Groovebox for live performance

It seems like the last few years has seen the Groovebox become more and more in vogue as more and more are released. I thought I would start this thread to focus on Grooveboxes for live performance. A place to tell us your favourite, share videos, opinions etc.

I recently found this video and it really started me wishing I still had my EMX-1.

I’m currently playing with an MPC live 2 but I think I will return it - the workflow is jarring for me.


It’s the most complete groovebox out there at the mo imo but I don’t use mine for live stuff, it’s the current hub of my setup. I can see that it might not be the most endowed with knobs and sliders but I’ll take that in return for all the other stuff it does well.

I guess it all depends what you want to do live?

Make patterns and then arrange them and mess with them on the fly. I don’t feel like the mpc really allows that. Not enough knobs and encoders and a limited number of synths in a project (and can’t have a different preset per pattern). It’s probably doable and I should give it more time.

I like the MC-707 as it has lots of knobs and buttons and sliders and lots of live friendly features like Scatter.

It’s also got Ableton like clip launching.

1 Like

It’s the holy grail I think. All the groove boxes seem to have pluses and minuses.

I currently have a MPC live 2, and I love parts of it, but also share your view on some of its live improvisation limitations.

I previously had the Force. I think that is better for a lot of live stuff (assignable macros etc) BUT I felt the workflow was a little more cumbersome than on the MPC for building beats.

MC707 was good, as someone has mentioned. Though I wasn’t bowled over with the build quality and felt the workflow was a bit clunky. The new SH-4D could be worth looking into??

I think the elektron stuff is good at this, maybe syntakt though I’ve not tried it yet. Also if you’re willing to learn it I think the Octatrack is a beast for this…. I have been sorely tempted, but I like the breath the MPC gives - it has the pads, the inbuilt synths, it can sample easily, chop quickly, control midi etc.

Other option is a looper… RC505 mk 2 and a small modular system could go a long way live.

I guess the genre you are looking at is also important, whilst the MPC can do it all, other gear is perhaps more focussed/better for a specific style.


I love how Maschine or m+ is always ditched as an option…
Probably one of the best unit to arrange/jam on the fly imho.
It has its flaws like any others but also has strong qualities.
Loopop made a video a few monthes ago of why he chose Maschine for live performance with its pros and cons versus other options, worth checking out.


Yeah, M+ is great. I loved using it, my issue was behind the scenes with it, I kept being sent units with issues, one had broken audio outs, and 2 ‘new’ units that were registered to other people etc, just a hassle I didn’t need. In the end I got fustrated and gave up and got an MPC.

I do think it’s a great option though. Not as easy controlling external synths as an MPC, but pretty strong standalone (as long as you can live with the file structure and CPU limitations)

1 Like

Here are my wishes for the ideal Groovebox:

  • plenty drum and synth tracks (10?)
  • readily available track mutes
  • readily available track parameters for performance (envelopes, filter etc. )
  • master FX ( eg. filter)
  • FX tails that carry over into the new pattern
  • decent drum sounds or ability to use samples (909)
  • advanced sequencer (parameter locks, trig conditions)

I’m probably asking too much. I suspect my MPC covers this ground but needs some setting up and planning to get there.

1 Like

The mpc live is not a knob per function box.
But if you want to make some live performance with it, maybe add one or two mono synth with knob per function and you’re done.
The good thing of mpc live is the 2 audio in which allow to stream the audio directly from two other box.
And if you play well with pattern mute you can switch easily on the same sequence a bass pattern/lead pattern => full hand on control :blush:
This way you can use the live for drums and with it’s large memory that’s easy to do a long mix.

I mean I’m quite sure you can achieve equivalent function with this setup and much more than with a emx1+dj mixer.

1 Like

I think the MPC covers most of that… easy access to parameters etc on the fly is an issue though. And you don’t get detailed P Locks per step (though can control some stuff - velocity, probability etc-though it’s not the quickest thing to control in a live environment)

I was very unhappy with my m+
Too big, too many layers, boring digital sound, lack of coherence (I think).

Mpc live is similar, but more coherent in its workflow. But…. Some people prefer one, others prefer the other. I don’t like both :slight_smile:

A4 is my goto groovebox
Analog, streamlined, enough (although I hope for an a6 or a8


You’re almost certainly right. I guess the MPC is so capable I am a bit overwhelmed atm. I need to distill down what I want to do and formulate a plan.


M+ and maschine jam. Killer combo.

Yup ! I like that too.

Too bad NI doesn’t actually make the few adjustments needed for going next level.
A simple round robin in sampler would make nice probality hack ( was doing that on my mpc live ), a focus lock function and an audio track waveform display would be awesome…

Regarding the sound its clearly neutral so it outputs what you put in, expansions are nice but so overdrenched in maximiZatorZ and bOOmerZ kompressorZ ! :crazy_face: First thing, remove all fx ! :slightly_smiling_face:


Double post.

1 Like

there are two in my … well, top-2:

  • Circuit Tracks
  • MC-101/707 with attached Launchpad for clip/scene launching.

used to love Command Stations before, but bringing 7 kg unit to gigs is not that much fun.

1 Like

They all have major flaws unfortunately. Always a compromise.
But still stunning how many options there are available


i think SP-16 is definitely worth mentioning. while its not as feature packed as MPCs, the live performance oriented focus is clear

  • nice pads for the live play / mute / slice / scale
  • and the 16 step / 4 bars sequence buttons
    (the 707 has it as well, MPCs never, not sure why, its much faster for using the seqencer live)
  • touch strip for pitch, retrig and two assignable whatevers
  • the DSI analog part - filters and drive. oh yes!
  • resampling through the analog part is very easy, and live sampling as well
  • 4 extra stereo outputs, one master out and one stereo in
  • the UI is really simple, easy and fast to use
  • 2 effects per track + one master effect… maybe not that impressive, but decent. and you can set parameters of the effects to the touch strip

not easy to buy one now, but you can find some, and I think anything bellow 800E for used is a great deal
there is a list of things its missing as well, sure, but for live play, its really cool


Love both for performance, the great thing about the mp is that like an octatrack you don’t have to us everything at once, there are many ways to do a live set on one and you can change depending on your feel. The mp has in addition to the workflow above, a muting workflow, an ableton like clip launching workflow, and others

And of course the digitakt just rocks for live usage


…since more than a decade, my live set up is ALWAYS a OT as THE rocksolid backbone combined with not more than two other different devices at once…
a4 was too much on stage…while cycles did well…
dreadbox nymph also did well…mpc 1000 jjos did great…

also always part of my stage sound is the analog heat…hardwired to ot’s cue outs is simply killer…
and after too many years of this and that, my final solution to join the ot foreva is the syntakt that still needs a faderfox controler attachement…