What to shop for?


#1

Hi everybody,

I’m in the process of building a rig for live performance and more or less exclude the use of a computer for anything else than synth editors/preset librarians and sending program changes to the external hardware (and I could even do without I believe).

I am primarily a guitar and bass player, but my project is heavily orientated towards the use of electric instruments . I currently have a Digitone, as well as a Pioneer/DSI SP16 sampler and some hardware synth modules, some Eventide FX boxes and a TC Electronics stereo looper, plus a couple of cool midi controllers like a Roli Block Seaboard and a Touché controller from ExpressiveE. This is more than enough to produce some really cool stuff, but as a guitar player, I often have both hands busy playing guitar. I have programmed my midi footcontroller to command various functions, and use the TC looper to record my live guitar playing and bass riffs. The latter is causing me issues, because of the Ditto looper not being accurately clocked over midi. It’s buggy. The SP16 has a Live-sampling mode and records up to 64 seconds per track (16 available) but omitted to implement midi control over the sampling functions so it’s basically useless for me because you need to tap a pad to trigger the recording. I’m looking for a sampler-looper that has 1: accurate midi sync (instant reaction to midi CC’s and instant locking to the incoming clock); 2: quantize function on the start stop functions (I mean: being able to hit the start/stop button a couple of beats before page1-beat1 , the actual recording starting right on beat1 ; and last but not least a decent lenght of recording per sample. I could buy a high end dedicated looper but all seem to be stuffed with functions I don’t need, like 100’ds of memory slots, integrated drumpatterns, mp3 playback etc because they’re all a bit one-man-band-with-guitar-and-vocals orientated. I’d rather buy a good sampler that has deep sound-design features in addition to my basic requirements. Is there a Elektron product that would meet my needs?

Thanks!
Dirk


#2

Hey Dirk, the Octatrack is the performance sampler of choice from the Elektron lineup. As far as I know, it should be able to do everything you want it to do, but maybe someone who owns one and uses it in that way can chime in on that.


#3

Thanks, yes, I took a look at the octatrack but don’t have the courage to study the manual and go through all the forums once more… There’s one for sale (the MKI version) for 500€ not far from where I live. It would be a nice addition to my rig, but it basically overlaps the SP16 and the Digitone a bit so it’s really the hands-free live-looping capabilities that I need to have confirmed by users who actually own one and use it that way before pulling the trigger. On paper (=>reading sales-pitches en manuals) my Ditto+4 should work the way I need , but in practice it doesn’t. 2 out of 3 attempts don’t sync up well, and because I’m doing live impov’s that are 10 to 15 minutes long, solid sync is mandatory. A bass groove running gradually out of sync with the kick is just an awful experience both for the performer and the audience. So all advice and real-world experience is welcome ! (Especially because this 500€ octatrack won’t last long, I believe it’s a good price)


#4

expect a lot of learning for using it as a looper …I own the mk2 and still had problems even when trying to follow tutorials step by step - the mk1 lacks some buttons which will make things not quite easier. Just saying…


#5

I have the EHX 95000 looper. It works…most of the time :slight_smile:
From everything I’ve read, the Pigtronix Infinity Looper syncs great to master clocks.
I love my OT, but can’t see me buying one just to be a looper. But then, the way that machine works I may have the opposite opinion in a year or two!


#6

Can confirm that the Infinity’s syncing is rock solid and sounds fantastic.
I run through it when recording guitar as it adds a little something as well as up to 3 dB boost if you want it


#7

Hah! I certainly won’t use a octratrack JUST as a looper! It’s that IF I invest yet some more into my rig, it MUST do hands-free real-time sampling/looping I can be confident in, because that’s what I’m struggling with the most actually. I’ll take a look at the Infinity, thanks for the tip!


#8

Rc505 is also really efficient, simple, with some cool fx, works well slaved, midi control possibilities. I prefer OT but it is much less intuitive. Rc505 sold. Bought a RC202, I don’t use it.


#9

I took a look at the Infinity looper, it’s basically a DittoX4 minus the sync bugs. It has the exact same functionalities plus or minus a detail. It’s a bit expensive for what it does, really. I think I’m going to download and study the Octatrack manual. I’m not that much interested in the 505 or 202 because of reports of less-than-pristine sound quality. I’m super picky about that, given that everything else in my signal chain (and that includes the guitars and basses plus pre-amps and FX units I’m going to loop) is top-notch.


#10

With that in mind you’d probably want the MkII OT over the MkI as they improved the inputs - higher headroom.


#11

OT is much better in that concern. Go for it. You’ll be able to sell it at the same price. The lowest prices I saw in France are around 600€.

I think EHX 45000 / 95000 have better sound too. (Better than RCs not OT!)


#12

Not very sexy. It’s better to have OT to really understand it.
I used Rc loopers before OT and really didn’t like its looper “machines” : the Pickups. There are other ways to record with it and modify records on the fly.


#13

I was going to recommend the Infinity looper too. It’s in my live setup for guitar looping duties. Perfect midi sync, good sound, full midi control if you want to, good size (I think it’s smaller than your Ditto). You’re right in that it’s an expensive machine, but if it does what you need why would you spend even more on an OT? Did you look into the second-hand market for an Infinity? I got a good deal on mine because I bought used. You could also check out the Boomerang III looper. I never played one, but i read good things about how well it handles midi.


#14

Sell your sp16 and buy an OT and Infinity to compare! :smile:


#15

What would justifies Infinity choice over Ehx 95000 or 45000? Almost same prices…


#16

Most snooty guitar players would say the Infinity Looper has the highest sound quality and best midi timing. Enough of them that I have no cause to doubt them. Build quality is outstanding. The 95000 sounds pretty good to me, but not a ton of headroom and the midi timing is a bit hit and miss as I recall. Haven’t used mine in months. I got my OT thinking I’d use it as the looper, among other things. For whatever reason, I’ve been doing live sampling instead. May revisit pickup machines at some point


#17

Good point, but the SP16, apart from having very good sound quality, has BIG buttons/keys, BIG (and very well responding) pads, and for someone in my situation these ergonomics are important. I mean, I’m on stage, playing guitar or bass, manipulating sounds while live-sampling them, building up songs on the fly like many of you do, but with those stringed instruments hanging round my neck: I have only one free hand most of the time. I am not sitting at a desk. I need to reach out for a function and not miss it. I have programmed a midi footpedal to control the basic fuctions of the Digitone because everything is too smallish and a bit cluttered, too many key-combinations are needed: you can’t just turn around and in between two guitar chords trying to manipulate something there. I use several midi controllers like the Touché because such controller is very “tactile” and very spectacular. That’s also why I’m basically computerless. My Eventide fx are stompboxes because they have lots of knobs (as opposed to the H9) and I don’t have them on the floor, they are within guitarist reach next to my synth units with midincontrol from the floor pedal. I hope you see the image… The OT can be a addition to the SP16 but I really need those easy to reach , easy to identify controls.


#18

Thanks for putting me on the track (no pun intended). I briefly read the manual and found what you were talking about: pickup machines. That’s exactly what I need. I might go for that pre-owned MkI Octatrack. Is there that much difference in sound quality between MkI and MKII that would justify 1200€ for a new MkII over 500€ for a pre-owned MKI?

EDIT: I said “exactly what I need” but this may be untrue. I have the impression that the octatrck will adjust it’s BPM to the lenght of the recorded masterloop, by what I need is exactly the contrary: the lenght masterloop should adjust itself to the octatrack’s BPM. This is unclear yet. Anyone?


#19

A couple points to consider;

You may be right that pickup machines are just what you need for now, but keep an open mind on ALL the ways you can sample live. I went in thinking I’d mostly use pickup machines, but really, live recording from a flex machine can yield the same (or very similar) results but with even more sound design potential very quickly. The OT can open up a lot of cool surprises. In the short term, pickup machines are rad and useful, so you’re good to go regardless.

On the MK1 vs MK2 thing, I’ve only ever owned an MK2, but people way more knowledgeable than me seem to feel there’s virtually no difference as far as the end results are concerned. Inside the box, it’s the same stuff. Some also feel the MK1 looks cooler, but I have no opinion about that. It’s said the audio ins and outs are of a somewhat higher quality, providing better headroom and sound. I wouldn’t know for sure. I do know there’s a lot of great sounding jams out there on MK1’s, so I wouldn’t be too fussed about it. I bought mine at Perfect Circuit while traveling through Los Angeles. They had a used MK1 for $875 and a new MK2 for about $1,350? Something like that. Pretty huge difference. I’m not saying I made the right decision, but here are some reasons I went with a new MK2. (I’d done enough research to know I really wanted to give the OT an honest try)

  1. New= less wear and tear on the machine, plus warranty and return policy
  2. The MK2 has a nicer screen and more knobs and buttons, so less command combos to memorize. I was up for anything to lessen the learning curve!
  3. Assuming I’d love it as much as I hoped (I do), I figured I’d rather have the one I wanted to work on everyday than the price savings. I don’t have tons of electronic gear and don’t plan to, so I just want the best tools for the job. It won’t enter my mind a year or two from now. Elektron gear keeps a decent resale value, so worst case, I wouldn’t be out that bad anyway.

#20

Pretty sure there’s a way to override that, but I’ve never tried. It freaked me out at first, but I’m getting what I want from live sampling at the moment. Someone will answer this question soon, I’m assuming :slight_smile: