Ableton’s ‘Track Delays’ are often overlooked by a lot of producers as they can often be hidden inside Ableton’s GUI. However they can be a producers secret groove enhancing weapon to either make our tracks energy feel faster and more urgent, or laid back and relaxed. In this tutorial, I’ll show you a super fast hack for improving the groove in your track by simply adjusting your track delays. This technique is much easier than fiddling around adjusting the position of audio files or adjusting midi patterns!
Okay in this tutorial, we’re going to look at a super fast hack for improving the groove in your music and if you want creating a sort of laid-back more relaxed vibe for your tracks. Now as an added bonus, we can also flip this on its head which I will show you in this tutorial as well and you can inject a bunch of energy and pace into your music. So I want to start us off straightaway by listening to the example. Track A has got a more or should say group A contains drums with a more laid-back feel; Group B identical drums in every respect but has got a more energetic feel. So let me play these for you and see if you can pick out the difference. We’ll start high energy and then we’ll go into the relaxed vibe.
So could you hear that when I switched across we had that much more sort of groovy laid-back feel. So what’s going on here? Well in short I’ve been tweaking the track delays. Now they appear at the bottom of the session view underneath your faders. If you can’t see them you got a little D in the bottom right corner, just click that and they’ll appear. So what’s the deal with these? Well effectively what we have is a situation where every single track can have delay or can be pulled ahead of the beat so negative values, so negative delays play the sound or the pattern ahead of the beat and you’re gonna get a more urgent rushing energetic vibe as a result. If you have positive values ie actual delay then you’re gonna have the sound or pattern sitting behind the beat and it’s gonna feel a lot more laid-back and more that kind of groovy feel. So how do I go about setting this? Let’s have a look at the workflow. I’ll go in here and we’ll just get rid of these track delays at the moment. So what I tend to do is I’ll have my kick drum and usually the claps and anything else that is falling on the beat playing, so I’ve got a solid reference of the 4/4 and then I will take the other sounds and start playing around with the track delays. Now, if you put most of them so that it’s going behind the beat it’ll be relaxed obviously, most ahead of the beat it will sound faster. I do want to emphasize that you can just tweak these purely to add more groove. If you’ve got a sound that’s kind of not jelly and it feels like it’s a bit out of time, often the easy fix is just to come in and tweak the track delay a little bit. But we’re gonna go for the rushed feel. So let’s zoom in. I like to start with the offbeat hat or anything else playing on the offbeat I find that this really has a lot of impact and starts to set the tone straight away. So let’s have a listen this is it straight…
So could you hear that? When I hit minus 11 I mean it was a big jump there sounds like it’s rushing ahead of the beat. So remember negative delay urgent energetic vibe. So what I do is it just tweak this to I find saying that I’m happy with and the up and down arrows on your keyboard make this super easy.
That’s working well and then I’ve got some fast hats that I can start adding in and I’m just listening for how it locks into the groove. I know that I want it to be more urgent but I’m just trying to find that sweet spot where it makes sense to me. So don’t if you could hear as soon as I played that because these don’t have any of the delay on they do feel like they’re sitting quite a lot behind my offbeat hat at the moment.
And now that’s locked in really nicely. Now you can go along and you can tweak any of the sounds, anything’s fair play I tend to leave the stuff that’s on the beat where it is until I’ve set everything else and then I might tweak it a little bit. It’s only my system you can try anything that you want. In this case, I also had this rim loop that was quite a prominent straight sound that I thought if I move that forwards and backwards will really affect the speed.
You can really hear how that move the needle as well. Let’s leave it where it is and we could just hear the whole loop now going faster and again I’ll switch back to A just so you can hear the slowed down version, which of course is just rocking a bunch of positive track delay values.
And there you have it I told you it was super super fast and you get a great overview at the bottom so you can see exactly what you’re doing on all the tracks at the same time, don’t have to fiddle around with start markers in audio clips moving MIDI notes around and all of that stuff. Now I’ve got one other ninja hack for you here. As you’ve seen I’ve duplicated out these sounds one nice hack is the sounds that you want to rush the beat or pull the beat back, you could save the rushing version until when you come out of your breakdown to really start picking at the energy up. It’s a nice little trick. It’s quite subtle as you can hear, it’s not mad in your face but it’s just these extra little tricks that really bring a tract to life. So I hope you like this if you did enjoy the tutorial remember to grab yourself a copy of our free ebook 101 ableton tips for house and techno producers finishmoremusic.com/101ebook. You’re gonna find the link on underneath all around this video as well that’s for sure so take care I hope you enjoyed the video until next time happy music making.
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