Controller Clinic #25: Syncing My Controller With An Ableton DJ

Phil Morse | Read time: 2 mins
ableton live Midi clock Traktor
Last updated 13 November, 2017


Jason Buckham
DJ Jason Buckham playing a set from Ableton Live. But what’s the best way of playing back to back between Ableton Live and other DJ software?

Digital DJ Tips reader Biachi writes: “I am going to DJ duet with another musician that runs on Ableton Live. I want to get a DJ controller to go with my MacBook Pro and then be able to sync with Ableton Live. Basically we want to alternate our songs back and forth at shows and have both of our systems go to the PA. Is this possible and if so how? What controller is better… the Numark NS6 or the Pioneer DDJ-S1 for this duet?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Forget the controllers for a second, you need to think about the software. Serato Scratch Live has an add-on called the Bridge that syncs it to Ableton Live, giving you the ability to “play” an Ableton Live session on a Serato deck – but I don’t think this is quite what you want. (Also, this is not “controller” software – it’s designed to work with existing DJ gear like decks, CDJs etc.) If I read you right, what you’re looking for is for both programs’ output to be synced and then to be able to mix between them, and the best solution I can think of for this is Traktor.

Traktor Pro can be synced using a Midi clock to Ableton Live (Dubspot has a good tutorial on how to do this). Next, you’d have the output of the Traktor Pro controller routed into a mixer, the output of your friend’s Ableton set-up routed into the same mixer, and use that to switch between the two of you, while the Midi clock takes care of master tempo. The controllers you mention are both for Serato ITCH / Serato DJ, and this software doesn’t have any ability to Midi sync with Ableton Live like Traktor does, so really you’re looking at a Traktor controller like the Kontrol S4 for instance.

Have you got a set-up where you sync DJ software with Ableton Live? Got any advice to add for our reader? Please do so in the comments.

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