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The Quest for A Better Workflow, and Why There Isn't a Plugin of Liquid Notes Yet

This has been one of the most frequently asked questions when we announced our call for beta testers on Liquid Notes for Live. So we'd like to take the time to share some more information with you and why during all those months since the launch of Liquid Notes we haven't made a VST, AU or AAX plugin yet.

It all starts with the nature of Liquid Notes being a multi-track harmony & melody editing tool that will apply any modifications to your arrangement on all tracks simultaneously.

Understanding the inner workings of Liquid Notes

That is possible because thanks to a deep harmonic analysis - that embraces music theory for Western music styles - Liquid Notes is able to know all correlations between notes, chords, instruments, scale, melody, etc. Precisely this knowledge of your MIDI arrangement is what allows the software to make ever yet so complex changes to the latter on the click of a button - that is great, but only works as long as we have access to your tracks. And this is where routing and MIDI I/O become the major decision factors.

Liquid Notes uses a virtual MIDI cable for establishing the connection with a sequencer. This allows seamless playback and recording of any song in the sequencer, plus access to any virtual instruments that come with your sequencer. Yet, it doesn't allow you to make changes to your arrangement and have them immediately visible in the sequencer.

Many of you have voiced their demand for a VST plug-in. Although this makes absolute sense from a user’s perspective, the technical analysis has shown that a VST would raise a problem with most sequencers: VST plug-ins are usually meant for receiving MIDI or audio, and for outputting audio only. Liquid Notes, however, routes MIDI in and out of a VST plugin (similarly to what Catanya and Cthulhu do), which makes it unique and requires a special routing setup that doesn't feel natural to users.

In other words, the ability of Liquid Notes to receive and send multiple MIDI channels would be quite a hassle when it comes to routing. For each MIDI track the user wants to send, an output track has to be created. It doubles the number of tracks in an arrangement. The more tracks, the more complex and more prone to error this gets.

We are certain this will be seen rather as a drawback than an advantage. There is too much complexity involved for the user, even for simple MIDI arrangements. And it leaves us with no options for an automation of the routing.

Other remote control interface standards like ARA (Audio Random Access) by Celemony are promising in this regard. And some DAW manufacturers are using them already. Yet they do not support MIDI today.

Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel

Not neglecting the above (and you), we have entered discussions with all manufacturers of DAWs for a direct integration of Liquid Notes into the sequencer. These have only started recently, so there are no results to share yet.

In parallel, we have started an internal analysis to enable recording from the DAW to Liquid Notes: Select only parts of your MIDI arrangement - or all of it - and record it to Liquid Notes, either as a new project or by inserting it to an existing one at a position of your choice on the timeline of your song. We will share additional information on this as soon as the analysis is complete.

For now, the MIDI effect of Liquid Notes for Ableton Live is the closest we can get to a plug-in. Download it from our website, take it for a spin, and let us know what you think about it!

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