Start producing a song with effects 100% full on.

Not so long ago computers for producing music were all seriously underpowered. I remember on my old Mac clone, a Power Computer PowerCenter Pro210 I could only open 2-3 plug-ins before the computer would click and glitch to a halt. However, today we live in an amazing time as far as music technology. I can load up my Macbook Pro all day long with plug-ins and it seems my CPU never jumps past 50%. It actually took me a few months to get used to piling on plug-ins without freezing or bouncing tracks. I realized I was wasting time bouncing everything by watching younger kids demo their Ableton and Cubase tracks on YouTube. My keen eye caught mountains of plug-ins placed frivolously over twenty plus channels. I realized I better “un-old fogey” myself and start painting with thick strokes of live effects or be left behind.

So today’s quick tip is to start a song with plenty of effects placed on assorted channels before you ever even place a sound producing synth, sample or voice anywhere. What do I mean? Well how about putting Altiverb with a Neuman Mic IR (Impulse Response) on the Master Channel? Why not also put a nice compressor there too? Now as your build your song and mix as you go building into those plug-ins. In effect it’s almost like you bought a new sounding mixer.

There’s no reason to be subtle either. Try creating a sub-mixer of 6+ channels and on the Group’s master fader and have a flanger set to 100% wet. Next place all your synths in your new flanger group and adjust the oscillators and filters toward the flanger not the other way around. The key is to start off fully loaded with effects on so everything you hear isn’t the same ole, same ole…

Related post: Making Groups in Ableton Live is really easy.

photo credit: Pulpolux !!!

4 Comments

  1. Yes, I think Phil Spector might like today’s MacPros. There’s something magical indeed to make big soundscapes with lots of effects, reverbs and so forth. A majority of film music has that sound, too. There’s a place for minimalist arrangements, too.

    Also, if all those effects overload the computer — and there are some plugins that have badly written threading code so it takes over one core only — there are always ways to just bounce the results and re-use them, or freeze the track.

    Reply

  2. Yes, I think Phil Spector might like today’s MacPros. There’s something magical indeed to make big soundscapes with lots of effects, reverbs and so forth. A majority of film music has that sound, too. There’s a place for minimalist arrangements, too.

    Also, if all those effects overload the computer — and there are some plugins that have badly written threading code so it takes over one core only — there are always ways to just bounce the results and re-use them, or freeze the track.

    Reply

  3. Changing the approac from time to time is indeed important. I also experimented with using drum pads for playing synths, instead of a typical keyboard. Switching the brain to another wavelenght. Same when starting with effects on. Although I’m not too keen on reverbs ;) A stack of beat repeaters for everything but the vocals can create some nice mess.

    Reply

  4. I think you have a really good point here. Also, another way to make the sound different is to set your sends to “pre” and just turn the volume for a track completely down and send everything through the effects.

    Reply

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