Extending the setup with...?

My current setup is just a few tape decks for looping, a grid and an arc for some manipulation of the loops and whatever acoustic instruments I got at hand for the moment together with some field recordings. I love the simplicity of it but sometimes I feel like I want a bit more flexibility and be able to to other things with the loops I use. So, I’m looking into extending the setup a bit.

The obvious choice would be an octatrack, guess it’s a good time to get a second hand unit now when the mk2 comes out. But I’ve mostly seen it used together with a bunch of other stuff in sync and live sampling from md, a4 or other devices, so how does it hold up on its own? How does it handle looping when you don’t care about beats and time signatures but just building up and using multiple loops slightly out of sync?

Another alternative would be the Push 2, I know Live and I used it regularly but not as a live looper. But this would of course give other benefits, but how does the Push 2 support the looper effect? Have read both good and bad regarding this, so anyone got any experiences?

I imagine I will get both sometime in the future, but might be some time before I do. Main question here I guess is, what to get first and why?

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That’s one of the things that the OT isn’t good at. You can tell that the thing was made with beat-oriented music in mind.
To loop you can either use pickup machines, that work like classic loopers, or the normal sampling (flex macines). While you can have each track use a different length and speed, all of them are bound to the same underlying BPM setting and can’t be totally free. With the loopers it’s even more tricky afaik, but I haven’t really used multiple loopers yet.

if you are comfortable with a little programming, ChucK features a live sampler object (LiSa) which can be abused in multiple ways.
I’m currently building a grid app with it that starts with the paradigm of a reel-to-reel tape loop (well two loops actually) and tries to explore/implement manipulations allowed by the non-physicality of those “digital tapes”. Probably reinventing the wheel but building the tools is an important part of my ability to use them, and it’s probably not much longer than to acquire fluency with devices like the Octatrack.


Well, I do program some in C# and done some stuff in Max, I’ve done some live looping stuff using Max but haven’t integrated if with the grid so that might be one thing to explore further of course. I’m not totally uncomfortable going this way, as you say it’s a way to really integrate the tool with the way it’s aimed to be used. But one of the reasons to go Push and/or Octatrack for me is the extra stuff except the actual looping. For the Octatrack it’s the sequencer and parameterlocks and manipulating audio coming in to it from tape loops, etc. For the Push it’s the integration with live in the basement studio. I see this as a big bonus and stuff I might use in other projects and context even if my main use right now would be looping.

Hi, I have an OT and, I’ll be honest, I think that is a difficult piece to learn, form my side it isn’t intuitive and this could be frustrating, in fact I never use it… but it could be my problem, I need of something that not breaks my ideas with something else totally extraneous to my workflow. to create/play loop on the fly I use an OP-1 and an Electro Harmonix 2880, a very basic looper but extremely creative for the same reason: be a very basic looper :slight_smile:
Push 2 is not bad, but the sample management is limited and rough, most of times I have to work with mouse on pc.

If you decide to go the push route there is pushMLR as a max4live plugin.

Haven’t played around that much with mlr in a long time, but isn’t mlr very much tied to synced loops? But could be a good way to check out how to make the the Push and Max work together.

What I’m doing a lot is loops slightly out of sync, 7 second loop, a 7,5 second loop and a 15 second loop, etc. So nothing rythmical in a classic musical sense of one loop at 16 bars, one at 32 bars, all of them doing a 4/4 dance together, more exploring emergent patterns and rhythms these loops create as they drift apart… This is of course really easy using tapes, just cutting the length of the tape to different lengths. Won’t abandon the tape decks, but sometimes it would be nice to incorporate some of these techniques using a smaller piece of gear not needing to spread out over the whole living room floor.

But maybe Max and Push (or just doing it for the monome and arc) would be a good way to proceed.

it excels at clock synced loop manipulation but i think you can get around that without too much trouble.

you can input loops of whatever length you want and if you set a loop’s playback speed to “1” it will loop freely without regard for the clock. button press quantization can be disabled too. if you are sampling loops in realtime you can specify a variety of loop lengths, which are based on clock divisions, but you could probably get some interesting results by turning the clock down to a really low speed and selecting odd loop lengths. might take a bit of experimentation but since you already have live and a grid doesn’t hurt to try. check out re:mix, the latest incarnation of mlr.


@Rodrigo amazing work!
:innocent: Karma~ 1.0 (sampler/looper external for Max)

and/or any monome clip trigger for ableton
live doesn’t care how long the clips are, loops 'em all


Yeah, I’ve built most stuff I’ve done in Max using Karma, so amazingly good!!! Might need to delve into how to make the things I’ve built use the Grid and Arc cause that’s one of the things I’ve never learnt, just used prebuilt stuff that used these devices.

Thanks! Will look into it, just played around with it with guitar years ago but never delved into it further than just recording straight synced loops and played around with them.

I never had a (guitar pedal) looper, but I believe there’s many on the market now since Boss started it.
To my old eyes, this all seems so complicate! I had MIDI when it was born and never felt the need for anything else since. My main sampler today is an Akai S-5000 with 16 audio outputs and a good 20 mins of stereo capacity, and I suppose I use it as a living-room full of tape machines. Instead of having to step on a footpedal, I use my keyboard in the old fashion way. The sampler doen’t push me into syncronized beats, and sometimes instead of looking for the perfect time-stretch to syncronize two loops if that’s the goal, I’ll use a little bit of Pitch-bend, simple as that. Replicating the speed variator you find on many tape machines. To de-sync two loops uses the same routine, if not simply playing on different notes (1/2speed = 1 octave down).
From there 2 octopairs cables connect to the mixer, and inside the sampler you can freely assign your outputs (as mono or pairs), so you only need a sticker to identify the source on your mixer track, as compared to moving your tape machines around the room. Very similarily to a tape machine, it doesn’t record and play at the same time, and there will be moments when you want to do that, so I would advise buying several and it still won’t fill the room. Totally underestimated machine thus very very cheap. Not limited to loops of course, built-in FX, splendid tool.
Similarly priced machines are the Akai DR-8 recorders with the best converters you could find, of which I have 2. I also keep my old MC-500 sequencer so I can duplicate MIDI tracks and chose whether to sync, same with the recorders that serve multiple uses. A life in pairs.

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Hey, the OT can do this. Basically you don’t use the sequencer at all, just manually record into one of the 8 buffers (assigned to the 8 tracks), then manually trigger the machines (track+play), and the length of the loop will be however long the recorded sample was. You can stop them manually too or replace the buffers on the fly by just recording again. The only interesting trick it can’t do is using an LFO to scan through the waveform (you can do it manually though, trimming sample even while it loops). This trick can be achieved with the Digitakt, but it’s not really as flexible a looper and it doesn’t have all the cool performance tricks (crossfader).

A cool match for an Octatrack-based looping setup is a TimeFactor. You can feed it tracks at will using the cue outputs, and you get midi control of loop size and position, as well pitch and LP/HP filter. It can get weird really quick with midi parameter locks and 3+ LFOs.


Reading interesting stuff but without really knowing what you mean by “scanning through the waveform with an LFO”. Would you mind explain that with different words? How it sounds?

Yeah, so basically: imagine you have a some audio in the buffer. It plays start to finish, then loops. Now imagine two knobs, one controlling start point and the other controlling end point. If the end point is set to be very near the start point, the loop will be short and it’ll sound like a glitchy retrigger, then you can move this window around with the start point knob. Applying modulation to these two parameters yields pretty fun results.


Hadn’t considered this! One thing I’ve learned about the OT… there will always be something it can do that you haven’t tried or found out about yet :slight_smile:
I’ll actually have to try and use that some time.

Actually the Boss RC-505 is great to do this kind of stuff as well. But it’s bulky for what it does and looks like a cheap light show. But you get all the options to run in sync, or totally free.

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Sounds excellent, ended up getting Push 2 and Live suite as my frustration with Logic came to a point where we couldn’t stand each other. But will most certainly get an Octatrack some time in the near future!

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