Advanced Ableton Techniques

EQ Eight & Glue Compressor Oversampling

Right-click on either the EQ Eight or Glue Compressor and you’ll see an Oversampling option. Engaging this will process the audio at twice the current sample rate. It really depends on the type of processing you’re doing and the material you’re working with, but lots of detailed EQ work in the higher frequency with Oversampling engaged may yield better results, whilst on the Glue Compressor it may be a good option for very transient heavy material. Of course, the requirement is an increased hit on your CPU, so rather than activate by default, let your ears be the judge and engage as and when you feel is necessary.

Transient shaping with Simpler

Ableton doesn’t feature a dedicated Transient or Envelope shaper, however now that Simpler features Warping, you can, in fact, apply some Sustain shaping on transients using the Beats mode. Whilst Beats mode is activated, and the Preserve is set to Transients, set the Transient Loop Mode to off (the first option), and bring down the envelope, shortening the envelope between each hit. Whilst this mode can be employed to effectively shorten transient envelopes it can also be used as a creative stutter effect, take the grid to 1/16 or 1/32 for example and shorten the envelope to around 15-20 for a glitchy stuttered effect on your loops.

Extracting Chains for further processing

Working with drum racks in Ableton is an excellent way to program hits, being able to see all your hits in one clip allows for flexible group editing. However, when it comes to mixing and arranging there are a couple of limitations imposed by this method of writing. Whilst you may program an initial loop containing all your hits in a rack when it comes to your arrangement you’ll no doubt want to space out all the parts. And what’s more, whilst a channel is in a rack you’re not able to apply bus send FX to specific cells in the drum rack. To quickly extract chains for independent arrangement and processing, simply right click in the track in the mixer and select the ‘Extract Chain’ option.

Plugin Bypass

When processing sounds heavily it’s always advisable to remind yourself of where you started. At the end of the day, all the plugins you’re applying are designed to improve the sonic quality and help things sit in the mix better. Whilst A/B’ing a single plugin is simple, effectively A/B’ing 4/5 plugins is simply impossible using the Mute/Unmute button. There are a couple of workarounds for this in Ableton Live:

Group all the effects, and then use the Group power to bypass all the FX. Activate some key grouping, by mapping the Power On/Off for the plugins to a key on your keyboard, allowing you to switch them all off in one go. Use the handy MaxforLive BYPASS FX, that allows you to simply Bypass all plugins on a channel with one single mouse gesture.

Up your Envelope game

Up your envelope editing chops by getting familiar with some of the envelope editing shortcuts. Some of our favorites include holding ‘shift’ whilst clicking and dragging through a section of envelope points, this will delete them as you go. Lock envelopes for copying / pasting clips without duplicating the envelopes by turning off the ‘Lock’ button found above the Tracks in Arrange Mode. Of course, Unlock it again if you want to copy automation for clips. Option click and drag between break points on an envelope for curved automation, applying much more natural and organic sounding automation fades.