Prepping tape loops for live performance - Best Practise

Hey pals!

So I know this is already been covered on this forum, but I can’t seem to find a definitive answer so I thought I’d start a new thread.

I’m currently weighing up the strengths and weaknesses of using an op-1 (probably together with an O P z) to complement my 6 piece bands live performance or using Ableton with some MIDI controllers and a sound card in a laptop etc. I’m wanting to lean towards the op-1 if possible because although I have all the gear to do either one, I’d like to be limiting my options. And we all know how wonderful the limited the op-1 is.

the main limitation that I might miss if I don’t use Ableton is that I won’t be able to record a live loop and have that set the click track based on whatever tempo I choose in the moment (softstep KMI). I’m wanting to accept this limitation in exchange for less gear etc.

The other side of the coin is that, even though I’d need my laptop + audio interface + midi controllers instead of an OP-1 plus OPZ (maybe) on stage. In the end, it might actually be less gear / headache overall, just doing everything in ableton.

But I digress! My main question is below.

I’m just thinking about preparing the op-1 tape, and thinking about the most efficient and Best way to achieve this. So far the best thing I can come up with is to create my loops in Ableton (any daw would work) and then import my tape files to the op-1 where I will then references the notes about the various BPM for loop sections and create slices in the tape as as appropriate, using the bpm grid. I think this will work. Just not sure about making it exactly 6 minutes of tape - set bpm to 60 and count 5h4 bars in Ableton?

I can’t think of a better way to do this, because I don’t think there’s any way to splice the tape outside of the op1.

Thoughts, comments, abuse?

I’ve created tape track files in Audacity, just import one of them, and make sure the new file has exactly the same length (6m 00,374s) and format (mono 16-bit AIFF I think). I’m under the impression that there is some way to create the splice markers in an audio editor (some kind of AIFF standard maybe?), but never tried that. Hmm, I recall reading a conversation about this in the forum (or the old one). Maybe @yoof or @dustmason knows?

Thankyou, that’s a good tip! About importing one and matching it!

Yeah I recall something about making the extentions either AIFF or AIF ( one works, and one doesn’t )

I thought the closest thing to splice markers was showing them on the website, but not being editable. Op1 expertise is like the Bermuda triangle of nerdy musicianship :rofl:

How’s your ensemble performance going lately Vehka? Do I recall correctly that you played op1 with your band? I’m excited to be able to be an op-1 + percussion & vocals guy in my new band, instead of being locked to the guitar.

There are a few ways to approach this… though some of it will depend on how much you want to be able to change your set on the fly… how much fidelity you’re willing to sacrifice… and how experimental you’re willing to get with the OP-1 in general…

First, don’t forget that in tape mode you can drop your tape speed down to -24, which is what… quarter speed, or effectively gives you just over 24 minutes to record, but again, at one quarter the fidelity, so your 44.1khz is now effectively 11khz of audio quality. Anyways… if you record off your sections onto tape (or with Ableton), you can certainly cram an awful lot of content into the OP-1, and then you can use the Tape Speed to Speed up and slow down different parts of the tape.

Second, the OP-1 has quite a lot of power for muting/unmuting tracks. In tape mode you can play the four tracks and then solo tracks by pushing 1/2/3/4, or for more interesting mutes, you can mute with shift 1/2/3/4, which with some clever track layouts, can get you a lot of variation without too much hassle.

Third, you probably know this, but you can change your loop in tape mode forwards/backwards with shift < and shift >, just don’t move sections too far or you might land outside of where you expected.

1 Like

I’ve used the Octatrack as the heart of the setup, and in the last set we prepared, OP-1 was only used to play some vocal snippets (not tempo-synced). However, I made the first drafts of the tracks in OP-1 and we used those when rehearsing. I’ve switched to iPad + Korg Gadget as the primary sketchpad now. I export the stems from there and import into the Octa. However, I might try to sync the OP-1 to the Octa and play some tracks off the OP-1 too, anybody tried that?

Cool man!

Any luck with your journey of setting up some tape loops and such? Just curious if you found a solution that works for you!

@djthomaswhite has a bunch of videos about his workflow. It seems similar to what I think you are trying to do.


Not really, I just tried brining ableton into the picture, and although the sound is pristine, and the flexibility is pretty extreme, it doesn’t feel good emotionally. So I’m back to my trust old pedal board, and just recently figured out how to easily connect chordion on ipad via bluetooth to OPZ, and this is gonna be so cool, cause we can easily share the chord duties with NO CABLES.

1 Like