A Privileged Problem


Good evening to you all.

I’'m lucky enough to have added some great gear to my music room in recent months. However, as always, my way of working has been disturbed and I think I could do with the insight of others to give me some ideas.

So, my setup for a long period has been two Octatracks both connected to a Digitone via a Midi Merge. The outputs of the 3 machines go into my Allen and Heath DB4 and the 2 OTs are like two separate decks that play the individual elements of a track. I would mix one pattern into the other one for transitions. Everything worked well but I like boxes that make noises and that have lights so this has gradually expanded.

My setup is not the following:

Octatrack x 2
Akai MPC Live (Being delivered next week)
Roland TR8s (Coming in 2 weeks)
Arturia Keystep

The problem now is that transitions are going to be a problem.

If I use the TR8s live, when I go to my next song it will jump when the pattern change takes place. The DB4 has a looping function but it is not super tight and it wanders slightly which make the transition a little untidy.

I don’t really want to record the TR8s into the OTs as loops. I like to be able to mess with the drum elements live and recording the loops into the OTs removes that freedom. I do, essentially, want to be able to perform live with 2 OTs, the TR8s, Digitone and the DB4. I’m just not imaginative enough to picture the best way to exploit the best live setup with this lot.

I wanted to get a drum machine that would improve the sound of my drums and with Techno being the genre I enjoy most, the TR8s seemed a good idea.

I think my setup is a dream for making tracks but I’ve complicated things for live performance which is my focus.

Any ideas are welcome.

Thanks for your time as always,


your problem is you have about 6 things that do the same thing. the brain can only really process maybe 5 different voices at once. listen to your favorite tunes. even if they have ‘layers’ theres usually not more than: a sample, a drum, a pad, bass, and lead.

in your case you could have probably done a live set on one Octatrack.

this reminds me of an (apocryphal?) story of a Richie Hawtin tour where it was boldly proclaimed that he had 128 controls he was using for the performance. guess how many he actually used? you can bet it was a lot less than 128


My advice is at least wait to try out the gear you have ordered and are waiting for.

Often I will take one or two items away from my desk and jam out some stuff on my bed. It’s much easier to focus with less gear. Work the ideas up a bit, then when you’re happy, go back to the desk / studio and add / process / record.


Cheers for your replies.
Yeah, the overlap with my equipment is part of the headache, you’re right.
The TR8S can easily be cancelled; I’m may just do that to stop the situation for a while.


You have awesome problems!
As much as I wanted to love the TR8s, I just don’t and I’m not sure why…it was on ‘the list’ for a long while. I went with a Digitakt and really like it, but that’s all personal stuff. I am tempted to get a Digitone for drums. My thinking was to get cool drum beats and patterns on the DN , sample em into the OT and free up the DN to be a synth again. But I also like slicing in OT, which is why a dedicated drum machine isn’t as much of a priority


Your setup here is much more of a studio setup than a live one imo. It’s a nice bunch of stuff and I don’t think it’s an outrageous amount of devices. I think if you use it for a while and don’t jump straight into live scenarios you will find your way to use things together. Your setup has to work like one big machine otherwise you’re going to underutilise things. I wouldn’t want to take all that stuff on stage anyway, all it takes is one dickhead to throw a cup in the air and zzzt, 3-4 grand down the pisser. Probably an unlikely scenario but not a risk worth taking

If I were you I’d grab a pen and paper, write down your gear and needs and plan your midi and audio routing. Don’t try to use both OTs and the MPC as your midi sequencer. I’d probably use it all as a home setup and for live bounce down my sets and use either

  1. two OTs or
    2.One OT and the MPC

Ether one of those combinations will make for easy transitions and give you more than enough room for playing around and tweaking stuff live. If you’re still wanting to use other stuff live maybe build multiple sets like a DN+OT set, OT+MPC, DFAM+DN. you’ve got lots of options, no need to use them all at once


Superstar. That’s a great response.
Yeah, I hadn’t thought of different “mini” setups.

I’ll think about the different combinations I could create.


Two OTs and a Live at the same time is… overkill. But I commend you if you can pull that off.


Yeah, I’m going to see how this all turns out. Happy madness is great. Madness - not so much.


I don’t know if this is what you want to hear, and it’s not intended to be negative, but…
Personally I wouldn’t add more gear if I don’t know how or what I’m going to do with it, unless a long interesting sonic journey with no expectations of making it all work together anytime soon seems like fun, just stuff to mess around and learn for awhile and make some noise… There’s nothing wrong with that but it will take much longer to get a solid workflow. Anytime I’ve gotten something new I’ve already had a vision of what I was going to do with it and already had a good knowledge and handle of the gear I’ve already had. For me this takes years but is a nice rewarding journey that I enjoy…

That being said, how about the good ol OT transition trick? You say you don’t want to record loops but for the transition trick you just use one of your 16 recorder buffers to capture a loop in realtime and only use it for the transition, once the transition is made you don’t use the loop and have full control from the gear again. You’d just need to figure out some audio routing to get all your sounds happening running through an OT input pair…

I also support the full studio setup rig and then smaller live rig combo idea…


yeah, way too much stuff to try and use live. live setup does not equal studio setup, generally speaking. hell, even Autechre only used two Elektron boxes, a Nord and an MPC the last they toured. and there were two of 'em!

my advice is to finish some tracks first (or take something you’ve already finished). also learn your incoming equipment first. then start with something like breaking the stems out of the DAW, putting 'em into one OT and jamming with them. you’ll have a lot of fun re-creating the track but also creating something new at the same time. then see what you’d like to add to that, if anything.

i.e. start simple. build. don’t assume you need to take your entire studio out. you don’t.


Cheers for the advice.
Yeah, the OT transition is an option I was considering. And yeah, I’ve rushed into getting new stuff without fully understanding the old; I’ve no room on my desk now anyway so it’ll have to stop!

I’m going to slow down and get deeper with what I have. Meanwhile, also form a simpler idea in my mind in relation to performing.

Having these discussions are more beneficial to me than spending an afternoon trying different combinations of setup. The conundrum is my perspective rather than my equipment.


Thanks for your insight. Yeah, you’re right about the enjoyment of importing stems into the OT and working with them in new ways. That’s something to do that will open my mind to different ways of working.