Help me design a decent live performance setup!

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Help me design a decent live performance setup!

Post by robkramble » Tue Jul 09, 2019 11:26 pm

Ahoy gang,

I'm in the process of transitioning into the live-performance world of electronic music, and brainstorming what kind of setup and limitations I could get by with. I'd like to do something similar to what Factory Floor are doing, just at local bars and the such.

I don't want to use a laptop/computer/anything with a screen, for the most part. I'd rather use explicitly musical devices designed for specific musical purposes, if that makes sense. Laptops are f***ing expensive and a bitch to fiddle with, imho. And they crash. Mine crashes a lot in fact, and has done so at several DJ gigs. :bang:

I've been thinking on my needs, and they'd be simple enough (I imagine).

I'd like to have some sort of sequencer with basic MIDI clips that I can play through my synths while I'm tweaking them and dub-mixing a whole track into a long-form dance-friendly buildup. Kind of like Ableton, but without Ableton/a computer. A song mode would be killer, as well.

So far, I've considered the option of using my Raspberry Pi, running a "headless" PureData patch, as a sort of MIDI CC/patch control hub in tandem with my MIDI Fighter Twister and it's 4 pages of 16 click-encoders (basically, it's a Behringer BCR-2000 without as many knobs). This would allow complete control of the gear from a single device. However, it doesn't solve the clip sequencing problem, and this might get old to perform with - you never know - so I'm open to other options as well.

Here's what I've got/will have on hand already:

•A Model:Samples + Tiptop Audio BD909 for drums (I like the idea of having a separate kick drum for processing and sidechaining)
•An SH-01A for clear rolling bass and zappy leads
•A Minitaur for extra chunky basslines
•An Eventide ModFactor for modulation (insert on SH-01A) and a TimeFactor for delay (aux send on mixer)
•A MOTU Ultralite mk3, which can function as a standalone mixer
•A Mackie Mix8 analog mixer
•A pair of well-worn Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones
•Two modular lunchboxes (lots of analog filters, a uBurst, and several modulation modules) [MODULARGRID PAGE INCOMING]

Here's gear I have my eye on already:
•A good MIDI clock
•A good MIDI interface that can run standalone (unlike my MOTU Micro Lite)
•An Elektron Digitakt or 1010 Black Box for sequencing and sampling capabilities, and performance-friendly features.
•A Korg Minilogue xD Module for rich polyphonic pads and weird moving sequences

My only caveat is no single item should be more than ~$500, please. I'm open to used gear and new, but don't want to spend a lot on any one thing.

I'm open to all suggestions! Literally, all of them. I'd love to learn from your experience, so please share your thoughts.


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Post by meska » Wed Jul 10, 2019 1:45 am

i thinck you should keep an eyes on octatrtack and gotharman ld3 ( an ot on seconde hand it's not so much) )
specialy if you like improvisation ,the operformence new effect + mididsequencing: live and sync resampling ect
and (it's realy personal) but i like have less gear as possible in my live setup for workflow , transport ect
so machine with many option is good choice for my point of view

personaly my live set up is octatrack/gotharman ld3/elektron md

all this machine have many "performence" capability and offer many option for improvisation
so i can sample on the fly, any parte of improvisation, modify it and comme back the new sound with the original kick ect...
you can have pad on MD and LD3 (with cv otpion) and i use it to triger effect and sound with piezzo, use he moph setting of the OT and tyhe LD3 ect

And i make modification of my chgoice around +-1.5 years ^^ good luck
tremblap wrote: In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.

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Post by jabberwalky » Wed Jul 10, 2019 5:40 am

I have a few similar devices in my live setup.

I've been performing with this core setup for the past year, and it's been pretty nice:

Elektron Octatrack - Main sequencer
Novation Circuit - Drums, 2x polysynths
Sh01a - Bass
Sh01a - Seqs/FX
PreenFm2 - percussion/keys/4 part multitimbral mono lines
Mackie Mix8
headphones -ath40

It's quite flexible, and quickly adaptable to improvising. I keep drum sequences and occasional poly lines within the Circuit just to offload some of the octa work. I also like to visually see my drum patterns. It has sample flip so 4 tracks can go a bit further than it would seem.

That Factory Floor track is pretty simple (so keep things minimal)

-1010Music Blackbox if you can find one.
-Novation Circuit midi sequencing/internal synths/ and running drums/ doing vocal snippets (you could even find 2 used ones and be within $500)
-Digitakt (beyond your budget, but can sample longer lines than a circuit)
Bitcrusher and echo pedal

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Post by BTG » Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:31 am

My current setup for live ambient is a Digitone Keys (sequencer + keys), Tasty Chips GR-1 (ambient pads), Model:Samples for drums (but may replace with a Digitakt or SP16), Zoia for effects, and a Radial Key Largo for mixing.

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Post by Nightly Closures » Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:10 am

Get a backup dancer, smoke machine and some lights.

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Post by neuroportal » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:24 am

Nightly Closures wrote:Get a backup dancer, smoke machine and some lights.

And Lasers, Man. Lasers.

But seriously, and I could be off base here as a lot of places have them, but if this live is for playing live in venues, then should a decent DI box be considered just in case? Also I think that Hainbach has mentioned use of a Bugbrang Stereo compressor - I guess saves on inadvertently bursting audience eardrums/venue kit on occasion. Although I could have made that up.

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Post by Technologear? » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:39 am

Very high standard set by Factory Floor. I admire that goal.

This is Factory Floor live, where you can really work out how they're getting things to sound so great. I really appreciate that the members are interacting and responding musically to one another subtly. And playing parts live. They're a 2 piece now.

- - -

I think you've already got gear good enough to make good tunes if your a solo artist.

I suggest you buy nothing other than a Keystep for the Minitaur. It's midi settings are so easy to setup. And you can transpose live using the keybed once a sequence is running. Use internal sequencer of the sh01a. Keystep has 8 save slots - write 8 songs just with the gear you have. By then you'll understand your sequencer needs much better, both for track generation and live playing. I think sequencers are a more personal purchase decision than any synth. But keep saving - you might want something $$$, like the underated Toriaz or an MPC. And you'll want to keep building your modular fx.

The hardest part is writing minimal songs that hold your interest and with enough space for live play. More than just opening the filter knob as the song builds!

I personally went more in the Factory Floor direction: no sequencer but 2 other band members, playing live, using onboard arps/sequencers and live playing keys. No live drums though. I dub mix through 4 aux sends and heavily effect what the other 2 guys are sending the desk from their synths.

Good luck, I hope you make awesome music

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Post by TheRosskonian » Wed Jul 10, 2019 11:04 am

Nice discussion, your original post answers a lot of common questions that come up in these type of threads. I think the biggest thing you'll have to decide on is how you want to perform and how you want to compose things (how much do you want to program in ahead of time vs on the fly). From there, you can figure out the biggest decision in gear for you: the sequencer.

I really like your idea of using a Raspberry Pi for interfacing a MIDI Fighter Twister. I use the Twister all the time in a DAW, but never touch it otherwise since it's USB only.

One thing to keep in mind is lugging around all of that gear. Depending on how complicated your setup is, that can be quite a lot of work for setup and take-down, not to mention you could easily spend $500 on cases and bags alone (here is my plug for Decksavers on whatever gear you do decide upon). There is a lot of wisdom in the "less is more" philosophy behind playing live. Less gear means your focus is less divided among each piece of gear.

If you have not already, I would recommend trying out a liveset with just the gear you have alone. Assuming you have some type of trigger sequencer or MIDI to CV in your lunchbox (you have not yet linked your modulargrid), you could build a lot using the on-board sequencer of the SH-01A and the Model:Samples (I could be mistaken, but I believe you can substitute a sample track for a sequencer track).

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Post by Koekepan » Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:03 pm

I know that this would bust your budget, but I think that for the brains of the system, you couldn't do much better near your budget than the Social Entropy Engine.

It's out of production, but recent, and its tank-like build and solid support means that buying one used shouldn't cause too much heartache.

It has song mode, 8 channels of MIDI, can get the CV/Gate extension if you want, and solves your clock problem as well (it has a DIN SYNC port too).

Model:Samples isn't a bad thought.

Novation Circuit would be cool, too.

Consider a Waldorf Blofeld. It fits in your budget (barely) and produces massive sounds, including a polyphonic mode that makes it a surprisingly useful soundstage expander.

The Volca FM is excellent, when combined with a nice little multiFX pedal. The Zoom G1on is very cheap, highly capable. If you want live knobtwiddling, go with the G3n.

Speaking of good Volcas, if you don't mind the sound import process, consider the Volca Sample as well. Ignore its internal sequencer, and drive it from your sequencer.

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Post by Sounds From The Shed » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:53 pm

Construction workers help!


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Post by Borgbilly » Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:33 pm

I am down with your plight as I am working toward the same end - I want the laptop off of my table. For me the focus has become much more about getting fast, light and highly reliable. I think this is the order of the day for getting gigs, especially when you are the opening act.

I am still very much in search of the right tool to serve as the sequencer/arranger for my rig. I have been using a Korg Electribe Sampler to act as the core drum machine/multi track sequencer. It has been a lot of fun to perform with, but I feel it's sampling capability is a bit underwhelming. So I took the plunge a couple days ago, purchased a 1010 Music Black Box and am anxiously awaiting arrival.

I'll keep you posted as to whether or not there will be an Electribe coming up for sale.

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Post by BDProject » Wed Jul 31, 2019 2:56 pm

One thing to keep in mind is the actual space the gear takes, and how much you can realistically transport and use on a given stage. Is this for playing locally? Do you need to fly with it?

Personally, I've been playing my first sets this year, and only locally, so I know I can bring a bit more than if I had to fly. Even then, I've been trying to keep my setup to a minimum to focus on playability, fun, and to reduce stress (first sets after all!).

My live setup has been:
- Digitakt: drums, sequencing, and arranging (using patterns to create different sections per track, as in intro/verse/chorus/etc.).
- Octatrack: Backing track of anything I don't want to bring on stage. Usually my modular rig.
- Moog Grandmother: Leads, Arps, Bass...
- 2 FX pedals for the Moog GM.
- A mixer

I've used the same setup to create my live set, with the addition of my modular rig, which is usually 4 voices. So basically, I take only one voice with me (the Moog GM), and leave the rest at home and sample it in the Octatrack instead.

This allows me to focus my attention on song arrangement and drums (Digitakt), and playing the Moog GM or tweaking FX. Or a combination of everything!

Even if I had enough room and an entire crew to carry my gear, I don't think I'd bring much more to a live set at this point. I think it's more important to get in the zone with one or 2 pieces of gear while on stage. I would hope that's something the audience can see and relate to.

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