That sounds a strange thing to say, because after all if you’re using a lite version or demo version of a DAW for instance, a VST or track limit is absolute, right?

Wrong.

Before the release of Caustic 3, the former version 2 had a 6 track limit, or so it seemed. One of the instruments, a pcm synth, allows you to load wav samples and assign them to individual notes or note ranges. I resampled lots of VSTIs in Ableton Live Lite 8 so that I could use them in Caustic but rather than use one pcm synth for one sound, I realised that I could load different sounds into different octave ranges effectively giving me extra tracks.  Version 3 now has 14 tracks so it’s no longer an issue.

Now you’d think I would have tried to apply the same sorts of principles when using Ableton Live Lite 8 for the recent ‘I Improvised’ project but for reasons of time limits and generally forgetting, it didn’t happen.  The process did result in the unexpected release of an album, however that’s a different story.

I have said in the past that the 4 VST limit is really crippling.  But is it really? Even the Live Lite version comes with lots of in-built effects so you may need to comprise on some of your favourite 3rd party VSTs but there are many effects you can use in Ableton.  You could also record chords, loops etc from your favourite VSTI and then load them in as audio samples to reduce the number of VSTs in use.  The 8 track limit is less of a problem, it would be nice to have more to keep things separate, apply individual effects etc but I can easily manage within this limit. I’m sure many of you would just say buy the full version then this isn’t even an issue.  But for a number of people, myself included, this may not be an option for personal or financial reasons.

I only really thought about this again when I decided to take on the latest Cauldron challenge on Soundcloud which is to produce a song using a maximum of 3 VSTs that are rated as 2* on http://www.vst4free.com  Unbelievably, Rez3 by Ugo audio is one such VST but don’t tell anyone it’s my secret weapon.  I really like Rez3 but a big problem is that you can only have one instance for a number of different reasons.  But I want a number of different sounds from it.  And I can, as long as I record the parts I want separately and load them in as audio samples. Or some other cunning ploy I haven’t found out yet that allows multiple instances.  It’s more effort granted, but not much if you can only have one instance anyway or if like me you can’t buy a full licence.  I also have to admit that I’ve only very recently discovered Simpler (sampler) and Impulse (drums) which open up similar alternative options to loading a VST and a lot more potential for creativity.

So whilst these workarounds may take longer to achieve the results you would when using full versions of software, there’s often no reason why you can’t find an alternative way of doing what you want to do, even if it takes a while longer to figure out.

Meanwhile creation of the song is moving along quite nicely, although I do keep finding new ways of doing things which means I keep refining ideas and restarting quite a lot.

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