Archive for the ‘daw’ Category

In hardware, instrument, synth, vocals on September 2, 2012 at 20:49

I’m not usually a fan of buying too much hardware, but I the MiniNova demo video is really impressive. It is a new compact performance hardware synth with the same sound engine as its big brother UltraNova. MiniNova also has an onboard VocalTune effect as well as a classic vocoder so you can recreate iconic vocal sounds from Hip Hop, Urban and electronic music. Perhaps more than a nice toy.


Looks like a good week for hardware, in my last post we talked about the new MASCHINE generation from the guys at Native Instruments, and now its turn for Novation to show us their new small synth called MiniNova.

This synth its small in size, but offers a huge range of features like a Vocoder (microKorg style) but it also includes a pitch correction feature called VocalTune™. It has 256 presets ready to play and edit in real time and a 128 preset bank to save your own sounds, it also includes a free software patch editor and library to tweak your patches easily and download preset packs and share with other users.

But for me the feature that sets this apart from others is the 8 animate buttons that lets you tweak and warp sounds in realtime, and features a filter knob and 4 editing knobs to tweak…

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In ableton, midi, vjing on August 31, 2012 at 01:44

Manchester MIDI School‘s Tom Lonsborough, takes us through how to set up your Mac’s IAC Driver for transmitting MIDI to other programs internally. Visit www.midischool.com for more information on their online courses.

Freeze sidechained tracks

In ableton, audio effect on August 11, 2012 at 15:39

Ableton’s compressor, filter and gate supports sidechaining. It is a great feature, when you are looking for a more cohesive mix, fixing mixing issues or just looking for interesting sound effects. Especially when you work with products from Native Instruments you get a too high CPU load and as you probably know, that does compromise the timing of your DAW. Unfortunally Ableton don’t allow to freeze the tracks, which are used for sidechaining.

And here is a simple workaround. Maybe you like to control a filter by a drum beat, in order to modulate the sound of a synth. First of all listen to the drums and synth without sidechaining.

I added an Auto Filter to the synth track and enabled sidechaining from the drum track.

It sounds as expected – the drums do contol the filter:

And here is the problem: When you try to freeze one of the tracks, Ableton reject this with the message, that the track “cannot be frozen because of the routing”.

My workaround depends on Ableton’s routing. I create two new audio tracks and rout the audio from the old tracks to the new tracks by changing the Audio To in the In/Out Section. Know you have to switch the Monitoring of the new tracks to In, otherwise you will hear nothing. And the last two step are moving the Auto Filter to the corresponding new audio track and set the Audio From to the appropriate new audio track.

That’s all! Now you can freeze the old audio tracks and just the filter will calculated in real time. Personally, I prefer using groups instead of new audio tracks, because this approach is simpler and keeps the clarity.

I hope that’s help. alexander

Free auto tune vocal effect

In audio effect, vocals on July 21, 2012 at 17:15

For some time, auto tune is used as a starting point for creating special audio effects for example known by Skrillex or T-Pain. I never found such software  for free for Mac Os X, but today I read that even old versions of Garage Band can do this job. I think many Apple user do have an old version of this software.

So I tried the auto tune ability of garage band (version 4.1.1). And that is what I have done. By the way I do not know this software very well.

First of all create a new project and audio track. For that you have to press the plus button at the left botton and choose Real Instrument Track. The next step is importing your audio file. One way is dragging the file into the new audio track. After that you have to open the Track Editor. Just click on the scissors button at the left botton.

We are almost complete. At the right of the transport control is a drop down. Please choose Project. Than set Enhance Tuning to 100 % and check Limit to Key. Finally select the appropriate scale and listen to the result. 

The audio export is such simple. Go to the menu Share/Export song to disk and uncheck compress. Maybe you should change the preferences in order to get a 24 bit export. So go to GrageBand/Preferences/Advanced menu and set the Audio Resolution to Best. And here is my result.

The vocals without and with auto tune effect:

I think, the result is not bad. Unfortunately, there is just the major and minor scale implemented, but I think in most cases it will be enough. Of course this is not a plugin solution, on the other hand it’s free. Keep in mind that this is only a starting point for audio processing.

To be continued & best regards.


Understanding Ableton’s Multiband Dynamics

In ableton, mastering, mixing on July 7, 2012 at 17:48

Let’s talk about Ableton’s Multiband Dynamics device. It is not my intention to explain compression, I just want to understand this complex device. I think, it’s much more easier to handle this, if you keep the Compressor device in mind and its limitations.
Just open both devices. As you may know, in opposite to the compressor the multiband devices works on up to three frequency ranges. The two sliders on the left hand side are for that purpose. But let’s take a closer look at the edit modes of the Multiband Dynamics. You can change the mode by pressing one of the buttons T, B or A.

The time parameters

You can edit the attack and release time for each band. In addition there is a global parameter, time, which affects all values relatively. Well, no surprises here.

Above and below

In the beginning I was a bit confused what above and below in the context meant. It’s simple. If you take a brief look at the input-output-diagram of the compressor device, you see in general a knee. The right values of the knee are called above (the threshold) and the left values below.

Above thresholds and ratios

By pressing the A button, you enter the Above edit mode. Here is the place for editing the thresholds and ratios. Remember you can work with up to three bands. Here is something different from the Compressor device, you can enter ratios greater than one. That means the signals above the thresholds will be louder. Yes, this device is an expander, too.

It is always a good practice to keep the perceived loudness constant, so you can compare the processed audio signal with the original. For this purpose you should change the Output of the band. Now you can compare the signals by switching the value of the Amount from 100 percent to zero. By the way, it’s helpful to solo the band you are working on.

The diagram in the middle is helpful. The length of the (right) bars mean the threshold and the density of the vertical lines corresponds with the compression ratio.

Below thresholds and ratios

After pressing the B button, you will see Below edit mode. The thresholds and ratios are place as usual. If the initial threshold is minimal (-80 db), nothing happens, because this section manipulates audio signals below this threshold. Increasing the threshold will show a new bar in the middle of the device and enables a (second) compressor/ expander for this band.


As said before, comparing the original audio signal and processed is a good way to control your work. For that the global Output parameter and Amount are the values you have to change.


I hope the helps. Best regars.


The hidden export features in Ableton

In ableton, sampling on June 30, 2012 at 15:56

I’m pretty sure, you know that Ableton Live creates audio files in the project folder, but not everyone knows how to use this fact.

If you take a look at the project’s directory structure, you may find in the folder Sample/Processed more folders containing audio files.

The project folder structure.

The point I want to make is that can use this place as a kind of audio export, because you can copy every file and use it again in Ableton or load it into other audio applications.

Fortunately, the folder names are corresponding with the respective function in Ableton. If you freeze a track you will find new audio files in the freeze folder and so on.

And here are some things you can do by copying files from there:

  • Time stretching/compression of audio files

    After warping an audio track, its tempo depends on the global song tempo. But Ableton is nondestructive, so a time stretching or compression is done on the fly, when you play your song. Maybe you have moved some warp markers, the software will treat them as local tempo changes. For the sake of clarity, the used original audio file is untouched and you will hear something different, if you play this track.

    As you see, there are some good reasons for exporting this audio and the standard export feature is for my taste too complicated.

    What you have to do is such simple. Select the track in arrangement view and choose consolidate from the context menu. The rendered file will stored in the Consolidate folder.

  • Converting MIDI tracks into audio

    In case you have a MIDI track and you need an audio file, you have to freeze the track and the software will store the result in the Freeze folder.

  • Cutting or joining audio files

    As expected does crop create an audio file in the Crop folder. If you apply consolidate (in the arrangement view) to more than one audio track, you will get one single audio file in the Consolidate folder.

I’m pretty sure there are much more use cases. Note, if you just working in the session view and you need a feature only offered in arrangement view, just copy the track and past it into a suitable track of the arrangement. My tip is, don’t move such files from the place, if you don’t know, how Ableton is using this file.

That’s all for today. I hope this helps. Best regards.


Warping Multiple Tracks in Ableton

In ableton, daw on June 24, 2012 at 15:10

Sometimes I’m working on multi track projects with little timing issues. Of course Ableton Live offers warp marker editing in order to fix such problems. But today I was wondering, what can I do, when every track should be affected? I think, it is simple in case you know how. And that is my approach.

Two tracks with timing problem.

Here is a simple example. I have two tracks – a drum and a bass loop. Unfortunately there is a timing problem at beat 2.2. I think, the instruments are too late, so I like to move both instruments a bit forward.

Make sure, that all tracks have the same length. In case you have not done it yet, drop the tracks from the file browser into different channels of the arragement view or copy the tracks from the session view and past them into the arragenment view channels.

You must decide on which track you will working. The track becomes something like a master track. In my case, I will use the drum loop – looks much more simpler to me. Select the master track while clicking on the title bar of the track.

Click on the title bar of the master track.

After that press CMD + A in order to select all tracks.

After selecting you are in the multi track mode.

So, both tracks are selected (orange in my case). Don’t be irritated that working on the warp markers let the color disapear. You are still working on all tracks. Nevertheless, the clip view has still the typical cross stripes and the clip name is just a star.

Editing the warp marker effects all tracks.

Now you can edit on the warp markers and you will notice, that the other clip will change to. In that case I added three marks and move the inner one.

I hope, you can hear the difference. A simple approach, but it works fine me.

Best regards! alexander

Program your TR-808

In drums on April 22, 2012 at 00:37

Today, I like to post something different. First of all step into the 80th. You may know, that I don’t like to indulge in analog memories. But what about posters? The graphic designer Rob Ricketts made 2011 a four poster series about programming the TR-808.

For example the Afrika Bambaataa Planet Rock beat:

A series of informative posters detailing how some of the most notable drum sequences were programmed using the Roland TR-808 Drum Machine. Each sequence has been analyzed and represented as to allow users to re-programme each sequence, key for key. Rob Ricketts

The Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer was one of the first programmable drum machines (“TR” serving as an initialism for Transistor Rhythm). Introduced by Roland Corporation in early 1980, it was originally manufactured for use as a tool for studio musicians to create demos. Like earlier Roland drum machines, it does not sound very much like a real drum kit. Indeed, because the TR-808 came out a few months after the Linn LM-1 (the first drum machine to use digital samples), professionals generally considered its sound inferior to sampling drum machines; a 1982 Keyboard Magazine review of the LinnDrum indirectly referred to the TR-808 as sounding like marching anteaters. However, the TR-808 cost US $1,195 upon its release, which was considerably more affordable than the US $5,000 LM-1. Wikipedia

A3 prints are available to buy at Rob’s Shop.

That’s all for today. Maybe you got something for your studio. Bye.


Massive: Don’t waste your time

In ni massive on February 11, 2012 at 18:37

Everytime you rebuild the database of Native Instruments Massive (or Absynth) you will lose your ratings and colors. I have so many different sounds, that it is useful to have something like a rating. So here is my workaround.

If necessary press the Browser button. Right click on the header of the left table in order to edit the displayed columns. Uncheck color and rating, because you won’t edit the attributes. Instead of that check Author and Comment. Fortunately Massive remembers these settings, when you open this plugin again.

In order to edit the attributes of a sound press the Attributes button and change the Author or Comment fields. Enter stars to rate the sound. It’s needless to say that changing the author is nothing more than a workaround. Apology to all great sound designers in the world.

If you go back to the browser section you will see the changes. Click on the Author in the header section and you get a sorting by rating.

By the way. If you type *** and minimal in the search field, you will find the edited sound.

That’s of course just a workaroud. Greetings! alexander

Tempo and beat detection with Ableton Live

In ableton, daw on January 17, 2012 at 01:19

Sometime it is difficult to detect the tempo and beats of an audio file. This is a short tutorial how to do this with Ableton Live.

First of all listen to the example. It’s the vocal Ghosts Of Lees sang by Kaer Trouz from ccmixter.org. In my opinion it’s not so easy to hear the beat in this piece of music.

Our great advantage is that western pop music is written in a 4/4 rhythm and the global tempo doesn’t vary. Otherwise this job is much more complex, but this did not happen in this case.

Let’s walk through the step I suggest.

  • Load the file into a clip slot for audio files. By the way the initial tempo of your song doesn’t matter, because you will change it later.
  • If you look at the sample display, you can will recognize some returning patterns. We are very fortunate that the length of each pattern is equal.

  • Enable the warping and set a warp marking at the end of the first pattern we had recognized.

  • Listen again to the first pattern and guess the number of beats. Maybe you like to clap or count to the music. In this case I think eight beats will work. In order to adjust the tempo move the warp marker to the marker for the ninth beat. If you take a look at the Segment BPM value, you will find the tempo calculated by Ableton Live. In that case it is 89.56 bpm.

  • Now we set Ableton’s tempo to this calculated tempo and remove the warp marker created by you. You may note that the display behind the deleted warp marker will update. This is why the rest of the audio gets the new tempo.
  • If you take a look at the sample display you can see that the transients fit very well to the beat.

    And here is the result with the metronome.

    That’s all. I shall not hide the fact that the second part of this example has an error. You have to manipulate the audio to fix this, but this is not our job today.

    I hope this quick tutorial will help you. Best regards.