other words. I need for example two sequences in different DAWs to start in the same period of time from the same start point. Ableton Link wont able to do so.

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Huh, that’s weird, I thought the start/stop thing was exactly that – person A presses start and it starts automatically on device B… thanks for clarifying. It’s weird that they don’t allow that.

Can I ask what other DAW or hardware you want to hook up to?

Yes, that looks weird for me too. I use Cubase as a main sequencer for composing 'cause it has a very extended support of midi and has an ultimate handy feature called Arranger track. I have several guitar processors that are synchronized via incoming MIDI Beat Clock and listens incoming MIDI CC. Also Lightkey DMX Lighting Control is hooked up to Cubase, it listens incoming MIDI CC.
So I’m facing the question what DAW to choose for a live stage situation. It definitely will not be Ableton because Its inability to snap automation breakpoints to the grid and to input values of parameters. It would be great If I could hook up ALK to Cubase or Reaper.

You’ve got my vote for a voting system! I think that’s a brilliant idea!
My apologies, I guess I described that “select on hover” a bit blurry. I thought when you hover a mouse/touchpad cursor on a track it becomes selected. It’s not, I was wrong.
I just wanted to check that “Hover Auditioning” one more time but unfortunately my trial license has expired.

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Hey gigging,

Just letting you know the voting system is definitely coming. We currently have a lot on our plate with supporting ALK2, but at a later date we’ll be implementing this on the community page.

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ALK allows tempo to be automated (use Scripted Command Regions with Transport->Tempo destination) e.g. between songs, but tempo changes during composition are not currently supported due to difficulty with recorded audio. You basically need to realtime warping, which e.g. is not possible in Ableton.

Any chance you might work with Elastique’s tools to enable this? Alternatively, how about at the very least preserving midi tracks with the new time signature? That way, some of the existing soundbed could be continued, and would bypass need for real-time audio stretching. A lot of the songs I do include tempo changes (sometimes immediate, sometimes gradual), and not having this is currently a deal-killer for me.

Hey TuvanDrone,

It would be nice to implement gradual tempo changes for MIDI as this is less problematic, but as audio is also very much at the heart of ALK there’s no logical way to do this without also having it work for audio (which is difficult due to recording audio into an elongating record loop). Its a challenge I’m sure we’ll face up to at a later date.

However, jumped tempo changes are fairly easy with Command automation. As a workaround, you could change the tempo bar by bar with Command automation to get a similar gradual effect.

Voting system is online. A bit later than expected!

Thanks, @RobinFisher. I’m not a coder, so please receive my questions/suggestions with all necessary skepticism. Is it possible to do this after ending the playback of any/all existing recorded loops within a song? I’m imagining a couple of MIDI tracks playing through a tempo transition, e.g., drums/percussion, instrumental drones, etc., perhaps with some non-recorded real-time audio, e.g. singing and/or live instrumentals, taking place during that transition. Once the tempo transition is complete, could you then enable new recording and playback loops, as long as none of the previous-tempo loops are repeated?

Tempo warping audio is not the problem here. You could play back loops in 150bpm that were recorded in 120bpm. This already exists in ALK.

The problem comes when there are gradual tempo changes at the same time as recording audio. It brings up a lot of technical questions: How does that audio sound played back at a constant speed? How is it encoded?

As for disabling audio recording while in a gradual tempo shift for the sake of being able to record MIDI in with gradual tempo changes, it seems like this would be an extra complication for most users and a better solution would be to explore the subject mentioned above and develop a kind of “warped recording” algorithm which enables audio to record within a gradual tempo change, something that we’ll look into at a later date. We would rather do the work to develop a “cleaner” solution.

Thanks, @RobinFisher, I understand and wasn’t thinking about recording during a gradual tempo change, and agree it sounds unnecessarily complicated; though from reading posts and the product descriptions and watching videos, I did not know that ALK could stretch audio to a new tempo. I just meant tempo-changing (either suddenly or gradually) an already-recorded midi track – does ALK do this?

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Yes, when you change the session tempo the audio tempo warps with it.

Here’s the method:

  1. Create a Command track
  2. Hold the Alt key and draw a Scripted Command region where you’d like the tempo to change in the song
  3. For a target choose Transport -> Tempo
  4. In the value box, type your new tempo
  5. In the region menu (right click) choose whether you want to revert to the initial value at the end of the region or latch to the new value at the end.

Awesome, glad to hear this is easy to do. Thanks, @RobinFisher!

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