Well, it’s been a bit more than a week since I released my latest album and the accompanying video walkthrough of the Live Projects for it, and I’m super pleased with the way it’s been received so far. All that work putting together the walkthrough wasn’t a waste of time, though I’ve been getting a few questions from producers about some of the things I didn’t cover in the video. I figured it would be good to collect them all here so other musicians who might be curious about these can read them too!
So, without further adieu, here’s some follow up questions I was asked about making “Ad Infinitum” (rephrased for clarity/brevity):
1. What settings from the Groove Pool did you use for the songs on the albums?
I actually didn’t use Grooves at all on this album, instead I just set the Swing parameter on Push 2 to roughly 7% when I was recording new parts. The Groove Pool in Live is a nice idea, but I find it a bit cumbersome to use myself. A little bit of swing here and there when using things like Note Repeat goes a long way towards making things a bit more human sounding I find.
2. What sample-rate and bit depth did you for this album?
I actually spent a couple days before I started trying out various sample rates to see which I should use for the rest of the album. Namely I wanted to see if running at 96kHz was something I wanted to use. Every couple if years I start telling myself that perhaps now is when I’ll be able to notice an increase in sound quality, so I like to spend some time revisiting the idea before larger projects.
But, as in the past, I still ended up preferring the 44.1kHz versions of my songs once everything was down-sampled to that setting for release online. In a couple cases the 96kHz raw versions sound a tiny bit more open on their own, but once you add in a pass of sample-rate conversion to get the standard 16/44.1kHz wav files most online aggregators like CDBaby.com want, then I preferred the regular 44.1kHz versions.
In the end I decided that for my music (and the way I write it at least), sticking with 24bit/44.1kHz files while working was the best way forward.
3. In the past you’ve said you almost never use MIDI and prefer working with audio files directly in Live, however in the video it looks like you’re using a lot of MIDI clips. What changed your mind?
It’s true, normally I prefer working with audio as soon as possible when writing my songs. On this album though, every one of the songs was written from the ground up with Push, which largely was created to control the built in instruments in Live via MIDI. So while in a few instances I resampled the MIDI tracks to audio if I needed more CPU power, overall it was just easier to keep things as MIDI after I recorded them with Push.
Even audio loops from my own sample library were typically imported into the new Simpler for further tweaking.
4. You seem to have a lot of nice gear available to use in your studio, why did you decide use only Live?
Actually the initial plan when I started working on the album was only to use Live as a DAW for writing the songs, and everything else was fair game if I thought it should be used on the album. But once I started diving in with Push and exploring some more of the Ableton Live Packs, I just found a workflow that seemed to fit me really well so I ended up ultimately using mostly the Ableton instruments for most of the writing.
There’s a little bit of other things still scattered throughout here and there though. In one track I used Absynth 5 for one sound, and I think Synplant might have been in one song as well. Plus I have a lot of audio loops I’ve made with other gear that got chucked into Simpler for the album. A few were from the new electribe, and there’s a lot of MicroTonic drum loops from the Patternarium website on there too.
So while the actual hosts of the audio loops were Simpler or Sampler, there’s a few years of other gear as the source material too.
5. For awhile there you were heavily into the iPad for music making, did you use it for this album at all?
I’ve been using Auria a lot the last few weeks for the album, though not for the actual writing per se. Where Auria really came in handy, was letting me take all rough mixes of the songs as I was close to finishing them, and play around with the track order while not in the studio. I’d load them up on the iPad at the end of the day, and go sit outside to listen to what I had done and play with track spacing and track order (it’s meant to be listened to as a continuous album).
Also, because I was going to be using Pro-L to master it on the laptop, I could use Pro-L in Auria to get a rough idea how it might sound on different headphones once it was done. Useful for gut-based mix checks as I work. It was really handy for letting me listen to everything with a fresh perspective out of the studio.
6. Will you do your next album with Live and Push 2 again?
At this point I haven’t decided what the next album will be, or even when I’ll start it, so it’s hard to say. Given how complex this album was though, I think in the short term I’m going to rachet things back and focus on my Novation Circuit which is arriving any day now 🙂
Hope that clears things up for people, if you have any other questions by all means put them in the comments!
Peace and beats,