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How To Get Wide Leads using only Ableton Effects

Hey Ninjas,

Zen World here to teach you guys how to get wide leads by only using Ableton Effects. Ableton is one of the best digital audio workstations on the market for a good reason. It possesses some of the best audio effects for mixing, sound design, and mastering. Ableton also has a useful tool called the Audio Effect Rack which can be used as a plugin/rack creator. We will be using the audio effect rack in this article to make our very own Multiband Stereo Imager.


Step 1: Insert The Audio Effect Rack

The Audio Effect Rack is a flexible tool for working with effects, plug-ins, and instruments in a track’s device chain. Racks can be used to build complex signal processors, dynamic performance instruments, stacked synthesizers, and more. They also streamline your device chain by bringing together your most essential controls. While Rack excel at handling multiple devices, they can also extend the abilities of a single device by defining a new control relationship between its parameters. That is the definition that Ableton provides for this useful tool and we will be using it to the full extent.

The Audio Effect Rack can be found in the audio effects section of Ableton in the top left here.

Drag the Audio Effect rack into the channel where you will be creating the multi-band image to widen or un-widen your lead. For our example, we will widen a lead from serum.

STEP 2: Separating the Frequencies

Multi-band plugins and effects are extremely useful, because they allow you to alter the sound in certain frequencies (highs, mids, and lows). I personally prefer Multi-band effects, because they are the most precise and useful in creating a stereo rich mix. In order to make our leads wide in the cleanest way possible we need to split our frequencies.

First, we will be switching to list mode in the audio effect rack by clicking here.

Then, it should look like this.This switch will allow us to create 3 chains with the same plugins. If we kept it at default then we wouldn't be able to put 3 of the same plugins in the rack.

Lets add 3 plugins to our first chain which will be in this order:

  1. EQ Three: An EQ allows you to adjust the level of low, mid, and high frequencies independently.

  2. Utility (FOCUSING ON THE WIDTH): The Width Control acts as a continuous mono to stereo controller when set from 0 to 100 percent.

  3. Simple Delay: The Simple Delay provides two independent delay lines.One for each channel (left and right).

All three can be found in the audio effects section.

After adding them into our rack it should look like this.

*Please note that the audio effects were dropped into the right rectangular box to create 1 chain.

The next step is to duplicate the chain 2 times to have a total of 3 chains. Just right click the chain and click duplicate twice.

After duplicating it twice it should look like this.

We will rename those 3 chains into Top, Mid , and Low.

Step 3: Widen the Top, Widen The Mid, and Mono The Lows

Once we have renamed our chains, we want to go into the top CHAIN and turn the GainLow and Gainmid knobs in the eq three all the way to left until they read -inf dB. This means no sound will be coming out of the low and mid frequencies out of the EQ Three.

Doing this will make the Top Chain only have high frequencies.If we don't do this all three chains will be altering the whole sound. As a result it would produce a louder sound, because the sound will be layered three times.

We will repeat the steps above for the mid and lows.

For the mids, you would want to reduce the high and the low to -inf db

For the lows you want to reduce the mid knob and high knob to -inf db.

Once this is done we will be going into the Top CHAIN and increasing the width to 110%. As a result, it will make the top end of the sound wider. We will also go into the simple delay and apply 100% wet and click on the sync to turn it into time for both L and right.

We will be using an advance technique called the HAAS effect. The way the effect works is it delays the sound on the left side by 1 ms than the right side.

This little delay will cause one side of the sound to hit one side of your ear 1 ms before the other side tricking your brain into hearing a wider sound.

*Keep in mind we are still in the TOP Chain List.

We will now go into the MID Chain and do the same only this time for the utility width we will be leaving it at 100%.

*For the mids make sure the time delayed is set to 1ms on the left and 3.34 ms on*the right.

Finally we will go into the LOW

Put the Width on the Utility to 0.0% to make the low end mono.

On The EQ Three The FREQ Low will be set to 200HZ so we make anything below 200hz mono on the sound. Some mixing engineers live by the idea that anything below 200hz in a track should be mono. I live by that rule and it correlates into amazing stereo separated sounds.


So after all that we have our very own widened lead and Multi-Band Imager that you can use to widen the top and the mids while monoing the lows.

In this tutorial we used the Audio Effects Rack to create a multiband imager using the EQ Three, Utility and Simple Delay.

Remember a great mix is much more then just correct EQ and saturation. A good mix will also have good placement of sounds in the mix and this tool will surely take your leads to new stereo widths while making sure you don't widen the lows like many plugins out there do.


Zen World

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