Alesis SR18 - Triggering Software Instruments in Ableton Live

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alesis sr18 main3The SR18 is loaded with cutting-edge drum kits and electronic drums, one-shot hits, and modern percussion sounds for any cutting-edge musician’s performance and compositions. However if you are looking to expand your sound plate, you can connect the SR18 to a computer and trigger software instruments in your favorite Digital Audio Workstations as well. This guide walks through the process of setting up the SR18 to trigger the software instruments built into Ableton Live.




Setup & Preferences


Ableton Live Setup

  1. You will need a MIDI Interface that has the ability to connect to a computer. For the purposes of this article, we used an M-Audio M-Track, which has the necessary MIDI Input and USB connection to the computer for proper setup.

    Connect a 5 pin MIDI cable to the MIDI OUT/THRU on the back on the SR18 module to your MIDI Interface MIDI IN port. 

    sr18 ableton 3

  2. Open Ableton Live.

  3. Choose Live > Preferences (Mac) or Options > Preferences (Windows).




  4. In the window that opens, select the MIDI/Sync tab. For both Input and Output choose your MIDI Interface. As we are using the M-Audio M-Track for this article, we have selected the M-Track in the image below.

    sr18 ableton 4 

  5. Choose On for both Track and Remote for the M-Track MIDI Port Input.


    sr18 ableton 5


  6. If you notice any delay or latency, check and adjust your latency slider in Preferences > Audio, then close the menu.



  7. Next, build your drum kit using the Ableton Instrument library. Inside Ableton, to the left there is an Instrument Library. Click on The second icon down, which looks like a folder icon. It is called Live Devices. This instrument library will contain many different types of instruments including pianos, synths, drums, and more. The Drum Rack contains individual drums like snares, toms, kicks, etc. You can drag-and-drop each drum sound from the Drum Rack into the main mixer window. Each time an instrument is added, a new track is created.





  8. Each drum sound chosen is assigned to a certain MIDI note and pad in Ableton. For each drum sound you select, it will be added to the Drum Rack Pad located at the bottom of your screen in Ableton. If you hover over the instrument in the Drum Rack Pad you will notice underneath the drum rack a MIDI Note is shown. Refer to image below. As you build your kit, take note of all the sounds that make up the kit and what the MIDI note is. As you add different drum sounds, they will show up in the Drum Rack Pad. You will use these MIDI note assignments to map out each pad on the SR18. 





 SR18 Hardware Setup

  1. Next grab your SR18 and press SYSTEM SETUP. Use the PAGE UP button and navigate to Page 3. Use the VALUE/TEMPO dial to set the DRUM OUT to ON so that MIDI data can be sent.

    sr18 ableton 7

  2. Then use the PAGE UP button and navigate to Page 4. This page shows the MIDI Note Value assigned to each pad on the SR18.

    This is where you will assign each pad on the SR18 to the MIDI note assignments in Ableton. Each time you strike a different pad, the SR18 display will change and show you the MIDI Note Value for that particular pad, so you can change it if needed.

    Go through each pad on the SR18 until you've matched up the correct MIDI Note for the sound you want in Ableton. Use the VALUE/TEMPO Dial to change the MIDI Note. For example, in the image below, in Ableton the kick drum selected was assigned to MIDI Note Value C1. Then on the SR18 an adjustment was made to make sure the Kick pad MIDI Note was set to C1 as well.

    sr18 ableton 6 16 <-- Refer to image in step above

  3.  Once you have made the proper changes to each MIDI Note on each pad on the SR18, press and hold SAVE/COPY. The display will read "Save Setup".

    sr18 ableton 11

  4. While still holding the SAVE/COPY button press the REC(ENTER) button and the display will read "Setup Saved".

    sr18 ableton 10


Recording Drum Tracks in Ableton

  1. In Ableton, record enable all of your tracks by holding Option(alt) and clicking on each Track Arm button 10 on on of the tracks. Make sure that on each track the MIDI From drop-down menu is set to All Ins + All Channels, the Monitor is set to Auto, and the Audio To is Master.




  2. Set your Master track to Pre.




  3. You are now ready to record a sequence using your SR18!





Further Product Support

Whether you are a customer or dealer, if you already own a Alesis product, or if you just have pre-sales questions, the Alesis technical support team is available to help!

Each product has a dedicated support page on the website where you can find manuals, specifications, software updates, drivers and troubleshooting guides:

Visit the link below to connect with any of the following support options: online community support, phone support, email support.




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