Using Ableton as a mixer/external FX (with 3 Elektron boxes)

Every day is a school day!
I’ve literally got overbridge ‘working’ in that it sees my Digitakt and that’s all, so far.
Can’t wait to get time to delve properly.

Yeah, sorry about it :slight_smile: I am gonna try to clarify 'em.

I firstly was looking for some kind of mixer (with FXs) that could handle separately all my Elektron boxes tracks. (12 from the ST, 8 from the DT, 4 from the A4). But it looks like this isn’t possible yet and the only solution is to use Overbridge.

My idea is to have 2 types of “setups” :

  • Elektron boxes “alone” (with, lets say the DT as master) (+ the possibility of adding the TD3 and/or the Akai Force as inputs to the DT/ST)
  • On top of that, using Overbridge in Ableton to be able to mix every tracks separately and, if needed, adding some Ableton/Third-Party plugins as FX on these tracks. I could then plug a midi controller to my Mac to control some Ableton parameters (the tracks levels and maybe an EQ (or some FXs parameters)

This way, I have a powerfull “production” setup but I am not totally dependant of the Mac for live purposes as I can keep playing “DAWless” if the Mac isn’t available (or down or whatever).

I wanted to be sure this would be possible/effective/efficient and what risks/issues I would face (ie : latency problems ?)

I also had a second question regarding “how to integer the Akai Force” in this setup. I think it could be a good idea to use it as a controller (even if there is not faders on it) but, imo, that would be “a bazooka to kill a fly” to only use it as a controller. (as it’s a wonderful machine even as a synth/groovebox). I think I should rather sell it and use the money differently if I am only going to use it as a controller and then get a “real” controllers with only faders and knobs.

Dunno if that’s clearer now ? :smiley:

I do this with a Syntakt, Digitone and Ableton Live. It works great! I have a preconfigured 8-track mixdown, and control that mix with a Novation Launch Control XL. It is really fun.

For live jamming, I have light plugins or Ableton native effects, and once I multi-track record a jam, I then swap them out for heavier plugins.

You can do so much with Ableton Live as a LIVE performance mixer and arranger. I think people get caught up that “it is a DAW” and don’t realise that it is an amazing live performance tool where you are free to ignore the timeline/arrangement view.


Yes I agree ! When I used to only produce on Ableton I also played some live acts with it and it was really fun (even if I find it really funnier with some hardware :smiley:)

When you switch from “native effects” to third-party ones, what’s the reason ? Is your CPU not able to handle the charge or are you facing some latency issues? (I have no clue if my M1 will handle them easily or not)

btw, the Novation Launch Control XL is one of the controllers I put in my “short list” …

Yeah. It’s clearer.
I agree Force is a bazooka

I wish you luck in figuring out a way to get what you want. you have a bunch of good gear that can work together quite well, and there are a bunch of ways you could make it work.

1 Like

Have been trying this recently.

Using OB for multichannel input into Ableton’s per track EQ, routing, live mastering chain, and macro FX is primo. Even stock Ableton FX are miles ahead of Elektron’s in terms of quality and depth. Plus you can bus things and get real sidechain compression etc.

However OB’s sync on M1 devices is pretty broken at the moment, so even adding some basic stems or loops in Ableton clips doesn’t tend to sync well. So yeah, no sync mode is the way to go, using Ableton purely as a mixer.

Would be ironic if i’d have to pick up a 1010 blackbox just to get some extra loops and stems into my liveset :wink: It’s either a 500€ blackbox with tight midi sync, or a 500€ ERM multiclock plus interface with an extra output to use for the audio rate sync. Ugh.

@eira.hx figured out a cool method for hybrid liveset sync here: Possible hack to work around latency issues in Overbridge

Oh, what a shame :frowning: I tought these M1 issues were fixed in an earlier patch…

Is it unstable even if I don’t add stems/loops ? (only FXs on audio tracks + mixing)

To be fair I haven’t updated my M1 to latest os, so ymmv. Dt and Dn on 1.40, ob latest version.

Audio usually works pretty well, the sync is just off and variable so can’t even do a latency offset. Plus glitches when recording so sometimes I don’t trust audio. try it yourself and see if you get better results

if audio works without glitches then long as you’re not using synced stems and loops inside Ableton, you should be fine

1 Like

yeah, the way to go seems to be OB in “No Sync Mode” with midi cables between the devices. (no problem for me)

to be clear, when you speak about “not using synced stemps and loops inside Ableton”, do you also mean I won’t be able to put delays on my Ableton tracks ? (as they need to be synced)

Have you figured out that you’re best to just leave the Force out of the setup completely?

Elektrons over USB/OB into Ableton, TD3 plugged into any of them, but best the A4 to get its chorus/del/rev.

Audio back out of Ableton to the Digitakt.

Drop the Force, look for a better controller (APC40mk2, Launchpad/Launch Control, Faderfox, etc).
Done. Make tunes.

1 Like

I do the same. Multitrack into Ableton and then complement my DT / DN with VST’s.
I’ve tried to get scenes to work with Elektron patternchanges, but now I just do it manually.

I am afraid I’ll come to that conclusion too. “Afraid” cause I like the Force and it’s really versatile and complete but I am not sure it really could fit my setup (and I have more love for the Elektron gear to be honest).

Didn’t think yet about getting the Audio back out of Ableton to the Digitakt, why would you do that ?

Have you any preference when it comes to controllers?

I’ve just mimicked this setup, in a scaled down version… A4mk2 and Syntakt into Ableton over OB, then the audio output of Ableton set to the Syntakt.
Syntakt is the master, Ableton set to EXT sync. Timing with the A4mk2 was off over OB/USB, so set it’s Midi Input to Midi (not USB) and put a midi lead from the ST into it.
Works fine.
Also allows you to add clips in Ableton to send to any track of the A4 and ST and them play in time fine.

If I wanted a controller to work this live (baring in mind that most would still be done hands on with the Elektrons), I’d go for something with faders… I’ve used a Launch Control XL and A&H K2 in the past, and that works great… I dedicated the A&H K2 to 3 aux channels and the master fader in Ableton, and the LCXL handles the individual channels.

1 Like

Sounds really good. İ couldn’t find anything like ableton to use. It’s going to be very easy to process all the sounds together and seperately. You can maske groups within groups to glue the sound together by processing the lows and highs. You can even live loop with just a button and prepare the other track on the headphones and have a DJ style set. İ think the number of your tracks are kinda high it can be a mess to use all the tracks, maybe you can limit your self to 8 tracks for one song for controlling in ableton and use the ableton crossfader to have another 8 tracks on B so you can transition with the crossfader from A to B.

I tried to see if anyone mentioned it and maybe it’s already understood… but just avoid plugins that add latency.

With PDC, any latency and external audio can create some problems with sync. Even bit of latency introduced, you can count on the synced timing shifting to compensate.

There are tons of no-latency plugins including the native effects of Live (so long as you don’t turn on look-ahead mode on the compressor).

1 Like

As long as the audio is summed together/mixed in Ableton, plugin latency doesn’t matter, nor does the lookahead on a compressor.

1 Like

That’s not right… PDC is PDC.

Summing audio is completely different and the summed product is already delayed (if there is delay compensation).

1 Like

Because it’s not a Yes/No conversation…

Here’s a link to understanding PDC in Live:

It is partially latency, but mainly that the “heavier” plugins are primarily Izotope mixing plugins - my workflow has me tracking and recording on an 8GB memory base M2 Macbook Air, and then moving the project to a beefier machine for additional arrangement and mixing/mastering. I’ve not hit a memory limit yet.

I just like to keep it lean while tracking - EQ, limiters, and compressors from Ableton. Valhalla Delay and Reverb. Serum and Arturia Analog Lab V if I want extra synths. It also works better on a smaller laptop screen.

Have you seen and interacted with these?

In case you haven’t, this is what a blank Live 10 Suite session with Analog dropped into the 1st channel looks like on Force in Ableton Control mode.

My Force and M1 Mac are connected via Ethernet for the Akai Network Driver/Ableton Link.
The Mac uses a Komplete Audio 6 mk2 piping audio & MIDI into/out of Force, ( sometimes) S/PDIF into Eventide Eclipse.

Force uses a tascam 16x8 interface, allowing it to act as a mixer for all of the audio from itself, Octatrack, the Mac, and whatever else I want to connect.

If I wanted to do what you’re suggesting, using ST, DT, (AH, A4, AR) via OB, I’d use one of the Elektron boxes in place of the Komplete Audio 6.

Audio and MIDI flow where I want it to, when I want it to, and sync isn’t an issue between MIDI clock and Ableton Link.

It works for me quite well.

I haven’t tried this setup with OB yet, so at the very least, thanks for bringing this possibility to my attention!
I hadn’t even thought of combining the two approaches… I’ve been doing all my analog saturation through the SiX - doubling down processing through the analog series simultaneously is intriguing.