As curator of Isotonik Sounds packs for Ableton Live, i’ve gotten the chance to preview some amazing material. It’s been a great honor to be tasked with pinpointing unique and interesting artists and nurturing their product development. -animus invidious
Having recently acquired a new custom-built PC, various steps implemented to optimize its performance and usability were taken note of. While not an expert in such things, i figured to share these tips in case they may prove useful. Keep in mind that this guide is presuming that you already dabble in audio production and are upgrading to a new—from an existing—system.
Isotonik Sounds has officially launched, a section at the Isotonik Studios webshop featuring instrument and sample packs for Ableton Live by various developers.
Each month, new free and sale packs will be made available. The first two packs are Crumar Multiman-S by noted maxforlive developer NOISS COKO and ADM DRUMS by yes, you guessed it, the acclaimed wizard of Live: AfroDJMac.
First up, what i know most of you are going to go for, the freebie…
I was super stoked to be a guest on the AfroDJMac Music Production Podcast. Here’s your chance to hear my actual, real-life voice(!) The sound quality on my side is not wonderful since i was recorded over skype, but whatexer. I had a great time chatting with Brian about random stuff… the conversation decided upon its own meandering path, touching on various topics including the crafting and sharing of Ableton Live racks, VST hoarding, my custom Elemental Mixing template channel strip database, workflow optimization, cassette processing, dynamic contrast between songs on albums, and even the Legend of Zelda (nerds). All in all it was a very invigorating experience and i definitely wouldn’t turn down being a guest again at some point in the future. I myself have quite enjoyed the other podcasts, as they contain a plethora of unconventional tips which are superb for kick-starting the creative juices.
Oh, and we also dropped a couple free audio effect racks for you to grab, including something i brainstormed up quite a while ago and finally implemented perfectly: ‘Dynamic Panning’ (compresses in one direction while it expands in the opposite for source-reactive width modification).
Check out AfroDJMac’s website to access the show.
The newest sale pack is here: “Bussification”. It consists of channel strip racks designed for placement on groups of tracks, auxiliary tracks, and on the master buss during mixing. Each macro control for each is specifically restrained in minimum and maximum ranges to exemplify the relevant characteristics of different types of instruments.
(massive props to Joshua Casper for the above video demonstration!)
By grouping similar instruments in a mix and placing different Bussification racks onto them, each is given a distinct frequency character “home”, leading to a clearer and more vibrant overall mix when applied carefully. For each buss, decide upon a frequency to enhance, in particular, to help it stand out. You can sculpt the brightness and darkness to fine-tune the resultant tone, remove unnecessary frequencies with “tauten”, and infuse parallel saturation. There is a “juice” control which determines overall intensity of various parameters, parallel saturation calibrated uniquely for each buss type, and finally a knob for natural-sounding, sophisticated level automation which works by balancing various internal parameters.
Set up two return channels (CMD/CTRL-ALT-T), one for “Dirt” and one for “Space”. Solo them and send just enough of each channel in the mix to it to be able to barely hear. Use “Dirt” to add a bit of edgy presence for a less muddy mix. Use “Space” to emulate a nice room tone, helping to glue all elements together and cohesify punchiness. After balancing all track sends, unsolo the return tracks, reduce their levels to minimum, and slowly introduce them into the overall mix for added vibe and color. A next-level trick is to automate those levels to introduce more dirt and space during different song sections.
Place one of these on the master buss to subtly alter the overall character from digital neutrality to match the media of choice. These each have different controls. “CD” is for general-purpose, modern pre-mastering with an emphasis on the solidity of bass and the clarity of high frequencies. “Vinyl Record” adds in custom emulations of turntable rumble, stylus quality, and surface grime, also with RIAA pre- or post-equalization. “Cassette Tape” is equipped with a very nifty tape hiss generator which creates the hiss based on the original material as well as nonlinear subtle sub and air contour distortion.
↑ click on that ↑
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.
You may have noticed that after you map a macro knob to another macro, you can then no longer rename it either by clicking on it and pressing [CMD-R (mac) / CTRL-R (windows)] or by right-clicking it and selecting “rename” — the context menu option disappears for that macro =(
As long as you have at least one unmapped macro in the rack, click on an unmapped macro. Then press “Tab” until the macro whose name you want to change is highlighted.
You are free to rename it as you like now…sweet!
If the macro it is nested to is currently unnamed, its name will reflect the new change as well.
I went a long time working in Ableton before realizing you can do this, so maybe it slipped under some other radars as well, so i figured i’d pass it along as a quick tip. If you make your own Racks all the time like me being able to rename a macro after it has been mapped if desired is quite useful.
That’s all for today… more heady packs in development.