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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > May 2019 > LINK AND SYNC WITH LIVE


Live works brilliantly on its own for production and performance, but it can also be incredibly sociable and open to working with other software and hardware. Here are some ways to hook it up…


For any musician or producer running a lot of digital gear side-by-side, synchronisation has always been an issue – an inconvenient necessity. We’ve used MIDI cables and interfaces to connect the black boxes that clutter our workspaces, and we’ve used ReWire to connect the DAWs that clutter our computer desktops, with varying levels of complexity and reliability.

With Live 9.6, Ableton introduced Link, a sync solution that works via wifi or Ethernet. Link is reliable, and super-easy to understand and to configure. Over time, it’s appeared on ever more software, from Bitwig Studio on macOS/Windows, to Korg Gadget on iOS, while also encroaching into the ‘real world’ through Akai’s new Force hardware, reviewed on page 78. No extra purchase or install is required, and that’s a crucial aspect of what’s made it popular.


The great thing about using Link is that you probably won’t need to add any more software or apps to try it, because it’s included with so many. If you really get stuck, find an iOS/Android app, or grab the Live demo or VCV Rack (an open-source virtual modular synthesiser) and put them on another computer. You could even Link VCV Rack to Live on the same computer. As we show in the walkthrough, it’s often better to rely on Ethernet for an important gig, but that’s usually due to the up and down nature of wifi rather than Link itself. Since Live 10 added the ‘Start Stop Sync’ option in Preferences, Link’s been adopted by even more musicians – that was one feature many of us requested – the ability to start and stop all our sync’d gear at once. It’s good to have the option to turn it on or off, though. One of Link’s strengths is that there’s no longer a sync master/slave relationship – always something to deal with if you’re using ReWire, where it’s impossible for the software to exit the setup without everything else falling over.

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About MusicTech

Many, many years ago, when pop music was in its infancy, artists would record at multi-purpose recording facilities that were typically designed simply to capture the live performances of the bands and artists. During the 1960s, when pop music had seized the mantle as the dominant entertainment medium in popular culture, bands such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys grew frustrated by the limitations imposed on them by the technology of the time. Their desire to sonically innovate (not to mention the genius-level work of the producers and engineers they worked with) spearheaded the advancement of multi-track recording technology, as well as several techniques and recording approaches that are still widely used today. In our cover feature, John Pickford examines how much of this classic technology was used – and how we can replicate those approaches today in our own home studios, using very faithful recreations of key kit from decades gone by. Elsewhere this issue, we learn more about the art of stem mastering from London’s Wired Masters; discover how an effective understanding of social media can hep you grow your audience; talk to a range of producers and engineers (including the Grammy-winning Darrell Thorp) and review all the latest hardware and software. I hope you enjoy the issue.