Bringing Digital Beats To Life

We show you how to bring digital beats to life in Ableton Live 

In this months blog, we look into how to bring digital beats to life. It could be drum machine beats from a techno or house pack, or a beat you've made with samples that sound a little flat? Or maybe you're just wanting to add some excitement to a beat you've cooked up! Let check it out.



Saturation, Distortion & Overdrive

We start by exploring adding power and colour to our beat (used in the video, taken from our '808 Raver' pack) by adding some noise! The Ableton chain I build is a simple one, but Drum Buss is such a powerful plugin with so much functionality! We also look at the 'Fabfilter Saturn 2' and the 'UAD Culture Vulture'


Tip: Try tuning the Boom frequency to the root of the key of your track for better cohesion.


Reverb FX

Another simple rack we build separates the high and low frequencies of our beat. Then we can apply room reverbs or other spacial FX to the snare and hats, but the low-end stays dry and tight! 

Tip: Mix up the FX you apply to both frequency bands. For example, Chorus on the highs and Overdrive on the lows!

Reverse it!

Super simple on this. Duplicate the channel the loop is on, then reverse the copy and roll of the low end. Then use automation to control the level of the reversed signal in and out. A quick way to add movement and interest without adding any new sounds. Pitch Hack takes this further, with the ability to control the rate of the reversed sound and its pitch.


Take stuff out

The classic DJ trick. Take out the kick the first time the loop.. well, loops! Give the brain a second to miss all that low end then bring it back in! 

Layer with a live kit using Audio to MIDI.

The 'drums' setting of Ableton's Audio to MIDI function is (arguably) its most accurate. This makes it super easy to take a beat from a sample pack, load it into a midi channel with a drum rack on and match it too a different sounding kit. In the video, we use on of Ableton's great sounding live kits, but anything will work! 

Now we can add texture and colour to our loop without worrying about timing issues. Select your two channels (the original and new MIDI), 'cmd-G' to group them, then run the group through some more FX!

This can help add cohesion and create some mad results! 


Slice to Transient in Simpler

Simpler is so powerful it's crazy. Load the beat into Simpler and set to slice mode. Check you're in 'Transient' mode. Now we can use MIDI to play back each 'slice' of the beat (each kick, snare or hat hit) quickly allowing us to re-write the rhythm of the beat!


Tip: Simpler also lets us quickly re-pitch the same, and control the fade In & Out of each slice!


So there we go, a few tips there that we hope you find helpful! 

For the loop used in the video, check out '808 Raver'.



More beat based blogs!