Live Set with Stem Mixing – Setting up your Tracks

So you got some sweet tracks, but you want to load them into Ableton Live’s Session view for live performance. It can be a headache… but I made this video on how to quickly do this for your Stems.  Just drag in the stems you have exported of your song, chop it up, and get it ready to go in Session View. Watch the video below for a walkthrough:

 

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If you don’t know how to bounce down your tracks into Stems to start, check out this article and video. I also included an easy to use PDF / checklist for making stems.

Another tidbit I shared was using the Circle of Fifths I created to color your tracks in Live.  I find this technique to help a lot with Harmonic Mixing. I have even printed these as stickers for my laptops. I used to print and sell them, but it was mainly just paying for shipping… so feel free to print this off at home.

Hopefully, this video has given you some ideas on how to set up your live set. If you would like to learn more in-depth knowledge on my Live Set and building your own, make sure you sign up for the newsletter above in this article.

The Perfect Stand for Novation Launchpad

Novation Launchpad has been a staple piece of gear for me. I have had the MK1, Mini, and now I added the Launchpad Pro. When performing Live I am always looking for a stand… after many tries, here is my list of the perfect stands for Novation Launchpad.

Best Stand for Standing Performance

When performing I prefer to stand and have my MIDI gear face out to the audience. I have found the Quik-Lok TriPod Stand, LPH-001 to be the perfect stand. It’s lightweight (compared to other stands I have had), and it fits all the Launchpads perfectly.  The stand is foldable and works great on the road. My only gripe is it doesn’t lock and just twist tightens… but that shouldn’t matter too much.  This would be my number one choice.

 

Link to the Stand

 

Push Stand for the Desk

Next up, I have used this adjustable stand for my desk. This stand is adjustable for the angle you need. It makes it a lot easier to set up in your studio or on a table.  This stand is also metal, sturdy, yet a cheap price. Total win for the desktop.  Bonus… it feels pretty stable when pounding on the pads. 

 

Link to the Desktop Stand

Portable Table Stand

Another option is having a portable stand you can put on the DJ table. I found the VEKTOR Laptop stand to be top notch for this. It’s cheaper then some hardcore DJ stands, but has the stability you need. It locks into place and can handle the weight.  I think the Adjustable Amazon Basic on is great for the home studio, but this one is sturdier for the road.

 

Link to the VEKTOR Laptop Stand

DIY Stand

The first stand I used for the Launchpad was a snare stand. I had some laying around and tried it out. This was great in the studio when I needed more space on my desk. I just put it on the Snare Stand and chair height. I now use it for my Push One, but it worked great for Launchpad. A little precarious… but it worked.

I don’t actually suggest buying a snare stand to use with the Launchpad. It works, but if you are going to spend money I think the Samson stand or the Quik-Lok TriPod Stand, LPH-001 would be a better buy. But, if you have one already then this could be a good option for you. There are many different snare stands so finding the right one might be a little tricky if you are going for new. I did use this snare stand for the Launchpad and it worked for my needs. And… it’s a little lower then I would like.

Link to the Snare Stand

 

Those are my top picks for stands for the Novation Launchpad. They will work great with the regular and Pro. If you got any suggestions or things you think work better, please comment below.

Bongo Percussion Samples and Drum Racks – Free

Every killer track needs a bongo solo… right? Well, either way, bongos are cool. It’s an iconic percussion that can add interest to your tracks.

I’ve created a sample library of Bongo Samples as well as a collection of Ableton Live 9+ Bongo Drum Racks. Check out this video walkthrough and download below.

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Download Live Pack and Samples

 

If you end up using this in your production, please send a link below. Love checking out what people are up to with the libraries I put out into the world.

 


DOWNLOAD THEM ALL

Download the full collection of Free Live packs with the Download Archive. This collection includes all the Free Live Packs on Subaqueousmusic.com.  Instead of crawling through the site and other online sites that have featured Subaqueous Packs, you can grab all of them with one convenient download. This includes all the past MIDI Libraries.

Download The Full Archive

 

Free 16 Bit Retro Video Game Samples

Ok… I got to admit. When I hear that classic coin sound from Mario brother, I get a little gitty.  Don’t hold it against me.

I finally got around to collecting all the random sound design bits I have made over the year emulating the classic video game sounds. I compiled it all together into on free / by donation sample pack for 16 bit sounds.  It’s a collection of coin sounds, power-ups, lasers, jumps, and more. All you need to add that nostalgic touch.

Here is a link to the free / by donation download:


Download the Sample Library

If your looking to add sounds similar to Mario Brothers, Super Nintendo, Donkey Kong, and Street Fighter then this pack’s for you. Enjoy!

If you want an optimized Ableton Live Drum Racks with these samples then check out: https://subaqueousmusic.com/shop/music-tools/16-bit-drum-racks/

  • Live pack includes 9 Drum Racks.
  • Optimized for Push 1 and 2 and MIDI Controllers
  • Easy to modulate effects and more.

Grab the full 16 bit Drum Rack for Ableton Live it here.

 

Ableton Live 9 Basics – Now $9

Live 10 is out and that means it’s time for me to update my 101 courses.  What that means is if you have Live 9 and still want to learn the program before upgrading to 10, then this is the perfect time to grab my Live 9 course. I am making it only $9! Originally 80 when I first made it 2 years ago. This course is a massive collection of videos on the basics of using Live 9.

So you want to stick with live 9 and learn it…. Here is info on the Ableton Live 9 Breakthrough Course.

What You’ll Get:

  • 6+ Hours of Course Videos
  • Downloadable Example Sets
  • Certificate of Completion
  • Updates to the Curriculum for one year

Who It’s For:

  • Complete beginners
  • Musicians Moving from Another DAW
  • Intermediate Users as a Review
  • Bedroom Producers
  • Performers Wanting to use Live

What You’ll Learn:

  • Navigating Ableton Live
  • Editing MIDI
  • Building Your Tracks Arrangement
  • Basic DJing with Ableton Live
  • Using Audio Effects
  • Recording Audio

Still want to learn more about the courese?  Here is the trailer I made for the Live 9 course.

Course Trailer:

ENROLL TODAY FOR JUST $80 $9

Grab the course for only $9 while we develope our new Live 10 course.

Get Started Today!

If you still aren’t sold, then check out the Ableton Live Breakthrough Course page to look at the Outline, example videos, and more.

Thanks, everyone! Now I need to get to work making those Live 10 Videos.  If you’re interested in learning more about Live 10 and upgrading, then check out my article on Upgrading with Live 10.

Ableton Live 10 – Why Upgrade and All you Need to Know

Live 10 is out!  I have been using the Beta for 6 months now and am stoked to see the full upgrade out in the world.  In this article I am going to be sharing a bunch of resources for learning Ableton Live 10. From linking to videos, sharing my thoughts, and giving an overview of Live 10.

Looking at Live 10’s Features

First off… lets start with a trailer from Ableton.

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Ok… After seeing that I was pretty stoked.  There are 3 BIG reasons why I was so excited.

1. Wavetable and new Devices

This new synth is awesome and I love seeing these new devices. Overall all the new devices seem to have a really easy interface and unique aspect they add to Live. I am obsessed with sound design with Wavetable and will be making weekly videos on presets at my youtube channel, so check it out and subscribe.

Here is an overview video of Wavetable and below that is a playlist made by a musician friend, DJ of Cryonaut Media, in Portland that gives you a rundown of all the new devices in Live 10.

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Youtube Playlist on the new Ableton 10 devices

2. Capture

Capture is awesome!  It has totally changed how I first grab an idea with Ableton Live. Here is a quote on what Capture does taken from Ableton.com

Turn your most spontaneous ideas into music, without thinking about recording. Starting a song? Just arm a MIDI track and play. When an idea emerges, press Capture after you played it. Live will match your tempo and timing, and start your melody or groove in a perfect loop. You can also use Capture to progress your songs: add new parts or overdub MIDI into existing clips without breaking your flow—just press Capture after you’ve played it right.

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PRO TIP:  This is my tip on using Capture and why it’s great. Have you ever wanted to just play the keyboard and get in the groove and not want to turn on the metronom to start? But… after you turn on the metronome it’s a little confusing how fast or slow you can go?  Well… Capture lets me get into the grove and then hit the button and it will automaticcly change the BPM to whatever I played it in. This is HUGE!

This can help you with a live set where you start playing a beat without a metronome, hit the capture button, and start the rest of your track from the BPM you were playing off. Thus making the program bend to your will, and not the other way around.

3. Multi-Clip Editing

I’ll be honest… I first saw this in Bitwig and was a little jealous. So when Live announced it with there new update, I was stoked. Multi-Clip Editing lets me select two clips and see both of there MIDI and edit them. Freaking lifesaver when it comes to Drum’s and Bass, or in many instances.  I love this new tool. Check out this video by AfroDJMac to learn more about it.

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Why Upgrade from Live 9?

I get this question all the time about 8-9 and now Live 9 to 10. So… Let me give you the number one reasons to upgrade, even if you don’t want the fancy new features.

The number one reason is Collaborations!

I work with a lot of musicians from around the world. I can’t tell you how many times having different versions have gotten in the way. I have Live 9.1, 9.7, and Live 10 on my computer just for this but it is still a headache. If you want to easily collaborate with musicians you got to be on your game and the new version. I have stopped working with some musicians because I was just tired of not being able to use my current toolset.

Here are some other reasons:

  • If you download Packs or Presets online you will want the newest update
  • You get a host of new tools and updates in Live 10
  • One day you will probably have to update anyways… so just do it now 😉

 

Price of Live 10

As of right now, the release date, the prices of the different versions are as follows:

If you are upgrading go to: https://www.ableton.com/en/shop/live/  and log in for prices.

Live 10 Out Now

Allright… there you have my review of Live 10. Stoked to see this released. If you have comments on Live 10, things you want to know, comment bellow.

Party on!

 

 

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.  

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

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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