Equipment for making music with field recordings?

as for arranging, one thing to try is finishing your track by “playing” the session view in Ableton with the record to arrangement feature. This lets you use whatever control surface you’d like (up to and including your computer keyboard and mouse, yes) to be the conductor, rather than the editor, of your piece of music.

If one is skittish about loops and grids, it’s easy to pick some random bar lengths for your loops to force things to come in and out of phase or to turn the “loop when finished” and/or “wait to start playing” feature(s) off.

… Actually, this is something I should do myself soon :thinking:


If I may add more questions to this question (and I admit… it’s something I’m interested in hearing your take on also for my own music process):
What is your final goal with making music? Are you primarily interested in the act of playing and shaping your musical material in real time, or are you also interested in recording the output… i.e. have a finished track you can release/post/share as the end result?
I find that the context of playing/jamming and the context of recording/editing/finalizing constantly get in the way with each other for me… that would actually be worth a separate topic BTW.

This said, another thing you might have to consider: on the long run I don’t think you can really get away with not having a proper audio interface of some sort. Fortunately some handheld recorders can also double as – often multi-channel – audio interfaces, at least all Zoom devices do that.

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Ah yeah. It doesn’t have that yet. A waveform view is being implemented but it’ll never be as clear as a laptop.

You could build a lot of your requirements with a software it hardware modular environment. That may be the best bet.

Given your already using/familiar with Ableton, Id say a Push2 is the ‘obvious’ step, it’ll give you some hands on control that you want - and gives you some interesting options to develop into …

i kind of partially agree with this , and partly disagree…
out of the box, of course it describes a certain flow…
but its actually very programmable, at a simple level with max4live, or beyond by writing your own applications.

Ableton published a full API document for it - so Ive got the push2 working with a rPI and Organelle , and also hooking up to a eurorack modular via Bela Salt - I admit thats quite technical , but creating your own Max4Live devices is much more approachable - and you could “easily” write things that moved outside the normal ‘workflow’ and made it less linear.

I think, reality is to get what you want, your going to end up investing time and money in this, and your choice is which you do you want to spend more of :wink:

I love the push2, there’s little on the market matching its display (certainly at the price point)

but if you want a cheaper option…

look at the push 1 (used) , its actually easier to program, and gives many of the benefits.
the big disadvantage i see for you , is not being able to display waveforms nicely, which really helps editing - but your can do this by ear.
( i think push1 is very underrated for non-ableton stuff, and as the used prices are dropping becoming really attractive)

cheaper than that, there are loads of controllers, launchpad, faders - again link these up with max4live and you could create a really interesting custom environment within Ableton.

I think also it’d be useful to ‘evolve’ your approach slowly,
a push would allow you to get some benefits immediately,
then slowly start learning and customising with Max4Live in ‘baby steps’,
as you get familiar, you could then utilise than max knowledge to start looking at building an even more customised system in Max.
all still using Push and any other controllers that you decide to add along the way.


this is a 100% of my music. I also recommend the random clip launch feature.

asynchronous music is totally possible in Ableton for anyone wondering, it’s just a matter of disabling the grid all the time and setting global quantization to None


so my input on all this, after having dumped a bunch of money real quick on both of monome’s controllers:

figure out a technique first. the things you’re looking to get at can be done with ableton and any old midi controller, just not as well as some other things might do it, but it’s totally enough to figure out how you would want to use a new thing. that’s what I love about software, is that you can totally try out little prototype versions of techniques before investing in anything, especially if coding is an interest.

something that sounds like it would interest you is a setup where everything you’re using in software at the moment is mapped to a controller. I’m working with something like that for the monome grid, but you can do it with anything really, it’s more about what you want to map and how you do that compositionally, and different controllers will work for different people.

I’m also probably gonna add that if you do go down this path something like max for live is going to unlock the process way more. it can turn ableton or just your laptop really into anything you want it to be, but there’s some learning curve there. but that’s what music is all about. coding in it’s nature isn’t exactly intuitive, but it’s really rewarding and you can make stuff that works just for you and that can be powerful. highly recommend a max for live + controller workflow !


i’m going to join the chorus here that says stick with ableton. i don’t think the hardware you have (and what is available) is going to be as immediate and responsive and flexible as ableton if you are looking to sample, manipulate and essential compose in real time. if you are already using ableton this is just another point on that side of the chart.

others have recommended hardware in this thread and i’m going to give the floor to them as I’m not an ableton user and don’t have experience with current interfaces.

get a decent audio interface and get a mic.


That’s awesome! I have a Push 1 and got tired of trying to play with sysex messages so that is really great to hear!

What happened to the field recordings?

Oh and on topic: I would focus on what processes you want to do and just pick some tools that seems to do those things. Then the rest is learning and experimenting. Then after a year have a look if it still makes sense :slight_smile:


From the inventor of the ER-301:


I think that this won’t necessarily be relevant to the OP’s question. Trying to find a sensible “order” on a buffer based on perceptual self-similarity sounds like a strange but interesting coding challenge

Yeah, that’s not at all what I was trying to draw attention to. The relevant bit is “one of my personal goals with the ER-301 is to support the process of composing with (long) field recordings”. It’s a friendly forum and the OP might enjoy asking some questions over there. Or not. I haven’t read all 42 posts in this thread, just noticed nobody had mentioned ER-301 and, again, its inventor had field recordings top of mind while designing it.


ahhhhhh I understand now, sorry!

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Have you thought about an iPad as a way to break free of the keyboard and mouse? There are some pretty inspirational music apps out there (samplr and borderlands would both be interesting with field recordings and are very expressive and hands on for example). I’ve personally gone down the modular route but I’ve been impressed with what people like Perplex On are able to produce with small synths, an iPad, and a controller - worth checking out the perplex_on instagram account (although it’s not field recording based).


Yeah, I actually made my first short song using Auxy on an Ipad air, it broke tho, and I don’t really want to buy another. I would rather buy equipment focused on field recording.

You probably have seen this:

EDIT: I have to say that their comparison chart (on the crowdfunding page) is highly misleading. For example they state that traditional hardware pedals usually have plastic buttons, while in fact most have guitar-pedal style heavy duty metal footswitches. They state 44.1 khz / 16bit being the strandard resolution for hardware loopers, while It’s not uncommon to find 24bit resolutions and sample rates up to 48Khz, etc.
Apart from this the thing does seem pretty nice and the price seems ok. But for completeness sake I just wanted to point out the above, take that chart with a pinch of salt.

Field recorders are focused on field recordings. The focus of music gear is often on workflow and different types of interaction.

@papernoise To combine the instruments I already play and use non musical sounds around me.

For me, process is more important than the outcome. I really just want to enjoy it and have fun

It’s hard to pin it down to one thing, there’s several things I would like to do, but also there are things I probably don’t know I want to do yet. I’m open to ideas

In the future I would also like to perform with other people.

I think also it’d be useful to ‘evolve’ your approach slowly

I would focus on what processes you want to do and just pick some tools that seems to do those things. Then the rest is learning and experimenting.

I appreciate the feedback; I’ve decided I’m going to buy a basic pad controller to use with Live and a handheld recorder, see what happens and go from there!


Most important… Have Fun!!!

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Field recording