Comments on Instacomposer / Blue Cat / Ableton (not a tutorial...)

I’ve been trying this combination out, and thought I’d share some initial experiences with setup and workflow. Live does not handle multi-channel MIDI, and Plugin B promoted Blue Cat as a solution.

I first tried Omnisphere, which is multitimbral, and therefore only needed one VST instance for all 5 Instacomposer channels. This routinely crashed Live, so I abandoned it and reverted to monotimbral synths pro tem. (I’ll explore the Live crashes later)

It was fairly straightforward to set it up (see Plugin Boutique’s Josh Casper video on this), but it rapidly became evident that all is not as expected (at least not by me).

I’d assumed that it would provide a mechanism to split the 5 channel MIDI input from Instacomposer and route it as MIDI to 5 VSTs loaded in Live tracks. Not so, it seems. Although Blue Cat sits as a VST3 in Live, Instacomposer and the target synths are loaded by Blue Cat in the same way as Nanohost / Cantabile. The audio is routed directly to the master audio out by default, unless the VST has multiple audio outs.

Therein lies a snag. There is no way to apply effects or other signal processing to the individual channels, within a Live track. Blue Cat does have it’s own effect section, but that’s not what I bought it for. For me, as a primary tool, it’s thus useless, as you only get the mix, not channel audio, as far as I can tell so far.

An alternate workflow is to explore various auto-composed pieces, and then port the MIDI as individual tracks to Live and then work as normal. Drag and drop is supported and it only takes a few seconds. Unlike scaler, there is no way to sync the source of your work to something in Live.

What I can’t report on yet is what the end product sounds like yet, and whether the multi-timbral synth issue is with Omnisphere or Instacomposer. However, as I routinely use Omnisphere in multi-timbral mode without problem, I suspect Instacomposer at this time.

Part of the problem here is Live. There is no way to set the MIDI channel of a track in Live. I encountered this before I think. In Cubase it’s not a problem. You would just route instacomposer to 4 tracks and set each track to the correct MIDI channel. Boom done. Most other DAWs are the same. Live needs to fix that.