5 handy advices when using Ableton Live

If you're producing music with computers, then there's a big chance that you've used or at least heard of digital audio interface called Ableton Live. It's one of the most popular software, especially for producing electronic music. The original idea behind the program was to be used as a tool for musicians that would like to integrate some electronic aspects in their live sets. Since we're using the program from the version 6 onwards, we've decided to share some interesting tips or tricks that you maybe didn't know yet.

Envelope Lock

Have you ever noticed a tiny "lock" item right in the corner of a sessions view? Well, even though we're using the program for quite a while now, we haven't really used this since recently. If you want, you can "lock" your automation so when you're moving bars, samples or whatever, automation won't change as well! We find that extremely handy and we feel slight ignorant that we haven't noticed that before.

Swapping the audio signal

Sometimes it can happen that you're recording some vocals, drums, percussions, etc. and you've placed mic's too much on either left or right side (or you use already pre-recorded sample). For instance, you have a nice fat snare that is hitting on the left side of your stereo image and now you have a gap on the opposite side. Of course, you can add any other element on the right side to balance them up, but if you want to use the same snare, there's also a handy option. The "Utility" tool, which can be found in the audio effects section, has a nice "swap" feature, that simply swaps your signal from left to right or vice verse. It's definitely an easy way to spread your sound image.

Tape Delay

If you're an old-school tape delay fan but you can't really afford to either buy a hardware or even a software version than Ableton has a feature that could help at least a little bit. You're probably already familiar with Ableton delays such as "Ping Pong" and it features, but if you right click on it, you'll see, that you can choose between three different options. By default, it will be set to "fade", but you're looking for "repitch" option. Using "repitch" mode, you get similar sounds to vintage tape/analog delay units. Play around with "dry/wet" knob and also switch to "ms" for more abstract results. We're pretty sure that you can come up with some interesting sounds!

Auto hide plug-ins

Ok, this is really basic, but we believe that there are still some lads out there that are stressing themselves over this issues. There are numerous occasions during the production process, where you'd like to have multiple vst windows opened at the same time. While some other DAW's have this feature by default, Ableton is not one of them. In order to disable the auto hide option, you have to scroll to preferences and under the "look/feel" section, you'll see "Auto-Hide Plug-In Windows" enabled. Just disable the feature and you are ready to go.

perfect automation curves

In a stage of every producer, there's a phase, where you're only stuck with a laptop and a set of headphones. And for example, when you decide to write your own automation line, that becomes quite a challenge. With a "pencil" tool, you can only draw "step-kind-of" lines, which later on needs a lot of time and effort to manually curve them. But if you hold down the "alt" button while you're drawing with the "pencil" tool, then you can make quite precise lines that are a lot more smoother. It's a smart time saver until you can get yourself a midi controller that will do the job.

This tips above are just some of the things that can help you fasten your workflow or to add something extra to your track. For some, these advices may sound super basic, but we think that there's a lot of producers that haven't knew or used them before. We hope that you'll find anything useful and we'll be covering more similar topics in the near future.


Tips & Tutorials column is curated by producer Alex Ranerro. The articles are created with a simple aim to share his experiences and knowledge with SolvdMag readers. If you would like to contribute or you have any other questions, please write Alex at sasa@solvdmag.com.

By Saša, edited on 13 June 2018