Ableton Live: Creative Sidechain Auto Filter Effect

Icon Alumni Neurologix takes you into Ableton Live to demonstrate a creative sidechaining LFO effect using Live’s Auto Filter.

Ableton Live’s Auto Filter effect provides classic analog filter emulation. The filter frequency can also be modulated by an envelope follower and/or an LFO to create moving filter effects. In addition, the envelope follower feature can track either the filtered input signal or an external sidechain source.

Neurologix introduces you to Auto Filters Envelope section controls and demonstrates how the envelope modulation affects the filter frequency. The Amount control adjusts how quickly the envelope reacts to the incoming signal and the Attack control sets how quickly the envelope returns to its original value. For example, low Attack values cause the filter to open or close quickly, while higher Attack values respond more gradually. The Release control functions similarly. Lower Release values cause the envelope to respond more quickly to falling input signals while higher values extend the envelope’s decay.

Creative Sidechaining with Auto Filter

Auto Filter

To make things more interesting, Live included a Sidechain feature that filters a signal based on the envelope of another signal. This functionality provides further creative possibilities for manipulating the filter. In this demonstration, Neurologix uses the Sidechain feature to create a wobble effect that gives a synth sound more movement and extra vibe.

Enabling the Sidechain button allows you to select another track as the sidechain source from the chooser menu. This causes the selected track’s signal to trigger the filter’s envelope follower, instead of the original input signal.

The Gain knob adjusts the level of the external sidechain input, while the Dry/Wet knob allows you to mix the sidechain signal with the original signal. With Dry/Wet at 100%, the envelope follower tracks the sidechain source exclusively. At 0%, the sidechain is effectively bypassed. Finally, the Gain control adjusts the level of the external sidechain source.

Creative Possibilities

Try experimenting with different audio material as the external sidechain source. Percussion and drum loops often provide cool rhythms that drive the filter in unique ways. Arpeggios work great as well. You could also use this technique constructively to cleanup competing low frequencies between the kick and bass. The possibilities are countless!

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