Ableton Live 10 ~ Operator

Ableton Live 10 ~ Operator

Ableton Live 10’s Operator is an all in one synth that allows us to design sound in a handful of ways. Depending on the chosen algorithm, Operator allows us to practice additive, subtractive and even FM synthesis. If you’re new to sound design and synthesis, Operator is a perfect place to cut your teeth. Don’t be afraid of all the sliders and knobs!

On the left side of the UI we have the four Oscillators. To the right we have an LFO, Filter, Pitch Controls and Global Controls. And in the center we have a display area that will change relative to the active outer shell section.

Oscillators

Oscillators A, B, C & D = Provide us with four multi-waveform oscillators that act as our sound source

Level = Adjust the amplitude of the oscillator

// FM Tip = Adjust the amount of modulation when an FM synthesis algorithm is configured

Coarse = Adjust the oscillator pitch by whole numbers in relation to the original MIDI note, producing harmonic content

Fine = Adjust the oscillator pitch by fractional numbers in relation to the original MIDI note, producing inharmonic content

Fixed Mode = Plays a fixed frequency regardless of the incoming MIDI notes

Frequency = Choose the fixed frequency in which the oscillator will play back

Multi = Create a multiple of our fixed frequency number

// Tip = If left on one the fixed frequency will be as it reads on the Frequency Knob

Waveform Chooser = Choose from 20 basic waveforms and two noise waveforms

// Tip = The Waveform Preview window to the right updates accordingly

User Waveform = Create our own waveform by drawing in the amplitude of the oscillators harmonics in the waveform editor above

// Tip = We can edit existing waveforms as well, converting them into a user waveform

Waveform Editor = Click or Click and drag the pencil icon to draw or edit the amplitude of the harmonics

Number Of Harmonics = Edit only the first 16, 32 or the full 64

Selective Harmonics = Choose to edit All, Even or Odd harmonics only

// Tip = Don’t be afraid to experiment when mixing and matching harmonic combinations

Normalize = Maintain a respectful output volume as we edit the harmonics in real time

Export AMS = Export our user waveforms for later use within Operators other oscillators or as a stand alone audio sample within Ableton

Envelope Editor = Provides a graphical representation of the oscillator’s envelope or "ADSR Controls”

// Tip = Click and drag the yellow boxes to adjust ADSR very quickly

Attack, Decay, Sustain & Release Controls = Adjust the amplitude of our sound over time

// Tip = This heavily influences the timbre of the sound and how it reacts to the incoming MIDI Length

Attack = Adjust the amount of time it takes the sound to travel from the Initial amplitude to the Peak amplitude

Initial = Adjust the starting amplitude, as soon as a MIDI note is pressed

// Tip  = Keep this on -inf dB to avoid any pop sounds

Peak = Adjust the ending amplitude, marking the end of the attack phase and start of the decay phase

Decay = Adjust the amount of time it takes the sound to travel from the Peak amplitude to the Sustain amplitude

Sustain = Adjust the resting amplitude, while a MIDI note is held down

Release = Adjust the amount of time it takes the sound to travel from the Sustain amplitude to silence once the MIDI note is released

Time<Vel = Adjust & scale the envelope stages in relation to the incoming MIDI Velocity

// High Velocity & Low Value = Extends envelope stages

// High Velocity & High value = Shortens envelope stages

Output<Vel = Modulate the amplitude of the oscillator in relation to the incoming MIDI Velocity

// Tip = Set this to a high value to take advantage of subtle velocity variation between notes, making the patch sound less robotic & stiff

Key = Modulate the amplitude of the oscillator in relation to the incoming MIDI Pitch

// High Value = Notes above C3 are louder, notes below C3 are quieter

// Low Value = Notes above C3 are quieter, notes below C3 are louder

Loop Mode = Loop the envelope in four different ways

Loop = Loop the envelope by retriggering at the end of the decay phase + any Loop Time amount

// Loop Time = An underrated parameter to automate to get some unique looping sounds

Beat = Loop the envelope by the repeat note length amount

Sync = Loop the envelope by the repeat note length amount

// Tip = This will quantize to the BPM if the set is live

Trigger = Ignores the length of the MIDI note and follows the envelope values strictly

// Tip = Useful for for creating drum hits

Copy Waveform = Copy and paste waveforms between oscillators

Copy Envelope = Copy and Paste envelopes between oscillators

Copy To All = Duplicate the current oscillator settings across all of the other oscillators

Repeat = Generate higher harmonics by repeating the drawn in partials

// Lower Value = Brighter sound

// Higher Value = High end roll off

// Off = Harmonics above 16, 32 and 64 are shortened

Osc<Vel = Modulate the Oscillators Pitch in relation to incoming MIDI Velocity

// Positive Value= The higher the MIDI Velocity the higher the Pitch

// Negative Value = The higher the MIDI Velocity the lower the Pitch

Q = Further quantize the Osc<Vel pitch manipulation

// Activated = Adjust pitch by whole numbers, mimicking real time coarse adjustments

// Deactivated = Adjust pitch by fractional numbers, mimicking real time fine adjustments

Phase = Adjust the phase of the oscillator, as seen in the waveform preview

Phase Retrigger = Adjust the waveform starting point per MIDI note

// Activated = Phase starts at same position each time

// Deactivated = Phase runs free and starts at a different position each time

Feedback = Adjust the percentage of self modulation if the oscillator is not being modulated externally

// Tip = Be sure to choose the correct algorithm to take advantage of this self modulation feature

Algorithms

11 Algorithms = Creatively define our oscillator signal flow, choosing among FM Synthesis patches, Additive Synthesis patches or a combination of the two

// Your selection here will heavily impact the timbre of the sound

FM Example = Four Vertical Boxes (Far Left)

// Frequency Modulation (FM) Synthesis = Create new harmonics by modulating the carrier waveform by the amplitude and pitch of the modulating waveform

// Signal Flow = D modulates C, which modulates B, which modulates A, making A the only output waveform

Additive Example = Four Horizontal Boxes (Far Right)

// Additive Synthesis = Create and combine harmonics by adding multiple waveforms together

// Signal Flow = A, B, C & D all produce independent waveforms and get combined during output

FM & Additive Example = Four Square Boxes (Middle Right)

// Signal Flow = B modulates A & D modulates C, making A & C the only output waveforms

LFO

LFO = Modulate the sound with a stand alone “low frequency oscillator"

LFO Waveform = Choose from five classic waveforms, sample and hold (random step sequencer), & noise (band pass filtered noise)

// 5th Oscillator = Can be used as an additional modulating oscillator for superb drum sounds

LFO Range = Determine the speed of modulation

// Low = 50 seconds to 30Hz

// High = 8hz to 12kHz

// Sync = 1/48 to 4 Bars

Rate = Further distinguish the speed of modulation (depending on range setting)

Amount = Control the intensity of our LFO

LFO Retrigger = Adjust the modulating waveform starting point per MIDI note

// Activated = LFO starts at same position each time

// Deactivated = LFO runs free and starts at a different position each time

LFO ADSR & Loop = Adjust the intensity of the LFO over time, much like the Oscillator envelope area

// Vibrato Tail = Set a slow attack to add a bit of vibrato to the tail end of notes

End = Adjust the intensity of the LFO after a MIDI note has been released

LFO Chooser = Toggle on and off the specific parameters the LFO is modulating

// Choices = Oscillator A, B, C, D & the Filter Frequency (Destination A) + one miscellaneous parameter (Destination B)

LFO Amount A & B = Further control the intensity of the LFO in relation to said destinations

Rate<Key = Modulate the LFO Rate by incoming MIDI Pitch

// 100% = Speed of LFO changes & follows the incoming MIDI Pitch

// 0% = Speed of LFO stays fixed and does not change based on the incoming MIDI Pitch

Amt<Vel = Modulate the LFO Amount by MIDI Velocity

// 100% = Higher velocity MIDI notes produce faster LFO speeds

// -100% = Higher velocity MIDI notes produce slower LFO speeds

Filter

Filter = Further shape the oscillators by implementing some Subtractive Synthesis

Filter Type = Choose from five different filter types

// Choices = Lowpass, highpass, bandpass, notch & morph filter

Filter Slopes = Adjust each filters intensity

// Choices = 12db slope or 24db slope

Filter Circuit Type = Choose from five analog-modeled circuit behaviors

// Clean = Offers highest quality, same filter used in EQ8

// Others = Offers saturated, warmer sound, emulating real life analog gear

Filter Frequency = Choose the filter’s center or "cutoff frequency”

Filter Resonance = Adjust the amount of attenuation at the Filter Frequency selected

// Display = Easily control both the frequency and resonance in the display

Filter ADSR & Loop = Adjust the intensity of the Filter over time, much like the Oscillator & LFO envelope area

Slopes = Further control the slope of each envelop stage, making them more steep or gradual

// Display = Click & drag the red dots in the envelope display area

// Manual = Click on the original envelope parameter names to dynamically toggle to slopes

Envelope = Adjust the intensity of the Filter Envelope, determining how much it modulates our filter frequency over time

// 0% = Filter Frequency remains static

// 100% = Filter Frequency is modulated by the envelope as shown

// -100% = Filter Frequency is modulated by the envelope in an inverted manner

Morph Position = Adjust the position of our morph filter when Morph Filter Type is chosen

// Tip = Great parameter for the LFO to modulate

Freq<Vel = Modulate the Filter Frequency by MIDI Velocity (works like the others)

Freq<Key = Modulate the Filter Frequency by MIDI Pitch (works like the others)

Shaper Type = Choose from four different distortion types, warming up the filtered sound

// Choices = Soft, Hard, Sine & 4Bit

Shaper Drive = Adjust the amplitude of the signal sent into the selected distortion type

Dry/Wet = Adjust the mixture of the original signal with the distorted signal

Pitch Controls

Pitch Controls = Adjust overall pitch of the sound

Transpose = Adjust the pitch of the incoming MIDI notes by whole number musical steps

Spread = Widen the stereo field of the output sound

// High Value = Split each note into two detuned voices, creating a chorus effect (CPU intensive)

Pitch Envelope = Adjust the intensity of our Pitch Envelope, determining how much the sounds pitch changes over time

// Example = Set Envelop to 100%, Initial to 0, Peak to +48, set Decay to 7 seconds

Pitch Toggle = Toggle on and off the specific parameters the Pitch Envelope is modulating

// Choices = Oscillator A, B, C, D & the LFO (Destination A) + one miscellaneous parameter (Destination B)

Pitch Envelope Amount A & B = Further control the intensity of the Pitch Envelope in relation said destinations

Glide = Shift our pitch as new MIDI notes are triggered

// Activated = Pitch will slide from the previous MIDI note to the current one

Glide Time = Adjust the duration of time it takes for our pitch to glide from note to note

// Tip = Slightly overlap MIDI notes for a more intense legato sound

Global Controls

Time = Adjust all envelope rates globally at once

// Tip = Useful for subtle tweaking of plucky sounds with fast envelopes

Tone = Adjust the high frequency content of the sound

// Tip  = Useful to reduce aliasing which can occur during FM Synthesis (similar to low pass filter)

Volume = Adjust the global output volume of the sound

Voices = Adjust the number of playable MIDI notes at once

// High Value = Useful for multi note layered chords

// Low Value = Useful solo note synth patches like a sub bass or melody (avoiding any overlapping)

Retrigger = Further adjust the nature of Operators “Voices” from note to note

// Activated = Similar notes with longer release times being played back to back will "retrigger” and act as one voice instead of generating another voice

Interpolation Box = Enables an interpolation algorithm which reduces any harshness of the sound

Anti-Aliasing Box = Enables high-quality anti-aliasing mode

// Tip = Useful when working with complex FM patches

Pan = Adjust the stereo placement of the sound, panning it left or right

Pan<Key = Adjust the stereo placement of the sound in relation to incoming MIDI Pitch

// 100 = Low MIDI notes are panned left, high MIDI notes are panned right (mimicking a piano)

Pan<Rnd = Adjust the stereo placement of the sound at random

// 100 = Maximum randomness of panning

Destinations A & B = Route incoming MIDI Velocity, Key, Aftertouch (ch pressure), Pitch Bend & Mod Wheel to two custom destinations each within Operator

Amounts A & B = Adjust the intensity & direction of the MIDI modulation

Time<Key = Adjust the length of the envelopes in relation to the incoming MIDI Pitch

// High Value = Higher MIDI notes lead to shorter envelopes, while lower MIDI notes lead to longer envelopes

Pitch Bend Range = Adjust the intensity of any MIDI pitch bend information coming into Operator

Video

Overview = 0:31
Oscillators = 1:06
Algorithms = 9:40
LFO = 11:51
Filter = 15:33
Pitch Controls = 19:04
Global Controls = 21:14

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