Trap Vocal Edits in Ableton Live

Have you ever wanted to edit vocals to give that stuttered and pitched effect you hear in Trap? I put togeather a video of me editing some Silk Drop vocals. I use techniques like cutting up the vocal, re-pitching vocals, complex pro warp mode, and other things.

Wanted to give you an inside look on how I edit vocals this way.

If you are interested in other vocal techniques, check out my video on vocal effects and free audio effect rack.

I also made a video on working with backing vocals and chorusing.

Do you have any techniques you use for Trap Vocals? Plugins? Share in the comments.

By | January 20th, 2017|Ableton, Producers Blog, Sound Design Tech|0 Comments

List of Microtonal VST Synths and Plugins

To easily make microtonal music in Ableton Live, or other DAW’s, I find it’s best to use third party VST’s that support Scala files. That way you can pick your tuning and write new parts in that temperament/tuning.  I compiled a list of my favorite microtonal VST’s, synths, AU’s, and plugins. There are more synths out there, but these are my favorite.

You will also see a few rows that are highlighted green. These synths are my all-time favorite for working with Microtonal music.

If you have suggestions, please comment below. I would love to check them out and maybe add them to the list. If you are interested in learning more about tuning instruments in Ableton Live and microtonal music, then check out my article on Microtonal Music in Ableton Live. 

Bitwig Studio 2 Coming Out – First Thoughts

Bitwig just announced Version 2 to come out in February 2017. I’ve been reading about this on forums, and they just officially announced it.

I made this video to share my first thoughts on Bitwig 2 and what I hope to see in the update. There are also so interesting moves by them around pricing and subscription models.  Enjoy:

 

 

To read more on Bitwig 2 go to: https://www.bitwig.com/en/home.html

Ultimate Guide to 432 – VST’s and AU Plugins

In the first part of this series, we went over the theory of Tuning and Temperament.  Then I went into detail on tuning your synths in Ableton Live from 440 to 432 in part two of the series. In this article, I will walk you through using third party plugins, AU, and VST’s.

Third Party Plug-ins:

If you are like me then you might have a host of Third Party Plugins you like to use in your production. These extra synths give you a whole host of new sounds to play with. Here is a list of Plugins you can use and the where to find the parameter to detune the instrument.  This is in no particular order.

To start here is a video I made in response to questions of tuning Massive and Serum.

 

Massive: Go to the Global tab. Here change the global tuning to  -0.32

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By | January 12th, 2017|Ableton, Music Theory, Producers Blog, Sound Design Tech|0 Comments

Ultimate Guide to 432 – Using Ableton Live

Tuning into 432 with Live

To play music in 432 you must retune all your synths and presets. This might seem overwhelming idea at first, but it actually takes very little time at the beginning of your tracks. Once you get a library of instruments tuned, then it will also be that much easier.

The simplest way to tune to 432hz is to just detune each of your instruments. By detuning you lower the first note, from 440-432 for example.  since A=432 Live will then base every note from that point forward. You can not just lower the pitch at the end because that will not retune it, it will just lower the overall pitch.

This image shows the different tuning you could use for notes found in the Equal Temperament. As you can see when you move from 440 to 432 you are lowering the pitch by -8hz. You can also see that just 2 notes down 440hz Equal Temperament are 494. If you -8hz to that we do not get 484.90.  The reason why is equal temperament is a ratio that moved up from the root of A. A ratio of “2 11/12” from 440 is very different than a ratio of “2 11/12” at 432. Because of this, you can not return the finished song. You must tune the instruments correctly to start with. (more…)

By | January 12th, 2017|Ableton, Music Theory, Producers Blog, Sound Design Tech|1 Comment

4 Unknown features for Live’s Compressor

The Compressor is your bread and butter in mixing. If you know can really wield EQing and Compression, then you can deal with 80% of all problems when mixing.  The Compressor is probably the most used Ableton live device. Even though producers constantly grab the compressor, there are some less known features that can greatly help the mix.

Adding the Auto Feature:Auto Feature Live Compressor

There are two features on the Compressor that can help make things automatic. The first one is the Auto Button. This will automatically decide the release amount compared to the input signal. It makes it quick and easy to let Live determine how long before releasing the compressor.  Once this is activated you cannot manually set the Release amount.

Second automatic feature is the Makeup button. Enabling the Makeup button automatically compensates the output level if the threshold and ratio settings change.  In other words, if you change the Ratio of the compression, then Live will automatically adjust the output gain.  These are both helpful in automating Live’s Compressor.

Expand instead of Compress:

I love using the Expand feature on the Compressor. It’s a little-known gem. With the Compressor set to Expand it acts as an upward expander, and will increase the gain when signals exceed the threshold. With this feature you can make the louder parts louder, giving you a bigger dynamic range. Normally a Compressor pushes the louder parts down, but now with Expand it will increase them if it is over the threshold.

expandupward-expansion (more…)

By | September 28th, 2016|Ableton, Producers Blog, Sound Design Tech|1 Comment

Quick Trick – Mixing Kicks with Transient Shaping

Transient Shaping is a great technique to help a sound punch through a mix. There are many transient shapers out in the world, but you can actually use Live’s Compressor for the same effect.  Below is a video walk through of using Transient Shaping on a kick.

 

Download the free / by donation Audio Effect Rack.


Download the Live Pack

By | March 24th, 2016|Ableton, Producers Blog, Sound Design Tech|0 Comments

Top 6 Free Glitch Effects and Devices

If you ever want to spice up your music, then adding some well placed glitch effects and sounds will bring on the heat.  I love taking a violin part, vocal, or lead and glitching it out.  It adds a really unique sound and captures the listener. There are lots of tools out there to morph and mangle. In this article I am going to give you a rundown of the top 6 VST’s and effects I use for glitching out samples.


 

1. Hysteresis by Glitchmachines

Let’s start off with a pinch of some smeared out granular delay. Hysteresis is a free VST for Mac and PC by Glitchmachines.com. This device will take any input and stretch the sound, though a combination of delays and granular filters. In their words, it “creating robotic artifacts and abstract musical malfunctions.” Hysteresis_UI Glitch Effect

I love throwing these devices on drums or leads and using the Random button. I will then tweak it until I get these strange mechanical stretching sounds. I’ll resample that sound and use it as a strange layer in my track. This VST definitely makes some strange noises, and many of them are unusable. Just mess with it and edit the sounds to give you some interesting top layers to your track. Check out their demo video.

2. FIRE by MDSP

FIRE is a hidden weapon in my arsenal.  It’s a combination of short delays and panning to give this sharp little sparkles. It’s very easy to use and is available for MAC and Windows.  I  love using this VST on instruments more then on drums. It can add a really unique ghost delay. Perfect for pianos, or plucked instruments.

With shorter settings it works great on snare and high-hat to give a stuttered tail to things.

fire_-_mdsp_at_smartelectronix

3. dblue Glitch

First off lets get this out of the way, this VST is Windows only. Yeah… I know, bummer. Luckily I use a PC (Yes, you can tell me how my life can be better in the comments). I have been using dblue Glitch free VST for a long time. The random feature and simple controls make it really easy to come up with new rhythmic glitch patterns. All you have to do is throw it on any track and start tweaking the pattern and the different effects. It’s similar to Effectrics in this way, but it only has one layer.

Good News for the MAC users out there is that Glitch 2.0 has come out on PC and Mac. It is, however $59.

Glitch VST Effect for Ableton Live (more…)

Adding and Manipulating Backing Vocals

Backing Vocals:

There are a lot of ways to add interest to your vocal tracks. In previous articles I talked about treating your vocals to get a clean mix as well as creative vocal effects.  Both of this article shows off some pretty essential techniques when working with vocals. In this article I want to look at Backing Vocals as a way to spice up your tracks. Backing vocals can make a vocal sound bigger and give it more depth. A great example of this is doubling a vocal to make it sound like there are two people, albeit the same vocalist.  This can make it seem like the singer had another back up vocalist singing along. Using trickery and the power of Ableton Live we can create some really cool backing effects.Backup

Multiple Takes:

The easiest way to create a doubling and chorus effect is by having multiple takes. When you are tracking the vocals just have the vocalist, record a few times. Then choose one as a the vocal lead and have the other as a backing. For the backing track I generally lower the volume and pan it slightly different. You also are not limited here by the numbers and have 2, 5, or more layers of vocals. A great example of this is Imogen Heep (if you are a vocalist you might be interested in this interview she did on her vocals). She uses a lot of vocal layers and edits to give it the depth she is looking for.

Whisper Track:

Heather Christie, or Cheraki, showed me this simple but effective technique in the studio called Whisper Track. The idea is you do a few takes of the vocal line as a whisper. By recording the soft whispers, it lets you add an interesting breathy quality that you can layer in the mix.

Harmonies:

Another common technique is to re-record the vocals, but harmonize them. So you would be singing the other parts of the chord, like a 5th up or a 7th, and so on.  This technique will get you closer to a vocoder sound and a harmonized vocal. The key here is to have really solid intonation. All the vocal takes need to be spot on in terms of pitch, otherwise strange harmonics will come out and not sound as good as you will like.

Different Processing:

If you only have one good take of the vocals, there are a few ways to “hack” it into sounding like a backing track. One way is using the Complex Pro technique I showed in the Creative Vocal Effects Article.  You can also duplicate the vocal and then process the second vocal a little different and lower it in the mix to give it a backing vocal sound. One example would be to use a different reverb and have it 80-100% wet. Or you can nudge the sample slightly before or after the Lead Vocal.

Here is an image nudging the sample. You can click the Clip and then press ALT and hold it to move the sample off the Grid.  Slight movements here help give it a different timing and create that doubling effect.

Offset

Pro Tip: Use Warp Markers for interesting backing vocals.

If you want to take this a step further play with the vocal timing with Warp Markers. You can slightly change note by note, or word by word. This will give it that natural backing vocal sound of not being the same take. Use wisely.  I also like using effects like saturation, EQ, slight delays, and so on to the vocal to change the character of the duplicated vocal. If it’s low in the mix and panned differently, it can give it a unique quality.

Warping Backing Vocals

 

Share your Tips and Tricks:

If you have techniques you like to use for backing tracks, please share a comment bellow. Love to hear what other ideas are out there.  Also check out Cheraki’s music to hear here brand new album

 

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