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So far Subaqueous has created 245 blog entries.

Ezra Brass Wavetable Preset – Future Bass

I was inspired by the track Ezra by Flume to make a new brass preset. I love that tasty fresh sound in his synths. They always have a unique feel to them. I recreated the sound in Ableton Live’s Wavetable. Check out the walkthrough video on how to make the preset, or grab the preset for $1:


Download the Wavetable Preset for $1

 

Want the full monty? I created a massive pack of Future Bass presets and Live Sets.  It’s a collection of top of the line Wavetable Presets with that tasty Future Bass sound.

Grab the Future Bass Wavetable Presets

By | 2018-01-30T21:26:52+00:00 February 1st, 2018|Ableton, Producers Blog, Wavetable|0 Comments

Ipu Hawaiian Percussion – Free Drum Rack

Ipu (Ee-p-u) is a percussion instrument made from gourds that is often used to provide a beat for hula dancing.  I love the unique sound of this instrument and have used it as additive percussion in my tracks. Always looking for unique sounds from around the world.

I took some samples I recorded this awesome gourd and put it into a drum rack in Ableton Live.  Watch the video below to learn more and the links to grab it for free / by donation.

 

Free / By Donation Drum Rack


Download the Drum Rack

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By | 2018-01-31T18:39:53+00:00 January 31st, 2018|Free Music Tools, Producers Blog|0 Comments

Mastering for Streaming Online – LUFS Standards

OK… this is going to be heady.

I tell musicians this all the time. Mastering is not music. Mastering is more of a technical science then it is a musical expression. Yes, there is an art to it, but you have to understand a lot of basics on how we perceive sound and different loudness standards.  If you want to be a musician, you might skip this and get a mastering engineer. (Shameful plug… I do Mastering) If you are interested in learning the art of mastering, continue on my brave friends.

Back in the wild days of the internet (Are they done? Bitcoin anyone?), many streaming services arose. At the same time, there were loudness wars ramping up on Tv and video streaming. Along the way, we had a massive range of loudness per platform. If you had your headphones in and listened to a song on iTunes, and then flipped to Youtube you might hear a huge difference. Or worse, TV and commercials. So… some really smart people made a standard of tracking loudness. There are two main ones LUFS and LKFS.  Now… I know some nerd out there will give me a talking to, but LUFS and LKFS are in practice the same thing.

(Read more on the Loudness War with this Guest Article)

This standard helped make volumes of songs or video be pretty close to each other. It has helped a lot in ending the loudness wars. But… The different streaming services have different loudness standards and algorithms to take measurements and apply the normalization.  When mastering our songs we want to keep the LUFS range to about the final range by that particular streaming service. Otherwise, if we go over then the service might lower the volume to get the LUFS they have decided to keep as a standard.

 

Below is a graph of the different streaming services and the LUFS standard they use.

 

Note: There isn’t anything on Soundcloud? That is because as of now (Jan. 2018) there is no loudness standard for Soundcloud. That means the loudness wars are alive and well there.

 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME?

Well, this means a few important things.

  1. If you are thinking of self-mastering and don’t understand LUFS, consider learning it or getting a Mastering Engineer.
  2. You might want to have a different master sent to the different services. At the very least a different master for YouTube than for iTunes.

I also like to remind engineers of the art of mastering as well.  The rule of thumb has been the same since the 90s, make it as loud as possible as long as it still sounds good. You want to make it loud, but not distort the sound.

Having said this, it makes sense to know the LUFS standard of the platform you are releasing on. There is no reason to push the sound louder and degrade the sound further if the platform you are releasing on is going to lower it anyways, resulting in the same volume and worse quality. You want to balance the art of making it sound good with the science of the standard of each platform.

KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE

There you go… Keep this in mind the next time you are mastering tracks and wonder what LUFS to set the track at.  If you’re interested in learning more about mastering, I teach 1-on-1 classes and we can dive into the subject. Or if you just looking for a mastering / mixing engineer, hit me up.  

Epic Orchestral Drum Rack – Free / By Donation

If your looking for some epic hitting percussion, then this free/by donation Live Pack is for you. In my tracks, I love to add juxtaposition to my sounds. Like having delicate bells alongside some huge sounding drums. It gives it interesting dynamics.

I put together a massive 64 pad Drum Rack for Ableton Live. This pack is for free / by donation as a demo of the larger Colossal Thunder Live Pack. Check out this video walkthrough of the Drum Rack:

Download the Live Pack Below:


Download the Live Pack

If you’re really stoked on having epic orchestral drums that are easy to use, then check out the full Colossal Thunder Live Pack.   Live Pack includes:

  • 104 MIDI
  • 27 Custom Ableton Drum Racks
  • Racks Optimized For Ableton Push 1 and 2
  • 293 One Shot Samples
  • 37 Colossal Drum Loops
  • One Ableton Live Pack

Still not sold… check out this trailer video for the Live Pack:

 

Grab the Colossal Thunder Pack

 

By | 2018-01-04T14:50:52+00:00 January 4th, 2018|Free Music Tools, Producers Blog|0 Comments

Serum Vs. Ableton Live 10’s Wavetable

In this article, I will be looking at xfer Serum versus Ableton Live 10’s Wavetable.  In the article, I hope to lay out the major differences and similarities to help you decide which synth you want to invest money and more importantly time into learning.

Similarities:

When I first wrote this article I got a lot of comments on how these are totally different synths. Like Apples versus Oranges. Well… first of all, those are both fruits. They’re both round… lots of similarities here.  Serum and Wavetable are both wavetable synths. They both do this through 2 oscillator wavetable synthesis.  The difference is found in the different approaches and parameters you have to control and shape that sound.  In this article, I hope to show those differences and where they’re strengths lie.

Video Walkthrough of Serum Vs Wavetable:

I made a video version of this article and you can watch it below:

Workflow and Speed:

If you can grab a synth and make a fairly similar sound but 2x as fast, you would probably always use that synth. Granted that usually means certain synths are much faster at certain sounds and every synth has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to workflow.

Serum has a lot of options. It has extensive routing options and quick controls for LFO’s and modulation. This does mean the workflow is a little complicated. It can take a while to find the parameter you are looking for. Setting up the Matrix can take longer, and so on.  The click and drag nature of the modulators is pretty slick though.

I’d say Serum is has a fantastic workflow, but still complicated enough to be a little slower at certain things.  My biggest pet peeve though is the load time! When switching between presets I have to wait up to 30sec. Seems like no big deal unless you spend 10 min just flipping through a handful of sounds. This slowly drives me crazy.

Wavetable is lightning fast. You can see most parameters on the first page, and in the expanded view you can see everything. The Matrix setting is really intuitive and fast to use.  I find I can make a lot of sounds really fast without even questioning where a parameter is. And I am new to this synth!

Load time on presets is almost instant. Thank god!

Serum Workflow and Speed: 7/10

Wavetable Workflow and Speed: 8/10
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By | 2018-02-01T21:56:12+00:00 December 21st, 2017|Ableton, Producers Blog, Vst Review, Wavetable|6 Comments

Sharing the Music – Shatter Spell

Music is a force that can bring us together. It invokes shared emotions, ideas, and hopes. This is exactly why I created Shatter Spell and why I’m now making it “free/by donation”.  Thank you to everyone that has supported or checked out the album. Much gratitude.

Grab it atsubaqueous.bandcamp.com


I made this album with the hopes of creatively inspiring myself and others. Its an immersive world with emerging sounds that I’d love to see in the hands of others and can use your help.  Please share the album to friends and those you’d think would enjoy the journey. If you do, I’ll share an unreleased remix of Niyaz with you. The remix actually inspired the album.

Just tag @subaqueous on Facebook or if you send it to friends just message me back and I’ll send you that private link.

Much appreciation,
Isaac Cotec aka subaqueous

By | 2017-12-12T11:32:24+00:00 December 12th, 2017|Producers Blog, Subaqueous News, Events and Music|2 Comments

Live 10 and Push – New Features and Packs

Yeah the software of Live 10 brings some cool features… but… we also have some rad improvements to the Push. In this article, we are going to be talking about Live 10 and the new features added to the Push.

Push 2 Live 10 Features

One of the biggest new Features in the update is the 32-step sequencer. When Ableton gave us the Melodic sequencer update in Live 9.1 I was excited. Playing with it over time I realized there were so many things I couldn’t do. It didn’t quite have some of the functions I needed when sequencing melody. It’s great for baselines, but that is about it. Well… Ableton fixed that with the 32-step sequencer.

The new Note Layout Mode on the push gives you a 32-step sequencer on the top half of the pad matrix and 32 notes on the bottom half. You can press pads in the lower section to select which notes to add via the step sequencer, in the upper section. Users can see, add, and remove pitches from steps by holding the respective pads.

In otherwords, you can play a chord and then press one pad on the sequencer to add that chord. Wow… this is a game changer.  Here is the official Ableton video on the new 32-step sequencer.

Ableton Live also gives us some added functions which speed up your workflow.

Workflow Improvements with Live 10 and Push:

  • Introduced a root level ‘Collections’ folder for color labels/collections in the Push 2 browser in Live 10. This prevents other important root level items like ‘User Files’ from being pushed off the screen by many Collection Labels.  
  • It is now possible to convert audio to MIDI from Push, using the Convert button.
  • It is now possible to crop MIDI clips from Push 2.

Packs and Ableton Push

One unexpected thing I saw with Push and Live 10 was how Packs work. I can tell that the team at Ableton is really thinking on the design of packs and how they can take advantage of the different layouts in Drum Racks.  I made this walkthrough video to give you a look at the new Drum Booth Live Pack coming with Live 10.

If you are interested in learning more about the features of Push 2 and what you can do with it, check out the Push Courses at Beatdrop.ca

Improved Visualizations

One thing Ableton is really good at with all their updates is adding little improvements. At first, they might not seem like a big deal, but it really adds up to create an easy to use environment.  Along with that Ableton has added some improvements to how they use the LCD screen on the Push 2. Here is a list of the things I have seen so far:

  • Redesigned the Filter Envelope, LFO Envelope, and Pitch Envelope banks for Operator on Push 2, and added a visualization to the Envelopes.
  • Visualization of filter bands was added to EQ Eight on Push 2.
  • Added a new parameter layout and a graphical representation of the Activity View to Compressor on Push 2.
  • Notes are now shown in Push 2’s Clip Mode, when a MIDI clip is selected. The velocity of each note is also indicated by the note’s opacity.
  • Visualization of the Wavetable Synth

Learning more about Push 2

I’m going to be writing more articles on Push 2 and Live 10. If your interested in staying up to date make sure you  Subscribe to my youtube channel or join the Email List below.

Join Email List
By | 2017-12-08T13:46:13+00:00 December 8th, 2017|Ableton, Producers Blog, Push|0 Comments

Loop In Review – Ableton Loop Music Summit

I had the opportunity to make it out to Berlin for Ableton’s music summit called Loop. The event left me inspired, helped grow my creative network, and gave me a lot of ideas to take into the studio. In this article, I am going to be sharing my thoughts on the event, highlights, and some review videos at the end. To start, I want to share my highlights of the event and what I think made it an amazing experience that I will want to come back to every year.

Collaboration:

I’ve gone to a lot of conferences over the years. Almost all of them are top bottom classes where you are listening to lectures. Sometimes there are panel discussions to get people engaged, but they don’t quite do it. Loop is on a whole other level when it comes to getting the attendees to collaborate. The event included open roundtable discussions where groups of strangers had structured conversations. There was open meet up sessions and rooms full of instruments that people could jam on. (image below is of me helping out the “Jam Room” with a 20 person set up. All sorts of gear and technology to play with). I loved seeing collaboration being such a strong aspect of the event. 

Diversity:

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Middle Eastern and World Sample Library – Free

I’ve been asked by a lot of people to release a collection of melodies so they can cut them up, creatively rework them, and add some of my ethnic feel to there tracks. I am stoked to release this free collection of 48 ethnic and world melodic loops. This is all free / by donation and Royalty Free for use in your music.

The Sample Library is all Wav files, so it can be used in any DAW. Download Link Below.


Download the Sample Library

If you want the full meal deal, check out the much larger Mystic Melodies Sample Library. The Library has 111 Melodic Loops and includes an extra library of MIDI.


This instrument has been featured on the new album, Shatter Spells. Check it out below:

Steam and download on other platforms

By | 2017-11-09T01:43:45+00:00 October 13th, 2017|Free Music Tools, Producers Blog|0 Comments
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