Ableton Live is a DAW capable of some amazing things. Among that long list, is the ability to create multi-layered instruments using the Instrument Rack. This allows you to stack multiple virtual synths on one track.
Layering several sounds to create one large sound is a popular practice in modern music production. Being able to consolidate and group sounds that are similar or some how related can go a long way in staying organized throughout a session.
Today’s exercise is a simple demonstration on using Ableton’s Instrument Rack to layer up a Dirty bass sound with some bottom end.
Here’s a taste of what it will sound like when we’re finished:
Note: This tutorial is more for those less experienced with Ableton. Experienced producers and engineers should be familiar with what we’ll cover.
Step 1 – Drop an instrument Rack onto a blank track.
Step 2 – Drop in the virtual instruments of your choice.
With the Instrument Rack you have the ability to load in any virtual instrument that’s compatible with Ableton. Simply drag and drop it into your Rack and it becomes part of that sub mix.
I chose a grimy synth from NI’s Massive and a sub bass synth from Tone2’s Gladiator.
Take a listen to those sounds.
Sub bass sound:
Now we have both sounds localized to one track, but can still process and mix them independently of each other.
Step 3 – Begin to process your grimy bass sound.
We want to beef this sound up, so we’ll throw on a Saturator and then an EQ.
For the Saturator, we increased the Drive a few decibels, and set our Filter to a Medium Curve. We left our Frequency at 1 kHz and set our width to about 50%.
For the EQ, we rolled off some low-end frequencies to make more room for our sub bass. We added a slight reduction around 550 Hz, a slight boost at 1200 Hz and rolled off any harsh high-end as well.
Step 4 – Begin processing our sub bass.
Click on your sub bass within your instrument rack and solo it out. If you listened to our previous sub bass example, you should’ve noticed that it has this percussive attack, which could potentially conflict with our other bass sound.
We can fix this by rolling off the highs and mids with an EQ to create a low-pass filter.
We also added moderate compression to give our sub bass some extra beef.
Step 5 – Adjust the Gain levels to blend both sounds together.
You can use the Instrument Rack to create localized sub mixes of sounds that are related or connected in some way. In this case, we took a dirty bass sound and stacked it with some bottom end, but there are many other uses for this technique.
Try layering several brass and/or string sounds to get that larger-than-life feel incorporated into your Hip Hop productions. Try creating multi-layered pad sounds for electronic productions, and so forth.
Experimenting always yields interesting results!
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