Get Your Audio Grooving in Ableton Live

A captivating groove can transform a simple head-nodding track into a real hip-shaking anthem. In this tutorial, G. W. Childs shows how Ableton Live can apply some groove goodness to audio.  

Groove Quantizing is a feature that has been around for a while. What I find funny is the fact that very few people seem to utilize it. In fact, once you've tried out some of the steps listed within this article on some of your own beats, I can guarantee that a colleague will ask how you made the beat. If you tell him/her, “I used Groove Quantize...” You can rest assured, they will say, “Really? I need to try that out...”

It's a feature that gets left behind often!

Recently, I started to discover a new love of rapping within myself. And, as I got more and more into rapping, I discovered that I didn't have the tightest lips on the block. One day, getting a little irritated at my lack of timing, I decided to try Groove Quantization on my voice. Boy, did I enjoy the results. 

In this article, I'm going to show you how to access, and utilize Grooves for your audio.

Step 1 - Find Some Rhyme

As I mentioned before, Grooves are wonderful for adding a little spice to rapping that you may have introduced to your song. Currently, I'm very new to rapping, and tend to have some timing dropouts, here and there. Take a listen.

Step 2 - Quantize, or Groove?

Say what you will, but it's not tight. This is where applying quantization, or a groove can really be beneficial. I'll try it with a regular 16th + 16th T note quantization first so that you can hear the difference.

Pic 1

The only problem with applying even a percentage of 16th T note quantization is that I actually intended to have a little more swing to it than what's being played here.

Thankfully, the quantization and the grooves applied in Ableton are not destructive! I can listen to what grooves I like, one after another, then choose. If I decide I like another later, I can always change it. 

Step 3 - Apply a Groove...

I'll go into the Clip section of the Loop Editor and press the Hot Swap button for Grooves. Instantly, a list of the available grooves in Live appears.

Pic 2

I begin to go through the groove folder titles like Hip-Hop, Logic, MPC, etc. I decide to go with the MPC folder, as I'm a fan of nostalgia and classic MPC shuffle.

Pic 3

I decide to take it all the way up to MPC 16 Swing 75, which is a very high swing setting. It's really hard to not miss the difference from the original. 

Pic 4

As you can hear, this is a marked difference from where the voice was at before. The timing is much better, but there's also more of a swing, and 'groove' to what was applied before with regular quantization. 


And, if Grooves can be used for rapping, drums, and another percussive elements... How about for singing, guitar, ukelele? Just imagine how much more tight and grooving your audio could be!

Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like Lu... Read More


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