Musings from Glen Wallis

Why I chose AUM over Ableton

Oct 24, 2016 | Music

AUM vs Ableton

Why did I choose to use AUM (Kymatica) on the iPad rather than Ableton on the MacBook? It all comes down to money and reliability.

I have a 2013 MacBook Air and have been using the Native Instruments Traktor Scratch A6 audio interface since I bought this MacBook. It’s a good audio interface and I like it. It has always been reliable for use on the MacBook until the last few versions of Mac OSX. I have also been using Ableton 8 for many years and have not updated to Ableton 9 because I cannot afford to upgrade at this time.

For the last few years I have watched this entire setup become completely unusable or reliable. I feel like it is Windows all over again; flaky drivers, constantly moving operating system updates, superseded software and general shitty environment.

So last year I decided to give the iPad a try in order to create a Live mixing interface because it had so much more to offer in terms of reliability and affordability. I already had the iPad Air, the NI audio interface and a Novation LaunchControlXL midi controller. So I went investigating to see if I could make a custom Live mixing environment.

At first I was using MiMix (TTrGames) and Audiobus (Audiobus Pty Ltd) and this seemed to work reasonably well. I also tried using a DAW and tried using Auria Pro (WaveMachine Labs Inc) in some way as well. I felt that I was getting somewhere but even though the reliability was improved it wasn’t completely perfect in terms of customisation.

Then I found AUM (Kymatica) and I quickly realised that this was the App I was dreaming of to solve all my problems. A perfectly customisable mixing environment that mapped perfectly to the Novation LaunchControlXL and NI A6 audio interface. It didn’t take long to create a variety of mixing environments that allowed me to feed all my hardware machines in through AUM and effect and tweak the sounds in a totally unique way.

I have been testing and experimenting with AUM for the past year and find it a never ending realm of possibilities. I can Midi map all the AUM controls as well as the individual plugins and create a Live mixing interface that far exceeds any hardware mixer that is on the market and way, way less expensive!

If I add up all the costs to build this it comes out to be less than $1000.00 (AUD – Australian Dollars) including the iPad, Novation LaunchControlXL, audio interface and various iPad Apps. This cost outlay was not completely how this decision was made however, I already had the iPad, NI A6 audio interface and LaunchControlXL. I was using Ableton 8 at the time. What tipped me over was the complete reliability breakdown of the MacBook based setup I had been using for so many years. So essentially my decision came down to the cost of upgrading the NI A6 audio interface and Ableton (over AUD$1000 worth of upgrades) versus less than AUD$100 to add a few Apps to the iPad and run with what I already had.

The important point to realise here is that I will never upgrade my Ableton version as I have no use for it now. Even though the NI A6 audio interface is stable for now, I will upgrade it at some stage as I need more I/O than the NI A6 has to offer. I will also never buy another hardware mixer, even though at the time I was looking at the very expensive high end A&H mixers. Even though these mixers are great, they simply don’t offer the customisation or portability I am looking for with my sound.

I will talk more about the Apps I use to customise my mixing environment in a future post. This is really where the awesome stuff happens. I can build channel strips with some really insane effects than allow for improvised soundscapes that simply don’t exist for hardware type mixers.