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

Hi everyone,

Here is my current setup :

  • Analog Four MK2
  • Digitakt
  • Syntakt
  • Akai Force
  • TD3
  • MacBook Pro M1 Pro
  • Ableton 11 Suite

I would like to be able to mix separately the different channels of my 3 Elektron machines and apply effects to them (separately too).

After some long researchs here and there, I abandoned the idea of ​​having a mixer capable of audio-USB (which is a shame because an Akai Force could be a “host” because it is audio class compliant, but it only works in 44.1khz); that being said, the only solution seems to be Overbridge.

Would it be possible/effective (and efficient) to work it that way :

  • Digitakt, Syntakt and Analog Four MK2 connected to the MacBook Pro via USB
  • Having ableton with overbridge plugin-ins on 24 channels (12 ST tracks, 8 DT tracks, 4 A4 tracks) with ableton & third parties plugins applied to the channels
  • Having an USB controller (with knobs and faders) to control the Ableton channels and work as a mixer

(Would need to probably add an Audio Interface if I wanna plug the TD3 too)

I don’t want Ableton to be the “master” of my setup (would rather like the Digitakt to set the clock and be the main piece of the setup) and only use it for mixing (and fx) purposes.

(btw, I don’t know how to integrate the Akai Force in this setup - To be honest the last Digitakt firmware made me think (again) if I should get rid of the Force or not, but I like that machine so any idea/tip is welcome too)

Do you see any issues with this ?

If this setup is effective, what would be a good controller ?


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Your idea seems perfectly reasonable to me. After months of trial and error I just settled on using Ableton to do all mixing duties and it works better (and cheaper) than anything else would. I’ve got a Rytm, A4 and Octatrack. The only issue I’ve occasionally had is a slight latency between the OT and the other 2 but there’s ways around it (can’t remember what exactly in the settings.) You won’t have that issue though using everything over USB. Using Ableton will give you the flexibility to map whatever you want wherever and it’s honestly the best way to get exactly what you want immediately.

I use the Push as my controller and it does everything beautifully, it’s like an instrument of its own. I’m considering complementing it with a launch control XL just to have faders, but its not necessary. Some people use Faderfox which looks really cool as well.

I don’t have a force but I integrate a very small eurorack setup into the Analog 4 so if you really want to keep the force then just plug into the DT or A4.

Word of advice though - having 24 channels with individual effects etc does sound fun and very comprehensive, but its a massive ballache :joy: I’ve found that building an effects rack on the master track makes the most sense.


No, you can use the Inputs of your Elektron devices and be perfectly in sync.

The best way, for me, is to use OB in No Sync mode and use MIDI cables between the devices. DT can be the Master and also be a controller for your SoftSynths with its 8 dedicated MIDI Tracks.

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True ! With a quite similar setup I use my Digitakt as Audio Interface

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…if ur cpu can keep up with any latency issues, u wont need any interface for now…keep in mind at least two further external devices could be hosted by the inputs of ur takts…

and don’t wonder about lower levels once using ob…use some abletons utility at the end of the ob channels…

making ableton following along an external clock is shakey ground…
but u can set it all up, so that ur external ball park still can start together on it’s own when u establish one of the elektron devices as the master play/stop device…
but for getting everything moved at once, u better leave ableton the master sync job…

Regarding the 24 channels, you’re probably right ! I used to work with different FXs on each channel when I was (mostly) only producing with a DAW (and a few controllers) but it was only for production purpose and here I wanna be able to play live too. I would maybe work with groups rather than only having effects on the master as I want, for example, being able to use different delays.

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Thats not the first time I read a similar comment about the Ableton sync… and some others who rather say to use the no sync mode.

What I liked with the idea of having the DT as master clock was to minimize the laptop dependancy. (And being able to play dawless if the Mac is dead)

That’s maybe a wrong reason…

This is not a problem of Ableton though, you’ll have that with any DAW.

I’d also suggest going this route and aligning the audio manually in your DAW after recording.

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Which route exactly ?

Your Akai Force will work as an Ableton Controller, albeit without the physical faders.

The pads have a mode to emulate faders in Ableton control.

I’d add an interface as well to Force, using it mix/ unify the outputs of the Ableton+Elektrons and the TD3 into Force.

I do similarly and it works fine for me, though I’m generally using a stereo output of Ableton into my Force+Interface combo.

What @Tchu suggested:

The best way, for me, is to use OB in No Sync mode and use MIDI cables between the devices. DT can be the Master and also be a controller for your SoftSynths with its 8 dedicated MIDI Tracks.

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I am not sure to understand. How could this allow me to manage all my Elektron tracks separately ?

Do what @Tchu suggested regarding Ableton+Elektron boxes+OverBridge.

Take the output of those boxes, and the outputs of the TD3, input to an interface connected to Force.

Then Force sequences itself, the TD3, and acts as a controller for Ableton( which controls the Elektrons)…

It’s a lot to manage, but having it all unified through a device you already have might make it easier to manage all of that at once.

I understand your point but only till the “take the output of those boxes to an interface connected to Force”. This looks like an overhead to me but there is probably something I don’t get correctly.

What would be the benefit of it ?

Using the Force as a controller (+ using its synths too) looks like a good idea as its integration with Ableton is pretty good but I am not sure of the benefit of taking the outputs (=the masters) of the Elektron boxes to the Force as my goal is to be able to work on separate tracks in Ableton. (Why should I get further?)

I really loved the idea of being allow to be “computerless” when needed. (Mac+Ableton bring some mixing/FXs capabilities but the Elektron Boxes are still able to work “alone” too). Dunno if that makes sense or if I am daydreaming :smiley:

I could be wrong but I’m fairly sure you can only have one audio ‘interface’ assigned to input (or output) at a time on ableton.
Meaning you could only record the multiple channels of one box at a time via overbridge.

I hope to be corrected as it would be awesome to record the lot in one take!

In reply to the OP^

I think I’m misunderstanding your wants.

With OB, you can not only record each individual internal track from each Elektron box, but also its inputs, without having to assign it as an audio interface.

The biggest challenge I have faced with OB when using it this way is managing differences in latency between my dedicated interface and the 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.