So, you just upgraded to Ableton 10 and can't wait to dive deep into all that is new in your D.A.W and explore under the hood. It can be intimidating but it doesn't have to be. For those of you who have taken my online courses, you're probably just chomping at the bit with no fear! In this blog, lets explore Ableton's Wavetable and functionality.
What Is Wavetable?
In a nutshell, it is a collection of individual waveforms. It's gorgeous interface breaks down into three separate sections:
Oscillators, filters and mod section. Each oscillator can be activated independently with a switch in the oscillator’s tab. Activating a tab will select that oscillator, revealing its parameters for editing.
Open the triangle and this can be expanded to see views more clearly (3 envelopes and 2 LFO's, you can also drag it up to expand) There is also a mod matrix grid which is super easy to use and beautifully designed.
Unfortunately, you can not import your own waveforms but there are 11 categories in the collection folder and many waveforms to choose from. I would start with the distortion in the collection folder and one of the Saw waveforms with brighter harmonics. Then use the wave position slider to go through the oscillator and watch the shape change.
On the left-hand side, we see a 'sub on' parameter, and this gives you an extra layer of harmonics, you can also choose to go 2 octaves below etc or add tone. When the filter routing is set to split, the sub is sent to filter 1 and filter 2 at the same time.
The mod Matrix is so easy to use, you will fall in love! Any parameter you touch will appear visually in the matrix.
Example: You can tweak the LFO amount on OSC1 position after selecting it, and focus the movement around that area thanks to the visualization.
Within the two LFO sections, there are 5 LFO shapes with Rate, Amount, Shape and Offset parameters.
•Sine and Saw: applies an increasing or decreasing slope •Triangle: morphs the symmetry from Ramp to Saw, with Triangle in the middle •Square: changes the pulse width •Random: changes the distribution of extreme values. There is a sync tab that works in subdivisions of time or Hertz, as well as an LFO attack slider that smoothly adjusts the time it takes for the LFO to kick in. Naturally, there is a re-trigger switch that triggers the LFO to go back to its starting point. My fav. feature is the shape parameter which will create very interesting variations to your sounds.
The envelope section consists of an amp envelope and 2 envelopes (2 and 3) with time and slope parameters respectively.
Attack - The time it takes for the note to reach the maximum level.
Decay - The time it takes for the note to go from the maximum level to the sustain level (the next level in the ADSR chain).
Sustain - The level while the note is held.
Release - The time it takes for the note to fall from the sustain level to zero (silence) when released.