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Favorite Ableton controller? Live VS studio use?
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Author Favorite Ableton controller? Live VS studio use?
Sinamsis
Question to all you Ableton users. I've been using Live for a few years now. After a year or two, I picked up a Push. Honestly, I rarely use it as I feel like it doesn't completely free me from the computer screen. I've kept it because I use it's more basic functions (transport, occasionally tweaking volume on tracks, drum rack finger drumming) but I just could never bring myself to be a power user. In general, I prefer playing a keyboard, or an MPC for studio production. I bought an MPC Live a while back thinking it would be the key for me playing out. But the more I think about it, the more I think Ableton and a laptop are the answer. I want to work on a set using an Analog Keys, Digitakt and Analog Rytm along with some controller for Ableton. I'm still considering bringing the MPC, but I'm leaning against it. The Elektron gear is all Overbridge enabled, and hopefully I could use that for all the audio, have Ableton for additional samples, or creating keygroup samples for synths I don't want to take out of the studio because they're too expensive or too big (modular, Andromeda, Modal 002, Prophet 12). Also for audio processing (I may even use a UAD Satellite) and for arranging/moving through the set quickly and efficiently. So here's my question:

Push 2 or APC40 mk II? Or both? I think the immediacy of the APC40 would give the feel of having a mixer without having to lug another thing with me. I'm not sure if the Push2 would much to the live aspect, as I don't think I'll "play" much into it, I'd be more likely to use the AK to play any samples.

I'd still consider the Push 2 for the studio. I'm also unsure of what I'll do with the MPC and if it will still have a role. My plan is to build a pedalboard shaped thing to velcro everything on top of, and have some power solutions underneath (external batteries I'm thinking) and USB cables. Ideally I would be able to just unplug stuff and take the board as is out of the studio and to a gig. Sorry for the long post. Any feedback would be welcome. Thanks in advance!
CF3
Given the choice between PUSH and APC40 MKII for live use, I'd definitely choose the APC40. Dedicated mixing controls are a must in a performance situation IMO. Personally I still like the MKI APC40 better because of the size and layout (even tho the tech/spec on the MKII is better). The PUSH is crazy nice, but you'd really have to be well trained to use it live (except for basic functions).

Honestly I'd rather go straight out of Ableton (stems, groups, what have you) with a soundcard into a hardware mixer and do my mixing there. Then trigger clips with something simple like a Launchpad (mini, etc, or maybe the PUSH??). But that's just my preference. I like mixing on hardware mixers. Depends greatly on how you plan on using FX too. You're still bringing hardware units along, So Ableton was going to be your only "mixer"?

I've experimented extensively with this over the years. Set up different configs and try it out. Do some dry runs. No other way to know.
Sinamsis
CF3 wrote:
Given the choice between PUSH and APC40 MKII for live use, I'd definitely choose the APC40. Dedicated mixing controls are a must in a performance situation IMO. Personally I still like the MKI APC40 better because of the size and layout (even tho the tech/spec on the MKII is better). The PUSH is crazy nice, but you'd really have to be well trained to use it live (except for basic functions).

Honestly I'd rather go straight out of Ableton (stems, groups, what have you) with a soundcard into a hardware mixer and do my mixing there. Then trigger clips with something simple like a Launchpad (mini, etc, or maybe the PUSH??). But that's just my preference. I like mixing on hardware mixers. Depends greatly on how you plan on using FX too. You're still bringing hardware units along, So Ableton was going to be your only "mixer"?

I've experimented extensively with this over the years. Set up different configs and try it out. Do some dry runs. No other way to know.




So the Elektron boxes all carry audio via USB, and supposedly with updates to Overbridge there will be even more band width. The plan would be to pipe audio into Ableton, and use that and the APC as my mixer, effects processor and arranger. Also sample play back, or even load multisampled synth programs that I've created with Redmatica and allow the Digitakt to sequence them. It would eliminate the need for a hardware mixer (my mixer is a Soundcraft Signature MTK 22, and I use it less and less frequently). It would also eliminate the need for any pedals to process audio.

The other setup I've considered (and what I originally planned) is using the MPC Live as the controller hub and sample playback, the 3 elektron devices and a hardware mixer. It just seems like a bulkier set up, and I would I have to run a lot more cables for audio, so it would be significantly less streamlined.
CF3
Oh definitely more bulky, but more reliable IMO. Although you're only bringing 3 hardware units, and a small mixer would be the size of a controller anyways (just thinking out loud). Also, what's the latency and midi clock like between the hardware and Ableton?


Sounds like a plan tho thumbs up
Sinamsis
CF3 wrote:
Oh definitely more bulky, but more reliable IMO. Although you're only bringing 3 hardware units, and a small mixer would be the size of a controller anyways (just thinking out loud). Also, what's the latency and midi clock like between the hardware and Ableton?


Sounds like a plan tho thumbs up


Ha, that's what I'm going to find out. It seems like plenty of folks use Ableton in a live setting, but perhaps not with hardware based setups. I suspect I'll be using one of the Elektron boxes as the master clock. Maybe the DT. In terms of audio latency I'm not sure... I'm going to have to give it a shot in the studio... if they're all using OB, I think it will be workable. Particularly since Ableton allows you to nudge the audio per track. Basically I'm going to sit down and start writing with this relatively closed system, but I want to narrow down the hole concept before I start working, so I can work out how it would be performed in a live context as well. That's always been the biggest stumbling block for me; taking a studio arrangement and turning it into something that can be actually performed.
hamildad
I use a Faderfox LV3 for Ableton.

recommended as a small footprint, mixer and ableton mixer.

I dont really use it to trigger clips, as I have an external sequencer, but managing levels and Send amounts and all that, its really great.

D.
billyk419
I have an almost identical setup (AK, RYTM, and Digitakt), but don’t use Overbridge as it adds too much latency for guitar or bass.

I tend to use the Push 2 for session navigation. Launching clips, sending Program Change messages to those machines, opening/closing groups (will become even more relevent in Live 10 with grouped groups) and use the AK keyboard to play any synths or send note info to the sequencer in the Digitakt. I’m not too big a fan of how the sequencer is set up on the Push, but again will be changing in Live 10 so we’ll see.

I do however also use a Livid DS-1 for HP/LP filters, sends, volume, and mutes.

Unless you’re ready to dive into the Push as its own instrument, I’d recommend setting up your own mappings with fader/encoder controllers just so everything is more immediate without having to remember how to access those things on the Push. The MIDI Fighter Twister is also a good controller for this.
AW198
I considered a Push 2 as I wanted a hardware controller for Ableton, and tried one out in a shop.

Turns out you can't even map parameters of Ableton's stock plugins to the pressure of the pads with ease - something I discovered when trying to map vibrato amount to the pressure. Coupled with other, similar 'why isn't that something you can do?' problems, it becomes evident that Push 2 is not a physical controller to replace your mouse, but simply a drum sequencer with emperor's clothes on. I've been dreaming of using Push for literally years without having tried one out in person, and I was put off it within 15 minutes of testing.

Moral of the story: try out various controllers, and ask someone who knows how to use it what it can do! That's the best way to discover their limitations.
Sinamsis
Thanks, those are good suggestions. I'll check them out. Basically what I'm hearing is if going mixerless, a fader controller is ideal, which I suspected. Also that the APC is more oriented toward live usage, though the Push 2 could be a performance tool, if not the center of a live Ableton based rig. I'm really leaning towards the APC40 mk II (I'm still planning on upgrading to a Push 2 for the studio). I like the dedicated buttons, it seems like the most accurate physical representation of what's happening in Live.

The latency with OB is concerning. It would be so great to just leave it at USB cables. Haha. I have a UAD Apollo Duo I could use, along with a Behringer ADA8200 if needed. I was hoping to send out the tracks of each machine individually. I guess I'm not so concerned about multi-tracking the Rytm, and it might be better to use the main outs so I can run it through the compressor. Not being to process the individual DT tracks would be a bummer. I could use the individual outs of the AK if I wanted to.

I'm leaning towards the using Ableton as the mixer for multiple reasons, but using plugins to process the audio is on of the bigger reasons. I guess I've never really gotten into analog mixers. Maybe it's stupid, but in my head I thought I'd either go all hardware (do the MPC, 3 Elektron devices and a mixer with a Timeline and a Mercury 7 as sends), or do Ableton/laptop with the Elektron devices and keep the sound processing ITB. With UAD the DSP is doing all the work so it shouldn't strain the computer's CPU. I should add that a few months ago I bought a Behringer X Touch to use with Logic and I absolutely love working with it. It has been the ideal solution for me. As a complete aside, I am interested in analog summing in terms of studio use. I just don't have the space or cash for an analog console, and I'm not sure it would fit my workflow. I'm switching out my interface this year to one with more IO and getting a Shadow Hills Equinox I hope. But for live use, I feel like I'd like to try to get away from an analog mixer.

In addition, I'd be using Ableton for backing tracks and sample playback, which would have been the MPCs job. I would consider having the Push as a Live controller, but don't know how much I would use it. Maybe an MPD would be more likely, so I could trigger samples.

The other thought is that obviously the Elektron gear is capable of muting and unmuting tracks and geared for live use. So a lot of that can be done within the boxes themselves. Honestly I could even use the DT as the master controller to send program changes to the other machines. But I feel like Ableton would be more immediate, and very visible and understandable given the right controller.

Ha, clearly I'm talking out of my ass here to some degree. I'm rambling and thinking through things aloud. I also haven't mentioned any ultimate goals or genre, etc. I'm honestly not 100% sure yet, as my stuff is all over the place. It would certainly be beat oriented, probably slightly more down tempo, darker, but still melodic. Something like Aphex Twin meets Mogwai and has a baby with Darkstar haha. If that means anything. Though it could just end up being 4 on the floor sort of shit in the end, who knows?
Funky40
Push2, yes or no ? is in my opinion a question of how you work.
I don´t use my push2 much, but i totally like it for the recording process (into clips).
there are several advantages vs. w.o. a Push2. ( for example superquick "clip-lenght/rec-lenght adjustment )
edit: also adjusting samples in Drumrack/simpler is great....also better visibility of what you do when you "jam" the sample settings within those samplers )

for the mixing part i have a Novation LaunchControl XL and find it ideal !
( no longer available tough, but i suspect we get to see something new at Namm )
The LC-XL has a button ( device) , if you press it will it map the first 8 parameters of the active device/VST to the 8 pan pots. very handy !

personally i use several novation controllers beside push2. very happy with my setup.
also check Faderfox, they have also some cool bigger controllers !


Nevertheless, i´d say: check Namm first
tuj
Live I used Novation Launchpads. Use a Push1 in the studio (really pissed me off that like 2 months later, they released Push2).

Here's my setup, there's an A&H X:one mixer between the two laptops.

billyk419
AW198 wrote:
I considered a Push 2 as I wanted a hardware controller for Ableton, and tried one out in a shop.

Turns out you can't even map parameters of Ableton's stock plugins to the pressure of the pads with ease - something I discovered when trying to map vibrato amount to the pressure. Coupled with other, similar 'why isn't that something you can do?' problems, it becomes evident that Push 2 is not a physical controller to replace your mouse, but simply a drum sequencer with emperor's clothes on. I've been dreaming of using Push for literally years without having tried one out in person, and I was put off it within 15 minutes of testing.

Moral of the story: try out various controllers, and ask someone who knows how to use it what it can do! That's the best way to discover their limitations.


To be fair, the Push has taken me years of messing around and watching videos to get really comfortable with where I don't have to think much about what I'm trying to do.

And shortly after the Push 1 came out, they released a M4L plug in that allows you to easily map aftertouch to anything inside Live. Not ideal, but useful nonetheless
Sinamsis
AW198
That's a pretty good point, I guess I had never thought of that. That said, I think I'm ok with it.

I've been watching a ton of videos. I've already snagged a second had APC40 mk II at a pretty good price. I will probably buy a Push 2 as well, though I'm waiting to see if NAMM brings any surprises (I doubt it, and if it did I imagine a new APC would be more likely, so I might have made a bonehead decision on that one).

I've set up a basic template that I will continue to develop that will advance the Elektron boxes through their patterns. I'm currently working out the send situation. I think by having some loopers on send tracks along with some other effects I will be able to use the APC to get close to some of the Octatrack functionality, albeit more limited. I also may use NI's the Finger sequenced by the DT to do some other weird glitchy stuff to the loops.

Ha, the mental exercise is exciting. Ha, or maybe it's just a distraction. I've spent the past few months focused on recording some post rock stuff, and getting back into the mindset of writing and recording electronic music is proving to be more of a challenge than I expected haha.
Sinamsis
So I've started delving into this set up. Actually, I find OB does pretty well for audio. I'm using an Overhub into a USB 3 port, so I'm not sure if that's what is making the different. But compared to the audio coming from the direct out into my TB interface, they are very close, just slightly out of phase. I mean it's maybe 2 ms difference. I think that's acceptable, particularly with Ableton's track delay feature.

I ordered an APC40 mk II that's taking forever to get here. I got it at a very good price. I'm waiting to see if anything new comes out at NAMM but I suspect I'll get a Push 2. Using my Push1 currently, I see several ways it might be helpful live. Currently I have a couple loopers on a couple return tracks. I've been using the Push 1 to send a specific Elektron box to the looper, mute the source track and unmute the looper track, and then puts around with the looper track. I feel like Push 1 isn't that great for manipulating the looper. Particularly the fact that there's nothing mapped to turn reverse on, at least that I could find. I think the APC40 will be ideal for this. I may use the fader to put source material on the A side of the fader, mangled loops on the B side and flip between the two. Basically I'm trying to emulate some of the features of the OT in Ableton.

Should I consider a small dedicated controller for each looper? Like maybe one of those small Korg controllers? Or do you think I can do it all with an APC and a Push?
Sinamsis
Finally got the APC40 and Push 2 and set them up. I didn't get much time with them, but I see a lot of potential here. Both have their strengths and I think using them together will be fantastic. Push 2 is so much better integrated compared to Push 1. There are still some shortcoming that I've noticed, but it's much easier to navigate things. I haven't glanced at a manual and I was breezing through it. The crossfader on the APC is awesome. I do wish there were scribble strips so I wouldn't lose track of what's what, but I think as I get used to the layout I've created, that will become second nature.

Oh.... and I'm adding a Digitone to the set up haha.

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