Reverse Reverb

Next time you feel the need for an uplifter to transition between 2 sections in your arrangement, rather than searching through samples for the task, try creating a reverse reverb with one of the sounds already in your project. This effect can be achieved by taking a sample, reversing it and applying a huge reverb effect with plenty of decay time. Render the sound (and reverb tail) and re-import into your project, and then reverse it again. The reverb effect will now play back in reverse, producing an excellent ‘sucking’ sound. Especially good on vocals, this technique works with most source material, not only excellent as a spot effect but also a great way to introduce a new track into an arrangement.

Meticulous Automation

To create some unique synth tones, try some meticulous automation on a small MIDI part. Create a one note stab, one bar (or so) long, and get busy applying small automations to different parameters, such as pitch fine tune, modulation sends, panning, FX parameters. This will create unique movements and textures. You can then bounce as a piece of audio for use at a later time.

Sample Looping

Getting to know the looping functions offered within your sampler can help spice up your sound design game. The way this is implemented in Ableton Live makes the process much more intuitive. Ableton’s Sampler provides both Sustain and Release loops, once you’ve mastered the operation of which are insanely powerful, while the warping capabilities of Simpler allow for host tempo-synchronized sample loops.

Effect Mute

If you’re trying to add some life to an otherwise sterile audio source, rather than reaching for obvious automations such as filter cut off or reverb sends, try automating the power on/off for any applied processors. Add some heavy processing with a distortion or modulation plugin, and automate the mute/unmute, making sure you snap the automation, so the plugin turns on/off in accordance with grid divisions. If this effect is too jumpy for your needs, automate the mix control (provided your plugin has one) for smoother modulations.

Turn to Audio

If you usually begin your sound creation with a synthesizer, try rendering out your results and working with the audio. Rather than endlessly tweaking synth parameters, this will force you to approach the sound design process differently.  Either using audio warping or flexing to change timing and thus tonal characteristics or even re-load noise into a sampler for further mangling. You’ll no doubt end up with something you only wouldn’t have thought to or been able to program within the synth.