Creating the Ultimate Filter Effect Rack in Ableton Live Using Waves Metafilter

Ableton Live user? Stop with the Autofilter. Waves' Metafilter is an excellent, more powerful alternative with built-in delay line and a 16 step sequencer. Noah Pred shows how to make the most of it.  

Ableton Live's Autofilter is a fantastic filtration tool for utilitarian purposes, though the modulation options may leave something to be desired. For those seeking a more full-featured filter option, Waves' Metafilter provides a rich comb filter, dynamic levelling, built-in delay line, and 16-step sequencer along with standard LFO and envelope modulators, stereo spreading, bit crushing, and parallel processing—all delivered with Waves' signature sumptuous sound quality. How to make the most of it in Ableton Live?

Configuring Metafilter

In Live's device view, click the reveal toggle to show the Configure button—then click it to open the Metafilter GUI. Now I can add parameters to be automated, modulated, or controlled in Live by simply clicking them in Metafilter. In this case, I'll add Delay Feedback, Rate, and Dry/Wet mix, LFO and Sequencer Sync rate, Filter Frequency, Drive, and Spread amount.

PIC 1: Configuring Metafilter in Live.

PIC 1: Configuring Metafilter in Live.

Now that all the parameters have been added, I'll click Configure again to exit configuration mode, and the sliders are now available for automation. The thing is, Metafilter provides such an extreme range of character that using the full range of these parameters could prove problematic—speaker damage and hearing-wise.

To address this, I'll select the Metafilter device and use Command-G (Mac) or Control-G (Windows) to group it to a rack. Once this is done, I can right-click on the parameter sliders and assign them to a Macro dial.

PIC 2: Assigning configured parameters to Macros.

PIC 2: Assigning configured parameters to Macros.

In this case, I'll assign the Cutoff and Drive to Macro 1, Delay Rate and Stereo Spread amount to Macro 2, LFO and Sequencer Rate to Macro 3, and Delay Feedback and Mix to Macro 4. Before going further, it might be smart to rename them with some sense of what I'm planning, which will become evident soon enough.

Mapping the Territory

Now I'll click the Map button to enter Macro Map mode, where I can define the ranges for each parameter—ensuring they never cause the resulting audio to reach ear-splitting levels, or fade so low as to be irrelevant.

With a Macro dial at its minimum value, you can adjust the left slider of its correlate parameters in the Mapping Browser to set them to the lowest value you want them to go to; with the Macro knob twisted all the way to the right, you can attenuate the right slider to the highest value you'd want it to reach.

PRO-TIP: In a long list of Macro assignments, you can click the Macro, Path, or Name title bars to re-order them for easier location.

In this case, I've constrained the Filter to an optimal range, setting the Drive amount to never go higher than just below 50%, then right-clicked the Drive parameter in the Mapping Browser and clicked Invert Range so that the Drive is applied more when the filter is lower, warming it up at lower cutoff values.

PIC 3: Macro Mapping Browser in action.

PIC 3: Macro Mapping Browser in action.

Delay Rate and Spread are both increased when I twist the Space Macro, but with the Delay Rate constrained to just under 400 milliseconds so as to avoid longer rhythmic echoes. The LFO and Sequencer rates are inverted, so that one accelerates while the other goes slower while adjusting the Rate Macro; I don't want either to go faster than 1/16 note rate, so they've been constrained accordingly by adjusting the Mapping value slider with the Macro dial at the correct position to see in the GUI at what point they hit 1/16 notes—in this case, around 0.88. Finally, I have the Delay Feedback constrained to 90% and assigned to the same dial as the Dry/Wet mix, which I've constrained to a maximum of 50%.

Ready for Action

PIC 4: All racked up.

PIC 4: All racked up.

Now that I've got the parameters mapped and constrained, I've harnessed Metafilter with the ability to tweak multiple parameters from each of four Macro dials, allowing for a wealth of intricate modulation control for automation in the studio, or improvisation on stage. Create your own Audio Effect Rack Macro mappings and start Metafiltering.

Learn more about Metafilter here.

Noah Pred is a Canadian techno and house producer, DJ and Certified Ableton Trainer living in Berlin, Germany - where he runs his label, Thoughtless Music. His Juno-nominated full-length album Third Culture, is out now: http://www.thoughtlessmusic.com/releases/tlm086-noah-pred-third-culture/ - and you can check out his new project with... Read More

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