Posts in Tips & Tricks
Live Online Synthesis Workshop with Brandon Smith

Do you struggle to make thick, evolving bass lines like those made by producers like Noisia? You're not alone. Scores of producers create simple, generic bass lines that sound thin and don't hold the interest of their listeners. In modern dance music heavy, aggressive bass lines dominate the mix and shake the earth. Sadly bass sounds that don’t live up to today’s standard can hurt your music and cost you fans. Fortunately there’s an answer. Modern software synthesizers like Native Instruments’ Massive offer amazing modulation capabilities and can be used to make incredible bass lines. Pair the synthesis power of Massive with Ableton Live’s resampling workflow and the results can be astounding. 

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This Is Your Bass On Compression - Part 3

Whether you're making pop, rock or dance music, bass is the anchor of your tune.  It provides rhythm, groove and lays the foundation for the rest of the mix to be built upon.  Producers often run into issues with bass.  Not only is bass difficult to monitor in a reliable way in most home studios, but certain attributes of the sound itself can cause problems.  Much like when dealing with drums (see These Are Your Drums on Compression), producers reach for compressors when processing their bass for specific reasons.

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Beat Drop Spotlight - Brynn (DJ Heebz)

Byrnn Collingridge (DJ Heebz) is one of Calgary's hardest working DJs.  He holds down residencies at The Hifi Club and Commonwealth Bar and Stage in addition to co-instructing Production and Remixing for DJs at Beat Drop.  Brynn is a prolific remixer, DJ and an amazing communicator.  We sat down with Brynn recently to get his take on DJing and life in general.

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This Is Your Mix On Compression - Part I

Compression is central to a modern producer's arsenal.  You've probably heard all about compressors and the amazing things they can do to your sounds (and maybe some of the not-so-amazing things they can do too).  Compressors are tricky devices to wield because often their effect is not obvious.  All of the moving parts found on a compressor only add to the confusion.  Is the compressor attacking or releasing and how do the threshold and ratio play off the other parameters?  All this confusion has manifested itself in often more perplexing articles, blog posts, YouTube videos and tutorials filled with truth, lies, myths and legend. T

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How Tuning Drums Leads to Cleaner Mixes

Most producers don't include instruments in their songs that are playing out of key.  The reason being instruments playing out of key sound dissonant (or bad depending on your point of view) and can be unsettling to the listener.  However when it comes to drums, many skilled producers load up a sample, put it in their song and process it with EQ, distortion, and compression without giving a second thought to pitch.  This could be that many people assume drum sounds don't have a distinct pitch.  These people are wrong.

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History of the Sampler Part 4: The Best Modern Sampling Tools

In the last three blog posts we’ve looked at the evolution of samplers – from tape, to expensive dinosaurs, to little grey boxes, to no boxes at all (besides the computer of course).  Recently, while trolling vintage samplers on Ebay I noticed that the prices vary quite wildly.  The Emulator I and IIs can go for as little as a few hundred to as much as several thousand dollars.  There are legitimate reasons for this – its more expensive if a technology is no longer produced, some have modifications like card readers and bigger hard drives.  A vintage samplers will also fetch more if it comes with a significant library of disks.  

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EQ Techniques You Need To Be Using

No tool is more important than EQ when making a mix.  EQs allow you to carve volume away from select frequencies of a sound in order to make room for the other sounds in your song.  Having a clean mix means that every element in your track has its own place and can be distinguished from the other elements in the song.  Of course there are other mixing tools producers use to achieve clean mixes but every sound is comprised of frequencies and if you can get those straight your mixes will really shine.  Try applying these EQ tools to take your mix to the next level.

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How Professional Producers use the Secret Functions of Racks

Ever listen to a track and been floored by the thick, rich tones of the synths?  My guess is yes and if so you've probably stopped and wondered, how do they make these incredible sounds?  You may already know the answer or at least part of it, layering sounds is a hallmark of electronic music.  To make interesting dynamic synth sounds producers layer synths.  In Ableton, the easiest way to layer synths is with Instrument Racks.

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What You Need to Know About Processing Bass

Few things are as satisfying or as exciting as loud bass.  Earth shaking bass is a cornerstone of modern dance music and hip hop.  If you want your tunes to measure up to professional releases you need to take care of the low end.  Thankfully a powerful low end can be achieved without too much work.  In this article we will run you through some of the ways the pros get their basses round, heavy and tight.

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Eight Simple Tricks You Can Use to Harness the Power of Clip View

Many producers don't fully understand the power of Clips in Ableton.  Most see them only as containers for MIDI or Audio information.  While this notion isn't wrong, clips can be used for so much more than production tupperware.  If you learn to harness the power of clips you can add a whole new set of creative tools to your musical palate.  Below are eight powerful techniques that take advantage of unique features of clips and will add interest, complexity and general gnarliness to your tunes:

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The Beauty and the Mystery: Feedback Loops

What is feedback and how can it be used in sound design?  Feedback as we know it, is a special kind of positive feedback loop where a sound loop is created between a sound input and a sound output.  The classic example is the horrifying and ear piercing screech of a microphone getting too close to a loudspeaker.  In this case, the signal received by the microphone is amplified and passed out of the loudspeaker.  The sound from the loudspeaker can then be received by the microphone, amplified and passed out the loudspeaker again and again and again creating a feedback loop.

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How Ableton's Hotswap Function Can Fix Your Mix

Have you ever been working on your mix and a certain element just won't fit?  Despite your best efforts, with gain staging, EQ, compression, phase-correction, or other effects, a certain sound falls out of the mix.  What's the best course of action when all else fails?  The answer is simple, change the element(s) that is/are causing the problem.  One cleaver function in Ableton makes changing a given sound for another almost painless, "Hotswap."

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BEAT DROP THE TANK SPRING REVERB PACK

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours from Beat Drop.  This year to celebrate the holidays we prepared a special gift for you.  A royalty-free Spring Reverb sample pack for free download we call THE TANK.  It is made up of sixty four specially recorded reverb hits that rise, fall, swoop and swoosh,  The reverb tanks were removed from old guitar amplifiers and the signal was run through an analog signal chain to add warmth.  The sixty four sounds were loaded into a drum rack for maximum playability and organization.  All sounds are 24 bit wav files that will hold up to whatever you throw at them.

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Five Ways to Stay Organized in Ableton Live

While making a tune have you ever lost track of what you're doing, where you've been or where you're going?  In an age of digital music production this is an all too common problem faced by producers.  The incredible strength of DAWs like Ableton is they present an infinite number of tools and avenues for producers to explore.  The irony of the situation is that all these possibilities have the potential to hijack your workflow and send you down blind alleys.  In this article we'll look at five ways you can speed your workflow, avoid detours and ultimately finish tunes.

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Five things you can do to add The Human Touch to your productions in ABLETON

What are some of the things that separate a truly skilled musician from a sequenced MIDI pattern?  Many listeners would describe a programmed MIDI pattern as cold, sterile, robotic, or lacking emotion when compared to the performance of a human musician.  The flourishes, the groove, emotion and feeling a skilled player imparts on their performance can be difficult to recreate on a computer even for skilled producers.  A human player does not play perfectly in time or play notes with exactly the same velocity.  The human player's performance changes in time as the music progresses and allows the player to impart emotion and movement to the piece.  Thankfully, Ableton gives us a few tools that can add some spark and magic to our sequences MIDI patterns.

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How to Create Fake Sends with Audio Effect Racks in Ableton

Maybe you use return tracks, maybe you don't.  In the mixing environment of a DAW sends and returns can seem anachronistic.  Nonetheless there are great reasons to use return tracks.  In this article we will talk about how you can use return tracks to improve your mix and when it may be better to use a different method of processing. 

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