Since you guys liked the last article we’ve come up with more tips to fully utilize the powerful tools Ableton offers.
Redux is an effect which degrades sound quality by using Downsampling or Bit Reduction. It’s a similar effect to a bitcrusher but has a different feel. My favourite mode is Downsampling with the Soft setting (2). For every sound I manipulate the Resolution knob (1) to my taste. Here I used it to add some hi-end grit to a saw synth layer:
It’s really nice to put it after reverb - it gives it a different feel which I like a lot.
In another track I used Redux to add a gritty feel to a lead. It’s again using the Soft Downsampling mode and a resolution of around 5.5.
2. Limiter: L/R Mode
Did you know that the stock limiter has a Stereo - L/R switch? The L/R mode is like having two independent limiters, one for the left & one for the right channel. It means that if a peak occurs just on the left channel only the left channel will be squashed. In Stereo mode the limiter treats the L&R channels equally - if a peaks occurs on one of the channels they both get squashed (compressed) to make the peak fit under the Ceiling parameter.
The L/R mode allows for a louder overall signal but will shift the track’s panning a bit. By applying unequal limiting you pan the track a bit to the less compressed side when a peak occurs only on one side.
3. Amp for saturation
If you’re tired with regular distortion/saturation but want some grit on your sounds (or just a different feel) try the Amp effect. It’s got 7 settings modeled after famous guitar amps. It’s not only great for processing guitars but also for adding analog grit to digital sounds. Bear in mind that the Mono/Dual switch will mono your signal if you don’t switch it to Dual. Most guitar amps are mono, so in Dual mode the effect acts as two amps: one for the left, one for right channel.
Here I’m processing a saw synth with the Bass setting & dry/wet at 50:
Cabinet is an effect which emulates recording an amp with a microphone. When processing vocals it’s meant to be placed after the Amp effect to emulate the classic guitar recording sound. However if you place it after a digital instrument it’s nice for adding a little bit of analog flavour and reducing the high end a bit. Here’s what it sounds like paired with the Clean amp setting (which is an emulation of classic Vox AC amps):
Make sure the Mono/Dual switch is at Dual on becuase just like the Amp it’s set to mono the signal by default.
5. Auto Filter: Envelope
Auto Filter has an option to move the filter frequency according to the signal volume. If you crank the Envelope knob (1) the filter frequency will follow the volume of the input signal. You can also expand the effect (2) to activate Sidechain mode. In that mode the filter frequency can follow another track’s signal level.
I applied this effect on our synth. Notice how the filter lets in more of the high end in the loudest moments.
before (Envelope at 0):
after (Envelope at 127):
6. Auto Filter: LFO
This effect also has an LFO which can control the filter frequency.
In fact it’s got two LFOs - one for left & one for the right channel. By default (when the third knob is all the way down) the channels are adjusted equally. If you move the Phase knob you can offset one of the channels like this:
Phase at 0 degrees (equal for L&R channels)
Phase at 180 degrees (one channel’s peak is another’s valley)
As a result a nice stereo effect can be created as the signal moves from left to right:
In Hz mode (1) (not synchronized with song tempo) the effect allows you to switch to Spin mode (2).
The Spin knob makes the L&R channels modulate at a different speed. It doesn’t offset the LFOs but instead just makes the left & right filter oscillate at a different speed. That also allows for a nice moving stereo effect.
7. Corpus: Frequency modulation
In our previous article we’ve explained how to use Corpus to change timbre.
By default Corpus adds a constant pitch resonance. However if you place it on a melodic track like a lead, it’s nice to have a changing pitch according to the pitch of the source instrument. This can be achieved with the hidden Sidechain function accessed by the arrow near the On/Off switch (1). Then all you need to do is turn on the Frequency button (2) and adjust the pitch (3) to your taste.
Here’s the effect without frequency modulation:
With (Frequency on)
8. Dynamic Tube
Dynamic Tube is a nice effect for processing sine waves, 808s, and bass in general. It has a very warm sound - for this purpose I like it more than Overdrive and Saturator.
It has three tube modes - all of them differ in behavior and character. Tube A does not produce distortions until the input signal exceeds a certain threshold - then it creates bright harmonics. Tube C is a tube amp that produces distortions all the time. The qualities of Tube B lie somewhere between these two extremes.
If you tweak the Tone knob you get a higher or lower frequency distortion.
9. EQ8 - Audition Mode
Did you know that there’s a function which allows you to hear the effect of filter curves on the sound? For instance if we’re highpassing a sound we’re able to hear only the frequencies we’re cutting off. This can be done by clicking this headphones button (1) and clicking the yellow circle for the according filter. The affected frequencies appear as blue.
10. Erosion - Sinewave modulation
Erosion can be used to add a sine wave or white noise to a sound. The sine wave setting is nice for creating high end interest in a sound. Here I used it to add interest to a sine wave pad:
Good luck with your production. See you in the next articles!
I’m a music maker who likes to share his experiences with other producers. I’m regularly going to show up with music and content at PML.