What hardware should I get?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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What hardware should I get?

Post by oober349 » Tue Oct 08, 2013 2:52 pm

Hi guys--

I'm an experimental laptop musician and composer and I'm looking to enhance my live performance capabilities with an mpc-type device. I use Ableton Live 9.

My issue is this: I want to use one of these types of devices but I have a few very specific parameters I need met

-I want to be able to interface with 2 other midi controllers (a keyboard and an EWI) with this device, although if that's possible by connecting them to the laptop that's fine.

-I want to be able to do live in-performance recordings to be used during my set (the microphone can have either an xlr or usb output for this exercise)

-I want to be able to loop recordings and samples I make with the midi controllers, mic and samples on my computer, and I don't want to be limited to less than a dozen or so loops.

-I want to have the option of disabling beat quantization. It will be used sometimes, but I want it to be possible to have multiple tracks, samples or on-the-spot recorded loops totally out of phase with each other without a snapped to tempo.

I have looked at a few mpcs, including the akai renaissance, which looks cool. The APC40 seems like a nice device, and the price certainly is right.

What do you guys think? Do I need a separate mpc and loop pedal? Is the desire for beat quantization a pipe dream? What should I get?

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Re: What hardware should I get?

Post by yur2die4 » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:15 pm

What gear do you have right now? So there's no overlap.

Sounds like an audio interface and a controller with pads or something, but it's hard to discern your needs.

There is the process of using and exploiting Live's functionality to your needs. This requires ingenuity and practice, experimentation. You can usually do the experiment phase without buying a device yet. (For instance, nothing is stopping you from doing loop experiments right now to see what you can do about quantization)

Once you've summed up your specific needs, and how your set "functions", then you can have a better idea of what hardware can fill the Gap. The gap of limitations. Controllers with the specific functions to carry out your predefined process.

Also, Live 9 sounds like the right choice, but potential alternatives are Traktor and Maschine. I think Live would in the end make a 'bigger' set easier to manage though.

Dr Dub
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Re: What hardware should I get?

Post by Dr Dub » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:56 pm

I think every Pad Controller could work for you, try them out at a music store and take the one with the best playability for you.

If you want even more possibilities get Push.

But all the points you mention happen in the Software, not the controller.

-3 Midi Controller at once are possible with Ableton, does not depend on the controllers

-recording clips while performing and playing them back is no problem, for the mic you need an audiointerface with preamp(s)

-Quantization also happens in the software, you can disable recording quantization and you can also disable the Quantization for starting clips

APC is nice for controlling clips but not for mpc like playing (not velocity sensitive)

akai renaissance is quite expansive and you have to use the akai software

get a Korg padkontrol or something like this or get Push.
Live Suite 9 - MBPR 15 - NI Komplete Audio 6 - Push - Brain - Hands - Melodica

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Re: What hardware should I get?

Post by GUY SMILEY » Tue Oct 08, 2013 4:10 pm

Have you looked at the Octatrack ?
May not be what you're after, but worth investigating if you want to break from using your laptop so heavily

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Re: What hardware should I get?

Post by TheNobleNemesis » Wed Oct 09, 2013 1:10 am

In case you were planning on buying something with both keys and pads (MPK25/49/88) I highly reccomend you stay away from that dark alley. The knobs and dials make the MPK25 immediately worth it, but if the drum pads are a selling point to you, you may be dissapointed. The pads on most MPK models are indeed MPC pads, but for whatever reason, are practically inoperable. With constant note-missing, composing any sort of drumline on it is near impossible.

That being said, while the ever-hyped MPC probably has plenty of nice features; there's also the Maschine or Maschine Mikro (Or the new Maschine Studio) which come with Massive, Komplete Elements, and have incredible, incredible drum pads. (Alright, alright, i'm done being Native Instruments's salesman)

Anyways, the thing about this is, is that you really should avoid unnecessary features. The Launchpad S has even more pads for you to use without the danger of fader-snappage.
The Maschine has just as good (if not better) pads than the MPC. In reality, you're 99% of the time only going to be using the pads anyways, so why bother with all of these extras?

I hope this helps!

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Re: What hardware should I get?

Post by _seph » Wed Oct 09, 2013 4:51 pm

my compact Live setup is somewhat like yours and it sounds as though we have a similar style

I cannot recommend Push more highly. it is pricey but a perfect controller/instrument for Live. if this isn't an option, then I feel that an APC40 would be the next best option for what you're after.

for most things you're wanting to do, Live is going to handle it (assuming that you have the Suite). what you need is a controller that best handles Live and that is where either Push or an APC comes in. I really don't think a MPC controller would be what you're after and for that classic 4x4 drum pad style, there are better options.

my laptop centric rig is Push along with a KMI SoftStep, iPad2 (Lemur, Samplr and other things) w/ iO Dock, a set of AudioCubes and I will be adding an EWI-USB soon.

one consideration, for realtime looping and effects you may think about KMI's SoftStep as it is a great pressure responsive foot controller that is excellent for Live's Looper and other uses while your hands are otherwise occupied. their QuNexus is another really nice compact controller and I'd love to have one if just to keep in my laptop bag. also, their QuNeo is arguably the best best 4x4 drum pad presently available. I could easily put everything they make to good use and it's all well made and reasonably priced.

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