Creating Binaural Beats with Ableton Live

The origin of Subaqueous and my trip down the musical rabbit hole came from Binaural Beats. Through the years I have had many musicians contact me about it. It has been 10 years since I started experimenting with Binaural Beats. It’s been an amazing experience, and I have decided to distill the information I have learned from the years to help others that are inspired to play with consciousness and sound.

I created a masterclass on Making Binaural Beats. If you are interested in going deep, check it out. In this article, I wanted to share some of the basics of making Binaural Beat Tracks.

Introduction to Binaural Beats:

First off lets look at what Binaural Beats are.

Binaural beat recordings are specially generated sounds, designed to alter our brainwaves and consciousness. The basic idea behind binaural beats is that our brains operate at certain bandwidths, which are measured in frequencies. Our brainwaves change depending on how we are feeling, and what we are doing. Using binaural beats we can emulate natural brainwave frequencies and then slowly change them to another brainwave frequency. This is based off the theory of entertainment.

When the perceived beat frequency corresponds to the delta, theta, alpha, beta, or gamma range of brainwave frequencies, the brainwaves entrain to or move towards the beat frequency. For example, if a 315 Hz sine wave is played into the right ear and a 325 Hz one into the left ear, the brain is entrained towards the beat frequency 10 Hz, in the alpha range. Since the alpha range is associated with relaxation, this has a relaxing effect, or if in the beta range, more alertness. An experiment with binaural sound stimulation using beat frequencies in the beta range on some participants and the delta/theta range on other participants found better vigilance performance and mood in those on the awake alert state of beta-range stimulation.

Binaural beat stimulation has been used fairly extensively in attempts to induce a variety of states of consciousness, and there has been some work done in regards to the effects of these stimuli on relaxation, focus, attention, and states of consciousness. Studies have shown that with repeated training to distinguish close frequency sounds that a plastic reorganization of the brain occurs for the trained frequencies and is capable of asymmetric hemispheric balancing. Wikipedia


When we are in a meditative state, then our brain operates at a theta frequency. If we are very active, or a little stressed, then we operate at the beta frequency. Here is a list of the different brain wave frequencies.

My Exploration:

Over the past 10 years I have used binaural beats. It first started with a art instillation I created with my friend Jael Topek.  After many experiments we traveled the west coast with the yurt sharing and studying the experiment.  This video is an overview of my experiences.


Creating Risers in Ableton Live – Top 5 Techniques

Risers can add depth and movement to your tracks. They help inform dancers that a change is happening. Adding your own unique sonic pallet to your risers will give you a distinct sound and overall improve your tracks.  In the video and article below I will be showing indepth how to build unique riser sounds.

Techniques in Building Risers

There are lots of ways you can add movement to a riser. You can stretch the sound using warp modes to add a cascading sound to it. Or you can use transposition to make the sample fall or rise in pitch.  Bellow is my top 5 techniques I like to use. (more…)

By |2018-10-16T12:50:58-07:00July 15th, 2015|Ableton, Producers Blog, Sound Design Tech|1 Comment

Creating New Drum Racks Fast

I was looking through my archives today and found this video I made for a student of mine. They wanted to know how making a drum rack more efficiently. I’ve been building custom instruments for myself, commissioned by musicians, and for members of this site.  Along the way I have learned all sorts of tricks and tips.  Watch the video below to see ways you can start building your own drum racks.

By |2018-10-16T12:50:58-07:00July 2nd, 2015|Ableton, Producers Blog, Sound Design Tech|0 Comments

Parallel Processing with Ableton Live

One of my favorite things about electronic mixing and Ableton is the power of effects. I can morph a sound into unimaginably different new sounds with effect processing.  You can layer effects and change a simple sine wave into a complex sound with pulsing auto filter, unique chorusing, and undulating phasing.  A big change in my sound design has been learning a new technique called Parallel Processing.  This opened even new dimensions to my sound design.

Processing What?

So to start, let’s define what Parallel Processing is and Serial Processing.

If you have a sample and you add an effect in Ableton, you start by processing in Serial. You can add a Chorus, then a delay, a reverb, you name it. What is happening is the sound is being processed in a series, or one after another. The sound goes through the chorus, and then it goes into the delay and so on. That is, a linear, or right to left way of processing the sound. This is Serial Processing.

Serial Processing

There is another way of processing and that is Parallel Processing.  Parallel Processing lets you take a sound and separate it to multiple new chains. Each chain, then processes the signal separately and at the end, it all comes back together.  This approach lets you do all sorts of new creative things. You can separate a sound to different frequency ranges. You can then add different effects to different frequencies.  Or you can do all sorts of new creative effects.



We can easily do this in Ableton Live by adding an Audio Effect Rack. An Audio Effect Rack lets us add new chains. Each Chain can process the same original sound differently.

Create Chain

The video below will show off the basics of Parallel Compression and then some more advance techniques in using it.

I’ve collected Audio Effect Racks that I’ve used in my own productions.  Some were shown in the video, and I also added some other creative ones. The presets are by donation, free if you like.

Download Presets

Enjoy using the Presets. Parallel processing opens up a whole lot  of new possibilities. If you have ways you like to use this technique, please comment below.

Scale References In Ableton Live

Do you want an easy way to drop in cool scales and write in new MIDI parts? Or have you ever wanted a Scale Reference in the Piano Roll?  I’ve created a new technique I call Scale References to help me with this. It’s helped my productivity and makes sure the parts I am writing are in the scale I am using.  Here is a video walk through of the technique:

You can grab the Scale Reference Live Pack or follow these steps to create your own Scale Reference: (more…)

Sharing your Tracks and Creating Live Packs

Collaborating with your music is such an amazing experience. It lets you bring new perspectives to your tracks, outsource to other musicians to use their strengths, and it’s just straight up fun as hell. Ableton Live is a great platform to collaborate with, but it takes some knowledge. It’s really frustrating when you get that “Media Files Missing” or  “Missing external Plugin” notification when you open a file. That’s why I made the (aq) Sharing Files PDF.

Here are some example pages from the Free PDF.

 (aq) Sharing Live Sets eBook4(aq) Sharing Live Sets eBook