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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Oct 17 > Using Ableton Live with drum machines

Using Ableton Live with drum machines

It’s so easy to get Live working with your favourite drum machine; Martin Delaney says you’re missing out if you don’t try it…

Ableton Live Workshop

It’s not so difficult to get Live talking to your music hardware. We’ve talked about this before, but here we’re focusing on drum machines, with two examples. First, the Elektron MachineDrum, originally released in 2001 (updated in 2005) – its vintage shows in that it connects through audio and MIDI cables, and uses SysEx messages for backups and even sampling loading; not a USB cable or software editor in sight. Still, it remains one of the best drum machines ever built. Second, we have Arturia’s DrumBrute, from 2016. Ironically, this machine is more ‘retro’ in some ways, being entirely analogue, with recallable patterns, but without automation or presets. However, it does have a USB connection (as well as MIDI ports), which can be used for MIDI sync, and to send notes out from the pads (it doesn’t do USB audio). It also connects to Arturia’s MIDI Control Centre software, which makes configuration and updates easy (more recent Elektron boxes like the Analog Rytm and Digitakt can send multi-channel audio over USB, via the Overbridge plug-in). Not all audio interfaces include MIDI ports, so you might have to deal with that separately, with a dedicated MIDI interface, or USB, if relevant. Recently, I’ve been using the KMI K-Mix audio interface, which doesn’t have MIDI, so I use a USB cable to connect the DrumBrute, or the Elektron TM-1 USB MIDI interface for the MachineDrum.

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About MusicTech

The new issue of MusicTech is on sale from Thursday 21st September where this month we go all out and show you how to record EVERYTHING! Across 12-pages we cover the best ways to position your microphones and accurately capture the vast majority of instruments you’ll ever need to record. To help you along the way, our Beginner’s Guide this month takes an extensive look into the world of dynamic, condenser and ribbon mics. Elsewhere we sate our inner geek with our in-depth interview with the pioneering Radiophonic Workshop, whose rich history begins way back in the early 60s, where they painstakingly created innovative soundtracks for the BBC, most notably the theme for Doctor Who. As if that wasn’t enough we’ve also assembled a special 24-page supplement full of our favourite reader and pro studio interviews, free with this issue.
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