Using some sort of stutter or gating effects can quickly turn almost any sound into something that has a nice rhythmic quality. We often turn to these small tricks to transform different field recordings or sounds that are more drone like into material that has either a very distinct and clear rhythm or to something that just has a small, almost inconceivable pulse to give our sound that extra bit of life or gradual change throughout a track.
To achieve this type of effect we could always turn to a tool along the lines of the excellent LFOTool by Xfer Records, where we can really tune the shape of the curves used for the gating effect, but for a lot of the quick and simple stuff, the built in tools in Ableton Live is more than sufficient.
1. Gating with the warp settings
In session view, load a clip or sample of your choosing. Set the warp mode to Beats and under Preserve, choose a granulation resolution setting other than Transients (for example 1/16 or 1/8). Set the Transient Loop Mode to Off and adjust the Transient Envelope to your liking (a setting somewhere between 10 and 40 often yields a nice result, depending on your source material and wanted result of course).
This is a really quick way to achieve tempo synced gating effects on any audio clip. We often use this trick to turn drone like sounds into more pulsating sound material. Used on percussion loops, it can totally change the feel and sound of the clip. Depending on the timing and groove of the percussion, everything from shortening and tightening the hits in the loop, to an almost “dubby” and echoing effect is achievable. We use this a lot.
2. Gating with Auto Pan
Gating effect can also be achieved using the built in Auto Pan effect. Load an Auto Pan on your audio or midi track, set the Amount to 100% and the Phase to 0 or 360 degrees.
Using the Auto Pan will yield different effects than what you get with the warp settings, and the good thing about using Auto Pan as a tool for gating effects is that you can use automation on its parameters. Automating the Rate, Shape and Offset parameters can give great results.
3. Gating with LFO
We really, really like using the LFO in Ableton Live for different changes over time, both random and tempo synced. Using it for gating is also a possibility. Set the LFO up to control the Gain parameter on a Utility effect and you should be good to go.
So, there you have it. Three quick and simple ways to create gating/stutter like effects on your sound material with Ableton Live tools.
Have a happy New Years Eve and a great 2019!
Jostein & Rune