Moguai Remix Competition – Win Ableton Products

Enter this remix competition from To win prizes including Ableton products and a release on Mau5trap Records.

Here are is the contest description and rules from’s blog earworm :


It’s time again for a big f-off remix competition.

So here it is… we’ve teamed up with the good folks at Novation, Ableton and SoundCloud and are happy to announce that YOU, yes YOU, could have your next release on Deadmau5′ own label — Mau5trap!

We’re giving you the chance to remix the first single ‘Nyce’ from Moguai’s new album ‘We Are Lyve’ out soon on Mau5trap.

Not only that. You can also win the new Novation Launchpad, a dedicated controller for Ableton Live, jointly designed by Ableton and Novation. Naturally, we’re going to include the full Ableton Suite 8 to get you pushing buttons.

Also, for the winner will be the awesome Novation ZeRO SL Mk II Controller, a one year SoundCloud Pro Plus account, Mau5trap merchandise, and 50 free downloads from us!


Winner will receive:

  • Novation Launchpad (worth €199)
  • Novation ZeRO MkII (worth €269)
  • Ableton Suite 8 (worth €549)
  • A one year SoundCloud Pro Plus account (worth €500!)
  • Full release of your remix on the Mau5trap label
  • Mau5trap merchandise
  • 50 free downloads from

1st Runner Up will receive:

  • Novation Launchpad with a soft case (worth €199)
  • Ableton Live 8 (worth €349)
  • A one year SoundCloud Lite account (worth €29)
  • Possible release of your remix on the Mau5trap label
  • Mau5trap merchandise
  • 30 free downloads from

2nd Runner Up will receive:

  • Ableton Live Intro 8 (worth €99)
  • Novation laptop bag and a hoodie
  • A one year SoundCloud Lite account (worth €29)
  • Possible release of your remix on the Mau5trap label
  • Mau5trap merchandise
  • 20 free downloads from

How to Enter / Terms & Conditions

  1. Buy the exclusive remix parts bundle for Moguai’s ‘Nyce’ from
  2. Remix the track into your chosen style.
  3. Submit your remix through the SoundCloud Dropbox situated below. All entries MUST include full name, telephone number, email, and your genre of entry.
  4. The competition will run from the 06 April 2010, until the 06 May 2010. Users will be able to purchase the remix parts during this time.
  5. Tracks using uncleared samples from sources outside of the distributed parts will be disqualified. An ‘uncleared sample’ is a musical work, loop or sample that you don’t own the copyright for (ie. you didn’t create it).
  6. All remixes submitted for this contest become the legal property of Mau5trap. Your remix contest submission becomes the legal property of the record label hosting the competition as protection against the release of unauthorized remixes in the form of bootlegs or on other record labels.
  7. All trademarks and logos are protected. All rights of the producer and the owner of the recorded work are reserved. Unauthorized copying, hiring, renting, public performance and broadcasting of this record, remix or remix parts is prohibited.
  8. By submitting your entry and entering this competition, you hereby give your permission for only the partners involved (Mau5trap, Novation, Ableton, SoundCloud) to be given your contact details for promotional purposes. If you wish to opt-out of this, you must email customerservice [-at-] djdownload [-dot-] com expressing this.
  9. These competition details, important dates, terms and conditions may be amended at any time without notice (but we will aim to give notice).
  10. You may upload your remix to Facebook / SoundCloud / MySpace and other social networks but it must be clearly named as a ‘Mau5trap remix competition entry’

Artist: Moguai
Track: ‘Nyce’
Remix Title: [your name here]’s Remix Competition Entry
Label: White Label

Send your remix entry here: before 06 May 2010

Important Dates

  • 06 April 2010 – Competition Opens
  • 06 May 2010 – Competition Closes

Make Some Noise, Win Some Prizes From

Enter this competition to win prizes, including beginner and advanced Ableton courses. Simply become a fan of the site on Facebook or Twitter, change your status, and you could be a winner!

Here are the official contest rules straight from

Ok, so to celebrate the launch of the site, we thought it would be good to make a little bit of noise, especially as that is what the site is all about, making noise.

So how would you like a whole bunch of cool DJ and production related prizes just for sharing the good news? Sound good? Yeah we thought so too. First of all let’s see what is on offer.

One lucky winner will nab all of the following:

* Both Beginner AND Advanced Ableton Course from (a £225 value!).
* Loop Master Sample CDs
* Complete DJ Master Course
* Copy of Platinum Notes (by Mixed in Key)
* Music Theory for Computer Musicians Book
* A Pair of Pacemaker Headphones
* Pioneer Pro DJ cap

All in all a fantastic collection of prizes.

Literally there is almost everything you need to kickstart your career as a DJ and Producer. These are handpicked resources that we think will help jump start your noise making!

That’s not all. Five runners up will also receive a Loopmasters sample pack of their choice, and the DJ Master Course.

So what do you need to do to bag this amazing bounty? Simply make some noise like we said. We want you to spread the word and let others know about it.

There are two ways to enter, use both to increase your chances of winning.

Facebook users, join the official Facebook group here:

Then post the following in your status:

“Want to win great DJ and producer prizes from the new web-zine for Noise Makers? Check out the Facebook group for more info:″

Then tag Bang the DJ in the status (learn how to do that here).

Twitter users:

Follow @btdj and then send the following tweet:

Win great DJ and producer prizes from the new web-zine for Noise Makers #win #bangthedj Follow @btdj & RT

Bebo users can join the Bang the DJ group here:

And then share it with your friends.

At the end of April, we will compile all the entries into one list, and then pick the winners at random. Our decision is final, don’t get upset if you don’t win, etc etc.


Due to this we will be extending the competition by one more week. Be sure to take part!

Understanding Ableton Live’s Reverb

Some people love it, some hate it. Some stay away from it because they don’t know how to use it. Learn to get over your fears and conquer Ableton’s reverb in this tutorial.

Some people love it, some hate it. Some stay away from it because they don’t know how to use it. Ableton’s built in Reverb is capable of some pretty amazing things once you get to know it.

This tutorial will break down Ableton Live’s Reverb. Hopefully after reading this, you’ll be grabbing for this sometimes misunderstood plug-in more often in your productions.

What Is Reverb?

In a nutshell, reverberation (or reverb for short), is the continuation of reflected sound after the original has been removed.

Everyone has experienced some form of reverb in their life. Usually it happens in large open areas, or small areas with reflective surfaces (bathrooms, rooms with hardwood floors, etc).

When you yell, clap or talk in these rooms, there is a noticeable “tail” of quick echoes that slowly fade off. This is known as the reverb.

The millions of tiny echoes bouncing back and forth eventually dying out is known as the “decay”.

A visual representation of sound bouncing around a space.

When programming Ableton’s Reverb plug-in it helps to visualize some type of environment. Cathedrals and large rooms have a very long decay time, while a shower or small tiled room would have a very short decay time.

Listen to this example. I have a dry snare hit from a drum machine. One is treated with 400ms (milliseconds) of decay, and the other has 2 seconds of decay. Listen for the time it takes for the sound to fully die out.

Dry Snare

400ms Decay Snare

2 Seconds Decay Snare

Different Types Of Reverb

Chamber Reverb

The most primitive and natural form of reverb. Usually recording studios would have rooms with reflective surfaces (cement, tile) on the walls and floor. They would have a loud speaker playing the track, and it would be moved around the room for different colors of reverb.

Once the desired form of reverb was achieved, it would be send back into the main mix.

Plate Reverb

A speaker is attached to a piece of sheet metal (hence the name plate), and the vibrations from the metal simulate a unique version of reverb.

A pick up (small microphone) would be attached the sheet metal allowing the engineer to blend the full “wet” reverb signal, with the dry signal from the speaker (similar to the “Dry/Wet” knob on Ableton’s Reverb).

Sometime later, someone decided to add two pick ups, resulting in a stereo reverb effect.

Spring Reverb

Have you ever taken a slinky, put your ear on one end of it, and let the other end drop to the ground? It gives a very metallic space age sound.

This is the same concept behind spring reverb. Similar to plate reverb, the sound source is positioned at one end of the spring, while a pick up is positioned at the other. Sound travels through the spring and creates a “springy” sound.

Digital Reverb

With the advent of digital signal processors, reverb algorithms were created by using a large number of decaying echoes.

Equipped with the right set of tools, digital reverbs can re create many different forms of reverb ranging from the natural to the space age. Ableton’s reverb fits into this category.

Convolution Reverb

Another form of digital reverb, but suited to better recreate room sounds. Convolution reverbs set out to actually “sample” room setting through a complex range of algorithms and impulse responses.

Getting To Know Ableton’s Reverb

Before diving into Ableton’s Reverb, it’s a good idea to try out some of the presets that come with it.

  1. Drop Ableton’s Reverb onto a track with an instrument, sample or loop.
  2. Click on the “Hot Swap” button located on the top right of the unit.
  3. In Live’s Device and File Browser, double click the orange symbol with two arrows facing up and down.

Pay close attention to the names of the presets to get a better understanding of how Ableton’s Reverb generates it’s sound. Watch which settings are turned on and off when you select a preset, some use chorus, some use hi-cut and low-cut. Some more complex than others.

Input Processing

The start of Ableton’s Reverb signal chain, all audio passes through here first. This is where you set the filter cut-off (with the X-Y controller) as well as the pre delay.

Lo Cut/Hi Cut – These two filters are used to cut off the highs (hi cut) or lows (lot cut). If the high end of the signal is cut off coming in, you will lose any of the “sparkle” in the reverb, making for a darker sound.

While on the other end, cutting out the lows, will only allow high frequencies to pass through, creating a thinner reverb sound. Both can but turned off to save on CPU power.

Below is an example of the reverb Dry/Wet turned to 100%, the first sound using lo cut, the other using hi cut.

Example of Reverb’s lo cut filter

Example of Reverb’s hi cut filter

Pre Delay – This is the amount of time it takes the sound to reach the first reflective surface. Obviously if the room is huge, it will take longer for the sound to reach its first wall and bounce back. Most “natural” settings use a pre delay between 1ms and 25ms.

  1. Place the Reverb on a Synth track.
  2. Turn the Dry/Wet knob up to 100%.
  3. Turn the Pre Delay knob up to 250ms.
  4. Press a note on your keyboard. Notice there is a delay before the sound plays. Since the Dry/Wet knob is turned to 100%, you’re hearing only the reverb, and since it takes 250ms for the sound to bounce back, there is a slight delay.

Early Reflections

A bit more complex than most sections, but it’s easy to think of the early reflections as the first echoes you hear bouncing off of a surface before the onset of the reverb “tail”.

This section is more about adding character to the overall sound of the reverb.

Spin – This setting applies modulation to the early reflections with an X-Y controller. Sliding the controller to the left and right affects the depth of modulation, while sliding up and down affects the amount.

  1. Slide the Spin’s contoller all the way to the top right.
  2. This puts the spin effect at full.
  3. Play a note for a truly bizarre sound.

These early reflections are being modulated by a low frequency sine wave, which creates the warbly effect you’re hearing.

Shape – This control will help blend the early reflections with the onset of the reverb tail. With this setting lower there will be a “gap” between the early reflections and the onset of the reverb tail. At higher settings the two will blend together, resulting in a smoother reverb sound.

Global Settings

The heart of Ableton’s reverb. Use these settings to adjust the quality of the reverb, overall size, and the amount of stereo effect.

Quality – Three settings to choose from here; eco, mid, and high. The higher the quality, the bigger the toll on your processor. Some people like the “cheap” sound of the eco setting, since this is a subjective topic, you decide which quality setting you like best.

Size – This allows you to change the volume or size of the room.

  1. Turn the size volume all the way down.
  2. Play some notes, notice the thin metallic sound.
  3. Now turn the size knob all the way up.
  4. Again play something, notice the much “bigger” sound.

Stereo – With this knob turned all the way down, the reverb is mixed down to a single mono sound, when turned all the way up, the reverb effect is panned hard left and hard right, simulating a more realistic hearing experience in a room.

Diffusion Network

This is the part of the reverb unit that actually creates the reverberant tail that follows the early reflections.

Hi Shelf/Lo Shelving Filters – Adjusting the high shelf filter allows you to fine tune the frequencies of the decay model to simulate people, carpeting or other absorbent objects in a room.

The low shelf filter allows the sound of the decay to be thinned out depending on how much of the low end you are actually cutting out.

Both of these options can be turned off to save CPU consumption.

Decay – The amount of time it takes for the reflections to die down. With a setting of 2 seconds, it would take the reverb tail 2 seconds for it to reach -60dB (essentially fade out).

  1. Enter Hot Swap Mode to the top right of the unit.
  2. Select the “Sixty Seconds” preset under the “Special” folder.
  3. Play a note or sound.
  4. Since the decay knob is maxed, it takes 60 seconds for the tail to reach -60dB.

Freeze – This button will allow you to freeze the decay of a sound indefinitely. At whichever moment you initiate the freeze button, that part will be repeated until the freeze button is turned off.

The cut button stops any more signal from coming through. With this button unchecked you send as many notes or sounds as you want through, all being frozen by Live’s Reverb. Watch out for clipping!

Flat will simply bypass the high and low shelf filters while freeze is activated.

Density And Scale – These determine how many reflections will occur. With a higher density and ccale setting you are upping the amount of reflected sound bouncing around in the room.

These have a more noticeable affect with a smaller size setting.

Chorus – Similar to the spin sections, the chorus section will add modulation to the diffusion (sounds bouncing around in the room). The controls are identical to the spin section under the early reflections setting.


This section will adjust overall signal, as well as the amplification of the Reflections and Diffusions (early reflections and diffusion network, respectively).

Reflect – Changes the amplification of the early reflections section. This allows you to blend the early reflections with the rest of the reverb’s overall mix.

Diffuse – The same idea as the reflect knob, only used for the diffusion network sections.

Dry/Wet – Blends between the untreated sound and the fully treated sound. Turned down to 0% you will hear no reverb at all. Turned to 100% you will hear only the reverberated sound coming through.

When adjusting parameters on Ableton’s Reverb, it’s a good idea to have the Dry/Wet knob up to 100%. This allows you to get a better feel for the full effect of the reverb. Once you’re happy with your settings, use the knob to blend subtly (or not to subtly).

Free Ambient Ableton Live Pack From Togeo Studios

This isn’t exactly brand new, but since this site is a resource for all things Ableton, I thought I would share this great Ambient Live pack that you can download for free.

This isn’t exactly brand new, but since this site is a resource for all things Ableton, I thought I would share this great Ambient Live pack that you can download for free from

Part 4 of the Dreamscapes series, another free Ableton Live pack from Togeo Studios is now available for download. Dreamscapes has always been one of our favorite and most popular series and part 4 is no exception. With another one hundred plus new atmospheric soundscapes, rythmic drones, airy pads and swirling background textures Dreamscapes 4 will provide you with an arsenal of soundscapes and effects to top off any music project.

These highly tweakable instruments for Ableton Lives simpler device can be used with almost any musical style and genre and will be a welcome addition to your sound library and music production toolkit. Perfect for film scoring, soundtracks, atmospheric or chilled out ambient and electronic mixes. Each intrument rack has an assortment of macro presets allowing you to quickly alter the sound and effects for a virtually unlimited range of tonal variation.

Download the pack here

How To DJ In Ableton Live Part 1: Setting Up Ableton And Preparing The Songs

Part 1 of a series on how to DJ in Ableton Live. This tutorial goes over setting up Ableton’s Cue settings, finding the key and BPM of songs,…

Here is Part 1 of a series on how to DJ in Ableton Live. This tutorial goes over setting up Ableton’s Cue settings, finding the key and BPM of songs, and how to warp songs.

And here are the links to DJ friendly Audio Interface I promised in the video:

TC Electronic Desktop Konnekt 6
Focusrite Saffire 6 USB Audio Interface
Numark DJ I|O

Here is a link to Part 2: How To DJ In Ableton Live Part 2: Clips, Effects And Mixing Songs

Eskamon “Fine Objects” – Ableton Tutorial by ill.Gates

As a result of his free Live Pack full of samples used on the “ESKAMON” project, ill.Gates shows off some tips when it comes to working with Ableton’s Sampler.

To Download the free Ableton Live Pack for ESKAMON: “Fine Objects”, visit

Video tutorial shown here by

ESKAMON is the new collaboration project between Amon Tobin (Ninja Tune) & Eskmo (Warp, Planet Mu, Ancestor). “Fine Objects” is the first single by the duo that’s set for release on Eskmo’s own imprint “Ancestor.”

“Fine Objects” is the result of the pair’s unique take on sonic exploration and the manipulation of field recordings. From the onset, the two went out with a recorder, gathering sounds from around the house, yard and studio. Material recorded out of the studio included sounds from a parking garage elevator, a broken harp and the droning tones from a discarded piano.

These were combined with more home-centric sounds to form the central theme to the song. With lumbering alien bass and intentionally dry, off-kilter percussion, “Objects” quickly grew into it’s own symbolic representation of taking “odd pieces” and allowing them to grow into something a bit more “refined and ablaze.”

As part of the release ESKAMON released a free WAV sample pack of the sounds created in the song. From these original WAVs, an Ableton Live pack was also created by ill. Gates for the project and given out for free with the release as well. This video is the tutorial ill.Gates shot to help explain the features he made on the Ableton side of the project.

5 Essential DJ Effects In Ableton Live

Huge filter sweeps, stuttering beat hiccups and low end drops. Used tastefully, DJ effects can provide improvisational wonders for the dance floor.

Huge filter sweeps, stuttering beat hiccups and low end drops. Used tastefully, DJ effects can provide improvisational wonders for the dance floor. Ableton Live comes with plenty of effects devices. Here are 5 of my favorites that can turn a dull DJ set into a real time performance with different results every time.

The Limiter

Ableton’s Limiter is simple in design making it very easy to use.

Why DJs Love It – Slap this on your master track to prevent any clipping that can happen during a DJ set. Even though you’re usually using only 2 songs at a time when mixing, the low end of 2 tracks at once can sometimes create major clippage in Ableton.

Some Practical Settings – As mentioned earlier, you can really just “set it and forget it”, but if you’d like to tweak it a bit, here are a couple of pointers.

If you need your mix to be louder, you can use the gain knob, however, use it in moderation. A limiter is essentially a compressor with a ratio of infinity, so by cranking the gain you’re noticeably squashing the sound.

Always keep the ceiling below 0, anything higher will cause the master track to clip, which is why we put the limiter on in the first place!

EQ Three

EQ Three – Arguably Ableton’s most powerful DJ effect.

Why DJs Love It – It doesn’t get more classic than this. The 3 band EQ has been a favorite among DJs for decades. Found on almost every DJ mixer, Ableton has emulated a perfect DJ EQ, right down to the kill switches.

Some Practical Settings – Load this to your “A” and “B” decks. This way you have individual control when it comes to killing certain frequencies. Using EQ Three to boost frequencies is generally is not recommended.

Try mapping your computer keyboard to the kill switches shown below. This way, with the press of a button you can kill the lows of a song, to make room for another.

Mapping the “A” button on my keyboard to kill EQ Three’s low end.

Beat Repeat

Make beats stutter with Ableton’s Beat Repeat.

Why DJs Love It – Create interesting rhythmic stutters and shifts with this effect. You can hear extensive use of this on Daft Punk’s “Alive 2007” Album. DJs have to be careful though, too much can cause chaos on the dance floor. Use sparingly!

Some Practical Settings – You really have to keep your eye on this or things can really get out of hand. Practice with it before you take it out. I like to set my “Chance” knob to around 50% and my intervals to 4 bars.

Activate and Deactivate the device by clicking on the green dot (top left of device) to use it. You don’t want to leave it on during the whole song, use it only a few times in your set (unless you’re Squarepusher or Aphex Twin.)

Auto Filter

Auto Filter is great for building tension.

Why DJs Love It – Great for the famous “the sound is coming from another room” effect (cutting all the highs out), the auto filter is great for creating tension.

Some Practical Settings – With the default low pass setting on, grab the green ball in the middle of the filter and start to slowly pull your mouse to the left. This will cut out all the high frequencies. Once the dance floor is brimming with anticipation, slowly (or quickly, your call) bring back in the highs (move the mouse to the right).

Bring the auto filter’s Q up (move the mouse up) to create even more exciting “wooshing” sounds.

Simple Delay

Create chaos with the Ableton Live’s “Simply Delay”.

Why DJs Love It – It’s getting more common to find DJ mixers with built in effects. The most common (besides EQ) is usually a form of delay. The simplicty of Ableton’s “Simple Delay” can create interesting and chaotic effects with the push of a button.

Some Practical Settings – Simply putting the delay on a track and activating then quickly deactivating it can get some really interesting sounds. Remember, just like Ableton’s Beat Repeat; keep it simple and subtle.

Create a crazy repeat effect by starting with both the “Feedback” and “Dry/Wet” knobs at 0. Slowly bring the two knobs “Feedback” and “Dry/Wet” knobs to 100%, then, just like with the Auto Filter, deactivate the delay at the moment that feels right.

Let me know if you feel like I am leaving anything out. And, as always, feel free to comment some of your favorite settings below!

Video Shows How To Use iPad As Ableton MIDI Controller

Ryan Noise, an Audio/Video artist from Atlanta shows us how to sync up the iPad to Ableton and use it as a wireless MIDI controller.

How to use APPLE IPAD to control Ableton Live wireless using “Midi , OSC, OSCulator, Touchosc and Python script ” or a Lemur Killer.

Directly from Ryan’s youtube profile:

“Just to let you know, You can download the python remote control scripts from

This is until the new Script is done.”

Video supplied by: Ryan Nosise at

Free Ableton Live Clinics In Chicago

Ableton Certified Trainer Thomas Faulds will be hosting free clinics at Guitar Center locations in the Chicago area. Feel free to bring your laptops and questions. This is a great opportunity to get some Ableton certified training for FREE!

Ableton Live Production Workshops With Thomas Faulds

Ableton Certified Trainer Thomas Faulds ( will be hosting free clinics at Guitar Center locations in the Chicago area. Thomas will cover the basics of Ableton Live’s award winning workflow.

He’ll also share personal insights and tips for getting the most out of your musical production and performance. Feel free to bring your laptops and questions. This is a great opportunity to get some Ableton certified training for FREE at your local Guitar Center!

3/10 – Highland Park Guitar Center
143 Skokie Valley Rd, Highland Park, IL 60035
March 10th Wednesday evening at 6:30pm

3/13 – Chicago Guitar Center
2633 North Halsted Street Chicago, IL 60614
March 13th Saturday afternoon at 3:30pm

3/25 – Country Club Hills Guitar Center
4271 167th Street Country Club Hls, IL 60478
March 25th Thursday evening at 6:30pm

Ableton Live’s Analog: A Synthesizer Tutorial

Learn the powers of subtractive synthesis in this tutorial. Taught through Ableton’s Analog Synthesizer, you will be programming your own patches in no time.

Ableton’s Analog synthesizer (introduced in version 7) is an attempt to recreate the vintage sounds of yesterday. Featuring 2 alias free oscillators, 4 Waveforms (sine, sawtooth, rectangle and white noise), two independent multi band filters, 2 syncable LFOs, and a range of other features, Analog easily stands up next to its hardware counterparts.

The Basics Of Synthesis

Every analog synthesizer generates its sounds from an oscillator, the most basic type being a sine wave. These are generated by an electronic signal, and their shape is formed by amplitude and frequency.

All Of This Hertz My Head!

All sound is made up of vibration. One full vibration cycle is known as just that; a cycle. The frequency in which this occurs (how many cycles per second) is measured in hertz (Hz).

An example of a sine wave. 1 cycle is reached once the wave has reached its lowest point, its highest point, then back to the lowest.

A guitar string being plucked will vibrate thousands of (cycles) times per second. The faster the vibration, the higher the pitch.

Sounds range from about 20Hz to 20,000Hz. As an example, the low rumble of a truck could be measured at the bottom end of the frequency spectrum (around 30Hz to 100Hz; you feel this more than hear it) all the way up to a high pitched whistle (around 10,000Hz to 15,000Hz.).

Some common sounds you can associate with on the frequency spectrum.

The Middle A note on a piano is represented as 440Hz on the frequency spectrum (remember, 440 vibrations per second). If you were to generate a sine wave on a synthesizer at exactly 440Hz you would hear a tone that matches a Middle A.

Here is what a pure sine wave played by Ableton’s Operator Synth at 440Hz.

The raw sine wave generatd by Operator. Note the spike at 440Hz.

And here is a sine wave played by Ableton’s Analog synth. Notice the slight overtones.

A sine wave generated by Analog. Notice the extra overtones to the right of the spectrum.

You Have A Real Amplitude Problem

Amplitude is the measurement of volume. The higher the amplitude, the louder something is. This is why you need amplitude combined with frequency in order to generate sound on a synthesizer. Think of the frequency of a sine wave as the measurement from left to right, and amplitude is the measurement from top to bottom.

How amplitude measurement works with Analog’s sine wave.

Saws, Squares, And Noise, Oh My!

As I said before, Analog has 4 different wave forms:

Sine Wave – The most basic type of waveform. This has a soft mellow sound to it. This is the only wave form to appear in nature. Although this is not a true sine wave, (Ableton have added some overtones to make it more sonically pleasing) its pretty close.

Saw Wave – Once again, another waveform that is created by combing sine waves together at different frequency intervals. The saw tooth is known for a sharp biting sound.

Square Wave – A square wave is generated by adding sine waves together at different frequency intervals. The sound of a square wave has a hollow reed like sound.

Noise – Technically not a waveform, white noise generates frequencies randomly and chaotically. Imagine static on a television screen.

These are automatically generated by Analog through something known as additive synthesis (combining sine waves at different frequency intervals). Your job as a synth programmer is to shape and mold these waveforms through various tools provided by the synthesizer. This is known as subtractive synthesis.

Ableton’s Analog Synthesizer allows you to not only choose from these 4 different types of waveforms, but also mix 2 of them together at the same time.

How To Program Sounds In Analog

Now that we’ve got the basics of synthesis out of the way, lets put some of Analog’s features to use by programming our own sounds.

Choosing The Right Oscillator For The Job

Like I said before, the most basic aspect of any synthesizer is its waveform, so start there. If you’re new to programming synthesizers, it’s probably a good idea to stick with one of Analog’s oscillators for now.

Analog’s Oscillator section.

You will notice to the left of Ableton’s waveform chooser that there is a Oscillator Level Slider and an On/Off switch.

On/Off Switch – Pretty self explanatory. In order to get sound you have to have at least one Oscillator switched on. The Level Slider allows you to adjust the output of the oscillator.

Octave Section – Once you have your waveform selected, you can choose the octave of the oscillator, Analog has a -3 and +3 octave range.

Semitone Knob – Used to change full note intervals. If you play an A note, then change the semitone knob up +1, you will hear an A#.

Detune Knob – Great when two waveforms are combined together and you tweak both Detune Knobs. This will achieve a fatter sound. Try detuning two waveforms by +0.02 and the other by -0.2.

Filters Are Your Friend

Directly to the right of Analog’s oscillator section is the filter section. This is used to help shape your sound. Activate the filter by clicking on the Fil1 rectangle button.

Analog’s Filter section.

Ableton has 5 types of filters:

Lowpass (12dB and 24dB) – This filter allows low frequencies through and cuts out high frequencies. Your adjustments will determine how many of these high frequencies will be let through.

This is me filtering through frequencies with a saw wave through the 24dB low pass filter.

A more visual approach to a low pass filter with Ableton’s Auto Filter.

Bandpass (6dB and 12dB) – This allows only a small amount of frequencies through. Great for honing in on certain frequencies.

Here is a saw wave being sweeped through a 6dB band pass filter.

A more visual approach to a band pass filter with Ableton’s Auto Filter.

Notch (2 and 4 pole) – The same as a bandpass filter, only this cuts certain frequencies.

Here is a saw wave’s frequencies being sweeped through the notch 4 filter.

A more visual approach to a notch filter with Ableton’s Auto Filter.

Highpass (12dB 24dB) – Similar to the lowpass filter, this allows only high frequencies through. Great for dramatic breakdowns when you want to cut the lows out.

Here is a saw wave’s frequencies being sweeped through the hi pass filter.

A more visual approach to a hi pass filter with Ableton’s Auto Filter.

Formant (2 and 4 pole) – This type of filter uses a special type of resonance to accentuate what is know as vowel sounds. Its easy to understand the effect by hearing it.

Here is a saw wave’s frequencies being sweeped through the hi pass filter. Notice the accentuated mid range sounds.

The two most widely used filters are lowpass and highpass. Using the frequency knob to cut the lows out really helps for smoothing out square and saw waves. Using the highpass filter helps to thin out pads and string sounds.

The resonance knob helps to boost the frequency chosen on the filter. In this example, I have the filter set to lowpass, the frequency set at 500Hz and I am turning the resonance up and down from about 20% – 75%.

Sweeping through the resonance with the frequency fixed at 500Hz.

A more visual approach to resonance with Ableton’s Auto Filter. Notice the amplitude gain on certain frequencies.

An Envelope You Can’t Mail

One of the most important aspect of synthesis is the envelope, and sure enough, Ableton’s Analog has them.

The envelope works with 4 very important parts, the amplitude (A), decay (D), sustain (S) and release (R), or better know as ADSR.

The best way to understand these functions are to use them, but here is a head start.

A great visual example of ADSR in synthesis.

Like other parts of the synthesizer, the envelope sections allow you shape and sculpt certain aspects of the sound. Here are elements of the Amplifier envelope:

Attack – The time it takes for the initial run up of the sound to reach it’s peak. Setting a higher attack time is a technique commonly used with swelling pad sounds.

Decay – If you have a longer decay set, you could imaging it as a flat line starting once the attack has reached its peak, and running straight until it reaches the sustain point

Sustain – This is the volume of the sound during it’s main sequence. Try turning the release al the way down and turning this all the way up. Notice how when you hold the key (or play a note) it holds at full volume EXACTLY up to the point you let go or the not stops. Great for bass sounds.

Release – The point of time it takes for the sound to die down. Play a note on a keyboard and let go, notice the sound will linger for awhile with a higher release setting.

Analog’s Amplifier Envelop. Look familiar?

Meet LFO, Or Better Known As – Low Frequency Oscillator

We know there are certain areas of the Analog in Ableton that you can use to control and shape the sound (the filter for example). Well, in synthesis, there is something that take this even a step further: enter the Low Frequency Oscillator.

Analog’s LFO section

Remember way back when (the beginning of this article) we were talking about cycles and different wave types? A Low Frequency Oscillator is essentially one of these waves played back at an extremely low frequency (usually 1Hz – 20Hz).

What does the LFO do you ask? Well, it lets you control a specified portion of the synthesizer with one of the wave forms.

Lets say you have a sine wave (see the picture of the sine wave shown earlier). Notice how it has an up and down look to it (it’s a wave, duh). This will be used to essentially control the frequency knob in the filter section for you.

It may be kind of a difficult concept to grasp, but lets use it in a real world example.

  1. Enable the first LFO by clicking the button that says “LFO”, once it lights up orange, you’re good.
  2. Turn the Hz knob up to about 2 (you’re now working with a sine wave at 2 cycles).
  3. Click on the filter section of the synth.
  4. With the filter section enabled, go to the middle part of the Analog synth.
  5. Where it says Freq Mod, change the numbers underneath where it says LFO1.
  6. Play a note or key, notice how the frequency is wooshing back and forth a little? You are now controlling the Analog’s filter with the LFO.

You can control numerous parts of the Analog, so feel to experiment. You can get some truly amazing results.

3 Smaller (But Important) Tools

So, now that you are equipped with the basic knowledge of sculpting some pretty amazing sounds with Ableton’s Analog synthesizer, here are three more smaller, but important parts of it.

Analog’s main panel houses three small, but important tools.

On the main panel all the way to the right, you’ll notice three buttons underneath the volume knob.

Vibrato – This is a controller that allows you to slightly fluctuate the pitch of the signal through the analog. It gives it a very recognizable wobbly effect.

Unison – This is great for fattening up your Analog. It essentially doubles and slightly detunes any of your oscillators.

Glissando – A smooth transition from note to note. Use this option to get a gliding sound.

I hope I have been able to shed some light on the mystery of synthesizer programming through Ableton Live’s Analog. Sorry I couldn’t cover everything in detail. Please, experiment with Analog, the best way to learn is to experience it yourself. Above all have fun!

If you have any tips or techniques about Analog, please share them below!