Studio Tools

LD-550 (Aka Circuit Bent DR-550)

by on Apr.21, 2012, under Latest News, Studio Tools

There are lots of how to documents on circuit bending so I’m not going to do a post on that. If you are in learning how to bend your DR-550 you can follow the links I’ve provided for you at the bottom of this post.

The reason for this post is more to share my experiences in modifying and using this drum machine. But first read this next bit.

NOTE: Always protect your gear! Put a compressor or limiter somewhere along the signal chain so you don’t blow your speakers. Also turn down the volume when using any circuit bent toy at least at first until you know how loud the machine gets. Use caution.

This is my latest bending project all finished. It started out as one of these:



I have to say tho mine was kinda beat up cosmetically when I first go it. Anyway, I modified this drum machine by taking 24 point bend from the ROM chip at various places excluding 1, and 32 since those carry voltage and  16 since it’s ground. Shorting the circuit at those points is at worse case scenario likely to cause damage to the circuit. This logic holds true to any circuit bending project you take. There are plenty of information out there so it’s always nice to research before you start modifying. You can usually find which these points are by checking the service manual for whatever device you intend to modify. Here is what the 550 looks like:

The points are then attached to 6 position rotary switches like described on burnkit2600. They basically give me 6×6 or 36 bends per pair. Additionally I’ve added a switch which allows me to turn that pair on or off.

I’ve also taken it a bit further by adding a second row of center off switches to create what call a bend bus. I’ve connected the bottom switchs to the center positions of the corresponding switches switch so they can be engaged to either the top or bottom bus. This give me another 6x6x6x6 possibilities for each of the two buses. Needless to say options are quite large.

I’ve used this same methods on some of my other drum machines, however the 550 doesn’t quite like to play nice. I’ve found that if I use the internal sequencer most of bends just do mean stuff to the patterns, sound, and sometimes its OS causing it to stop making any noise all together. This doesn’t stop me tho, because this unit has MIDI and can be triggered from a DAW. As long as I’m triggering from an external sequencer, it’s a little more manageable. However it is still VERY noisy.

Here are some examples:

This is what happend with internal sequencer:


Here is what it does when triggered from an external source:


Here is something even more impressive. See what happens when I pass this through a modulated filter plugin.







Bottom line here is, as long as I take the time to pre-setup my bends and assign them to my switches, I can get some interesting things with this little noisy thing. Truth is I probably won’t be using this in a live environment very much, but in the studio it will be a great tool to have around.

Now for something fun…. Here is a track I did using this drum machine and some effects. I also added some pads and a bass line. All the percussion except for the kick was done with the 550.




Service Manual: Try here,

Some Good Bending Sites:

Other peoples 550:

There are also a bunch on youtube.

Comments Off on LD-550 (Aka Circuit Bent DR-550) more...

Mastering with Ableton Devices…

by on Jun.06, 2011, under Latest News, Studio Tools

Disclaimer: This device rack is by no means a replacement for commercial software written for the purpose of mastering, however it CAN be used to achieve a much more professional sounding render of your audio if used properly. Always remember that if you start with a shitty mix, you’ll end up with a shitty master. If you need to change the character of your track do it in the mix. The main purpose of mastering is to make your track portable and playable at it’s optimum playback level. Lastly, unless you know what you are doing, get it done professionally!

Ok guys this is a quick post. I’m really sorry I don’t have the time at the moment to make a video showing you how I use this, but I’ll try to do a quick write up. I use this strip whenever I want to do a quick master to make my tracks sound more professional sounding when testing them in a club scenario. The idea is actually rather simple, I’ll explain below but first let me me show you around.


Everything I use on this rack can be found in the Ableton device browser. I’ve just mapped a couple of things here and there to add more functionality. The key thing which makes this rack important is the fact that the crossovers for the Multiband Dynamics and my custom multiband images are mapped to two macros and thus are shared between the two devices. This allows me to use only 2 macros to keep the frequency bands synced between the compression/expansion device and my multiband imager, the rest is fairly standard mastering techniques.

When I use this I start with everything except for the spectrum analyzer turned off. I then play the track I’m trying to master and use my ears and eyes to hear the music and get a visual representation as to what I’m hearing. Remember that by the time you are at this point your track should already be mixed the way you want it. Use this only to do minor adjustments so you can make the track louder.

The first thing I turn on is the EQ and I usually do not bost, but rather I attenuate the sound to smooth things out a tad, not much. If I need to do more than a few db adjustments I go back to the mix.

Next I enable the mutiband dynamics and I start lowering the threshhold, the ratio on the plugin is usually what I use it’s about a 1:4 more or less. with quicker attackes and releases on the high frequencies, and just a bit more in the lower ones as you can see from the picture above. Then I compress so I get just about a 3 to 5db max per band. I then will start tweaking the crossover until I feel that the track has a bit more oomph without killing the energy of it. You’ll know what sounds best, and it will be very subtle.

If the track needs it I then turn on the multiband imager and I make the lower end more mono, but just a tad–around 95%. The mid around 103% and the high around 110%. this is just enough to widen the frequencies without washing the sound out. There is just one trick with the imager that can be a little gotcha since all the bands are going through the device rack 1ms delay actually means 0ms this is because everything is being delayed 1ms so don’t let that fool you. What this means is that the low is delayed 0ms while the mid and high are delayed 0.15ms. This is ever so slightly of a day, in fact if it sounds odd don’t even delay the mid and if you are going to delay the mid then make sure that the low/mid crossover is not in the bass tone range.

Lastly I use a limiter to make things loud. You want to boost the signal until you see it engaging. maybe 2db or 3db max and this for peaks. You should barely see orange there. Use your ears don’t let the sound change, just make it loud, also keep you eye on the master channel and be sure that you have about 8db to 10db dynamic range. Set the look ahead to the highest as it will give you the smoothest results.

And that’s it really. Your track should be nice and loud now.


Here is the download: MasteringStrip.alp

— Juan


ps… sorry for the bad grammar, this was supposed to be a quick post…

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , more...

Building Drum Kits Fast and Efficiently.

by on May.15, 2011, under Latest News, Studio Tools

In this little tutorial I’m going to show you how I use the slicing presets to create my drum kits. Along the way we’ll learn a few aspects of how the user library is laid out, we’ll also learn a little bit about slicing and creating your own slicing presets, and some of cool little tricks to speed up your workflow.

The first thing to being efficient is knowing your environment, and also what tools are available for you. It’s crucial that you also know hot to get those tools quickly and without having to constantly shift from one input device to another, so learn your key commands and familiarize yourself with the layout of your menus as well as the layout of your library.

Before we get started keep in mind that what I’m about to tell you is actually on the Live user manual. (17.6.2 Slicing) The slicing functionality can be found by accessing the audio clip contextual menu. This is achieved by right clicking on an audio clip and selecting “slice to new MIDI track”. You’ll be prompted to with a couple of selections, one being the element you want to use as a split point, (time measure, markers, transients) and also they slicing preset.

By default Live comes with several slicing presets and all which are really useful. However, you are not confined to these. The “Defaults” folder in your Live library contains a series of sub-folders which are used for creating your own default behavior when doing such things as slicing or dropping new audio files, etc. Section  16.1.1 “Live Default Presets” covers some of this. In fact here is what the manual has to say about creating your own:

Default Presets

Presets saved to the Defaults folders in Live’s Library will load in place of Live’s generic device settings. There are also Defaults folders that allow you to customize how Live responds to various user actions, such as sample dropping and slicing.

To save the current settings of a device as a default preset, open the (PC) / Ctrl (Mac) context menu on the device’s header and select Save as Default Preset. This works

The Save Preset Button.

The Default Presets folders in Live’s Library.CHAPTER16. WORKINGWITHINSTRUMENTSANDEFFECTS 218

for all of Live’s instruments, MIDI effects and audio effects (including the various types of Racks). If you have already saved a default preset for a particular device, Live will ask you before overwriting it.

To specify how Live behaves when dragging a sample to a Drum Rack or the Track View of a MIDI track:

• Create an empty Simpler or Sampler

• Adjust the parameters as you like

• Drag the edited device to the On Drum Rack or On Track View folder, which can be found at Library/Defaults/Dropping Samples

To adjust how Live behaves when slicing an audio le: • Create an empty Drum Rack • Add an empty Simpler or Sampler to the Drum Rack to create a single chain • Add any additional MIDI or Audio Effects to this chain • Adjust parameters in any of the devices • Assign Macro Controls to any of the controls in the chain’s devices • Drag the entire Drum Rack to the Library/Defaults/Slicing folder

You can create multiple slicing presets and choose between them in the Slicing Preset chooser in the slicing dialog.


In the following video I will describe how you can exponentially  speed up your Drum Rack building process by using these tools. I’ve also add some of my own little tricks for speeding. I will be moving fairly fast on this video so try and keep up 😉


Leave a Comment :, , , more...

Action Scripting inside of your Ableton Set.

by on Apr.04, 2011, under Latest News, Studio Tools

This weekend I discovered a really cool MIDI Remote Script for Ableton Live called ClyphX from nativeKONTROL, which creates a special type of MIDI track which you can use in conjunction with special type of clips to control several aspects of your set. These Clips are referred to as X-Clips and each one can contain a script of actions specified in the Clip’s name.

Ok so it sounds like a lot to take in at first, but it really does open up a whole bunch of new possibilities allowing you to control a number of events which otherwise you would need maxforlive for. But don’t take my word for it see it for yourself…

You can download the script from the beatwise network blog. You don’t need to be a member thought I highly suggest you do these kids are doing some mazing stuff!


Another great tool from nativeKONTROL is Macrobat. This MIDI Remote script that adds a bunch of new functionality to Racks in Live.

Here is how you can download this script:


Comments Off on Action Scripting inside of your Ableton Set. :, , , , , , more...

Ableton Granular Synthesis only with M4L? Think again!

by on Apr.01, 2011, under Latest News, Studio Tools

Many thanks to Gary for his work on this great device rack “VeloStretch 3”! And also for letting me re-post this for you guys!

If you thought that it was only possible to explore granular synth with max for live think again! This drum rack makes it possible for you to turn sampler is a granular synthesis machine.

I’ve been playing with this device rack and it’s amazing! The rack uses a arpeggiators to create grains and velocity devices to offset the sample start position. I have to say this is simply brilliant! But don’t take my word for it. Watch his video and download the device with the link below.


Here is the original post from the Ableton Forums:

Post subject: Granular synth / time stretching rack [Sampler, 8.1]
PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:55 pm
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 12:27 pm
Posts: 1534
Location: UK
here’s the latest version of my VeloStretch rack for Live 8/Sampler. free!new version 3 makes the rack a playable granular synth; now it can play chords! 

also improved: the ‘spray’ for finer dispersion of the ‘grains’. much smoother buzz-free sounds. i’ve also added a Velocity device to further mangle the grains. try the ‘drive’ parameter to alter the acceleration curve of the sample playback.

>>> download <<<

Last edited by garyboozy on Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:13 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , more...


by on Mar.31, 2011, under Latest News, Studio Tools


Here is a quick little tool to do some glitchy like effects on vocals. The top row controls a series of beat repeats, 3 to be precise. You can set the grid of the repeat with macros 2, 3, and 4. Then use macro 1 “Engage Grid” to mix between them. At 0 your dry signal goes through, as you raise the dial you will cycle through Beat Repeat 1 2 and finally 3.

The bottom row is used to change pitch, and add some grains. The first knob changes pitch using a Frequency Shifter. Then the macro 6 also changes pitch but using Grain Delay, so you can do some further glitching when engaging the “spray” and “freq” macros. These will all come in handy when automating in the arrangement view.

Anyway try it out for yourself…


Here is the pack:  glitcher.alp



Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , more...

Short Cut Ableton… Use any key commands!

by on Mar.18, 2011, under Latest News, Studio Tools

The other day someone posted on the Ableton forum a really great OSX feature which lets you create your own keyboard shortcuts to any contextual menu item. You can even lock key commands to any software applications in your OS. Here is the original post:


Post subject: Key commands for muting clips (on mac)
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:28 pm
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2007 3:48 pm
Posts: 73
This is actually a tip from Ableton Support. Torsten got this working. If you want to make Activate/Deactivate Clips work with a shortcut via the mac OS, just insert the following in system preferences/keyboard/keyboard shortcuts/application shortcuts: 

Activate Clip(s) ctrl+cmd+M
Deactivate Clip(s) ctrl+cmd+M
Deactivate/Activate Clip(s) ctrl+cmd+M
Deactivate/Activate ctrl+cmd+M

Obviously you can choose your own shortcut. You need to enter all the numerous names for this item because how it’s displayed changes dynamically in the menu.

Also the same applies to Add locator. Using the os shortcut for this function allows you to type the locator name straight after you hit it unlike the shortcut from inside the program.

Add Locator ctrl+cmd+A
Delete Locator ctrl+cmd+A
Insert Locator ctrl+cmd+A

Speedy arranging folks :)


I also found this great online tool which allows you to search Ableton Live functions by the shortcut so you can search for unused key combinations.

Comments Off on Short Cut Ableton… Use any key commands! :, , , more...

LittleDevil – Kick Maker

by on Feb.19, 2011, under Latest News, Studio Tools

Hey guys! So I’ve been really busy with some projects. I’m getting ready to get an EP out, working on some more syzygryd projects, etc. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted much so here is a little something to keep you entertain until I have more time to do some full how to or tutorial.

Meet “Kick Maker” — This little puppy looks nice but it will drive your tracks to the next level…. I can’t really say much of it other than. Download it and play with it. There is just one catch however, it’s Operator based so you’ll have to have it in order to use this…

For instructions on how to use it be sure to expand your info view with the “?” key, then hover over the names of the dials.

Requirements: Ableton Live 8, Operator

Download: LittleDevil-KickMaker.alp

Leave a Comment :, , , , more...

Make a multiband stereo imager in Ableton Live

by on Nov.19, 2010, under Latest News, Studio Tools

Multi-band effects units as the name suggests are effects that work on multiple bands of audio independently from one another. Some example of multi-band effects units are: multi-band compressors,  multi-band harmonic exciters, multi-band stereo imagers, etc.

These types of processors are most commonly used in the mastering phase of music production. However there is nothing stopping with you from using it as a creative tool.

In order to understand how multi-band processing works we must also understand how signal flows from source to output. These types of signal processors are typically used as “inserts” so that 100% of the signal is split into “Bands” of frequency ranges. Some mastering plugins come with 4 band multi-pressors as it is the case in Logic’s, waves, and iZotope plugins to name a few. Albeton Live actually offers one multi-band dynamic processor which offers 3 bands of compression and expansion. Each band is then processed independently from each other. Lastly all bands are blended together back into the mix.

Understanding how this work is really the hardest part, from here all we need to do is get a little creative as to how we’ll split these bands up. For my example I’ve chosen to use Ableton’s “EQ Three” as it’s cross-over dial is ideal for choosing which bands we’ll be affecting. Also the “Mute” will act as way to activate only the specific band for that signal path. You can achieve the same effect with an EQ 8 but you’ll need to do a bit more work to ensure your cross-overs are mapped properly, for now we’ll stick with the simplest solution. What we choose to use after each band has been split up is totally up to us.

Here are the basic steps for creating the multi-band unit:

  1. Create an effect rack with a single chain.
  2. Drop an EQ Three.
  3. Map the “FreqLow” and “FreqHi” dials to two separate macros of your choice.
  4. Mute the “Low” and “Mid” band, and rename the chain to Hi
  5. Right click on the chain and select “Duplicate”, repeat so you have a total of 3 chains.
  6. Rename the middle chain to “Mid”, then mute the “Hi” band for that chain and un-mute the “Mid” band.
  7. Do the same with the last chain but call it Low. Also change the mutes so only the “Low” frequencies are getting through.

From here you can add your favorite effect unit. For my example I used a utility plugin and simple delay in order to create a multi-band stereo imager take a look at the video to see how this is done.

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , , , , more...

Happy Friday!!! It’s an 8Bit Invasion

by on Nov.05, 2010, under Latest News, Studio Tools

Well it’s friday and the world has been invaded by pixelated monsters, jumping turtles, and chunky italian plumbers. AHHHH save yourselves!!!

Your mission: give those pesky little 8Bit insects some of their own medicine with this 8Bit Invasion drum rack!!!

If you want to hear what kind of sounds this thing has check out “ones and zeros” here: (or on the player on the right)


— Juan

Download Live Pack Here: LittleDevil-8BitInvasion.alp

Leave a Comment :, , , , more...