Put your hands up if you love your sends. Seriously, do it. While you’re at it, touch your toes. Sitting at a computer is terrible for your posture.
From the time I got my first hardware mixer, I’ve been all fuck yeah about aux sends. More is better. If they made a 2-channel mixer with 24 sends, I’d own it. Feed your monitors, feed the sub, feed the sampler input, feed your reverb, feed the weasels in the tub a little taste of the new track through the waterproof shower radio you had patched in…mixers are all about the downward-funnel shape; auxes let you turn that sumbitch into the Giving Tree.
But mostly it’s not rad like that. Let’s say you want to set up a bunch of sends for a vocal, and probably only for the vocal–you’re not going to be sharing these with the doumbek channel, are you? Quarter-note delay, eighth-note delay, dotted-sixteenth delay, a bright, close reverb, a washy, noisy hall reverb, maybe a feed to a Haas-effect plug with some overdrive and a filter….blah. You also, of course, want to automate them. Well, you can set up your template with a bunch of sends, hope you decide not to change your mind for a while and call it a day, or you can make this rack and drop it into any track, any time, AND you can automate everything, even at the clip level. Yeeeeeeah. So–yup, it’s Sender’s Game. Babe the blue Aux? This rack is a godsend. Let’s do it.
First up: Let’s make a Utility device that works the way God intended. Grab a Filter Delay, stick it in a Rack, disable all the delays and map the Dry level to a macro. Whee! It’s a volume knob that actually “goes down like Aaliya’s flight.” Save this rack and use it often, because Ableton, for some stupid, stupid fucked up reason, decided to only allow the Utility plug +/-35db of gain. It’s like a faucet that leaks no matter how much you tighten the valve, and it’s infuriating. Now for the cool stuff:
1. Set up an Effect Rack. Create a chain with nothing in it. This is your dry signal. Call it Thru.
2. Create another chain and drop in your new Gain plug, then map the gain to Macro A. Congratulations, you’ve done it. You have a fully-functional send that lives inside a track. Stick whatever effects you want to use after the gain plug. Or before it, if you want to be able to manually gate your reverb or something.
3. Want to automate from the clip level? I thought so. Go into Map mode and reverse the polarity of your mapping so that the Send’s gain is at -inf when it’s all the way up and–you guessed it–0db when it’s all the way down. Now the send is silent at 100% and you can draw cool envelopes in your clips by working downward. (I build pretty much all of my rack controls backward like this. It’s annoying sometimes but really, really handy if you work in Session view a lot, or want some approximation of the Trim mode you’d find on an automated desk, where your Clip envelopes stay controlling a parameter as a percentage of a base value, as defined by either the default state of the control or wherever its Arrangement automation is…at?)
4. Duplicate this chain as many times as you want, making the appropriate changes in mapping for each one. For my device, I made seven sends and used the last macro to control the level of the dry signal.
There are a few reasons that this kicks ass, not the least of which being that you can save a few versions of this in your Library with the effects you use all the time. Drop it on a track and you’re ready to roll. Another awesome thing about this method is that within a Live project, devices travel with all of their automation. Want to try applying the same series of automated send effects to a different track? This happens a lot–say you’ve decided to mult a snare to layer it with another sample or want to drop the same send automation on your backing vocal subgroup that you’ve got on the lead. Easy. Want to fiddle with your effects without committing to anything? Duplicate the rack, mute one of them and go to town, then delete it when you realize you’ve just spent an hour dicking around. The less time you have to spend reproducing the same meat-and-potatoes effects on each track, the more time you can spend on things like sex and camping.
Speaking of which, I’m outta here. Peace!