20 Ableton Live Tips & Tricks in 8 Minutes

March 21, 2012 § Leave a comment


Teenage Engineering OP1 + Ableton Live – MIDI LFO

March 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

In SYNTH and DRUM modes you can press SHIFT + T4 to access the LFO section. Here is a quick demonstration on how to use it. Enjoy!

Will Marshall’s DJ Template Pro for APC 40: Walkthrough

March 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

“This is a walkthrough of my DJ Template for the Akai APC40. It provides an overview of all the core features, but does not go into detail. To download the template, visit WillMarshall.me

How to Route External Audio Effects in Ableton Live

March 15, 2012 § 2 Comments

A couple weeks back we explored the basics of audio effects on our blog in an effort to help our readers who are just getting into the world of music production. Audio effects can add depth and dimension to your sounds and they are really one of the essential building blocks of electronic music. This week we will explore some options for expanding your sonic palette with external hardware effects routed through the aux send and return channels in Ableton Live. Most music production software such as Logic, Reason and Ableton Live come with built-in audio effects which can sound fantastic. But a problem you may run into is that tracks coming out of these programs can end up sounding very similar. This is advice that Moby offered in a recent interview that we did with him:

Today it’s all software based so it’s much more accessible. But the danger is that it all sort of sounds the same.. It’s very easy to stay purely in the digital realm because it does everything. – Moby

Using Hardware Effects for a Unique Sound

One of the easiest ways to incorporate an outside element into your Ableton Live workflow is to route sounds out of Ableton and into a hardware effects processor, then back into Ableton Live. If you happened to catch DJ Kiva’s APC40 dub performance in May, he used this technique extensively to create his dubbed out sound. In the video above you’ll find Kiva using a Korg Kaoss pad that has been routed out of Ableton and back in again to create effects that you can’t find inside the program alone. After seeing this video I asked Kiva to go over the basics of how to set this up.  It wound up being easier than I thought it would be and it’s brought a lot of new ideas to my workflow.

Routing External Hardware Effects into Ableton Live

Below is DJ Kiva’s setup for routing external effects into ableton Live. I’ve replaced his Kaoss pad with a Roland SP-404 sampler, which offers audio-through and effects processing on that audio. You may find that hardware gear that you own such as Korg Electribes, Monotrons, synthesizers or drum machines can process audio. Guitar or bass pedals can also create unique sounds that can help create your sonic identity.

Make Sure You Have Two Sets of Outputs from your Audio Interface

You can use any sort of effects processor for the following setup as long as you have an audio interface that can handle the inputs and outputs. To make this work you’ll need an audio interface with at least two outputs and one input. They can be mono (and your effects will also be mono) but optimally you’ll want two stereo outs and at least one stereo input. One output is your master sound output and the second output will be routed to the effects device. The input will be used for the effected signal. In the following example I’m using a Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 (channels 3 and 4 for input and output) that is connected to the Sp-404’s ins and outs. The master output is set to 1/2 volume.

1. Go to your preferences and go to the audio tab. make sure you have your interface selected as the input & output device..

2. Under input & output tabs, activate the additional ins & outs you will use.

3. Open Ableton’s i/o tab by the master track.

4. Select the “Return A” track.

5. Under the “Audio To” tab, select “Ext out” and then output pair 3/4.

6. create a new audio track in session view and set i/o to Ext. 3/4 and monitor mode to IN.

7. Connect a set of cables output 3/4 on your interface to the inputs on your effects device. In this case we have connected to the inputs on our SP-404.

8. Connect a set of cables from outputs of your effects device to inputs 3/4 on your audio interface.

9. Enable your effects processor..

10. Now back in your Ableton session view you’ll find Send levels for channels A and B above the volume faders on each track. Try playing a loop of some kind on audio track 1 and turn up the Send A knob to route effects to your hardware processor..

11. Make sure that the level on your audio track (“Aux Signal” in the examples) is turned up when you hit send A knob on any music channel, it will now send signal to your device and come back into the session. You can now easily record the incoming signal and have it on a separate track in your session.

12. One thing to note about this setup: there can often be a small delay when routing these sorts of effects. When I asked Kiva about this he mentioned that this can sometimes add to the character of a reverb or delay. If you want to fix this timing offset you can adjust the start point of the sample in Ableton.

(Originally published on Dubspot.com)

DJ Vespers’ 5 Secrets to Writing Better Music Faster

March 15, 2012 § 4 Comments

Custom MIDI Controllers by Dave Cross / 60 Works

March 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Sixty Works’ Dave Cross was not satisfied with the selection of hardware MIDI controllers on the market, so he built his own. In fact, he’s built a bunch of them. 60 Works currently specializes in custom hardware creation of MIDI controllers that Cross builds by hand and he’s just launched a new site, Zayik, where you can design your own dream controller that he’ll put together for you. He’s collaborated with Matt Moldover on a MIDI controller for Bassnectar and he recently visited Richie Hawtin to talk shop about interface design for performance. What began as a sideline D.I.Y. project has now become a full time gig in developing creative hardware solutions for performers and producers.

The Briefcase

“I built the Briefcase (above) in 2006 while I was working at a DJ magazine,” Cross explains. “It predates most DJ-oriented MIDI controllers on the market. I wanted to fully encapsulate a 3-track DJ Mixing paradigm in a single controller. It was an attempt to motivate myself to play out more with Ableton Live.” The Briefcase was put together with an OEM parts kit from Doepfer that was arranged inside the chassis of a 70′s-era portable Sony microphone mixer. The project caught great response online and  from performers / producers (some of whom he’s not allowed to mention because of non disclosure contracts) who pushed him to follow this path of creating boutique devices. During that time Cross had also worked for Ableton’s press department, stockpiling more knowledge of what users want out of performance controllers while simultaneously building his own knowledge of music production and performance.

The Third Deck

60 Works’ Third Deck is a beautifully constructed unit that was created to do just one thing – add one digital deck to your setup. It’s an experiment in form and function because it’s something that the controller industry would most likely never make but something that DJs would use. “The Third Deck was me imagining how a vinyl die-hard could be eased into using a laptop in the booth. It was built for a certain type of DJ. This person understands the computer DJ experience, but wants to retain a traditional workflow, only dipping a toe into the computer world. They only want one laptop deck.”

Custom MIDI Solutions

“A lot of what I’m doing is a reaction to mass produced goods,” Cross says. “This isn’t some xenophobic reaction to Chinese manufacturing. Nor is it a indictment of plastic goods. I simply feel the market can bear a wider variety of manufacturers than is currently available. Especially in the controller realm.”

60 Works’ devices are built by hand in a variety of forms using Hale Micro OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) components built to the needs of individual artists. “If a client comes to me with an idea for a product, then it’s clearly their call. I may respond with suggestions based on ergonomics and parts availability, but I wouldn’t try to force them towards a particular performance philosophy. If they ask, I’ll share my opinion, but they’re the artist.”

On Meeting with Richie Hawtin

“Hawtin wrote me out of the blue about a year ago. This was right after I got some great press on the launch of 60 Works. He seemed to enjoy an article I had written. Lots of back-and-forth, email chats dying off, then picking up again. The focus of the conversation was mostly on DJ and Live PA tech. In early 2011, he had a short stint in the US without gigs, so we decided to meet while it was relatively affordable for me. I went to Windsor to meet with him, and it was a great experience. It was a geek-out weekend, talking about the state of custom MIDI Brains, about DJing iOS apps, gourmet hamburgers in Windsor, and the early days (this was just as he was wrapping up his Arkives box set). I got to meet his family, received advice on a variety of topics, and I shared some tips on what I’ve learned. He’s a genuinely nice guy. Canadians…”

Zayik Custom Controller Design Website

Most recently Dave Cross has launched a new brand and website that allows users to design a custom MIDI device through a software interface on the Zayik website. You can then have it built to your spec and shipped to your door. The interface allows you to drag and drop knobs, faders and buttons to be arranged on the control surface as you see fit. You can also start with a few templates for different purposes and customize them to your liking. “Zayik is a middle ground, a way for someone to start a conversation about MIDI controllers without having to dream up every single possibility. It purposefully sets boundaries to establish a frame of reference for controller-building.”

Into The Future

“I have some plans to expand my portfolio with additional controller designs.  One is a production unit based around parametric EQs. People keep saying EQ & compression are the true keys to production, so I thought I’d build a some controllers around that paradigm. The second is a dual-unit DJ design. One unit is for mixing and triggering. A separate unit is for track selection. This one is personal — I feel strongly about separating the act of track selection from the art of mixing. It’s a statement I hope to make, in controller form.”

(Originally published on Dubspot.com)

Digital Creatives present Ableton Live Master Class – December 4 + 5 in Los Angeles

November 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

As some of you may know, I’ve recently started writing for the Dubspot blog where I’m doing coverage on technology, music production and a few music reviews as well. As a result I’ve  found myself in the midst of some great writers and performers who work with Dubspot. (And I highly recommend checking out the Dubspot blog for inspiration and some cool technical tutorials.)

One of these talented people is Laura Escudé – an Ableton Certified Trainer who is also a violinist and performance guru who has worked with artists such as JJ Abhrams and Kanye West. Create Digital Music did a nice interview with her that you can read here. I was very excited to find that Laura will be hosting an Ableton Live Master Class on December 4 and 5 of this year. It will be held in Hollywood, CA and costs a meager $99 a day for a full day (11AM – 4PM) of Ableton mind-meld with Laura. I will definitely be there. Hope to see you too!

From Electronic Creatives: This fall we’ll be hosting an Ableton Live Master Class series in Hollywood, CA. Ableton Certified Trainer Laura Escudé will be leading the class and sharing her tips and tricks for composition and sound design. 2 Days of Immersive Ableton Live Instruction Taught by Violinist, Composer, Sound Designer and Ableton Certified Trainer Laura Escudé

December 4-5, 2010
Hollywood, CA

$99 per day or $190 for both days

Day 1: Ableton Live 101
*Introduction to Live
*Warping/Tempo Control
*Controller Mapping

Day 2: Advanced Techniques
*Advanced Effects
*Live Performing
*Action Beat Making
*Advanced Automation
*Sound Design

Attendees are suggested to bring a laptop with Live installed and headphones if they can, however this is not necessary as analog note taking materials are useful as well.

The Master Class will have state of the art sound and visual projections for students to learn in an immersive AV environment.

Early registration is advised, this event will sell out.

For registration please visit:

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