Live looping/effects/chopping setup ambitions

I wanted to make a little thread documenting my efforts to setup a live looping and chopping and effects setup with minimal equipment. I’ve been procrastinating starting this project for too long, and maybe this will help get things going.

The general goal is to put together one instrument that I can use to play a variety of electronic music live. I also want it to be as minimal a setup as possible. I’m not interested in doing any sequencing whatsoever. A similar but much more complicated setup: He uses reaktor.

The basic functions I want to control through hardware:

  1. Select a track/instrument
  2. Play the instrument/track with the 16-pads (or routed in from synth)
  3. Loop that instrument with toggling of overdub
  4. Chop a loop (monome/mlr style)
  5. Add and adjust effects to an instrument/track

I’m going to try and base it all around just the microkorg and the maschine mikro. I also have the behringer fcb1010 pedal board, an m-audio axiom keyboard, and a korg nanopad. Ideally I’d rather have a nice hard synth module, hook up my axiom to it, and abandon the microkorg, but don’t have the money currently. One thing I’m lacking is enough faders and knobs, so I might pull in the axiom for that reason, or perhaps I can do effects in some way with the maschine pads. The pedal board may prove essential for looping, but I want to leave it out for now and see if I can do without it. Bottom line is that my immediate goal will be to script for the maschine mikro and see how much I can do with that.

I’m going to start out with numbers 1 - 3 on the maschine. I’ll work on a Duplex plugin for the maschine mikro and see whether I can achieve those things.

I am a programmer by day (server-side web dev), so it should be at least somewhat doable for me.

The Delay device is capable of recording up to (I think) a total length of 32 beats. Depending on the overall BPM/tempo, you can easily achieve very long delay times with this effect, with a reasonable amount of control over the signal (volume, panning, wet/dry mix )
As for the minimalist approach, I would simply see how far I could get without writing any special scripts etc., using Renoise and it’s built-in capabilities.

Btw: did you see Sato’s topic about live looping? Lookie here

On second thought, a purely native solution probably wouldn’t be sufficient. Although it would go some of the way, I suspect you know
exactly where you want to bring this?

  1. Select a track/instrument

Yes, merging the track & instrument into a single logic unit can reduce complexity. Good point.

  1. Play the instrument/track with the 16-pads (or routed in from synth)

The “new” instrument routing options should make it possible to set up per-instrument track routings, which would complement (1)
Alternatively, the Duplex keyboard has similar options, and will work with pads that transmit CC messages instead of notes.

  1. Loop that instrument with toggling of overdub

Now we get to the tricky part. Although you could probably devise a setup which would allow this, it still wouldn’t allow you to…

  1. Chop a loop (monome/mlr style)

This is about setting up cue points, and controlling the loop? I’m not really too familiar with the mlr. But doing this natively, on a
delay buffer, isn’t possible. So, you would either need to record the audio into a sample (see Duplex Recorder for a possible
implementation), or use an external plugin to capture and manipulate the audio. Again, I’m pointing to satobox’ post :slight_smile:

  1. Add and adjust effects to an instrument/track

If you know which effects you want, I would suggest to drop the “add effects” part and focusing on adjustments. We are talking
about dozens of DSP effects, selecting between those, adding to the mix, navigating between them. It’s a lot of work!

The alternative would be to use the built-in “automapped” effect parameters, or something like the Duplex Effect application.
Both will allow you to select a track / effect and make it’s parameters immediately available.

Thanks for the input. It does seem as though I could do nearly all of it natively or with Duplex – perhaps the real project will be to write an MLR clone for Duplex, if possible, which I think a lot of people would enjoy. I’ll work on the setup and take a look at the various api’s over the coming week and report any progress.

mlr example:

Here’s a small progress update, after very slowly hacking away at this each week: I’ve got a duplex controller going for my Maschine Mikro, controlling track selection, transport, and effects, which has worked well. What hasn’t worked well so far is any live looping using the Recorder as well as usable instrument selection (my issues were asked in the Q&A section)

I think I’m going to try integrating renoise with the SooperLooper. Then, Renoise would just be used for sampling and effects

I’m also tempted to just go buy hardware. I’m not really sure why this has been so hard to set up.