Production - Live Setup vs. Studio Setup on limited budget

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Where does your sound producing gear fall?

Live performance focus
Studio recording focus
Somewhere between the two
Total votes: 19


Production - Live Setup vs. Studio Setup on limited budget

Post by Divinital » Sat Jul 20, 2019 4:09 pm


Just wanted to hear your opinions on what you tend to focus on as someone whose desire is to finish tracks front to back with the aim of releasing a complete work (CD, EP, etc.), as the artist (self-mastering not necessary or done by an outside hired party).

As someone with a limited budget I cannot decide between building up my production gear around performing live (which includes performing a track live into DAW and recording it or gigging) or focusing on studio recording (emphasis around sound designing, overdubbing, high caliber sounds)...

For instance, right now I'm choosing between the $20 drum machine Patterning 2 for iPad and the Roland TR-8S which can usually be found for $600 - $700 used. Both are very versatile as drum machines and to be honest overlap quite a bit in what they do, which only leaves one remaining question:

Should I be focusing on pre-building sounds and ideas through something like Patterning 2, and recording them one at a time, recording a new break, recording the next pattern, etc. or should I be focusing on skeleton setups and performing/improvising live using something like the Roland TR-8s? I guess it just depends on one's own workflow?

Just interested in hearing how everyone here goes about it, regarding sound producing sources, how you use them and what your setup emphasizes... I fall into the nebulous middle, I play guitar and other instruments live, but I can't decide if I want to improv any other aspects of the song live as well, or just play to a pre-designed backing track.

Lastly, let's say your focus is studio recording gear, how would you go about performing your recorded tracks live, or is that not something generally considered?

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Post by Koekepan » Sat Jul 20, 2019 9:31 pm

In general, it depends on workflow, and where it meets desired outcome.

The first question is: how good a live performer is one? If the answer is a scream followed by heartbroken sobbing, then trying to foster a live experience with your gear is a fool's errand. The compromises necessary to make something live-friendly won't help much.

On the other hand, if building a studio setup makes you want to start cutting yourself while mumbling about MIDI hurting, then maybe playing live into a multitrack recorder is about as studio-like as you want to be.

You mention wanting to create an album, but one can approach that from a number of angles, ranging from pointillism in MIDI, through to strumming and crooning while a recorder does its thing.

I sit somewhere in the middle. A lot of my gear is very happy in the studio, but perfectly usable on stage. Knobular devices make for good stage tweakability, but lots of MIDI CCs also make for an ability to fine-tune sounds in a repeatable fashion while composing.

I suppose what I'm really saying is: context matters.

That said, the context that you give suggests that you have yet to decide on your workflow, which leads me to ask: what frustrates you? What do you want more of? That should lead to the real answers.

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Post by Panason » Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:55 am

I thought i'd focus on live but i realised that in my local scene (everyone and his/her dog is a DJ- and they all get very competitive ) the only way to get to play is to run your own events with your own sound system and I aint' got the time or money for that.

Also, my stuff is still not very good so it's staying in the studio for now.
I like to be able to record a semi-live performance within the limitation of having only one pair of hands so I'm working on establishing a workflow that enables that- creating a pre-sequenced core structure that I can play around, adding live stuff on top.

Re: Patterning and iPad in general. I could never get into tapping on a piece of glass for any kind of performance. Gimme real buttons I can hit, or I 'm not interested.

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Post by slumberjack » Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:01 pm

A friend of mine plays a marvelous live show with hardware gear and acoustic Instruments only and is he produces very nice crafted songs in a DAW - he's a trained pianist and cello player. His sets are not sounding the way his productions are like and therefore only people keen enough to research get the idea of his music. He's got a huge fanbase for his sets but barely sells his records. He struggles since years with that he wont take a laptop to his shows and even the label which Releases him told him to at least play some of the tracks they pay to press on vinyl.

For me it's clear: If you want to produces and play shows you gotta find a way to work which makes it possible to interact with both worlds (studio and stage). Maybe use mostly (your own) samples on stage together with one or two hardware synths you use a lot in the studio.
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Post by chromakey » Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:43 pm

I'm interested in both, but am really starting out in the modular world after a prior period of MIDI/PC studio exploration. I want to take what I enjoyed most about that and emphasize the playfulness and exploration and sound design aspects. If it could be done in a way that could be shared outside the home studio, even better.

Some of the gear I'm acquiring supports live performance, some of it is about studio computer integration. For example, I just my first Eurorack case-- a portable case (Pittsburgh EP-208) just to give myself options. It'll have a Steppy and Marbles etc for standalone live play, but it'll also have an ES-3/5/6 in it for the PC. There is a eurorack/synth scene here, but it's small like the city, and I'm new in town. I'm looking forward to my first synth meet in this place, next month...

Hopefully after some time and experience, I'll get a truer sense of which direction(s) I most want to take it. I think it'd be fun to have a second and completely standalone portable that was small, light, and focused on specific kinds of projects out in the field and made with constraint, at least once I get a better sense of what I'd want in it.

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Post by BenA718 » Sat Aug 17, 2019 7:56 am

When I am writing new material I first think of whether it's going to be played live or not; if I'm not planning on playing it live, my approach is a little different.

However, if I am planning on playing a piece live, being able to perform it in one go is essential to me. So, I will get my live workflow figured out and practice the finished piece over and over. I then work out how I am going to capture that performance. If it's being written for multiple performers, there's no way to record it without overdubs but I still try to get the base tracks, as well as anything I will be performing, tracked live off the floor. I like setting up a session with as much playing live and going into separate inputs on my interface as possible. My current setup uses about 10 inputs on my interface setup (Focusrite OctoPre/18i20).

I find that if I work that way, the translation from recording to rehearsals to live show is much smoother than when I just focus on writing and recording a piece and then have to figure out how it's going to be performed live. The only fundamental difference is that I will use a mixer on stage to submix all those elements and give FoH one or two feeds.

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Post by naturligfunktion » Tue Aug 20, 2019 7:12 am

I really struggle to play my tracks live, which has been the case since I started to make electronic music. My plan was that the modular was to be a bridge here, but I haven't quite figured out how to translate my music in the studio to a live performance - especially if I am to play alone!

For quite some time I played around with the idea to make some sort of techno rig with my modular. It would probably have worked, but I honestly find it to expensive to build a new live case. Then I had this idea to bring my modular when I play vinyl, and use it like a dub thing, with delay and stuff. That will probably happen at some point.

For me, I find that techno music is really performed well if you are a good DJ. It is possible, at least for me, to make a far more interesting set if I play records, rather than to play a modular techno show. That being said, guys like Steevio are just amazing.


Post by Divinital » Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:17 pm

I just posted on a previous topic that I sold almost all my synth gear except recording stuff so... there I am.

I am rebuilding my setup from the ground up based around recording. I don't think, personally, it's worth it to me to create a live performance gear set with synths and such, as I am a guitar player. If I ever somehow get a label, then I'll be going all out with live gear. But for now, as a hobbyist whose focus is actual practice and recording full tracks, it's not for me.

Too much fiddling is a bad thing. Never getting to know my electronic instruments through and through was really holding me back. Back to the basics with a new computer + software, my Fender Strat and a single analog mono.

As you say, DJ'ing is really its own thing for electronic music. Lots of people produce and DJ these days, that's really where it's at. The issue for me is I can't really play guitar live as well as mangle/perform a DJ set so... Maybe being on my lonesome isn't always as cracked out to be as I made it.

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