Ableton forum members are abuzz on this latest hack for Ableton Live: a specialized plug-in now enables a “bus group” that routes audio to a MIDI track for effects. Now, of course, group folders are a feature present in some competing DAWs, but it’s still nice to see it working in Ableton Live. (And if this is something you’ve wanted to do, I think you’ll probably spot it immediately – whereas, likewise, if it’s not your response is likely to be, “huh”?)

There’s already a free Windows plug-in download. It looks like someone will have to do a Mac plug-in for this to work on the Mac. Thoughts?

gbsr writes:

Basically, it’s a way to get an infinite (or at least until your CPU gives up) [number of] submix track folders, with the ability to show/hide the folders. Take a VST instrument that only has a MIDI input and an audio throughput and rack it up. Send the audio to the midi. Voila.

You can read the whole thread on the Ableton forum:

solved: submix group folders. 🙂

Let us know if you try this out or have other tips. (And if you do this already in another host, by all means, enjoy your bragging rights.)

  • very cool stuff, can't wait for a mac plugin.

    What They Did

  • RCUS

    sooo,just so I'm clear, the sole advantage of this is to have a dedicated effects send/track/bus that has the ability of a dropdown so you can SEE your effects in Abletons mixer view. so we're talking more screen real estate then right? am i missing something else?

  • Well, I think you get the routing advantages of track folders, as well, if I understand correctly. (anyone using this?)

  • Vanceg

    Yes, some more description of why this is super great by someone who's thrilled about it, please. It looks interesting, but…why?


  • gbsr

    well, track folders is a very much requested feature ont he ableton forums and anyone whos been working on big projects and with lots of mixbuses for effects etc knows that something like this has been needed for a long time. the advantage with this particular thing is that if you have a project with say 50 tracks and you need to be able to mix them, add effects and master effect (on the outputs from the buses etc), you can use this trick and be able to expand and retract the buses, aswell as scale the volume and whatever you might want to do, while keeping your 50 tracks minimized and put all the way to the right. this means two things: better organisation: put all your different basses etc into a submix track called "bass", add utility plugs for each of them, then send them all to "master bus" track called "bass master". need to rasie that second bass synthline? expand the bass bus, raise it and hide it again. now, in big projects it can take a long long time to find the right track that holds that particular track. with this its just a matter of expanding the group. ofcourse you can then add master effects outside the rack for the whole group as usual. + you get to have your sends as usual aswell, otherwise to do this you needed to use the sends and then you would have to expand one group containing all buses etc. if you dont understand why its needed, then you probably wont need it 🙂

  • gbsr

    and ofcourse, screen estate saving, which is a big +. ive seen people working on some 100 or so tracks, unless you have a very smart naming system and a smart sense for organisation it could take a very long time before you find the right track that you need to boost, even when using bus tracks for this.

    also, using bus tracks as before meant that whatever effect you put on that bus got to all track routed to that bus. this means that you can have one bus track group with separate effects per track (excluding the insert effects on the actual tracks themselfes), which is a big step forward from the usual way of working with live and doing stuff like mixing and processing.

    this of it as drumracks, but for audio tracks.

  • RCUS

    Thanks for the breakdown gbsr! I'm going to have to give this a whirl at home. seams like a nice way to organize.

  • gbsr

    no problem. hopefully Ableton will pick this up. they already have the ability to send midi to midi racks and select what chains, so if you were able to do this with audio aswell we wouldnt ven need this workaround. stupid design flaw if you ask me.

  • tobamai

    I think this kind of goes against the ableton workflow paradigm, which is why they haven't implemented it themselves and why so many people using ableton don't understand why it's useful.

    Not to say that the ableton paradigm is the right way or that it should be the only way.

  • can't you do this sort of synchronization even with subgroups with IAC Bus Driver

  • Video Music

    One respondent in the forum said he'd done it with reactor as well, and that it worked great. Doesn't have reactor myself, so I can't check, but it's worth a try.

  • os

    I just made a Mac OS X version, if anybody wants it:

  • The PluggoBus system lets plug-ins send up to eight channels of audio to each other. Not free but it has been around for a while.

  • gbsr

    never heard of pluggobus. the thing about this is that its in essence free provided you have the tools to make a vsti.

    for those of you who dont understand why its useful: if you dont understand why its useful chances are pretty slim that you need it 🙂

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  • asdf

    I don't use ableton so I don't really care, but man, that's one fugly GUI. Looks like a windows v3.0 app. Maybe one day they can take the time to spruce it up and get it looking like a windows v3.1 app. LOL.

  • Vanceg

    I see now why you all might want that. I typically work with 16 to 24 send/return busses in Live and sometimes find this difficult to organize. I don't at all use the typical Live workflow (I don't use loops, and don't use Live's time-warping and beat matching features..but I'm glad all that is there). One of my very favorite aspects of Live is that it's so very adaptable to many different ways of working. That's why it's still my main workplace/control center/ recording system for my improvisational work and a main tool for assembling mixes.

    I'm very happy someone came up with this simple and easy plugin to solve this issue for you all. I was going to offer to build one for Mac but i see Expert Sleepers has already done so (and likely 100X better than I could do. Long live Crossfade Loop Synth!)

  • gbsr

    yeah i used to have alot of sends and returns aswell as alot of submix buses, and submix buses of the submix buses etc. it gets very to manage as the project grows bigger. if the cpu allows you, atleast now its a bit more easier to manage. not optimal but better then before anyways. big ups on the osx version.

  • GlassX

    I don't get it, how is this any different from routing N tracks to an empty audio track… ?

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