4K in a DAW

I’ve been looking forward to get 4K monitor to use it with DAW and recently made it. I would like now to discuss the benefits and observations in a form of short guide, as seemingly many people are still confused about these.

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Mid-Side Effect Rack for Ableton

I’ve been using this rack for two years now or more. Also requested it as a standard feature in Ableton library, but to no avail. So here it is, as simple as it gets: mid/side Audio Effect Rack. It consists of two channels, mid channel  (width 0%) and side channel (width 200%). That’s all that was needed to make it work… once you know it. The reality is, not many people do.

Now it’s here for everyone to download and use.

mid-side

Just use simple gain boost/reduction or put different effects in mid and side channel. Solo/mute channels to check mono compatibility. Or do some weird shit, it’s all up to you.

Enjoy!

New progressive track – Resistance

I promised two things. First, to make a progressive track. Second, to create a track using (mostly) Ableton Push. And here it is! Complete production done under a week. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

It is very simple. Prog / deep house bass were based on online tutorials, lead chords were just a random sequence. Then comes 4/4 percussion with 808 samples. If something worked, I didn’t think twice but just keep it.

I also added ethnic drums to keep some interest. There were all played live, but unfortunatelly I’m not so good to play anything immediately usable. I spent two hours quanitizing them by hand.

There are also some random effects and distractions, all drowned in dub delay. All the “depth” of a track comes from evolving delay chain in the background. Pretty much generative music, apart from it not much happens in the arrangement.

Last but not least, the arrangement was played in Session mode – which is launching clips live. It gives very different approach to even prepare this clips for live play and probably helps me feel the progressive nature of track better. Playing live gives direct connection with track, unlike setting up arbitrary arrangement in Arrangement view.

All in all, it’s the music that matters – not only if it’s good, but also if it comes fast. Since it’s finished and complete production, I may turn to next projects. In spare time, that is, don’t have much of it in last months.

Studio expansion: audio interface

So I got adventurous and purchased serious audio interface – NI Komplete Audio 6. It replaces my old E-MU 0202 USB.

This 9-old year interface was alright and still served me well, so I bought Audio 6 quite in advance. I’m hoping to expand with serious studio monitors (finally!), hardware synth, or maybe guitar. But it’s all distant future.

However, good interface gives me some immediate benefits – both planned and unexpected.

Firts of all, I’m finally able to connect my XDJ-RX to other gear – in particular home speakers and PC. Record directly to Audacity or, better yet, Ableton with some effects – not only generic mastering strip, but also some creative FX played live. Need to try it out someday.

Secondly, I am finally, finally able to run Ableton and any other audio application at same time. Be it Audacity, Winamp, Rekordbox or just Youtube tutorials and cat movies. Previously it was impossible, so I had to close Ableton in order to check anything and hope that interface doesn’t collapse into erratic state (aliasing at lower sample rate, maybe?). Now it’s all gone. You can imagine how much time it saves me (or how much time previous interface wasted).

As to Komplete Audio 6 itself – someone on forums said “it’s build like tank”. Absolutely. It’s like a brick, but covered with aluminium. You could kill somebody with it. Works smoothly, has current Windows 10 drivers and nice config window.

Oh, and they gave me some NI stickers in box. The box also comes with a selection of NI crapware, including demos for Kontakt (seriously?) and a discount voucher. The voucher expires 3 months after it’s activated, so I simply didn’t activate anything. Overall, everything but stickers is a komplete waste of time.

All in all, I’m very satisfied with this interface. Now I need to figure out where to place stickers.

Free Ableton Rack: 8-band transparent DJ mixer

Thanks to Septr from Ableton forum I was able to construct perfectly transparent 8-band DJ mixer out of stock Ableton plugins. It’s very simple to use and minimal on CPU. Also, it’s free. What more could one ask for?

8-band mixer

Download!

How to use it? Drop an instance on each channel you plan to mix, then crossfade. Typical workflow:

  • Swap band 3
  • Swap band 2
  • Swap band 1
  • Fade band 8 all over the mix, fade band 4 when there is too much melodic content

Of course it may work different for your mixing style, different music genre or specific material. But most certainly it will work.

Please do not re-upload this rack, always link to my blog.

Warmy

The Push has landed

I am happy to welcome my new studio gear, Ableton Push.

Image

It is probably the most desired midi controller out there. Finally got my own and tried it out. It is amazing tool!

The midi controllers, in general, are there to help with layering down arrangements difficult to manipulate with mouse – for example acid bassline with multiple automations. However, Push is also able to replace more conventional midi keyboard thanks to it’s clip recording and manipulation functions.

It’s also drum machine and sample player, which will help me target the areas I find particularly difficult: drum loops and improvised FX. Also, ability to play live and improvise may help when I get stuck at certain piece and don’t move forward.

Of course, controller itself doesn’t allow user to do anything otheriwse he couldn’t. But it cuts the time needed to lay down melody and structure of a track dramatically. Also allow to check different ideas and see if they work together just on a press of button. That’s what I needed and that’s what I’ve got 🙂

Not to mention Push in particular appears very sturdy and solid piece of gear, hopefully resistant to my destructive powers. It is the most expensive single thing I ever bought, so it better last for years!

I wonder where it leads me once I have more time to finish another production.

Stay tuned!

Moonspeak (work in progress)

In case you didn’t hear it yet, there’s a clip of my next track.

The clip is one week old already and it has advanced quite far since then. Still, I’m really happy with the sound quality.

That was possible mostly thanks to my new host, Ableton Live 9 and it’s effects. Finally get rid of old (very old) Ultrafunk FX Pack and GCO Compressor in favour of Ableton’s new logarithmic sidechain compressor/expander and bundled Glue compressor developed by friend Cyto. This way I managed to make the track as banging as you can hear it, without any mastering yet. In fact, in this example it clips because of high volume, but still has decent dynamic range.

Other Ableton 9 features, such as high-fidelity equalizer with built-in spectrum analyzer, audio-to midi function (priceless!), better browser and exponential envelopes just make development faster and easier. Also, I’m learning new functions Live has to offer every day and they all turn out useful. This is getting somewhere!