TouchOSC, Ableton Live and a Question.

TouchOSC / Ableton Live from max Min on Vimeo.

Now that I am living in New York again I decided to go from a two person live show to a solo act. However, if I perform alone how can I still walk away from the computer and approach the audience? For one thing, I will put the table close to the edge of the stage and have the laptop facing sideways so I will be standing on the side of the table, not behind it. Yet I still want to be able to walk around, even into the crowd.

I just bought an iPhone this week so I’ve been searching for a way to control Ableton Live with it. Since I haven’t been following iPhone apps very closely I’m throwing the question to all Wire to the Ear readers: What’s the best way to do this?

Am I correct that TouchOSC needs a Wifi network to work? That would take it off the table as an option. Few clubs I play have a solid WiFi network running. Or could I somehow serve/tether my own mini network up? Or would that require an international data plan?

Thanks for any advice. I’ll be searching for answers and reporting back to here too.

More info about TouchOSC:

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Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to:

21 thoughts on “TouchOSC, Ableton Live and a Question.”

  1. You know there are also these like.. midi suits.. there basically the kinds of stuff used for motion capture in 3D graphics.. but can generate midi data to control stuff. There’s of course also the whole using a wii controller to control stuff..

  2. You can set up a “computer to computer” network on your laptop to get round the WiFi issues. I’ve been playing with Mrmr on the iPhone and it works really well doing it this way.

    On a Macbook you can create them from the Airport menu icon. Choose “Create network” and choose a name and password (optional) then connect direct to the laptop’s self assigned IP from TouchOSC. How you do it from a PC I’m not sure.

    I’m using ChucK to translate the OSC to MIDI for Ableton control and I’ll be doing a blog post (with sample files for Ableton, ChucK and Mrmr) in the next week or so to detail how I go about this.


  3. I’m not sure if you can cable tether or not. You should be able to create your own personal network with your laptop’s wi-fi card, though. TouchOSC needs the IP address, port numbers and an OSC-ready app to receive messages (their page lists those that do). AFAIK, Ableton Live does NOT, so you need an app like OSCulator (Mac OS X, linked on the TouchOSC page). This video goes over the steps:

  4. If you are using a mac you just setup your own wireless network and then have your iphone connect to that network, so no matter where you are you can have a wireless connection.

  5. You need to create a wireless network on your Mac (Create Network in the Airport menu) to link to, so it doesn’t require a wireless LAN but can just link to your Mac with a .local address. Hope that answers your question!

    You’ll need to get something like OSCulator to translate the OSC signal to MIDI so Live can understand the commands (OSCulator is about $20 if memory serves me correct), but then you should be up and running.

  6. you could just set up an adhoc network between the iphone and your laptop – this would probably be better than using the wifi at a club because you could make it secure and exclusive to you.

  7. Hi,

    i made the Demo-Video you are using in this article and i have some answers for you :)

    Yes, TouchOSC needs an WiFi-Network, but you can just set up a “computer-to-computer” network. Assuming you are an apple-user, this is done in seconds. So there is no need for an WiFi-Accespoint at the venue.

    And TouchOSC is very fast and accurate – almost no latency. I use it in combination with OSCulator, which translates the OSC-Messages to MIDI-Messages (which Ableton needs).

    I think you have been to Berlin for quite some times, am i right? So if you happen to understand some german, read my post at for further info.


  8. @silas or you could leave it open, and possibly limit what it controls… One of the coolese things I’ve seen was some HBO show with a cornelius performance where he threw a boss sampler in the crowd and let them go wild. Granted at the time consumer-priced audio gear that could do stuff like that was still in its infancy, but the sense of wonder and involvement was pretty rad

  9. From what i understand it’s wifi only . You need to be on the same network as the app you want to control . There is a way to tether, but the app i know of to do that is only available on jailbroken phones through CYDIA (i think its $8.00 for that app) .

    check the link

    The other thing is that even if a mini-network was set up through the phone the risk of latency is high and thats bad news . Also a router would be needed on stage .

    Maybe there’s other ways to do it but i’m not aware of them . Anyone else have experience with this? cheers.

  10. Wow great and fast answers… thanks to Max who made the video too! So this can be done by creating my own network from my own Macbook Pro. Very good indeed… Over the next few weeks I will start experimenting and getting it to work.

    The deciding factor after I get it going will be if it actually can look cool, how I handle a mic and the iPhone… I do know that I am always covered in sweat. I wonder how that effects touching the screen. Anyone own an iPhone who lives in Brazil want to chime in?

    I’ve seen the Midi Body kits and also the M-Audio Mid-Air wireless Midi System. I will check those out some more too: MidAir

    I could go old school ebm and put a drum pad next to me but I really need to keep my overall luggage to a bare minimum.

  11. well, another solution is to use the HF version of the eowave sensor system. You can connect up to 16 sensors per transmitter such as ribbon sensor, distance sensor, even movement sensor ! It’s really easy to use this device and a great pleasure to perform with.

    More info here :



  12. Hi all.

    Very nice stuff ! ive got an iPhone and i already tried it.

    For live act it’s great, but so … i’m just pretty afraid about interferences ! you know, on stage, there is many electrical stuff and maybe other wireless frequencies. Some of you tried it on stage ?

  13. i tried setting up TouchOSC + ad-hoc network + OSCulator on my macbook pro and it didn’t work. i then tried the same config with a regular wifi network and it worked fine.

    is there something special one needs to do to make it work with an ad-hoc network? could someone be so kind as to post a step-by-step?

  14. TouchOSC + ad-hoc network + OSCulator on intel macbook works but no “talkback” to iphone (parameters don’t update automatically) which works fine when using wireless access point. any suggestions anyone?

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