Performing op-1 tracks

I think about this often but have a hard time figuring out a solution…

I love making tracks on the op-1. The workflow really suits me and it’s just enjoyable all around. I also really love performing with it by switching back and forth between loops on the tape, applying effects and whatnot. It’s the best ever… until i want to perform an entire set…

I’m having a hard time developing a solution for performing a whole set of all op-1 beats, rather than just one beat at a time. I’d prefer not to use ableton, or a DAW to trigger clips. Hardware preferred. Any suggestions out there for gear that can get the job done, or nah?

Shift and left/right when playing will shift the loop over, so when you come to the end of your current, say, 4 bar loop, it’ll play the next 4 bars on loop. If you hit play again before the current loop comes to an end, it will jump to the equivalent point in the next loop. Pretty good way of making some variations. You could feasibly have enough variation in 4 x 4 bar sections to be able to perform a song. Do that same thing a number of times on the tape, and you’ve got a set. You might need to make a note of your BPM for each section, or record it using the mic just before so it’s always there.

Thanks for your reply man. Using shift and the arrows is easy and i’ve been doing that for years now, i usually have a handful of 8 bar loops on the tape that i bounce between while applying effects and tape tricks etc while recording to album to create full songs. My problem arises when i want to move on to the next song, which has different tempo, different track volumes, different eq settings, different compression settings, different m1/m2 save settings, etc. it just seems so impractical to me to try to adjust all of that on the fly in the middle of a set, and then change everything all over again after a few minutes when going on to the third “song”. And obviously switching between projects on the computer in a live setting isn’t possible as that takes way too long.

Maybe I need a second op-1 :smiling_imp: hehe


If anyone argues, tell them I told you to

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i usually set up my tape tracks the same way everytime i start a new project
eq, drive, track levels, etc.
then i adjust the levels on things before i record
with the orange slider and what not.
and mix as i go.

this forces u to really pay attention to what u are doing when u are doing it
but alot of things OP1 kinda work like that anyway
and its a great skills workout.

this way most things only need small adjustments down the road if any.
anything that needs to be adjusted
i change what needs to be changed, resample with ear,
then set back to my “default” so everything always ends up back where i need them to be.

that way u dont have different settings for each “song” and can just jump from beat to beat.

with live stuff u dont wanna be fiddling around with stupid shit.
so anything u can eliminate from having to worry about is always a plus.
i like to try to be as seamless as possible with live stuff so i usually just write the BPMs down on a notepad or on my arm. whatever works for u. :zebra:

if u need more tape space u can always slow the tape speed down before u start to get longer than 6 minutes. 12 min, 24 min, etc etc. for more space for a longer set or more variations

if i need more time between songs or just wanna catch my breath i usually have like a recorder or an SP or something with a bunch of interludes ready to go so if i feel like my head is about to fall off i just hit one of those and give myself a minute or so to collect my thoughts and get ready for the next

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That’s actually really helpful, thank you. I do have a question though… how do you approach transitioning from one tape loop to another if they are in different tempos?

with the aformentioned interludes on a separate device maybe.
or sometimes i do a longer intro to give myself a bit of extra time to transition.
like a long pad or a talking thing or something.

changing the bpm doesn’t actually affect the speed your tape plays back
so another trick would be to ditch the grid and use the scissors to cut the tape
where u want to jump from loop to loop
u can use like i think its shift+loop and it will set your loop points automatically
to the tape segment that is currently selected (on the current tape track)
u can actually get really creative with this.
using different tracks to cut up your tape segments into different sizes
then use the tape select button and the shift+loop
to select different size loops within your larger loop.
a bit time consuming to setup tho but def worth it if u really think ahead.

that way u can ditch the whole having to remember the bpm
and adjusting the bpm bs just so u can get hte grid to line up
obv this is just for performing, u can use the grid when creating.

obv these are just a few thoughts, i’m sure theres endless ways to approach all these things
the important thing is find a nice balance where u are comfortable with what u are doing so u can do it well and with purpose.

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Yeah, I feel that! I reckon I could use a DAW to organize everything, normalizing levels/eq’ing a bit, and strategically spacing out all the loops over 6 minutes of audio (or 12 or 24). Then I could drop that into the op-1. It would take some time to cut up all the loops at their start and end points once I have it all in the op-1, but when I do I’ll have an entire set of “mastered” loops ready to freak on my favorite little synth. I think that a second source of audio for interludes and Segways is a great idea too.

thanks Doc.

REALLY interested in this thread. I got interested in the OP-1 when I got a whiff of what it could do for me, (I thought it was an ambient machine at first from the instagram posts I came across) then figured I could place songs on the tape tracks and take that on tour in a bag rather than have to take a car and suffer the load-in & outs. Now I know it’s a bit more complex. I am however still ALL IN to making this work.

Like you were saying @KOHLBERG, mastering the four Tracks in a DAW is a great idea. If there was also a way of accurately assigning the snip points on the tracks, I think that would be the icing on the cake. The data is in the aifs but I don’t know how to get to and edit it yet and that will even be practical. I think I read @ludicrouSpeed mentioning something about this in a previous post. I don’t think it’s been sussed out yet. Imagine an app that could set this all up, OP-1 Track Utility for e.g.

I’ll try manual snipping first before entering the rabbit hole. Great to read these live tips from @docshermsticks thanks

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Yeah i think just manually snipping will work, and probably won’t even take that long, although i haven’t tried it yet myself. I can definitely see how having 2 or 3 units would help though. Kind of like 2 turntable decks. 6 strategic minutes of loops on each, plus a third for random segways and other texturey, vocal fun. :grin: ahh, to be rich :money_mouth_face:

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Ha yeah. More money, more OP-1s. Less problems. (except maybe a ground loop hum or something)

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With the slowing of the tape, I would have to slow the tape THEN record the show tracks on the the slowed tape? how would it work?

I think that you are limited to 6 minutes when using this method. In your DAW, arrange all audio bits on four tracks. Bounce each track exactly 6 minutes long, as an .aif mono and drag it to the op-1 hard drive. When it reboots, all your audio will be there. Manual snippage will be required at that point.

I wouldn’t recommend slowing the tape and then recording tracks to the tape manually. I think that would get messy quickly. Unless I’m missing something, I’d rather just take my lumps and go with the shorter but safer 6 minute method.

@Tattoomoney ya u wanna set the tape speed slower first so that your tunes playback at the correct speed & pitch when u record and u get all that extra tape time.

@KOHLBERG using your DAW & importing way, u could speed the tracks up 2x or whatever many times u are gunna slow the tape speed down. then when u import them and slow the tape down they will playback at the correct speed & pitch. i actually use this trick alot with the drum utility to get drum patches that are longer than 12 seconds

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yea I think importing them in at 2x speed then slowing it down might be the cleanest way. I know they say the more you slow the tape the more sound quality you lose. but I would love to be able to bring my whole set on my Op-1 and leave the MacBook home for a show.


Support for SD cards, and be able to load tapes/dumps of memory, and ideally, to have Deck A and Deck B (And, seeing as I’m making wishes, a set of User banks for both of those tapes) would be killer.