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Overview of Live racks


Ableton Live 8 Essential Training

with Rick Schmunk

Video: Overview of Live racks

One of Ableton Live's most powerful and innovative features is Live racks. Racks allow you to save multiple effect and/or instrument devices as a single preset. Let's take a look at how they work. So, racks can include audio effects, MIDI effects, instrument devices, or any combination of the above. Let's try creating an audio effects rack on this first track, by dragging a couple of effects down into this Kick track. So, I am going to drag this is Kick Compressor preset here, and let me also grab an EQ.
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  1. 1m 30s
    1. Welcome
    2. Using the exercise files
  2. 8m 43s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      4m 13s
    2. Choosing the right gear and setting up a system
      4m 30s
  3. 12m 59s
    1. Setting up audio preferences
      3m 54s
    2. Setting up MIDI preferences
      3m 31s
    3. Optimizing performance
      5m 34s
  4. 35m 42s
    1. Understanding Session view
      8m 7s
    2. Working with Live browsers
      5m 3s
    3. Working with Live clips
      7m 57s
    4. Understanding clip properties
      7m 52s
    5. Working with Live scenes
      6m 43s
  5. 28m 16s
    1. Building Live Sets and projects
      4m 25s
    2. Learning Live file management
      4m 2s
    3. Exporting content from Live
      7m 32s
    4. Importing and exporting Live Packs
      3m 17s
    5. Searching for and auditioning clips
      4m 58s
    6. Setting up frequently accessed folders
      4m 2s
  6. 23m 3s
    1. Preparing to record MIDI
      5m 51s
    2. Recording and overdubbing MIDI
      4m 32s
    3. Working with alternate MIDI entry methods
      6m 49s
    4. Using multi-output virtual instruments
      5m 51s
  7. 24m 26s
    1. The MIDI Editor
      4m 49s
    2. Quantizing MIDI data
      6m 6s
    3. Advanced MIDI editing
      6m 49s
    4. Setting up groove in editing
      6m 42s
  8. 9m 18s
    1. Preparing to record
      5m 0s
    2. Recording audio
      4m 18s
  9. 22m 37s
    1. Understanding Arrangement view
      3m 41s
    2. Recording in Arrangement view
      3m 51s
    3. Recording from Session view to Arrangement view
      5m 21s
    4. Reworking clips
      9m 44s
  10. 27m 57s
    1. Understanding Live's mixer
      12m 38s
    2. Using sends and returns
      3m 47s
    3. Building headphone cues
      3m 49s
    4. Grouping tracks
      7m 43s
  11. 43m 14s
    1. Working with effect devices
      4m 56s
    2. Understanding EQ and filters
      7m 14s
    3. Using compressors and dynamic processors
      7m 28s
    4. Building interesting effects with delay effect processing
      8m 18s
    5. Using reverb effectively
      8m 22s
    6. Setting up side chain effects easily
      6m 56s
  12. 15m 37s
    1. Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect
      8m 38s
    2. Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
      6m 59s
  13. 25m 22s
    1. Building automation patterns
      8m 44s
    2. Editing existing automation information
      5m 2s
    3. Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
      4m 10s
    4. Understanding the power of clip envelopes
      7m 26s
  14. 20m 17s
    1. Understanding the basics of looping
      6m 54s
    2. Creating tracks that loop smoothly
      7m 50s
    3. Using warp features to quantize audio
      5m 33s
  15. 17m 47s
    1. Using the computer keyboard to control Live
      6m 39s
    2. Mapping device controls to the MIDI keyboard
      4m 36s
    3. Using Live's instant mapping feature
      6m 32s
  16. 10m 43s
    1. Exporting audio
      5m 37s
    2. Freezing tracks
      5m 6s
  17. 20m 45s
    1. Building with the Impulse virtual instrument
      11m 35s
    2. Working with the Simpler virtual instrument
      9m 10s
  18. 36m 22s
    1. Overview of Live racks
      10m 13s
    2. Combining instruments and effects into a single device
      8m 22s
    3. Adding effects with Drum Rack
      11m 28s
    4. Assigning rack parameters to macros
      6m 19s
  19. 13m 53s
    1. Setting up ReWire with Pro Tools
      7m 3s
    2. Setting up ReWire with Logic
      6m 50s
  20. 33m 43s
    1. Preparing audio clips with the Warp tool
      14m 31s
    2. Triggering clips using follow actions
      8m 9s
    3. Using Live as a sound source
      11m 3s
  21. 7m 21s
    1. Working with video files
      7m 21s
  22. 37s
    1. Further Recommendations

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Watch the Online Video Course Ableton Live 8 Essential Training
7h 20m Beginner Dec 10, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Ableton Live 8 Essential Training with Rick Schmunk offers a comprehensive overview of Ableton's live audio and MIDI sequencing software and the techniques required to compose, record, and edit music, in real time, on stage, or in the studio. The course includes tutorials on compiling live sets from audio and MIDI clips, loops, or samples, applying MIDI effects, warping audio, and recording and producing songs in any number of contemporary styles. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Putting together a DAW system
  • Setting up Ableton preferences
  • Importing and exporting content
  • Recording MIDI
  • Editing and quantizing MIDI data
  • Recording audio
  • Recording in Arrangement view
  • Using sends and returns in the Live Mixer
  • Grouping tracks
  • Signal processing
  • Creating and editing automation envelopes
  • Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
  • Looping and warping audio clips
  • Mapping device controls to a MIDI keyboard
  • Working with virtual instruments
  • Integrating Live with Pro Tools and Logic
Audio + Music
Ableton Live
Rick Schmunk

Overview of Live racks

One of Ableton Live's most powerful and innovative features is Live racks. Racks allow you to save multiple effect and/or instrument devices as a single preset. Let's take a look at how they work. So, racks can include audio effects, MIDI effects, instrument devices, or any combination of the above. Let's try creating an audio effects rack on this first track, by dragging a couple of effects down into this Kick track. So, I am going to drag this is Kick Compressor preset here, and let me also grab an EQ.

I'll put that actually before the compressor. I'll make a bit of a change here. Oftentimes, I'll take a dip out of it about 225 Hz, and I'll tighten the Q just a little bit. So, we've got two affects here now on this first track. Let's see what that sounds like. (Drums playing.) So that's tightened that kick up a little bit. Now, what I want to do is turn those into a rack. So I am going to select the two title bars of those affects, and I am going to right-click, and from the contextual menu, I am going to choose Group.

You could also use the key command Command+G, or on a PC, Ctrl+G. Now, those have been put in a rack, and I know that because I see these brackets that are on the left and the far right-hand side of these two effects. We also get some other show/hide switches that we've never had before, and that includes the macro, which allows me to take any parameter that I have on these two devices and map that over to these other knobs, so I can change them from there. We'll talk about this more in a later video, but for right now, we're going to move on.

Additionally, I can also show the chain list that's part of this, and we'll take a look at that in a second. And I can show/hide the devices in the rack by clicking on that button. Now, once you get this all dialed in, one of the things you might want to do is save this for use in a different session. You can do that by simply right-clicking on the title bar and dragging that into the area you are saving your effects. So, I might go up to the Audio Effect rack folder there, for example, drag that up, drop that in that area, and then it allows me to name that.

I might call this "Kick EQ and Comp." Now one of the great things about this is I can use this on another track immediately by just switching to that track and either dropping this on the truck itself, or down here in the drop Audio Affects area on the track. Bingo! I've got those same settings. Now as you are going to see, these racks can get very, very, very complicated. Here we've just got two affects, but imagine multiple effects here-- I will say maybe in different signal routing and so on--all as one preset.

It's really powerful. So, another way that I can create a rack is to drag the empty rack preset onto a track. So, in this case, I am going to drag Audio Rack folder, which is actually the empty rack preset and drop that over in this Drop Audio Affects area. We see the brackets, but we don't see any effects. Now, all I need to do is drop the effects into the rack itself. I am going to go into the chain list to do that, so let me bring that up. Let's add a Chorus effect and then maybe some kind of a delay. Let's grab the Ping Pong Delay, and I can drop those on to that track.

Now, for a little bit better visual identification, let me click on that, and I'll rename that first chain. Let's call that "Chorus" and the second one, I'll call "Delay." Now, one of the differences in the way I've set this up is that as the signal passes from this virtual instrument device into the rack, it's going to be split, or copied, so that I have two signals, and then it's going to go into both of these simultaneously. It will be processed in a series and then added back together at the end.

Now, if we go back to this Kick track where we put these other two effects, this is a classic example of processing in series, where the signal passes through this EQ first and then is passed on after processing into the compressor. So, let's take a look at what we've got here. Now I am going to close this down, so that we have a little bit more room. I'll double-click on the title bar of that precept to get it to minimize, and now I see the Effect rack. Since I've got the list open, I can see the two effects that are available.

Because I have the Device button showing, when I click on these, we'll actually see the devices that are part of those chains. Now I've got another version of this. It's a little more dialed in. So I am going to switch to this last track over here that shows kind of the same thing set up with five different effects. So, let me minimize the virtual instrument by double-clicking on that header, and now we see the five affects. So, the mix of these five effects can be changed by changing this column right here, where I have got control over their total levels.

So, each one of those can be adjusted. Now if we listen to the whole thing-- let's put that track into Record Enable so we can hear it. (Music playing.) You hear what's happening. And if I bring the Flanger down here, a little bit less of that effect. (Music playing.) I can adjust the other ones in the same manner. Now, you will notice in this next column that I've got the ability to pan effects to different parts of the stereo spectrum. So, I have got the Flanger panned to the left side and the EQ hard-panned right.

We can do that individually with each effect that's part of this rack. I can also mute individual members. For instance, let's just hear the Flanger portion, and I'll bring that level back up. (Music playing.) Or I can show just the EQ. Let's see what that looks like. You can notice that I have eliminated almost everything on the bottom and on the top to get that kind of telephone booth effect. Let's hear what the Chorus sounds like. (Music playing.) Okay. So we kind of get a fat chorus-thing happening.

Now notice that this is actually a nested Audio Effect rack. So inside this particular effect rack, I dropped an empty rack again, and inside that effect rack, I've actually got three chorus effects, and each one has slightly different settings that's help us to get a fatter, more rich sound. In addition to these mute buttons, I can solo the individual effects that are being used, and again, I can do that by just clicking a Solo button, and now we are just hearing the Erosion effect. (Music playing.) If you don't like that, you can actually swap out for a different effect by clicking the Hot-Swap button, and that takes me back to the Erosion category and allows me to choose a different effect within that category. Or I can switch down and choose anything else.

I can disable that hot-swap by clicking on that button again, and we are back to where we were before. Another powerful thing that's available as part of audio effects racks is these different views. Now this Chain view allows me to set ranges where these effects will work or not work. For instance, I can move my cursor over the edge of this first one-- move that's out a little bit--and I can draw that bar graph out to say, in this area the Flanger is going to work. Then maybe in another area you can drag the EQ, and then on the edge drag that out.

So, at that that point, the EQ will work. Now, simply by dragging this, or automating this chain parameter, I can go to one effect at a time. So, here is the Flange, and I've got that soloed, so we are not hearing it. So let me disable that. Now we should hear it. (Music playing.) So, there is the flange. Now here is this EQ setting. (Music playing.) Now, one handy thing that you might want to try is if you make one of these bar graphs the entire range and then right- click on it, you can use this feature in the contextual menu. That will distribute the ranges equally.

So, now all five have their own range. Another handy thing that you can do is to overlap them. So, I am going to choose the bottom four over here in the chain list. Now, when I move my edge over that and drag that, you will notice that I'm actually changing the four that are selected. In addition to that, you might want to gradually move from one effect to the other, by fading one out while the other is fading in. So, I am going to go grab this little light bar graph that's on top of this, and that controls that fade amount. And I'll drag that across. You can see that little fade indication there on the bar graph.

Then I'll grab the top four and do it on the end of the other ranges, so that I've got one fading out while the other one fades in. So again, down here I should get Flange. (Music playing.) As I get in this area, I should get a little bit of Flange and EQ. (Music playing.) As I do that, notice in the meters here that you see signal passing through those two effects, but none of the others-- (Music playing.) --and so on as I move over to the Chorus. (Music playing.) Now, we see the effect down there.

Now one of the ways that we can actually make use of this in our music is to add automation. So I flip over to Arrange view, I am going to draw automation in that will actually automate the change from those various devices in the rack. So let me bring up the Pencil tool. I am going to draw some automation in here. Now, the range on this is 0 to 127. When you look down on the rack, we'll see that the first effect is on 0 to about 24. I pick up somewhere there just below 24. So, I'll draw automation that will get me into the first two of those devices.

So, in the first one, and then in the second bar let's take this up to my 20s, and I'll pull across. So now when I hit Play on this, we'll hear it played first with the Flange effect, and then we'll hear a change over to the EQ effect. (Music playing.) You saw the corresponding change happening down here within the rack in the Chain View list. So I'm guessing that like my first experience with racks, this overview of racks got your attention.

Join me for the next video, where we'll take a deeper look at instrument racks.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Ableton Live 8 Essential Training .

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Q: Can I use Ableton Live Lite to work through this course?
A: For the most part, yes. However, there are a few limitations. For example, there are some drum sounds that won’t work with the Lite version. Lite also has a limited track count, which may cause problems with some of the larger Live Sets in the course. If you do not have the full version of Ableton Live, you can download a demo of Ableton Live Suite (, which will run for 30 days. This will allow you to do everything in the course, and get a look at what the full version can do at the same time.
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