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We’ve explored ways to use a computer with our Eurorack modular synths using Reaktor and Maschine. But what if you are using Ableton Live? One of our students asked about this in a recent lesson, which led us to create an Ableton Drum Rack that could be used to trigger drum modules and envelopes via virtually any audio interface.

To trigger our hardware, we’ll have to send bursts of sound from our audio interface outputs. We can do this with a sample, ideally of a percussive sound. I’ve loaded a hihat sample into one cell in an empty Drum Rack in Ableton, and then added an External Audio Effect plugin (from the Ableton Audio Effects menu in the browser ) directly into the signal chain behind Simpler. By setting the Audio To menu to an output on the audio interface, we can interrupt the sample from reaching the main output of the Drum Rack in Ableton, instead routing it directly out to act as a trigger source.

By using a similar “Simpler > External Audio Effect” setup in other cells, we can route each to a different output on the interface to trigger separate modules, just like a normal Drum Rack. This allows us the freedom to treat the modular system as we would any rack in Ableton, and to manipulate the midi information triggering each drum.

Of course, some fine tuning may be necessary. The output level of each sample must be loud enough to cause enough of a voltage change at the audio interface output port to trigger the drum or envelope modules, usually a threshold of about 2-3 volts. Additionally, some samples may result in double or multiple triggers, due to waveform shape and length. You can do a great deal of shaping of the trigger sample simply with the Amp Envelope section in Simpler, as well as by editing the sample start time and length.

How are you integrating your modular system with Ableton? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Ableton Drum Rack For Eurorack

One thought on “Ableton Drum Rack For Eurorack

  • November 1, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    can you do this the other way around > send gates from eurorack ( circadian rhythm ) to ableton to gate/trigger samples in a drum rack???
    obvs without a midi device …


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