Multritracking Modular with Ableton

Not EXACTLY monome related but I’ve gotten so much helpful info from people on this forum while lurking in the shadows so I thought I’d turn to you guys for some help directly.

I’m still really new to the modular scene and I’ve been running into a lot of frustrations when researching mixers, interfaces etc. that will allow me to send voices to individual channels in Ableton.

I’m planning to purchase the mutable mutable instruments shades module with the intention of running other modules through it to my 1st gen Scarlett 18i8 and then into Ableton. I’m basically wondering if the shades will bring the CV out down to a friendly level (sent via 3.5mm - 1/4 cable) that will be OK with my interface. Am I correctly understanding the function of Shades?

I had previously considered the ES-8 but it’s pricey right now and, while I like the expandability of it, at this point in my modular journey I’d like to explore limitations.

This is the rack if it’s of any help!
(Clouds, pressure points and (potentially shades?) still forthcoming)

just to clarify, are you talking about multitrack audio recording, or running actual control voltages into ableton for use with silent way or a similar cv>digital software?

and Shades would probably not do what you’re talking about. Shades is a cv or audio mixer but it doesn’t transform audio down to an appropriate level for your scarlett. there are modules that do that for audio - check out stuff like Intellijel’s ujack or Meng Qi’s Please Exist. looks like you already have a Rosie in there, which does this for two tracks.

that said, if audio multitracking is all you need to do, it’s just as easy and effective to use any DI box with a pad on it. I run signals from my modular into a few Radial Pro D2s and then into the pres on my saffire pro40. works great with no fuss and frees up precious hp space.

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I’m just talking about multitrack audio recording here.

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So it sounds like I just need a DI box then?

Yep - if you want to use more than the two outs that your Rosie supplies, a few DIs should work great.

i have shades & i use it all the time to bring my modular levels down before hitting the scarlett.

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I often plugin the modular directly to my 18i20 with the input gain all the way down and it seems to work fine.

my bad!

20 characters worth of being wrong!

I bought 1/4" mono to 1/8" mono cables and run them from any audio output on my modular directly to my motu interface. My motu has trims on the inputs to reduce the levels if necessary. But that’s pretty basic and works perfectly.


Ladik output - 4 line level outs in 4 hp! Just get some 1/8 to 1/4 cables. There is little control, but a cheap and easy way to bring the levels down. It sounds fine to my ears.

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Straight from modular to interface (RME Fireface 800) here. I trim the levels in the interface software mixer if necessary.

I also typically connect Veils or Clouds directly to my MOTU interface, or with an effects pedal in between. Both sound good to my ears, but I’m wondering if I’m missing out by not using a proper DI?

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Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 has built in pad functionality. Since you have the first gen you use Scarlett Mixcontrol. The “PFL” buttons in the UI are what you are looking for.

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Thanks @jasonw22, that’s great to know! never used Mixcontrol so looks like it’s time to check it out.

@shellfritsch are you using mixcontrol?

18i8 aside - just to clarify, could Shades be used to bring levels from say the STO or the telharmonic down to a level that would be okay to run through an external pedal or through an amp via a 1/8" to 1/4"?

and to @pirxthepilot’s point, would there be any disadvantage to doing this as opposed to using a DI box or something like the Please Exist @madeofoak mentioned (or the uJack or any of the other solutions like it).

I’ll check out the Ladik output thanks @kirklandish!

I have an expert sleepers ES-8 for this purpose. 4 channels, directly into the DAW. It’s pretty sweet. I know you want to ditch it, but…I guess I’m saying, I don’t know how! It’s kind of always there, humming along in the rig, doing exactly what you need it to. And in that sense, I don’t conceive of it as a opening too many doors within modular at all.

Before this, I’ve had success with 1/8" to 1/4" directly into a mixer, out of a VCA. So long as you get your levels right on a mixer, you can sum and go into your interface. Also serves just as well.

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Yeah, I see where you’re coming from. Especially given the doors it can open with Reaktor and silent way, I would say it’s definitely something on my list for the future. I have a powered make noise skiff I need to fill once I work out this case but I’ve basically run out of things in my house I can sell :sweat_smile: so now time to make due with what I’ve got!

Could the ES-8 ADAT output run through the 18i8 ADAT input to send CV input to the DAW? (ideally the 18i8 would have an ADAT output I could run through the ES-8)

Though I guess the lack of the ADAT out to the ES-8 would prevent sending CV from the computer to the modular gear.

The ADAT in the audio interface needs to be able to handle inputs and outputs to work with Expert Sleepers gear. The Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 only has ADAT inputs. I ended up buying a USBStreamer to use with my ES-3 and ES-5 and then combined the Scarlett and USBStreamer as an Aggregate Device in OS X for use with DAWs.

But maybe the ES-8 has different requirements with regard to ADAT? Anybody know?

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Yep, I use an Intellijell Triatt - almost the same thing - for the same purpose: sum channels down to the third out, and send that to my audio interface. You could use channels individually or together.

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ES-8 can be used primarily over USB. The configuration I’m in is as follows:

Audio + CV i/o <—> Ableton over USB, set up with an Aggregate Device.
World Clock out from Apollo 8 to ADAT in on the ES-8, which means that the Aggregate Device isn’t doing crazy work with clocking, inducing other latencies.

I came from ES-3 with USBStreamer, just like you, to this ES-8 setup, and like it way more. The space saved with 4 ins on one device is great, and the world clocking saving the CPU extra work is fantastic.

As far as I understand, however, you can use the ES-8 exactly as you would an ES-3 if you so choose. So to answer your question more simply: AFAIK, no, it does not have different requirements.

I use a uJack into my Scarlett but with only two outs, I then bought a few adaptor cables and use the pad on the Scarlett to get things to the right levels… never had any problems and cost the price of a few phono - TRS converter jacks.

for pedal integration I use an ALM SBG, which is cheap and can be used to get audio into the modular or attenuate audio out if you are not using it as a Send>Return loop.

it also converts CV to expression output if your pedals swing that way…