This last section of devices covers Live's more esoteric and hard-to-classify plug-ins. Some of these could have been squeezed into other sections of this course, but they are all unique enough that it made sense to give them their own section.
The Ultimate Guide to Ableton Live Audio Effects
What are audio effects? Ranging from subtle mixing tools to extreme sound manglers, effects are used in every part of the music production process. A delay may be an integral part of a synthesizer sound, a distortion unit may be used to give a snare drum some extra bite, and equalizers and compressors may find their way onto nearly every track in a song during the final mixdown. In this chapter, we'll look at all of Live's effects, giving some tips as to how each might be used along the way. But don't take our word for it, using effects is all about experimentation.
Chapter 1 - EQ and Filters
The first batch of effects we'll dive into are the fitlers and equalizers (EQ for short). These types of signal processors are used to attenuate (reduce in volume) and amplify (increase in volume) only specific frequency ranges within an audio signal. Engineers will use filters and EQs to finely craft the frequency distribution of the tracks in a song, resulting in beautiful, rich, and detailed final mixes. Of course, these tools can be used to radically reshape sound, creating unique effects in their own right.
Chapter 2 - Dynamic Processing
In the audio world, dynamics refers to the volume or amplitude of a sound. More specifically, it refers to the change in volume of a sound. The sound of a drum kit can range from quiet ghost notes on a snare drum to the thundering sound of the kick drum and toms, and it is therefore considered to have more dynamic range than a distorted guitar, which usually plays at a more consistent volume.
It therefore makes sense that dynamic processors would alter the volume of signals passing through them. But why would you want to do this? Like EQing, dynamic processing can be used to compensate for problems arising in the recording process. It can also be used to control the natural peaks that occur during live vocal performances, to exaggerate the transients in a part, or for a variety of creative effects.
Chapter 3 - Delay Effects
Ableton's Delay effects group may just be the company's most creative effects ever. Each effect features solid tools for both assembling new rhythmic variations and creating innovative textures with repeated long sounds. While many of the delays have some similar controls, each delay is also somewhat specialized and has some unique features. As you explore them one by one, don't be afraid to do lots of experimenting and get lost in your own creativity.
Chapter 4 - Modulation Effects
The Flanger bears an extremely close resemblance to the Phaser, both in design and use. A flanger works by taking a sound, delaying it by a continuously changing amount, and blending it back in with the original sound. This introduces constructive and destructive interference between various frequencies in the sound, producing a characteristic comb filter effect. The Flanger has a much more metallic edge than the Phaser. It's sound can be quite abrasive with high feedback settings.
As mentioned previously, the Flanger will make a copy of the input signal and mix it back in with the original after a brief delay. Often times, this can produce inharmonic (unpitched) results, which can make melodic parts sound muddy. To alleviate this effect, you can pass the input signal through a Hi-Pass filter. When the delayed signal is mixed back in with the original, the flanging will take effect only on the higher frequencies, leaving the lower frequencies intact.