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Unlocking the power of FX racks


Ableton Live 9 Essential Training

with Rick Schmunk

Video: Unlocking the power of FX racks

One of Live's most powerful and innovative features is Live Racks. Which allows you to save multiple effects or instrument devices as a single preset. Let's take a look at how they work. So a Live Rack can contain an audio effect, MIDI effect, instrument devices, or any combination of the above. Now let's start by taking a look at audio effects racks. So I've got a kick clip on this first track and I want to add some EQ in compression. So let's go into the audio effects area and I'm going to drop down and grab a EQ8.
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  1. 2m 36s
    1. Welcome
      1m 6s
    2. Using the exercise files
    3. What you need to know
  2. 7m 44s
    1. What is a digital audio workstation?
      4m 13s
    2. Choosing the right gear and setting up a system
      3m 31s
  3. 11m 8s
    1. Setting up audio preferences
      4m 0s
    2. Setting up MIDI preferences
      2m 44s
    3. Optimizing performance
      4m 24s
  4. 38m 55s
    1. Nonlinear sequencing with Session view
      3m 42s
    2. Understanding the Session view window
      5m 8s
    3. Exploring the Live browser
      5m 49s
    4. Loading and playing clips
      4m 35s
    5. Moving and copying clips
      2m 55s
    6. Working with clip properties
      8m 17s
    7. Working with scenes
      8m 29s
  5. 24m 15s
    1. Using the browser
      4m 56s
    2. Searching for and auditioning clips and devices
      4m 19s
    3. Working with Live sets and projects
      4m 16s
    4. Managing files in Live
      3m 12s
    5. Exporting clips and devices
      7m 32s
  6. 33m 0s
    1. What is a software instrument?
      6m 29s
    2. Preparing to record MIDI
      5m 0s
    3. Recording and overdubbing MIDI
      4m 47s
    4. Using a computer keyboard to enter MIDI
      5m 26s
    5. Utilizing the pencil to enter MIDI notes
      5m 45s
    6. Taking advantage of third-party and multi-output MIDI devices
      5m 33s
  7. 33m 22s
    1. Navigating and zooming in the MIDI Editor
      5m 29s
    2. Configuring the MIDI Editor grid
      5m 2s
    3. Selecting and quantizing MIDI
      5m 3s
    4. Quantizing with grooves
      7m 23s
    5. Editing pitch and note duration
      6m 1s
    6. Editing MIDI velocities
      4m 24s
  8. 10m 10s
    1. Preparing to record audio
      5m 43s
    2. Recording audio
      4m 27s
  9. 34m 22s
    1. Understanding Arrangement view
      4m 10s
    2. Zooming in and out and playing in Arrangement view
      4m 46s
    3. Recording in Arrangement view
      4m 4s
    4. Recording from Session view to Arrangement view
      5m 22s
    5. Adding and using locators
      3m 32s
    6. Copying, duplicating, and editing clips in Arrangement view
      5m 53s
    7. Reworking clips
      6m 35s
  10. 25m 35s
    1. Understanding the mixer
      7m 36s
    2. Using sends and returns
      6m 52s
    3. Building headphone cues
      4m 58s
    4. Grouping tracks
      6m 9s
  11. 41m 7s
    1. Working with effect devices
      5m 59s
    2. Understanding EQ and filters
      7m 30s
    3. Using compressors and dynamic processors
      6m 26s
    4. Building interesting effects with delay effect processing
      7m 20s
    5. Using reverb effectively
      8m 5s
    6. Setting up side chain effects easily
      5m 47s
  12. 11m 15s
    1. Creating rhythmic patterns with the Arpeggiator effect
      6m 3s
    2. Building background parts with the Chord and Scale effects
      5m 12s
  13. 11m 44s
    1. Mapping keys with Keymap mode
      4m 12s
    2. Mapping device controls to the MIDI keyboard
      3m 16s
    3. Using the instant mapping feature
      4m 16s
  14. 31m 51s
    1. Recording real-time automation
      6m 24s
    2. Drawing automation manually
      7m 48s
    3. Automating clips in Session view
      8m 36s
    4. Editing existing automation information
      4m 57s
    5. Using fades to mask audio pops and clicks
      4m 6s
  15. 20m 59s
    1. Understanding the basics of warping
      8m 43s
    2. Creating clips that loop smoothly
      6m 37s
    3. Using warp features to quantize audio
      5m 39s
  16. 10m 12s
    1. Exporting audio from Live
      6m 29s
    2. Freezing tracks
      3m 43s
  17. 42m 22s
    1. Exploring Impulse
      5m 5s
    2. Using Impulse as a multi-output instrument
      9m 15s
    3. Getting the most out of Impulse instrument parameters
      6m 23s
    4. Exploring Simpler
      7m 50s
    5. Smoothing sample start and end points in Simpler
      6m 32s
    6. Tweaking the parameters of Simpler
      7m 17s
  18. 36m 55s
    1. Unlocking the power of FX racks
      10m 48s
    2. Utilizing instrument racks
      10m 13s
    3. Creating drum racks
      9m 50s
    4. Working with rack macros
      6m 4s
  19. 10m 22s
    1. Introducing Max for Live
      4m 52s
    2. Exploring the Mono Sequencer in Max for Live
      5m 30s
  20. 5m 54s
    1. Working with video files
      5m 54s
  21. 24s
    1. Next steps

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Watch the Online Video Course Ableton Live 9 Essential Training
7h 24m Beginner Apr 16, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Create music in real time, on stage, or while producing in the studio, with Ableton Live. In this course, music professor Rick Schmunk shows you how to compose, record, remix, improvise, produce, and edit your musical ideas. Along the way, get familiar with the Live interface, work with its views for recording and editing audio and MIDI, and explore its unique real-time recording and mixing capabilities. Plus, learn real-world production skills that can be applied to songwriting, studio production, and DJing. The final chapters offer an inside look at features added in Live 9, such as new Instrument Racks containing over 3,000 production-ready sounds, and Max for Live, a toolkit for building custom devices.

Topics include:
  • Choosing the right gear to use with Ableton
  • Setting audio and MIDI preferences
  • Optimizing performance
  • Loading, playing, and moving clips
  • Exporting clips and devices
  • Recording and overdubbing MIDI
  • Quantizing with grooves
  • Editing pitch and note duration
  • Understanding EQ and filters
  • Recording real-time automation
  • Looping audio
  • Creating beats with Impulse
  • Creating drum racks
  • Introducing Max for Live
Audio + Music
Ableton Live
Rick Schmunk

Unlocking the power of FX racks

One of Live's most powerful and innovative features is Live Racks. Which allows you to save multiple effects or instrument devices as a single preset. Let's take a look at how they work. So a Live Rack can contain an audio effect, MIDI effect, instrument devices, or any combination of the above. Now let's start by taking a look at audio effects racks. So I've got a kick clip on this first track and I want to add some EQ in compression. So let's go into the audio effects area and I'm going to drop down and grab a EQ8.

Put that in the device chain and let me get a compressor to and I'm going to go in and get the preset this for kick, and I'll drop that down there as well. Now if I shift-click the Title bar on the EQ, I get them both selected, I can create a group or a rack by right-clicking on either of the devices. And choosing Groove from the Contextual menu. Now once I do that I want you to notice that we get these brackets on either side. So we see it here on the left. If I hold down Cmd+Option, that would be Ctrl+Alt on a PC, I can pan this over. And I can see the rounded edges on the bracket on the right-hand side. Let's go back over to the beginning.

In addition to the brackets, I also get some additional buttons. And if I click on this first one, this show and hides the macro, and this is a device where I can map controls from any of the devices onto these knobs for adjustment. We'll talk about that in an upcoming movie. I also get a chain list which shows me how many chains I've got, and right now I've only got one. And that means that these two effects that I've added here are actually being processed in series. Meaning that the signal is going to come through the EQ, and then go into the kick compressor.

Let me close that for the time being. And I'm just going to make some basic settings that I might make on any old kick. Which would be probably to reduce a little bit of the lower mid range around maybe 200 to 250 hertz. Tighten the queue a little bit, add a little bit of a bump to get the snap on the kick there around 2K. Once I've got the settings made, if I don't want to actually see the entire device, I can double-click on its Title bar to minimize it. And that's all the space it takes up. Now, let's hear what that sounds like.

(music playing) So, I might go back in and make some more changes, but if I'm happy with the way that sounds, I might want to save this for use in a later session. So, let me open up my user library. And one of the things that I can do is just grab the Title bar on the rack, which at this minimized state is going to be the bracket on the left-hand side. And drag it up into the presets folder. And now I can call this something like Drum EQ and Compression, and save that.

So for example, if I come back to another set and want to use that, I can just grab the preset and drag and drop that on another track as I'm doing here. On this kick two track which is a similar track. And then I can double-click the title bars of any of these effects to open them back up. If I need to make any more changes I can do that. But otherwise, I'm ready to go. We can also start with an empty rack and add devices into the rack itself. So let's move over to the roads track. Let's do that. So here we can see that I've got a MIDI instrument and this is preset of electric.

The electric piano software instrument that's available in Live Suite and I want to add a couple of audio effects to that. So, I'm going to up into the audio effects category and let me close all these, I'm going to press my left arrow and move up. And let's go up to the top now, and I'm going to grab this blank preset where it says Audio Effect Rack. I'm going to drop that over here after the virtual instrument. We can see the rounded edges of the rack, and what I'm going to do now is open up the Chain List, and I'm going to drop an effect there.

So, let's just grab the default chorus and drop that one. And then, I'm going to create a second chain here, and let's put default flanger on that one. I'm doing this because I want to demonstrate that not only can we run effects in series, but we can also run them in parallel. So, let me minimize this software instrument here by double-clicking on its Title bar. Or we can just look at the rack. So, now if I click the first chain we see the chorus and if I click the second chain we see the flanger and if I want I can add multiple effects in each one of these chains.

Now, let's start off, I'm going to rename these so I know what I'm looking at. So, I'll select the first chain and go Cmd+R. And I'm going to call that chorus. And let me choose the second one. And I'll call that flanger. And if I want I can set differing levels for the two presets. And I can also set different panning for that. So maybe if I wanted to pan one of these right and one of these left. I can do that. And let me play a cord and let's hear what that sounds like. Looks like I need to record enable a track. (music playing) So, you can hear the two different effects.

If you want to hear them separately, you can press the Solo button, and now I should just hear the chorus. (music playing) Just on the right side. Now let's check out the flanger. (music playing) And that one is just on the left side. And as I said, if we want to balance that a little bit, we can do that. Now, I'm going to get out of that track and go to the next one and I'll record enable that, because I've tricked this one out a little bit. I've actually got five effects on here, and I've named them phaser, eq, and so and so forth. And then the last one, I want to show you that I actually took a second audio effect rack and I dropped it in the chain list which gave me a nested rack. And then inside that rack I actually put three chorus devices and then I set up slightly different settings for each one of those. And then I pan those right center and left.

So let me solo that just to start off, so you can hear how rich the sound I was able to create there. (audio playing) Subtle, but yet I got differing things going on, on left and right. So it's a really nice way to work. So I did this because I wanted to show you one more thing that we get in an audio effect rack. And that's this little button up here that says chain. So I'm going to click on that. And this opens up this little area here. And this shows me MIDI values from zero to 127. And what I can do is I can set up different areas where the different effects will be active.

So I'm going to start by grabbing this little bar graph, it's really hard to see there on the left-hand side, and I'm going to move my cursor until I see the trim. And I'm going to pull that all the way across. Now I'm doing that because when you have one of those bar graphs going all the way across, you can actually right-click on it. And you can choose this option, Distribute Ranges Equally, from the Contextual menu. And so now I see that I've got an area from zero to 24 that is going to be the phaser, and from 24 up to 48 the EQ, and so on and so forth. So now, I'll grab this little marker up here at the top, and if it's anywhere in this range we'll hear the phaser.

(music playing) If I pull it over here, we're going to hear the EQ that I set up (music playing). Over here, I'm going to hear the auto-pan (music playing), and over here the delay (music playing) , and last, I'll hear the chorus (music playing) . Now, if you want, you could overlap these areas, and then add a cross fade. So, what I'm going to start off by doing, is I'm going to shift-click the top four devices there. And then, I'm going to move my cursor to the edge of one of those bar graphs and click and drag, and you'll notice that the selected items are all increasing their range.

And then I'll go to the little bar graph that's on the top and I'm going to pull that over so that I can actually cross fade that. Then I'll select the bottom four and I'm going to grab the little cross fade bar graph on the left-hand side and pull that over. And as you can see, I've set up crossfades between the different devices. So, now if I grab the little chain activator, and put it over here on the bottom, I should just hear phaser. And if I put it here in between those two where the crossfade is, I should hear both of those.

(audio playing) Again if I move it over there. (audio playing) I'm hearing multiple effects. That's kind of cool but you might ask, well how would you actually use that? I'm going to go up here onto the clip that I've got. And let me double-click that so I can move over and actually see that. And I'm going to activate the show or hide envelope button and because I had clicked that chain selector, it's actually showing here in the envelope chooser.

And now if I scroll up and down we will see that I have got from zero to a 127. And now if I draw in any clip automation I could actually set it to change from effect to effect as this clip plays. So let me activate my Pencil tool, and and I'll draw in a little bit that's going to activate just the phaser, and then let's pull this up. I want to make sure that I get into the next one for the next chord. And move that over, and then I'll go to the next chord and move that even higher. And then on the last one, I'll move that way up. Now, let's just play the clip and let's see what that sounds like as it changes effects.

(audio playing) As you can see, that might be really useful as you're trying to change effects in the middle of a set. And also in Live performance if you've got a roads patch that you want to use and you want to have several different effects. You can assign that chain selector to one of your knobs and you'll be able to change effects by simply dialing that in the middle of playing. I'm guessing that like my first experience with racks, this discussion got your attention. Not only can you save multiple effects as a rack for use in another set. But you can set them up in series, in parallel, or a combination of the two. All which allows you to shape a track exactly the way you want.

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