AfroDJMac Special Zone Collab Pack + third FreeVST racks set

Special Zone

Special Zone

As you may have noticed, i have random ideas all the time. It’s just a matter of finding the physical time to implement them. One idea i had which didn’t take super long to implement was to make effects based on the Special Zone (aka “Special World”, “Star World”) levels from Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo. I grew up playing and loving NES and SNES and so get all predictably nostalgic over such things, as many people in my age range tend to (thus the almost-nauseating overpopularity of 8-bit retro throwback stuff currently).
I tossed the idea of effects based on the “special zone” levels at AfroDJMac to see what he thought, knowing that he’s somewhat into retro video game stuff too.

One thing led to another and another and… well, just that one thing, actually. It was pretty straightforward.

So now you have The Special Zone Pack for Ableton Live. <- Click that to go to AfroDJmac’s site to read about / grab.


Super, super huge thanks to AfroDJMac for hosting this pack! If you browse around his site, you will find a near-limitless supply of amazing, weird goodies.

Please note that the pack includes absolutely zero content copyrighted by Nintendo! It is merely inspired by the awesomeness of Super Mario.


FreeVST Racks Set #3
eaReckon Channel Strip

This time you’ll have coming at you some racks for a handful of free VST effects by eaReckon.
I personally really, really love these effects, finding them upon numerous testing to be of excellent audio quality and usefulness. The company (in contrast with many who seem to “pump up” their wares) is very appreciably humble, merely calling their offerings “good” (while i find them to be quite outstanding).

If you’ve already used these effects you’ll know what i’m talking about. If not… go ahead and grab them right now for free from eaReckon.

Once they are installed you will be ready for the custom-crafted ableton racks for them… just sign up to the isotonik performodule newsletter via this link (if you haven’t already) and they will be delivered to your inbox soon, along with lots more periodically.
When you get the link from the email, use the password


to grab the racks.

Overview of the Effects
The Free87 series includes versions of devices from the Analog87 series, with full audio quality, but limited controls, which i don’t mind, as i find limitations to often be creatively liberating. Having few controls make these effects very easy to understand, apply, and get to know. These effects really feel like using analog gear, moreso than most plugins.

Free87 FR-Comp
Hard-knee, smacky FET-style compressor. “Attack” and “Release” each only have 3 settings, making decisions easy. I almost always use it with attack on “med” and release on “fast”. Use slower attacks and faster releases to preserve punch. The key for vibe here is to balance attack, release, and threshold for musical groove pulsation. Dialing in attack and release is quick as the wrong settings will be obvious. Then it’s just a matter of fine-tuning the threshold (consider automating it). Unfortunately there is no sidechain filter, so if you use this on a drum buss your low bass is going to get a bit suctioned out. But that might be exactly what you want. Maybe try setting it to a drum buss which includes everything but the kick drum. That might sound awesome. It also includes an output brickwall limiter, for safety or for an extra layer of dynamic control. This is useful as FR-Comp is definitely one of those compressors which is more about movement than about squashing peaks. Depending on the settings, it can actually increasing peak dynamics, so engaging the limiter and chopping those off a touch can be just what the doctor ordered.

Free87 FR-Gate
Another favorite for mixing due to the fact that it “always sounds good”. It’s hard to mess gating up with this puppy. The attack and release times are ranged to prevent that dreaded “snap crackle pop” minus the yummy cereal taste. Increasing the attack and release settings results in what i also probably erroneously think of as “optical gating”… it has a nice ever-present smoothness to it. Here’s a couple weird tricks: set the attack extremely slow and give it a very fast release and start with a low threshold and inch it up so a peak below the threshold will cause an instant level drop, which will then slowly creep back up. Or, do the opposite: give it a super fast attack and ultra-slow release and start with the threshold high and inch it down until it will slowly falls in-between peaking moments, which will remain punchy (a way to lessen the density of quieter sections between peaks, i.e. anti-compression).

Free87 FR-Equa
The effect i’ve used the least out of the bunch. Don’t think i’ve used it in a project yet. It’s a single parametric bell band with adjustable resonance and frequency from 40Hz to 20kHz. I would classify this as “resonant”, “focused” and “crisp”. It is easy to get carried away with this and get harsh with boosts, so the built-in safety brickwall limiter is appreciated, keeping the level balanced and the resonance under control even when maxed-out, meaning this could be very cool for doing flavorful resonant filter sweeps on synths safely. If wanting to use this for surgery, i would say to be very careful and use spectrum analysis pre and post to laser in to the exact frequency and gain settings desired, and especially be careful about high-end boosting. Cuts seem a bit less narrow than respective boosts. Since it’s one single band, it could be useful if you’re EQing something with a different EQ, run out of bands, and you just need one more band to tweak one little frequency.

Free87 FR-Limit
This is one of my favorite limiters to use for mixing. I would not use it on the master buss for limiting, as it behaves more like an analog compressor/limiter than as a digital brickwall.
It’s probably not accurate but i think of it like an “optical”limiter; it has a soupy, syrupy reaction which i adore for using on soft-attack instruments and especially on airy vocals, great for smoothly curtailing errant peaks. You can control the threshold and have a switch for extra-slow release times, which can be interesting applied carefully to slowly-blooming instruments (like a synth pad, for example) but would not be appropriate for percussive transients. The slow release option seems to also add in a soft knee to the response curve. Keep in mind that you will usually want to adjust a track’s gain after this effect if using it for mixing as suggested.

Ferret 4×4
This thing is unique and nifty. It’s a routing box you can use to send audio from different tracks into. This can expand your routing flexibility beyond Ableton Live’s grouping and send capabilities. Why is this useful, you might ask, when we can already send tracks in Live wherever we want? One function unlocked is the ability to have a track playing both a clip and audio routed into it (no need to turn on the track’s input switch). So if you need a channel to be able to both play audio within itself while simultaneously playing audio routed from other tracks, this is your ticket. For example, let’s say you’ve got a track which is grouped, but you want to send the audio to a different group, but for some reason can’t or don’t want to move the track to the other group. You could use Ferret 4×4 to send the audio to wherever you want it to be.
It also adds in the very cool functionality of deciding where in your processing chain you’d like the audio to come in. For example, i could have a track playing a loop with some EQ on it, followed by some reverb. I could place the Ferret 4×4 plugin in-between the EQ and the reverb and route a loop into it from another track. The result would be: the original track’s loop will be processed by the EQ, summed with the sidechain input loop, then both are processed together by the reverb.
Controls are simple input and output levels for the track it’s placed upon and for the 3 sidechain inputs. Use the input level controls to make sure the box doesn’t overload, and use the output levels to fine-tune the desired output submix.

Q: Why password / email stuff? That’s annoying. Just provide a download link.
A: Unfortunately, there are shady sites out there, operated by humans and/or robots, which like to subvert my links to their sites. If i wait a few months and google around, i find my links embedded elsewhere, meaning that producers are grabbing the stuff which i crafted without ever even seeing this blog. That’s not really all that groovy, so links are periodically changed so that these naughty thieves are left offering dead ones instead.
This is an alternate method we’re trying out in order to protect that from happening when i want links to be active for many months.
Also, it ensures that people who want the goods are actually signed up to the newsletter, and actually check it. It’s a way to let know what’s happening and provide free goodies to those who are interested. It is a bit annoying and i might come up with a better solution, but for now it seems to be working ok.

Q: How to route audio to a plugin’s sidechain input in Ableton Live?
A: Simply choose a track’s “Output Type” selector and select the track which contains the Ferret 4×4 (or whatever you want to sidechain). Now use the “Output Channel” selector below that to select the plugin’s sidechain input. Awesome! (Note that sidechain input doesn’t work for waves brand VSTs in Live. Please work on that, waves!)

If you need to use something as a sidechain source but also need it to still be playing, you can either duplicate it and just send one copy, or you could make an auxiliary track which routes the audio you need to send without interrupting the original channel.

Note: No rack for MIDI Polysher is included because non-instrument MIDI VSTs don’t work right in Ableton. You don’t need it anyways because you can already define your own MIDI zones with Instrument and MIDI Effect Racks in Live.


New Free Microcassette Tape Instruments & More FreeVST 64bit Racks (+ an EQ Tip)

SO my friend mobdividual lent me a couple of microcassette players in order to import an old microcassette tape i found. It turns out the cassette was the very same used to record samples on this classic record. Neato!
BUT THEN i decided to also record the sound made when the tape player was playing a blank tape through the larger tape transcriber. It’s a nice, warm, rich, subtle hiss and hum. By varying the tone and speed controls in a methodical, timed manner, and crafting a sampler rack to play slices according to their timbre, you have a variable instrument you can use to recreate a range of tonalities. For extra swag, you could, for example, match the root note of the hum (by ear) to the key of your song.
I also created an instrument which plays in-pitch with whatever MIDI note you play, allowing for tape noise which follows a melody, hybridizing past/analog and future/digital techniques.
Lastly, there is a “stop clicker” percussion rack which can be used for nice analog clicking noises when you need them.

These instruments are available absolutely for free via Subaqueous, who also makes a vast assortment of mysterious and useful Ableton Live tools, from MIDI tools for compositional purposes to crafty effects and exotic instruments, as well as some deliciously tasty music.

Grab three microcassette tape instruments for Ableton Live 9 for FREE via Subaqueous.


IF you haven’t already, be sure to sign up to get free Ableton Racks for free VST Effects from the isotonik studios newsletter via this link.
After you sign up just wait a couple weeks for the newsletter from Isotonik Studios.

Password #2meow
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Tons of new stuff: “Collection Three”

COLLECTION THREE includes 6 brand-new, premium, self-installing Ableton Live packs, which can be purchased individually or as a collection for some ultra-snazzy discountage. Isotonik Studios is the place to find them.
There are various audio demos at performodule’s soundcloud.

DynaMixing Four
A shrewd set of audio effect racks with streamlined workflow for potent mixing in mind. Includes some “Artificially Intelligent” devices in the vein of the “Ionic FX” pack.
Stuff it comes with…

3-Stage Compression go-to which can be set as-needed for source material with any variety of dynamics.
Auto-Width Curtailer dynamically narrow unnaturally wide stereo.
Eleven push it (barely or way) over the cliff edge with a special chain of eleven co-reactive serial processes.
Expandurator (not to be confused with the easier-to-use but simpler Exbandurator) this allows for extremely precise fine-tuned “parallel bandpass expander saturation”, which allows frequency-specific material hidden in a part to be brought to light in a mix almost magically, with minimal alteration of level.
Flabber a unique method to beef up your low end.
Froptical Compressor a quirky multiband optical-style compressor which can be used to massage the overall tone with analog suave.
Jitterator add in randomly flickering, frequency focused saturation. Nice for adding analog humanization to digital parts.
Near vs Far one-knob method to emulate characteristics of closeness or distance (minus the volume level aspect).
Tight vs Dense one-knob method to fade between a tighter, more focused sound, and a denser, bigger sound.
Frequency Highlighter play a loop & sweep this around, making note of resonant frequencies. Or use the Auto-Sweep version, sit back, let it do it’s thing, and drink a tea.

A deluxe suite including combo amp racks making the utmost of Live’s built-in Amp and Cabinet devices, “Stomper” effects designed like guitar pedals and guitar Chord presets.
Stuff it comes with…

Combamps a whole bunch (30) of combo amps which are crafted to optimize Ableton Live’s built-in Amp & Cabinet devices to their utmost. These racks make it much easier to dial in your sound (combination of preamp drive, tone, envelope settings, biasing, and gain structure) without having to constantly adjust the output level to match as well. They also optimize your timbre selection options by providing many “dual” and even three “triple” racks, which combine and balance the tone of multiple amps. In testing, these multi-combamps have been much-appreciated for an expanded range of unique amp flavors, as you now basically have 30 unique amp models, instead of 6. All combamps have been gain-staged at multiple points in the signal chain using both Peak and LU matching with both “Strat”and “Les Paul” styles, as well as bass electric guitars. The dual & triple combamps are gainstaged with a system resulting in relatively balanced levels at all gain settings when using wide panning (so that one amp is not way louder on one side than the other one). Since every guitar has its own tone & envelope character, these values are guaranteed to be imperfect, but it should result in you only needing to make miniscule volume adjustments to fine-tune your ultimate sound.
Post Amp Compressor a simple compressor with settings calibrated ideally for taming an amp output’s transients.
Guitar Chords 35 presets for Chord based on actual human guitar fingerings.
Stompers 18 racks set up like guitar pedals, designed for use with a Combamp akin to a physical guitar routing setup.  If you have a midi foot controller you can use them exactly as such. Includes…


Groovification 2
A robust collection of groove files which implement rhythmic “chop” effects in quarter, eighth, and sixteenth-note patterns.
Stuff it comes with…

Chopper Grooves 302 of them! Drop a Chopper Groove onto an audio OR a MIDI part, make sure your global groove amount is up, and hear it do its thing. Drop different Chopper Grooves onto different tracks… then when you turn global groove amount up… they all start chopping in their own way.

Audio effect and MIDI racks designed for enhancing and manipulating harmonics by various methods.
Stuff it comes with…

Harmonic Colorizer enhance harmonics using various different methods. By using different amounts of each knob, you can set up your own unique boost texture to help a part stand out against its various song elements, or use it to subliminally add a particular color to a submix or mix.
Overtone EQ (3 versions) EQ racks set up to select a target frequency, and then manipulate the harmonics based on that frequency. The Even & Odd version allows separate control of even & odd harmonics. The Even vs Odd will boost Even or Odd and attenuate the other (useful for hearing the difference between those types of harmonics). The Sculptor version is useful for manipulating each harmonic interval individually.
Undertone EQ (3 versions) just like the Overtone EQs, but these manipulate lower harmonics instead (not as common of an operation). They include the same 3 versions.
Harmonic Chord Presets these will add in MIDI notes based on harmonic intervals. Simple, but useful. Includes 2nd through 4th harmonics which each add only 1 note and also CoarsePerfect, and Undertone versions which each add multiple harmonics.
Harmonics Extender (3 versions) MIDI racks which can be used to set (& automate) the amount of added harmonics. Includes CoarsePerfect, and Undertone versions.

Amplitude Operands
Utility presets allowing to divide or multiply level according to Sound Pressure Level, Acoustic Intensity Energy, and Perceived Loudness Sensation.
Stuff it comes with…

Sound Intensity by Energy (Utility Presets)
Sound Loudness by Sensation (Utility Presets)
Sound Pressure by Voltage (Utility Presets)
divide or multipy audio level by either “SPL”, “SIL”, or “Volume”. This is technical stuff. Check out for more info. Basically…
-use SPL (voltage) division when you want to sum parts perfectly (i.e. 5 copies of something each divided by 5 SPL and recombined will equal the exact level of the original)
use SIL (energy) for acoustic energy calculations. Like, let’s say you’ve got a really small sound, like a pin drop. Multiply it by 100 SIL to estimate the level provided by 100 pins dropping at the same time.
use Volume (loudness) for the human perception of level.
So, to make something seem twice as loud, subjectively, multiply it by 2 Volume.
There are also included some racks to choose/automate which multiplier/divisor to use:
SPL Divisor

SPL Multiplier

Volume Divisor
Volume Multiplier

Note Range Setters
An assortment of midi racks, primarily for composers, which filter incoming notes according to standard instrument & vocal ranges, plus tools for making custom note ranges.
Stuff it comes with…

Note Range Setter (Absolute) define a playing range by setting the lowest and highest allowable notes
Note Range Setter (Relative) define a playing range according to distance from a root note
Note Range Blocker (Relative)
set a sub-range of notes to block from being played within a range

Includes individual MIDI racks for a vast range of classical and folk instruments, as well as standard vocal ranges:
36 instrument ranges
Exotic 2 instrument ranges
Guitar & Plucked 58 instrument ranges
Mallets 8 instrument ranges
Percussive 5 instrument ranges
Piano & Keys 14 instrument ranges
Strings 15 instrument ranges
Voices 35 vocal ranges
Winds 88 instrument ranges
Simply set a note range before a MIDI instrument to allow it to only play notes within that range.


“FreeVST Racks” comin’ at ya

Announcing a new series: “FreeVST 64bit Racks“, free Ableton Live racks corresponding to free VST effects.

Every month a different developer who offers free VST plugins will be featured.

Sign up to get free racks via the isotonik studios newsletter via this link.
The first set will be releasing at the start of next month, so signing up now will ensure you get the goodies at distribution time.

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NEW Sale Packs: “One Knob Wonders”, “Advanced Splytterz”

Two new premium packs for Ableton Live have been released, after extensive testing periods.
These are some of the most robust and practical stuff we’ve created yet!
All Premium PerforModule packs are self-installing, meaning that you simply drag them into Live and all the devices will now be in your library, categorized.

okw 1“One Knob Wonders”
Includes 64 different single-knob effects, each designed for a specific purpose.
They range from highly practical mixing tools to wacky, nifty performance tricks.
<- Click the link for more details.

Here’s a highlight of some my favorites from the set…
Noisify: adds source-reactive noise and degrades signal
FonePhilter: retro telephone tone with signal overdrive
DownFilter Dirty: performance sweep utilizing Live’s new analog filter functionality
GrainPitch Up: crude realtime pitch shifter
Pianosator: “piano reverb” of chromatic resonances
BassCream: velvety bass guitar process based on a classic pro studio workflow
Shredder: scorching tone for hard rock/heavy metal lead guitar, easy-peasy
Characterizer: adds mid-range richness and warmth
De-Essify: de-esser which works like magic
JuiceSnapper: aux buss finalizer / transient enhancer
SuperUltraMega: Makes. Stuff. Louder.
Chube: chorus to sound like going through a metal tube
Breepitate: glitchy fun
BrownLoop: loop and shift a clip down to half speed
SeaShore: transform any audio into a pleasing surf wave
PongFreez: more glitchy fun
TapeFlange: emulates splitting the feed into an extra tape machine

Want a taste test? Click here to grab “TubeCruncher” from One Knob Wonders right now for free!
(The free effect posted here will be changing periodically)

Splytterz Icon
“Advanced Splytterz”
Includes template racks used for splitting up any audio source into multiple chains by various methods.
<- Click the link for more details.

Useful for when you want to do things like
-apply different effects to different frequency ranges
-apply different effects to the left and right sides of a stereo file
-apply effects to just the mid or side channels for super easy m/s processing
-different effects chains which alternate based on a time interval
-effects applied separately to above and below a transient threshold
It also includes three “tri” devices pre-loaded with effects and a “behind the back panner” for an interesting phase-shift panning technique.



drumhead smTelling you about the “Drum Enhancerz” Ableton Live pack by PerforModule.

<- Access the sale page by clicking on the drum head.

It includes racks which are calibrated for sculpting of specific drum elements. Included are…

Enhance Cymbals
Enhance Kicks
Enhance Overheads
Enhance Snares
Enhance Toms

Each rack includes 8 macro controls for sculpting your drum sounds with ease.
A few of the capabilities are…
-plush control for smooth cymbals
-smack control to add top attack to kicks
-smash: go-to overhead compression
-pitch-matched resonance for boomy toms

Remember, your best “bang for buck” is to grab “PerforModule Collection 1”  and “PerforModule Collection 2” !

Merry Xmas (gift for you – The Bernie Bass)

Here’s the second instrument in the “PK Rocket” series, sampled from a Waldorf Rocket synth as played by the musician Phat Kid during an epic home studio jam.

Click >>> BERNIE ROCKS <<< to grab “The Bernie Bass” for Ableton Live 9.5 (sampler required).

Be sure to check out the first instrument in the series, the “PK Rocket Droner”, which was recently shared for #FreeStuffFriday (thanks, Ableton!).