Reverb is a very important part in the mix process of making a song. It gives the entire mix spacial aspect and makes the whole track sound more realistic and alive. Using this and delay are the two tools to make a wider mix that will sound like the pros. There are different types of reverb, each giving their own special effect. These reverbs can also be processed to tracks in different ways.

There are 5 common types of reverbs. You can use these all as presets. No one is going to know or judge you.

  1. Hall
  2. Chamber
  3. Room
  4. Plate
  5. Spring

The hall reverb is for a room that would be considered for an orchestra and simulate a place where this would be played.

The chamber reverb is a smaller room simulation.

A room reverb is a simulation of a certain room. I include this type of reverb on all of my tracks to add a relation to the whole track. You can also just use a preset called ‘small room’ which is on Live or any other DAW.

A plate reverb is a reverb that originally is reflection of a plate that gives a brighter reverberation.

A spring reverb is just like a plate reverb but uses a spring instead of a plate.

The way to use reverb on a track in a DAW is something that should be followed a certain way. First rule I say is always use reverbs in you return tracks instead of adding it directly to the track you want to affect. Having reverb in a return track allows you to send one reverb, say a small room preset, to multiple tracks so you have a relation among all of those tracks. It also saves CPU.

Here is a video of using sends and return tracks:

Here is an article on how to set up reverbs from a professional mixing engineer from Dubspot’s Blog


Tips about Ableton you never knew existed

This article does a great job of explaining how you can use session view in Ableton to your advantage. Say you want to make the drum fills for your track, but you want to hear multiple choices before committing to using one. Using the little pull down menus and boxes (which most probably didn’t even know it existed) can make trying different fills out a breeze. In some ways it even turns Live into a monome, especially if you have a controller like an APC 40.

Pitch Drop

The max for live plug-in Pitch Drop is probably my new favorite of the things I got with buying Ableton. Max for Live is a separate program from Ableton and allows you to make your own instruments and plug-ins for Live. You can also download plug-ins made with Max for Live by other people; Pitch Drop just happened to be one of them.

Pitch Drop pretty much works like the tape stop effect on Glitch (which is kind of expensive). It just drops the pitch a certain note value (ex 8th, 16th, etc) which is super effective in transition between different parts of songs. You can add it to any MIDI or audio track. The sharp and soft are for how hard you want the track to stop and drop.



This is why I say to buy Ableton Live. You get Max for Live free and can use it get the free extra plug-ins that are possible to use because of having it. The convolution reverb (which is also free) is also a great plug-in to check out, but that’s a different story.

Wavetables explained

One of the key things in making electronic music is building the sound design in the song in addition to the composition structure. This is a very crucial part if you want make any sort of music and not be someone that uses samples from sample packs to build songs.

In synthesis, wave tables are the most basic starter to learning how to build your own sounds. Sine, square and saw tooth are all a few examples of wavetables. Below is a video explaining Sine waves a little better using the VSTi Massive, which I have mentioned before in previous posts as a ‘Must have”.

Just going through the different wavetables and playing them by themselves can be a good start to how the basic waves sound. Most of the simple waves the ones used to make some cool leads, plucks and basses; key to making good synths is simplicity.

Below is a more in depth view on wave tables again using Native Instruments Massive



Sampler, is a granular synth that is a built-in tool that comes in Ableton. Basically with this synth you can take any sample you would like and turn it into something you can play on a keyboard. For example, it is possible to take a sample of an orchestra playing a D note. You can take that sample and put it into Sampler and play that sample and go up and down (about 6 semi tones*). You also have the choice to assign different samples to each note of the keyboard. So instead of just taking that D note sample, its possible to take another sample, say a G note, and place that in the sampler. This allows for you to play that D thru G without the sound getting too stretched out and sounding warped.

*If you dont know what semi tones are, think of notes on a keyboard. Going from an F note to an F# is considered a semi tone. In other words, you can think of semi-tones as a chromatic scale. There are 11 semi tones or half steps in a chromatic scale.

Clicking on the ‘zone’ tab on Sampler will allow you to access the assigning of different notes. Below is an example of the window you should see when you click on the tab.


This sample based synth makes it easy to make an melodic instrument by taking samples of any synth. An idea of something you could do with this is take samples of your favorite synth patch on a synth you don’t have. For example, if you don’t have serum and want to have this sound someone has. You can sample like 4 notes and put them into Sampler; making it possible to play that synth via one shots.

Sampler also makes it possible to resample a synth sound and then play it stretched out. This is an old trick used by Drum’ N’ Bass artists to modulate basses. When you play higher on the octave the note plays faster; its not like playing it normally from the synth it was generated from.

The possibilities are endless with this synth. Take all of these ideas and play around with them then try to use them in your own perspective.

Everything About Massive

The most common used synthesizer VSTi and a necessity on my list of things to have to make good music is Native Instruments Massive. This video will give you an inside on how to use it, so if you dont have it I advise you try to get it (even if its torrented).

Multiband Dynamics (Your best friend) Pt.1

This week I am going to talk about Ableton’s built in plug-in multiband dynamics. This is probably one of the most useful tools Ableton Live gives you and is also an effect that is in almost every version (from 1 till now with 9). The plug-in has also been talked about in some of my past entries (especially in the complete mixdown tutorial). So I thought it would be a good idea to go over this difficult looking tool to process music. I’m not going to go over everything about it, but I will talk about some things that I have learned in the recent months that not a lot of new producers who use Live know about.

If you are using a different DAW then the next best thing to compare this plug-in to is any multiband compressor. There is a free third party plug-in by Xfer records called OTT (Over The Top) which DotEXE actually talked about in his interview as one of his favorite VSTs to use. So to all those producers on other DAWs, you should check this out if yours lacks in having a multiband compressor.

The first thing I would like to talk about within the multiband dynamics is the dynamics processing theory which talks about various types of compression (upward & downward) you can do to your audio. This all can be in the manual on Ableton’s site which can be accessed right HERE.

In most cases with compressors I’m guessing that most beginners know about downward compression. The definition of this is taking a loud signal and lowering it’s dynamic range. It puts a limit on how loud that signal can be. This is the type of compression you can do in Ableton’s normal compressor. There is also a less common form of compression where you take the quiet signals of a sample and make them louder. This is called upward compression.

Expansion is something you can also do with the multiband dynamics. The definition of expansion is taking an audio and increasing the dynamic range of it; this form is also called upward expansion. Downward expansion is when you take the quiet signals in an audio sample and make them quieter.

Types of dynamic processing summarized:

  1. Downward Compression:Loud signals get quieter
  2. Upward Compression: Quiet signals get louder
  3. Downward Expansion: Quiet signals quieter
  4. Upward Expansion: Make loud signals louder

Minimum requirements to make quality electronic music

Everyone who just starts off making electronic music seem to feel they need every single 3rd party VST and sample available to make music like the pros do. This is not true at all though. Most beginners try to download every VSTs they can find on torrent sights. In most cases, the beginner doesn’t stick to learning one synth inside and out. This is when someone becomes a “plug-in” hoarder and doesn’t really know much about any of the plug-ins; it handicaps the person when they make music.

I know all about this type of strategy to making music because I used to do it all the time. At one point I had around 30-40 different 3rd party VSTs in my folder on Ableton. Most of them I had no clue how to use; each has it’s own unique function which split it a part from the built in plug ins in Ableton. Things changed though as I learned more, I began to use less and less of those VSTs and after losing my first computer I was forced to go to the bare minimum. This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be though.

Right now, I am currently using Ableton Live 9 Suite edition which comes with a ton of sample based synthesizers that I didn’t have originally. This is the sole reason I highly suggest that anyone trying to get Ableton Live should buy it. The benefits you get from the product are endless and you don’t have to worry about getting a new cracked copy if your computer crashes. I got everything from drum sounds to endless amount of orchestral sounds that make composing a breeze without even any outside samples or 3rd party VSTis. This version of Ableton also comes with all the effects and instruments possible to get with Live. The glue compressor and upgraded EQ Eight in the program are both amazingly good built-in plug-ins.

As for 3rd party plug-ins, I have a very slim selection. First I would like to point out Native Instruments offers a free VSTi called Kontakt which comes with a pack that contains a few different granular based synths for the plug-in. Another free VST that I have found to be useful is Flux’s ST Tool which is a stereo imaging tool that gives you a reading to tell whether a sound has a wide stereo spectrum or not. Another thing that Flux makes for free is a transient shaper which Ableton does not have as a built plug in. Flux Audio’s Bittersuite has an easy interface with only 4 different parameters to deal with and makes it easy for you to get drums sounding just as punchy as other transient shapers that cost around $150.

For a synth that I can build sounds from scratch, I use Native Instruments Massive. The reason I use this synth is because it’s super easy to use and I have watched so many damn YouTube tutorials that I understand the synth really well. It is a wavetable based synthesizer and can create some awesome synths for any type of electronic music.

Another type of synthesizer you can use in replace of this one is an FM based synthesizer. In my opinion this type of synthesizer is very hard to use but you can make absolutely any sound you can think of if you know how to use it.

Here is a list of different 3rd party synthesizers (Wavetable, Granular, and FM based) you can use that are just as powerful as Massive.

**This is the best synth on the market right now. You have the ability to take wavetables from massive and load them into the synth. Anything can be a possible wavetable in this, even a sample of a crumpled piece of paper.

A combination of all of these plug-ins is what I use to make music and have achieved to make good music. So if you’re just starting don’t worry about having that many plug-ins. If you have the ones I mentioned above you should be able to be fine with making music like the pros.

Also, another little tip, always read up on what your plug-ins or DAW do. When you know what everything you’re using does, then it becomes easier and faster to finish a song without getting lost on figuring things out while working on a project.

DotEXE Interview

I got a chance to get a quick interview on production on Ableton Live from the electronic artist DotEXE.

Just recently he started a side project as the alias of Summer Was Fun. This project is a complete change from the heavy bass style he originally became famous with.

Q: What is the sole reason you use Ableton over other DAWs?

A: Ableton’s GUI is very friendly and keeps everything simple. i stayed with it because of how easy it was to keep my samples organized as well as VSTs. The workflow fit best for me, but each DAW has their own flow.

Q: What other DAWs have you used in the past other than Ableton

A: The only other DAWs I’ve used before Ableton was Fruity Loops back in the day, before it was really consider a professional DAW to use. There was also Cakewalk Sonar but that was way way back 3.

Q: What 3rd party VSTs do you use? Which of them is your favorite to use?

A: I like to stick to my Komplete plugins. Sylenth/Serum are probably the only outsiders as far as synths go

Q:What is your favorite free plug-in (if you have any to recommend)?

A:Honestly the only free plugin I really have/use is Xfer OTT/ and the dimension expander. Simple plugins that do wonders.

Sound Effects

Tired of looking for the perfect sound effects in expensive sample packs? Instead buying or downloading endless samples you never use, why not make your own. During the downtime of not making music, a good thing to do is make your own sound effects that will fit perfectly in your projects you are working on. It saves a lot of time, effort, money and space on your computer.

Positives to making your own sound effects

  • Tuned to your track, no need to find samples in the same key as your project.
  • Make your own sample pack; helps cut time down when making music.
  • Create your own unique sound

Using Ableton’s built in plug-in Operator you can make any effect you want. In the video below ARTFX shows you how to spice up your track and make your own sound effects.