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Ableton Live Tutorial: Resampling and Splitting Frequencies

Ableton Tutorial Splitting Frequencies

In this two part tutorial we will take a basic bass sound, re-sample it, then split the frequencies and apply different FX to each of them.

Part 1: Re-Sampling into Simpler

So we start off by taking a basic bass sound from NI Massive. The one I’ve chosen sounds a lot like a didgeridoo. Just make a midi clip with a single note over a bar. Create a new audio track and set up its routing to record from massive. You can do this in either session or arrangement view, but I always prefer working in arrangement view.

It is worth noting though that it is a good idea to try different notes. E/F/G are often the basses and best to work with. However if you use one you need to rename the sampled audio to reflect what its root note is. When its in the Simpler you will always play a C note, but the actual pitch will be what you sampled. Its very easy to forget about it and mess with the scale and key of your song.

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To set up routing you need to ensure the mixer I/O button is lit. Set the audio tracks input to be from the massive clip. You don’t need to specify before or after mixer since there are no FX on the input track.

Set Monitoring to “In” and make sure the Arm Arrangement Recording button is on (It turns red). Then simply make sure that the global Arm Recording is lit as well, and press play. You will see it recording the audio as it plays and once you have a full bar you can press stop. As you can see from the above picture, there is a bit of a tail when the audio stops but you don’t need to worry about that.

Now create a new audio track and drop the grayed out clip onto it, and you have a brand new sample to work with.

Create a new track by dropping a Simpler into the view and drag the audio clip into the Simpler. You are probably wondering why you would want to use a sampler for audio you already have. There are two reasons:

  • Firstly: You get to work in Midi instead of audio clips, and with that you can arrange it however you want without having to chop up audio.
  • Secondly: We are going to use loop points so that the note can play for as long as you want it to and it will sound fluid. Its very hard to achieve this effect with only an audio clip. Also, when the loop point is set up correctly you can create a tremolo effect that will wobble at different speeds depending on what pitch you play it at. This effect can be heard on La Roux’s “In for the kill”. Every bass note has a slightly different wobble to it, and it sounds awesome.

Now all we need to do that, is enable Loop in the Simpler. Then set the Fade and Length knobs to taste. You want it to be a very short loop, and the fades is what gives it the tremolo effect(since it quickly drops the volume every time it loops). It should look something like so:

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Adjust the start position while playing a constant note until you find a position that you like the sound of. Play different notes too, so that you can get a feel for how it will sound when you start to sequence it.
Re-sampling in Ableton
Playing a solid C note then two 8th notes an octave higher now sounds like this:

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/115621263″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Now we can get to work processing it.

In part 2 we will create an FX group and split the frequencies into 3 separate bands so that we can process each individually.

Part 2: Splitting frequencies using an FX group

In the part 1 we took a basic bass sound and re-sampled it and then loaded it into Simpler. In this second part we will cover some ways to process it. I will be creating an FX group and then splitting each ones frequencies so that we can apply different FX to different parts of the spectrum. As well as a few miscellaneous FX too.

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We have a bass loaded into Simpler. This allows us to play a continuous note if we wanted to, or short staccato notes.

First thing we need to do is to sidechain the bass to the kick. Drop a compressor onto the bass track, set it to sidechain and select the input to be the kick. I have used a complete drum loop but we only want it to compress when the kick plays, so I have turned on the EQ and set its frequency very low. This means that there will only be sidechaining when there is a frequency under 80hz. Very handy.

Ableton Compressor

Attack and Release times are very short since we only want the sound to duck quickly and let the kick through instead of getting a pumping effect.

Now comes the fun part. Simply load an Autofilter onto the track and select it and press Ctrl-G to create an FX rack. Duplicate the chain twice more and re-name each chain to Low/Mid/High.

Then simply adjust each chains Autofilter to only allow through the frequencies you are targeting for that chain.

Ableton Audio Effect Rack

For the Lows you should set the Autofilter to only allow the sub frequencies through. And make sure you add a Mono Utility after it. This will make sure your sub frequencies are in mono and help alleviate phasing problems. It is physically impossible for humans to hear stereo separation on very low frequencies, so getting used to always using a mono for them is generally good practice.

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For the Mids you can see I’ve set it slightly lower than the 120hz the Lows are set for. This will create a bit of resonance around that frequency but more importantly, it will ensure you don’t have gaps in your spectrum. Then add another Autofilter and let it roll off all the high frequencies. Again drop on a Utility, and this time adjust its Width down to around 50%. This will let it be wide, but not too wide.

Auto Filter Ableton Rack

Lastly set the roll off on the Autofilter to only let the high frequencies through. Another utility set to 100% width. And I’ve added a flanger to give them some movement. You could try phasing, flanging, distortion or pretty much any kind of special effect. But for this tutorial, I will keep it simple.

Now that you’ve set up the different chains you simply drop a compressor after the group and set it to very mild compression. This will help make everything gel together again.

Then I added a saturator to give it some more harmonics and this is the end result:

You may also like to read: Mixing With Frequencies

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