Cracking the code here. Ive begun working w Ableton Live and the MPC2500 to develop the framework for a new live rig, you know for when we can have shows again in the US.
My MPC is limited to 128meg of ram, which is more than enough to develop tracks on, but is it enough for a say… 45 min performance? Well, in all actuality the answer is YES but I’m no MPC virtuoso, so I’ve come up with this workaround.
Port A of the midi outs on the MPC are routed to my Laptop based Ableton rig, triggering midi via a Motu Ultralite. Midi notes have been mapped to scenes that control Ableton’s global tempo, this is important because im using a few channels of IO to use plugins on the sends and returns of my mixer, which is the heart of this rig, but I’ll get back to that. Currently I’m only triggering long atmospheric samples in Ableton as the system is only as latent as the weakest link and i’ve fount that triggering one shot drums is a little sloppy (though i could certainly use that to my advantage in some regards). The nice thing about working this way is that I can keep my short percussive samples in the MPC and the longer ones in Ableton, and allow me to use some fx plugins that sound vastly better than the hardware fx I own.
Another benefit of relying on scene launches to control my Ableton session’s BPM; i don’t need to send midi clock between the two, Ableton is simply acting as a sound module and fx processor vs a sync’ed device.
This is helpful because if need be i can stop the MPC during a set and load different sample banks or sequences on the fly, kind of letting Ableton autopilot for the time it takes to get the new material on the MPC. I sort of took the idea from the concept of 2 turntables and a mixer, one can play while the DJ digs for another tune.
Back to my mixer. I have a 16 channel rackmounted soundcraft console on a rolling rack that has a tilt so i can change the pitch of the mixer. When standing i can leave it nearly horizontal to the floor and its a great heigh to have an overview of my mix. I have the stereo outs from the MPC and 6 of the individual outs on 1-8, and then I have 2 stereo channels for sounds coming from Ableton on 9-12 and then finally i have stereo returns from Ableton’s fX channels returning on 15/16 so i can feed those channels to other auxes as i need (dub and dub techno is sort of the flavor of the week). As is, the MPC is on the left, the mixer center and the laptop on the right. Its feeling very natural and with the right labelling scheme and some mightybrite led lamps, i think i’ll be able to overview the mix at a glance.
Lastly, sample transfers and management. I do a lot of sound design for the MPC in Ableton, and its been great to, via USB, simply render my samples at 44.1/16 bit directly to the memory card of the Akai. So, i can be jamming with this setup, and simultaneously develop new material in Ableton while the whole rig is running. If i come up with something I like, can stop the setup and do a quick render that’ll populate directly to the MPC. so any drum sounds/samples are “auditioned” within the set, more or less taking guesswork out of the equation.
This all took a few days to wrap my head around (it started where most good ideas come from, the shower) and I’m certain it’ll get more involved as i learn the strengths and weakness of this setup but HOLY SHIT is it fun. I’m saving some outputs from both devices to use with Ableton’s CV toolkit and outs on the Akai to trigger gates for a small modular I’m planning, so there will certainly be some chaos to this setup as well.
Anyhow, I’m excited, and thanks for attending my TED talk.