Making Original Sounds with Ableton Live

Making Original Sounds with Ableton Live

Hey friends. Today I wanted to bring a really right-brained
lesson to you. And this is a lesson on how to take sounds that are kinda
boring, and unoriginal, and you’ve heard ’em before, and make them your own by doing special little things
to them. Let’s just go ahead and dive right in. The first track, this is a great example of what I mean.
Here’s a really boring… really boring just whatever preset from Analog.
And so one of the first things that you can do one of the first things you can do is,
I just slapped a Reverb on here. I turned the pre-delay all the way down,
and turned the dry/wet all the way up, and whatever settings you have on here, you get a nice… You get that nice kinda spacious, totally different sound
than what was there before. And, you know, when you turn the dry/wet up on a Reverb,
all of a sudden you have just about a hundred million different things you can do, and total control when the Wet’s
all the way up. So you have an EQ here, you have these early reflections, now I have less of a
low-end in there. Choosing quality really changed things. So that’s step 1. Just add a bunch of reverb to it, turn the
dry/wet all the way up, Pre-Delay all the way down and you got a very spacious sound. So on the second track we have Smores Lead. I can’t think of anything more vanilla than that. But here’s an idea. Take a Redux and drop it in there.
Redux is just a bit reducer, sample reducer, sample rate reducer thing, and yeah, I like to… Now you have those cool little crackles at the end
when you reduced the bits. And then if you down-sample… you get that kinda sound. What I like to do is I like to use
the soft Downsample mode, which, you get a little bit less intenseness and you have kind of more finesse
with the initial downsampling. So what was once a… it was just lacking space and cool things happening to it,
just turn on the Redux. And it has that cool little reverb crackle at the end.
It’s really fun to add Redux after Reverb, just as an aside because it lasts forever, check it out. Especially if you turn it up real high. It’s pretty weird. Right, so number 3 here. We have a 808 sub-bass. Kind of a wiggly sub-bass. Sounds really boring. So I’ll slap a Saturator on it. I’m sure you’ve seen my lessons before on Saturation,
I’m a really big fan of it. ‘Cause you can get all these cool different… all these cool different tones and timbres and harmonics
and overtones coming out of this… originally… incredibly boring sound. It also brings out the wiggles, but yeah, that’s cool.
Saturation on a bassline. Right, so number 4, we have this sound here: It’s actually pretty interesting, it’s a cool sound, but yeah,
it’s a preset. Can’t roll with that. So, check this multiband compression move out. You still get that kinda sameness after the initial hit
but this is kind of an upwards and a downwards compressor so you get a lot of attack on this, so it’s totally changed
the feel of this. It’s almost like a pluck now. Add some more reverb to it and it’ll really just… push that reverb out after the initial hit. Yeah, so Ableton’s Multiband Compressor, it’s an upwards
compressor, especially if you use the O.T.T. setting. After loading up a sound it will push the initial hits down
after the Attack stage, so you still get a nice click. And then it will boost the tail of any sound you have,
so you get this really nice, crazy effect that just like totally changed the dynamic quality of the sound. So that’s another idea for changing a preset up. Alright, so here’s another preset sound: “Jurble Ambiance.” So that’s the sound. So, something that I really like to do is extreme filtering.
I’m just using an EQ Eight plugin here. But as you can see I’ve made…
4 is a extremely sharp low-cut. And I have a 3, I’m gonna put 3 on a nice extremely sharp
low-cut too, or high-cut. So now you can really just carve out a certain section
of the sound. And then I’m gonna use a Compressor to kinda combat
the fact that this is gonna be a peak sound it’s gonna peak out in certain frequencies. This Compressor
will just kind of block those peaking frequencies, so check this out now: So we’re just taking this originally potentially boring sound,
which is this: And we’re filtering it down so we just get this nice…
almost as if we’re listening to to it through a tube. Or maybe through an old radio. OK, yeah, so extreme EQing. Boom.
Another thing you can do. Alright, so, Bright Saw Lead. Yay! So that’s boring as hell. But I have a little
Frequency Shifter trick that I like to do, check it out. Frequency Shifter can be turned into a really cool kind of
Phaser sound. Why don’t we just do it from scratch so you can see
how we do it. Shifter. Basically what this is is the interplay between the dry and
the wet signal. If you turn this Wide mode on and give it just a tiniest bit,
and you turn the dry/wet to half… you get this cool stereo effect going. You can also do this with Ring mode. You just have to turn it down. And now instead of not as much pitch, now you have kind of
like an auto-pan. So, Frequency Shifter is a really great way to take
a sound and kinda just move it around. And to me that just sounds really fat,
there’s a really fat sound. So… So another kind of warm sound, but still kinda boring. Slap some Grain Delay on it. So with Grain Delay you can turn it into kinda like a…
I’m sure you’ve seen Shimmer Reverb effects. This is kinda like the first thing that you would do
if you were creating a Shimmer Reverb. ‘Cause you would take the Spray… and the Pitch, and you would just choose, so if I choose,
like, right now, I could just choose 0, and what it would do is this.
It’s kinda just basically a soft delay. But if I turn this up to plus 12, what it’s gonna do is kinda
keep creating additive delays that are an octave above. So this original sound is now being delayed
but also going up in octaves. And this would be the Delay Time. ‘Cause that’s really fast. So if you want something quicker… you just pull your Spray down. Or if you want it slower… And I should also say, to pull this whole thing off,
you kinda need to have your Delay Time as low as it’ll get because if you’re dry/wet is up, just like with the Reverb,
when your finger goes down you want that sound to start. Right. If it was on sync, you’d have to really wait for that. OK? So yeah, open up a Grain Delay, turn the Time
all the way down to 1, then turn your Pitch up and you get a: Or you could also go the other way, if you wanna be weird. I actually really like that. Alright, so now we have a… a really boring 5th Lead,
a really boring Analog preset, so… I like using a Resonator, and I like using resonators
with compressors, because resonators, because of the nature of being a
resonator, the root notes that it’s set on, as well as the 5ths
and the 3rds and things like that, can tend to be louder than the other notes.
So I’m using a Compressor to kind of… reign those in a bit, but this is now what we have. Yeah, and so, as you can see, you can look up any
tutorial on Resonator that you want but you just choose your root note, you choose how long it lasts. And I really like long decays on resonators, it kinda sounds
like they’re stranded in the desert. But that’s a great way to take a vanilla sound
and really take it somewhere else real fast. So here I’ve just loaded up a classic preset.
Just a C78 core kit here. And that’s really boring, so I decided, well,
why don’t we put it through a Guitar Amp. This is a really good move for a lot of sounds.
If you’re going for that lo-fi sound, I mean, the soft tube emulations of amps in this Cabinet plugin
are really great, just picking random options and just trying different approaches. And you might be like, well, that’s just so far away from my
original sound, I don’t like it. Well you could always dry/wet it. It’s great. Now it’s kinda like a room reverb, let’s get a little closer. So this was it before: So basically, really with any kind of this style of filtering
I think a really easy thing to do when just getting started is you want each sound to sound individually as big and huge
as you can get it. I think it’s great to go for a big, huge sound but when
you’re mixing a bunch of sounds together you really wanna do this opposite, you wanna take sounds
and just boil them down to what is essential to your mix. And doing this kind of extreme filtering can really help you
figure out your own sound. And some of the biggest artists in the world, I mean,
it’s not so much, are they making the biggest sounds ever? They’re using a bunch of different sounds and combining
them together to make a really big sound. And each one of those individual sound is really filtered.
So I enjoy this approach. And there are so many different ways you can do this,
you can do it Saturator, EQ, but this is just yet another form of taking a big sound and reducing it down into something
bite-size, something you could mix. Like that sounds original to me, you’re running a drumkit
through an amp. Word. So, in this last one, this is a trick that I’ve been doing,
something I really enjoy, and that’s putting a vocoder on a… classic drum beat. So here’s just a drum loop I made. Kinda interesting. Or we could make it more interesting
by adding a vocoder to it. And there’s so much you can do with drum loops and
vocoders. I’m just gonna go off on a really fun tangent here. First of all, you have to have it on Noise mode
unless you’ve set the vocoder up to accept input from another track, maybe I’ll do a vocoder tutorial
at some point, ’cause it’s a little complicated to get it started. But the other thing I really like to do is turn
the Enchance mode on, so Noise Carrier, and Enchance. So now you get this… and a lot of people are just like, yeah, OK, I can mess with
these bands or something, right? Yeah, and really when you’re working with a drum beat
you kinda wanna do that but one of the other things I like to do is reduce the bands. ‘Cause the less bands you have filtering the noise
the closer you get to your original loop. So now you can think of this as kind of a 4-band EQ,
the fixed band EQ, you can take out some of the low-mids. Or take out some of the subs, leave the low-mids in there
or whatever. But each one of these band amounts are gonna give you
a different sound. And these kinds of bands, you choose the higher band
amount you’re gonna get kinda musical results. And what I mean by “musical” is I guess I should say
tonal results. Something else you can do is you can reduce the
Release time. Get it really pickety. And then if you’re up here in these higher levels
the form really starts to… And what the Depth control will do is kinda soften the hits. And you get that bleedy kinda sound.
Sounds cool at lower settings. And then you can just blend it back in with your original. So there you go. Fun for days. Vocoders on drum loops. Alright, so that’s just 10 different ways. I just wanna talk
about this really quick. A lot of this stuff… you should combine with other stuff. Put something
through a Guitar Amp then run it through a Vocoder, and then put it through a Reverb, and then, make these
chains nice and long, it’s really fun to do this. I’m just kinda showing these individually ’cause it’s easier
to understand. But I mean, in a lot of ways… every single sound that sounds amazing that you’ve heard
before starts out with a boring, vanilla, whatever sound. Right? That’s the beginning. But you start to add
interesting things to it, you know, you… let’s just have fun, let’s take this Amp, drop it on this. Let’s turn the Mono off, just ’cause that’ll be fun,
in nice, big stereo. Pull the dry/wet down just a little bit. Maybe we’ll take that reverb from the first one. Oh, wow, that’s cool. I need a Compressor to get a little more gain.
I’m gonna grab this Frequency Shifter, let’s just totally go H.A.M. We’re goin’ H.A.M.
Alright, this is gonna be crazy. Right? It all starts with a very simple sound and then you
just take it somewhere, you make yourself a big long chain. It’s really simple, you don’t have to have the most amazing
preset picked right away. And what this is gonna do is open your mind up to
using new tools. And over time you’re gonna start to recognize what certain
things in those tools do. And you’ll know when to apply them. So, I think that the goal
in sound design in general is to have an idea in your mind, and eventually be able to think of a sound, and have the
wherewithal to be able to design that sound directly in Live. At this point I can think of pretty much any sound,
and I know what tools I need to create that sound, OK? And then what I’ll do is I’ll also surprise myself with some
of the things that the tools do. And that interplay between what I want,
and what I’m messing with, becomes almost like a consistently educational experience
for me, as I’m creating music. So I hope you enjoyed this. It was a fun little lesson.
If you like this kind of thing, like, comment, subscribe. Thanks everybody. I’ll see you next time.


  1. Does your voice still likely sound like crap ? Discovered you with that video last night. You're doing a good job man.

  2. Hey man, is that an Analog on the video's right corner? I'm very interested in one and I'd like to know how do you use it and how good is it to warm software synths.

  3. I am curious to see what can you teach us about writing basslines. Not the sound design but the syncopation, style, harmonic tempo etc. I find it difficult to think about a bassline after I write my beat ( house,techno)

  4. i really like your approach! good to finally see some tutorials that go beyond big fat wobble basses. 😉 also good to see the secret of combining what you already have instead of buying the next hot boring softsynth being disclosed. greetings!

  5. Moral of the story…Experiment when making music, use plugins you would not normally use, and do things you wouldn't normally do.

  6. Super awesome video. Really shows how to use the building blocks in Ableton well and how quickly you can get potential with just the stock stuff in Ableton.

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