One of the keys to having a good mix is the position of all your instruments. If you look at your soundstage of where all the sounds are coming from you will have a richer mix. Not only that but you can make it sound bigger and clearer sounding mix. In searching for the best way to position my instruments in Live I learned a lot about how Live Pans things and other techniques.
Panning is achieved by changing the level of one stereo channel in relation to the other channel. That is a very simple way to make something sound more to the right or left. This doesn't truly represent what we as humans hear, but it is the easiest and cleanest way to do it. This is why Ableton Live has a Pan Pot, or the Pan function, on each track and master.
If the pan is centered you then the input signal is pass through unchanged. Each channel is amplified by 0dB. If you pan completely to one side you want the other channel to be off. How live does this is it lowers the volume equally as it raises the other sides volume. That way when you are 50% to the Left then it's volume increases by 50% and it lowers the Rights volume in half. It Increases the volume of the left to compensate for the energy lost in the missing channel's volume.
Lets say you have a bongo recording that you used two mics for. One on The larger ongo and one on the smaller size bongs. Now if in live you had this as a stereo track while mixing and you started to pan to the left you are not just moving both the large and small bongo sounds to the left equally. What you are doing is lowering the volume of the small one and raising the large one. This way you are losing the feeling that the whole instrument is to the left, but instead that the left mic was louder. This will change the sounds of your final mix and might not be the realistic sound stage you were looking for.
Other things to Keep In Mind
There are quite a few tools out there to help give you more control of panning. One of these tools is Flux, a free vst, and I highly suggest it. Over the last few years I have developed my own tools to help get the psycho acoustic panning. I want to be able to control the panning to make the whole signal move left and right in a way that makes more sense to me and creates cleaner mixes.
The first tool you should look at for better panning is the Utility. It can let you select different Channel Modes chooser allows selective processing of the left and right channels of a sample. If, for example, Left is selected, the right channel is ignored and the left channel appears on both outputs. This is useful to separate stereo files into the Left and Right.
Then you have the Panorama chooser pans the signal anywhere in the stereo field. This is the same as the Pan Pots in each track. But if you use it with the Width Control you get a whole new level of control.
The Width control acts as a continuous mono to stereo controller when set from 0 to 100 percent. Beyond 100% it widens the sound. We won't get into the widening techniques, but lets talk about the 0-100. So now if you take a stereo sound of those bongos and change the width to 50% then the sound is 50% mono. Meaning that both sounds are spread more evenly in the left and Right. That way you narrow the field and can then pan it. this makes it much more like panning the whole instrument as compared to just changing the mic levels.
I personally have taken this a step further with my own custom tools. One of these tools is the (aq) Spacial Scalpel. This Audio Effect Rack is a more advance way of using Utility to split it into the Left and Right Signal. That way you can lower the Left and Right volume, change the depth of what Left and Right is, as well as add a delay to the Left or right to give it more of a psychoacoustic effect.
I use this tool as my go to in mixing and moving the sounds exactly how I want. Below is a video that walks through how I use this and the Advantage to the effect rack.
This Audio Effect Rack is just one of my tools found in the (aq) Mixing Tool Kit. The kit has a Massive Collcetion of too.ls for mixing including a binaural panner, mid side controls, and more. (aq) Mixing Tool Kit at the store to level up your mixing and have complete spatial control as well as other unique tools to level up your production.
So next time you are working on separating your instruments remember what exactly panning is doing and how you can use it to move things in your sounds stage to get a full mix. Ableton panning is great, but by trying the utility and other effects you might get lot tighter of a mix. The nice thing about having a good stereo channel is it will add some much more depth in your mix.
Hopefully this gives you a new perspective on the sounds stage. If you got techniques you like please share them on the comments below. The video at the end shows off the Mixdown Toolset and all the different racks and tools found in it.
Capturing sounds of nature can be a truly fantastic pastime. Even just going out in the world and closing your eyes, and taking a moment to really listen you will find all sorts of noises you love. When I was in Australia on tour I had the opportunity to capture many amazing bird and nature samples.
I have taken these bird sounds and done some sound design on them with granular synthesis to add a new depth and quality. They can be great to layer as percussion, add a unique texture / pad to your track, and more. I have used them to add to my live set with great effect. especially for some late night house party where you want to trip people out.
I did have the live pack of these bird samples for sale in my Ableton Packs Store, but after a year I wanted to release these for free. It's really fun to use and wanted to just get it into more peoples hands. The live Set includes the original samples as well as one of my Water Riser Effects from the Quneo and Hot Hand Effect Libraries.
Enjoy playing with the sounds, and if you ever use them then let me know. I love hearing what comes out of these packs, and sometime post them on my facebook and such.
Here is a preview of the sounds:
Guest article by Erik Magrini (Tarekith)
For the last few months, more and more industry experts have been proclaiming that the loudness wars have been won. No longer do we have to fight each other to get the loudness master on the planet, we can all go back to just enjoying nice dynamic music.
Except nothing has really changed, has it? How has this been won, when everything is just like it was before?
As a professional mastering engineer, I've noticed an increase in clients asking about this potentially confusing situation. There’s a lot of misinformation out there on the topic at the moment, and not much real understanding of why this may come to pass. To help people get better understanding of what’s going on, I thought I would try and briefly summarize the main causes of why someone might claim the loudness wars are over.
It all starts with ITUR BS.1770. Yes, that’s what it’s really called, and you can read it yourself if you really want:
Originally introduced in 2006, this standard was written to help TV broadcasters transmit audio at a uniform volume. That way one show is not louder than the next, and TV ads don’t playback louder than programs. It not only defined what that uniform volume should be, but also described the way audio must be measured to comply with that standard.
It gave us the means to measure music in a way that accurately reflects how humans perceive loudness.
By now, almost all TV broadcast stations around the world follow this standard, and slowly radio broadcasters have been following suit. Currently radio broadcasts are also volume controlled, but often with dynamic compression and other audio processing; this is not only expensive, it’s time consuming. The new 1770 standard only allows for raising and lowering of the overall song volume, the audio content itself is not being altered at all. Much cheaper and easier for radio stations to implement, and it sounds better too!
So far, this has nothing to do with us, I know. But recently internet radio has become much more popular, and it too is starting to follow this standard. Spotify has had a variation of it from day one, and Apple just adopted it for their iTunes Radio as well. iTunes has a similar function called Sound Check that does this for your music library as well.
During the Solstice I had the pleasure of playing an amazing event in Bellingham called Sacred Bass Sessions. The event describes it's self as a series of intentional gatherings in Bellingham celebrating music, art, spirit, community & freedom of expression. The night started out with an opening ceremony of sound bowls and moved into yoga. I helped create a soundscape for it and move it into the evenings dance. Later Michael Manahan layed down an awesome set to bring up the vibes to full on.
The set I created that night was recorded and Sacred Bass Sessions just uploaded it. it takes quite a journey.
I really love the intention and beauty of these events. I would love to see more intentional ecstatic dances and community dance space. So grateful for the experience. Hope to be back to play for this community. Check out there website to see more upcoming events. http://www.sacredbass.org/
After I played Michael Manahan layed down a fantastic set to bring in the darkest night of the year. Check out his live set below.
I'm always looking for new ways to manipulate sound and create unique effects. The last few weeks I have been using Granular Synthesis to add a whole new level to my production. In this article I wanted to walk though what it is and how to use it.
Granular Synthesis is a method by which sounds are broken into tiny grains which are then redistributed and reorganised to form other sounds. This way you can take any original sample and put it into a device that cuts it up into grains. Those grains can then be effected in different ways to create a new sound. Once you have the grains you can change their attack, release, randomize them (jitter), and more.
At low speeds of playback, the result is a kind of soundscape, often described as a cloud, that is manipulable in a manner unlike that for natural sound sampling or other synthesis techniques. At high speeds, the result is heard as a note or notes of a novel timbre. By varying the waveform, envelope, duration, spatial position, and density of the grains, many different sounds can be produced.
Ableton Push is an amazing instrument for laying down new musical ideas as well as a performance tool. The Push also has the ability to use Aftertouch. In playing with the aftertouch feature in Live I notices I wanted some specific controls over it. That way I can make the Aftertouch either have a threshold, or delay when it comes in.
I spent a few months creating an Max For Live device to control Aftertouch to get these exact effects. I worked with Chris Schlyer and Icaro Ferre to get this device done. They are amazing Max For Live wizards and helped make this a reality.
After a lot of beta testing I have the finished device. Below is a video that walks through the (aq) Push Aftertouch Devices and the massive (aq) Push Pack Pro.
This uses a threshold amount. If you are playing the instrument under this threshold of pressure then the Aftertouch will not be triggered. If you press down harder and pass the threshold, then the aftertouch will be engaged.
The device also uses a Smooth Up and Smooth Down function. This allows you to change how quickly the pressure goes up and down after the threshold giving you a smoother effect.
This Patch was made with filters in mind. With this patch you can delay the Aftertouch signal in manner of Milliseconds. This way when you first play a note it will not engage the Aftertouch, after words whatever it is mapped to, lets say a filter, will then happen. Works great with filter release. This M4L device also has an Attack and Release value. This way you can decide how quickly the Aftertouch effect comes on and releases.
Download the Ableton Live Pack Below
Pack Made for Live 9.06 and will work with Mac and PC. Watch this Video for instruction on installing Packs.
Download the (aq) Push Pack Pro for even more creative tools and instruments for the Push. It includes over a Gig of original Samples, Instrument Racks, Drum Racks, and Effects that have all been optimized for the Push. This will give you a creative edge and the tools to start jamming out on Push.
The first 50 orders( now down to 10!) can use the coupon code: pushpack in checkout to get this at %50 off.
Beat Repeat is an awesome tool for live performance and production. After using it for the last few years I have found a way I like to use it the most in an Audio Effect Rack I built. Basically the standard Beat Repeat has a lot of different increments for repeating, like 1/6, 1/12, and others. I don;t find I like those and rather stay more on the grid for my effect like using the 1/4, 1/8/ 1/16, and so on.
What I did is I took a few Beat Repeats and put them in an Audio Effect Rack. Now when I turn my macro it increases the repeating by turning on the next beat repeater in the chain. I also have some controls that let me add some cool effects to the sound as well. Like Filter, Pitch, and so on.
Here is a video showing off how I use this Effect and what it can do.
Sign up to be a member of this site and then a link below will appear for free download. This effect Rack was made in Live 9.04 and will work with that and any newer version of Live.
Michael Durek also took this idea and made a version for Live 8! He saw the video and recreated it in 8 and added his own tweaks as well. You can also download this below.