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Music

How to Create Superwaves With Ableton Racks and Analog

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:

Project Basic Settings

  • Tempo 120 BPM
  • Scale C-minor
  • Rhythm signature 4/4

Style

I created a classic 90s trancy style arpeggiated synth and added bass and drums from the house and techno genre.

Workflow

I started with an Instrument Rack loaded with an instance of Analog. Then I created two copies, made an arpeggiated melody, added effects and built a song around it using drum and vocal samples and loops. I also created three basslines an octave apart from each other.

Superwave Synth / Arp

Because Ableton Analog is limited in unison capabilities I used an instrument rack and created three instances of Analog. The patch is based on the default settings. It uses two saw waves. The sound of the synth comes from detuning, unison and pitch envelope.

Instrument rack
Here are the three layers, all are Analog

Synth Settings

  • Rack layer "detune5" - oscillators tuned 0.05 apart, unison 14
  • Rack layer "detune7" - oscillators tuned 0.07 apart, unison 15
  • Rack layer "detune9" - oscillators tuned 0.09 apart, unison 25
  • Osc1 and Osc2 both saw waves
  • Osc1 pitch envelope +8% for each layer
  • Osc2 pitch envelope -8% for each layer
  • Unison voices set to 4 for each layer
  • Filter1 at 22 kHz, fully open
  • Main volume at 0 dB
Analog settings
Filter is fully open with 4 unison voices

Effects

  • Ping Pong Delay, 29% feedback, 40% dry wet
  • Reverb, size 100, 1.6 s decay, 48% dry wet
  • EQ Eight, 70 Hz low cut with 4x slope
Arp effects
Delay and Reverb are added to give more space to it

I used an Arpeggiator MIDI effect to create a classic trance feel to it (2 steps, +12 st distance). MIDI notes used from the C-minor scale: C2, C3, D#2, F2, C2, C3, D#2, F2.

BassC1

This is a basic Analog saw patch using only Osc1. Because this is the sub bass I set the Filter to LP24 (low pass) 164 Hz.

BassC1 patch
Saw based patch with a very low 164 Hz low pass filter

Effect: I cut 50 Hz with -5 dB to give more space to the kick. 50 Hz is around the fundamental frequency of the kick.

BassC2

An Analog patch played an octave higher than BassC1. Osc1 is set to square wave and the Filter is at 878 Hz.

BassC2 patch
This is a square wave patch with LP24 filter

I chose this setting as I planned this one to be the mid bass.

Effect: low cut at 100 Hz, bell cut at 200 Hz with -3 dB, shelving boost at 850 Hz with 2 dB.

I shaped the mid bass with the EQ to fit more with the other instruments and also boosted the top a bit. I also used an Arpeggiator set to steps 0 and style to Up.

BassC3

The highest bass is also an Analog patch, using Osc1 as a square wave. I set the Filter to 576 Hz with LP24 low pass.

BassC3 patch
The filter is set to 576 Hz with detune

I modulated the pulse width set to full 1.0 connected to LFO1 with a rate of 0.6 Hz.

I also detuned the Osc1 to +0.09 to give it more character.

Effects

  • Reverb, 829 ms decay, 44% dry wet, 2 size
  • EQ Eight, low cut at 100 Hz to remove unnecessary bottom content

Bass Group

I ducked the basses with a sidechain compressor and used an EQ to remove some of the mid range, to give space for the supersaw arp, which is already very wide range, almost covers the full frequency spectrum from 100 Hz to 16 kHz.

Bass group EQ
I removed some of the mid range because of the Arp synth patch

Effects

  • Compressor, 1.8:1 ratio, default attack, default release, -17 dB threshold
  • EQ Eight, 850 Hz bell cut with -3 dB

Beat

This is the main four to the floor drum loop. I removed some of the extreme highs with an EQ.

Tops and Tops2

These are rhytmic high loops panned hard left and right. I used low and high cut filters to shape them.


Loop and Noise

These are similar to the previous ones but panned just slightly each other. I used EQ cuts here as well and the loop has got a Reverb effect, to give more stereo content (995 ms decay, 43% dry wet, 100 size).


Vox

This is a vocal snippet used with Phaser and Ping Pong Delay to give some style to it.

Vox channel effects
The Vox sample got a Phaser and Delay

Effects

  • Phaser, 2.3 kHz frequency, 0.89 feedback, 100% dry wet
  • Ping Pong Delay, 48% feedback, 49% dry wet, 1.78 kHz center
  • EQ Eight, 400 Hz low cut, 1.2 kHz high shelving boost with +6 dB

Mixing

I mixed as I went along creating the individual instrument tracks. I used a lot of subtractive EQ to remove unnecessary frequencies. In this reduction phase I used low pass and high pass filters as well.

Mixing channels
The drum loops are panned, to give space to the music

Mastering

The mastering process was simple, because I did most of the work in the mixing phase. After that I used an EQ Eight to cut out the extreme lows and highs (40 Hz low cut, 19 kHz high cut, 300 Hz low cut in sides mode to remove stereo content from bass range), after that I applied a Limiter to catch the peaks (-1 dB output ceiling, 0 dB input gain).

Mastering effects
The EQ is used in mid side mode. The sides are removed below 300 Hz

Conclusion

So that was my session of creating a superwaves synth in Ableton. I designed the synths, added bass, drums, vocal and also did the mixing and mastering.

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