Ableton for the beginner
August 31, 2020 10:42 AM   Subscribe

After years of using Garageband, I've been playing with Ableton Live Lite, which came free with my Novation LaunchKey Mini. It's been a lot of fun, but I have only a tenuous grasp on what I'm doing--almost exclusively gleaned from watching random YouTube tutorials. Do you have any specific resources (including books, if people still use books) for learning Ableton? A couple other requests inside.

In addition to learning resources, I'd welcome:

1) any hacks/hard-won lessons you'd share with a true novice;
2) any view on what paid version to buy in the event I upgrade;
3) any free plug ins/VST/sample resources you might recommend (Live Lite's pre-loaded instruments, drum kits, and samples are somewhat limited--at least in terms of what I'd want to use). I don't know where people get this stuff (again, particularly for stuff that might sound different from what came with Lite--where would you get a harpsichord VST?) not even sure I'm using the right terminology, but I didn't want to start randomly downloading stuff from strange sites.

Many thanks!
posted by Admiral Haddock to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have any Ableton-specific tips (I think youtube is probably the best for that stuff at this point), but for free stuff check out LABS from Spitfire Audio. It has a lot of high quality content available for it. Also, Complete Start from Native Instruments gives you a free sampling of a bunch of their various synths and sample libraries.
posted by jonathanhughes at 10:52 AM on August 31, 2020

Also, Spitfire Audio has a Harpsichord library, but it's $99. They often have sales, though, and one that they run a couple times each years gives you a discount on things you've put in your wish list.
posted by jonathanhughes at 10:54 AM on August 31, 2020

This complete(!) recording of BBC Orchestra from the same group (Spitfire) is a steal at zero dollars and zero cents. You do have to fill out a survey but it's not personal or invasive. See details here. $50 if you skip the survey.

Great free plugins (scroll down) from Valhalla.
More free plugins.
Audio Deals on Reddit.
posted by erebora at 11:24 AM on August 31, 2020 [4 favorites]

No advice on Ableton specficially, but here are the free plugins I love:

Dexed is a Yamaha DX7 emulation plugin. If you are doing sounds from the 80s, you want this. As a bonus, it loads .syx patch files with zero effort, and there are tens of thousands of those out there.

The Drumgizmo sample player, especially when paired with the DRSKit sample library, is a great way to get big organic drum sounds into your project. (edit: alas, drumgizmo needs to be compiled and installed on a Mac, it's not plug-and-play. Still a great product, though)
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:58 AM on August 31, 2020

For learning, everything I needed to go from zero knowledge to expert was in the tutorials that come with Live.
posted by MonsieurBon at 5:22 PM on August 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm in a similar situation, having started using Live Lite at the beginning of lockdown. I'd previously used LogicPro, but no longer have access to a Mac. I'm not sure what you've figured out versus what I have, but I've been able to multitrack demos (midi click track/guitar/vocals/hardware synth), export individual tracks, create loops, add effects to each track separately, etc. If any of this sounds useful, you can memail me since I'm not sure how to explain it without answering more specific questions. I've used the Tips that display within the program, Google, YouTube, and annoying friends who use it.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 5:54 PM on August 31, 2020

By annoying my friends who use it by bombarding them with questions, that should probably read
posted by SystematicAbuse at 5:57 PM on August 31, 2020

Ableton Live comes with an instruction manual. It's A LOT and ponderous, but it's the best manual for a DAW I've ever used.
posted by kuanes at 4:47 AM on September 1, 2020

The Sadowick Productions tutorials are some of the best I have ever seen. Highly recommend. Insane that they are free to view.
posted by sxtrumpeto at 6:22 PM on September 1, 2020

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