I’m a bit more familiar with the usual rock band sort of setup but my son is doing more electronica stuff so I could use some advice on putting something together that would be portable and easy to work with.
We currently have an Akai MPC1000, Korg Kaoss KP3 pad, Behringer XENYX 1202 FX mixer, a few effects boxes and a Macbook, which is used currently for backing tracks on Ableton. He’s eventually aiming for a set of drum pads of some sort for his live drummer to trigger (Roland SPD-SX sort of thing) and maybe a Roland SP404-SX instead of the MPC1000 for my son to trigger samples. He also brings a MicroKorg to gigs.
He would like to be able to send a click to the drummer without that going through the FOH speakers of course. I think he could use a mixer with some sub-groups and/or some sort of multi-channel interface for the computer.
So, I’m wondering if anyone would like to offer some advice on changes to his stuff, any suggestions on anything would be appreciated. We are not adverse to changing everything if necessary.
Sub group or pretty much any audio interface with two channels and a long cable should be more than adequate
I used to use a crappy old drum machine midi’d to the rig with the clicks on.
SP404 instead of an MPC?!
Or both… Meh… GAS and all that
@V’cent, I figured we would need more than two channels because two is left and right. If he runs stereo, wouldn’t I need another channel or two to run a different mix out to the drummer? We’re thinking SP404 because it’s smaller and we only need something to load and trigger samples. We would keep the MPC but I’ll probably just use it as a drummer.
Ahh, I didn’t read the audio out from ableton in the form of a backing track part - Yes, then you would indeed need a four channel interface, since I don’t think that they make three channel interfaces
I don’t have any experience with the sp404, so can’t comment on that…
^seconded. My dad was a rocker and could help out with guitar stuff, but was never into electronic sounds. It’s awesome that your son is into electronica and even more awesome that you’re helping him out.
Thanks, although I’m not so sure how much I’m actually helping. I’m just a piano player, I can’t even figure out how to patch our new MS20 mini, yet.
Well, you’re there, being a cool dad, so that’s already helping a lot I’d say
You also might want a headphone amp for the drummer.
Agree with the rest, you’re a cool dad! I wish my dad had been like that when I was a kid
Write songs you can play live. One of my favourite bands Ladytron are all electronic but play practically everything live.
Thanks again. @6581punk, he is still working on getting the sound he’s after, but given our level of understanding of the technical stuff and the sorts of songs he likes to write, playing everything live is just not a possibility right now.
True, it was a radical idea but I see so many electronic acts where all you’re seeing is miming or some live “remixing”. While it is nice to see the bands, I feel a bit cheated when you’re effectively listening to karaoke at times.
He has a drummer and is getting either a bass player or keyboard player. He plays keyboards live and sings while the backing stuff is playing, and he’s fooling with the Kaoss pad and looper while singing and playing so he keeps fairly busy. He actually started as a bass player, moved into guitar, and then taught himself to play keys and drums.
If he is just triggering rather than sequencing with the MPC, I would prefer an SP sampler. I used to use a SP-202, super easy for one shots and other things that he might manually on beat with his drummer. I have been thinking of picking up a 404SX myself.
If you wanna keep things simple you could even try panning the click hard to one side and his backing tracks hard to the other side straight from the laptop into separate channels in the Xenyx and send the click and whatever else the drummer wants to the headphone bus right in the mixer. I would avoid an external interface at first unless you also use it as a mixer since I think you can get away without one and for live use a MacBook soundcard sounds fine to me.
Keep it as simple as possible, and try to set up a rig which needs as little pre-show setup as you can and he will have more fun and less stress actually playing live, IMO.
If he can get a feel for how his gear sounds on stage and be able to just send a single signal to the PA if he uses it at venues then the sound guys/girls will be much happier. In my first regularly playing live band which used a bunch of different lofi electronic stuff, we quickly learned asking for 5 DI boxes isn’t what most sound techs wanna hear from an opening band
And it doesn’t sound to me at all like this is another “press play” band. I would happily point out that the Flaming Lips (just as an example) use backing tracks and their shows do not suffer for it, and the live instrumentation is otherwise somewhat similar to what your son is moving towards.
Actually I agree with 6581. I’ve probably been into education too much, but my experience is that especially when somebody has to learn, doing things the hard way can be a lot more rewarding on the long run.
If your son is still trying to find his sound (which is of course a complex and sometimes long process) having the ease of backing tracks can actually prevent him from finding it.
When we started with kvsu 2 years ago, we were using 2 laptops with ableton live and a bunch of small noisemakers that we’d play live. Most of the sound was actually just “live remixing” – as 6581punk said – of our livesets in ableton. It was a bit frustrating and we often had problems with midi sync and computers doing weird stuff.
Then we started to get rid of all the computer stuff, and this forced us to play stuff live and rely less and less on backing tracks. I think the best live gig we made was a totally simple one with just guitar, some handmade oscillator bank, a modular synth, a circuit bent VL-Tone, a looper, some FX and the LXR drum machine.
We had nothing recorded (not even the patterns in the LXR) we played and created everything live. And fun thing is, I really felt that we had a reached a point where our style was defined.
We still have a long way to go from here, but I think that was an important step.
Now of course this does not mean one should not use a computer, I just think that electronic music makes it too easy to just let the machine do the hard work, and that prevents us from actually making music live, or at least from doing it fully.
Man, I wish there was someone else where I lived who was into PLAYING electronic music with me. Two hands is just not enough to cover all the areas properly
Sometimes simpler is better…when my last band started, we used an ipod for backing tracks and we both played live over it. Eventually we graduated to a laptop but in the beginning still used mixed down backing tracks on one channel. My current setup is geared towards improv so there are lots of channels and lots of things running live (LXR, Shruthi, Anushri) mostly controlled by my APC40 and Quneo.