Abletonalies – Summer Vacations
Why should you provide yourself with vocal packs and what else do you need to get your production to the next level? Abletonalies: from the old plug-ins to the new ones.
by Alex Arsov, July 2015
Out of all these little things, this one is absolutely the biggest: Ableton Live finally fixed its latency issue with the new 9.2 update. It is so refreshing to record audio or even MIDI without battling with latency, and the same goes for automation. I tried it and it worked like a charm. Thanks Ableton (not mentioning that this should have been fixed years ago, eh… ).
We’ve got a pile of fresh things that are not strictly Ableton Live related but can still make our lives much easier and help us become better producers. So let’s start with…
jBridge is not an instrument, nor an effect. It is actually a tool that will allow your old 32-bit plug-ins to run smoothly with your 64-bit DAW. Lately I started to miss some excellent old freeware I had in the past, or even full versions of plug-ins that I’ve been using for years, but which don’t work with the new 64-bit DAWs. I had heard about jBridge before but never thought it could come in handy for me, but I decided to try it anyway. After a bit of trial and error I figured out how to set it up, and asked the developer if he could provide me a version without the annoying message that pops up for every plug-in whenever I start Ableton Live. He told me that I should run my DAW with administrator privileges. In under an hour I got a personally adapted jBridge and also the developer’s assurance that he’s willing to personalize similar versions for any other user with same needs (we should not pretend that we, as reviewers, are not privileged).
I never run my DAW with administrator privileges and hadn’t spotted any issue regarding this until now. For €14.99 EUR you’ll get all your memories back. For me, this is a priceless tool. When I got it I realized that there were so many useful plug-ins on my old back-up disk. Baxxpander, Sypan, Samplelord, Genesis CM, mda ePiano, Rez 2, Delay Lama and many others. Welcome back.
After getting jBridge I even decided to buy an old “new” plug-in. A uber fancy blast from a past.
This is not a new plug-in and it comes only as a 32-bit version, but it’s still very useful (and it works perfectly with jBridge). It is a virtual bass instrument, and what’s more, a virtual bass player. Broomstick Bass comes with a large number of preprogrammed bass phrases that are sorted by genre and then by technique or sub-genre, where every subdirectory uses a different bass instrument according to the style. Every instrument can also be replaced with other ones as the plug-in comes pre-packed with a nice number of different sampled bass instruments: Acoustic (mostly cool sounding double basses), Synth basses, Pedal basses and Electric basses. The quality of the included instruments is actually quite good, but of course not exactly on the same level as those from your big, fancy, expensive virtual instruments or sound libraries. Never mind, this is not the main purpose of Broomstick Bass. By first choosing an appropriate genre you can start browsing through many preprogrammed groups of presets with many internal variations. Press the root note of the currently played chord and in just a minute your song’s bassline will have been accomplished, as the internal phrase will change according to the root note. All you need to do is to record a short root note at the start of every new chord and Broomstick Bass will autoplay the phrase until the next note. One option is to use internal instruments, the second is to simply add a new MIDI channel setting into Broomstick Bass, as the MIDI input records all MIDI notes that Brooomstick Bass generates according to your root note (or to say more simply, Broomstick Bass supports MIDI out).
In the past I played bass guitar, so it is not big problem for me to program or record one, but I still found this plug-in very useful, as every phrase is programmed by great professional bass players.
For €49 EUR you can treat yourself to your very own personal bass player. And a very good one at that.
Audiomodern.com Glitchee and Sync 2
Glitchee is a Kontakt instrument, while Sync 2 comes as Kontakt library and is also accessible in WAV, AIFF or REX format. The bad news is that both drum loop libraries run only with the full version of Kontakt. The good news is that both libraries are one of the most impressive that I heard lately. Both of them bring pretty similar content – a ton of glitchy futuristic drum sounds and loops. It is hard to describe, but as soon as you hear a demo clip you’ll recognize those pleasant Bjork sort of distorted sounds, blips and rhythms that you hear on some of the best electro albums.
Sync 2 offers 300 loops and 36 construction kits and will cost you €29 EUR, while Glitchee 1, 2 or 3 cost €12 EUR each or €36 EUR all together.
Maybe not so interesting for Dance and EDM music, but if you are into Electro then these libraries / instruments are almost a must buy.
8DM Deep House Groove edition 1 and Deep House Synth edition 1
Unfortunately, this is also a full Kontakt version only, but otherwise a very up-to-date collection of basses, leads and pads. As the name suggests, it is Deep House oriented and it shouldn’t be hard to find the right sound for your song as they are all carefully chosen for that genre, having some sort of attacky, analog and aggressive vibe that’s really common for House music and relatively hard to find in a world of virtual instruments.
116 synth patches are packed into a nice browser window that offers some controllers for taming the sound. There are ADSR knobs, a glide knob and a Stack option to connect a few sounds together when playing them in unison. For every preset there is also a pitch modulator with pitch sequencer editor, and at the bottom we can find a switch that will open an effects window with Sequencer, Arpeggiator, Filter, EQ, Degrader with bit crusher and distortion (my favorite), then Trace-gate, Side-chainer Transformer, Delay and Reverb. All the effects have a huge number of controllers related to them. Some of them also have a sequencer editor for controlling and fine tuning some of the parameters.
For $49 USD it’s a good buy, especially considering the unique, niche sound character that this Kontakt instrument / library brings, and taking in consideration that all the effects are intuitive and easy to handle, achieving good results even if you’re not a skilled programmer.
This one comes as a Kontakt, Maschine or even WAV edition. It comes with a very similar set of effects, the main difference being a Keycontrol effect instead of the first one from Synth edition – Sequencer effect.
Every kit and loop comes in four groups, as separate hits ranked along the keyboard and as loop elements ranked lower down the keyboard. The last two groups are a special bonus – various synth and effect sounds in one group with an additional group where you can change the pitch of the samples and effects. All in all there are around 60 different high quality Deep House kits with all the appropriate loop elements, and the only drawback is that loops can’t be dragged or exported in the arranger window as MIDI clips.
$49 USD for the Kontakt version, $39 USD for the WAV version and $49 USD for Maschine. Or $69 USD for all three.
I have already written about some vocal packs in previous Abletonalies, and the reason for so many reviewed vocal packs is quite simple. You see, I’m not a newcomer, I have recorded several albums with various vocalists, and trust me, it is always almost impossible to find a decent vocalist for a specific project. If they are good they are already involved in some other project. If they are bad, well, you don’t need them anyway. When I talk to a few friends from various countries they have same issues. Looks like it’s a bit of a common problem, no matter from where in the world you are.
I reached a point where I had had enough and decided to try out those vocal packs. Not only is it quite possible to make a good song just by combining vocal parts from two or three vocal packs, but it is also possible to get a record deal with those songs. I told my label that I use vocals from vocal packs and they wrote back to me saying that this is perfectly OK with them. So, if you are doing instrumental music then you should try these packs, as just a few words can bring your song up to a whole new level. Secondly, songs with vocals, even if it’s just a word or two, are and always will be more popular than just instrumental ones.
Productionloops – European Pop Vocals Vol 1 & Hubert Tubbs: Soulful Dance Vocals
Brings five construction kits with corresponding loops, drums, guitars, even MIDI clips, and of course – the main reason for providing this pack – soulful male vocals. Every construction kit contains two complete verses, a chorus and in some cases even background vocals. If I complained in the past that some vocal packs include only a few words inside each construction kit, this is not the case with this pack. You get a good number of vocal lines for your money.
Vocal lines come in Dry, Wet and even Octaved versions. Usually I don’t use wet versions, but these ones are really well processed, so maybe I’ll make an exception this time.
A vocal sample pack containing short, soulful, deep and rather rough and sexy short phrases. Maybe there’s not enough material to fill a whole song, but it is so specific, recognizable and full of character that it would be a sin not to use it to spice up some instrumental track or to combine it with another vocal pack. Phrases are recorded at 80 and 90 BPM, but our good old Live can easily handle this, stretching it to a more normal EDM speed (especially as the new 9.2 version brings an updated stretching algorithm).
Function Loops Deep House Vocal Sessions
My favorite “sample-vocal pack” lady vocalist, Tonka, has once again joined forces with Function Loops to bring us another Deep House vocal pack. 109 vocal loops, dry and wet, along with 41 vocal shots.
You can’t miss with this one – it is Tonka after all. She’s my EDM, Dance, House, and Trance queen. With her deep, sexy and very melodic voice she can make your song shine. Each phrase is very short – one or just a few words mainly – but still very useful. (One day I really hope to use some longer phrases recorded with her voice.)
Till we meet again. Have a great summer.