How to customise Ableton Live to suit you!

Updated: May 24

I still remember opening Ableton Live for the first time and being completely overwhelmed by the number of sounds and fx on offer! "Where do I start...?!"

Well, since the introduction of 'Collections' in Live 10, things have got a whole lot easier for us to customise Ableton Live.

In the top left-hand corner of Ableton Live's Browser section, you will see the Collections area. As standard, these Collections come colour coded and named after that colour. There are 7 Collection areas available, these can be renamed to anything you like as you can see below.

Here is an example of how I use Collections...

  • I need a Reverb effect to add to my vocal track.

  • I go looking through the Reverb folder in the Audio Effects category.

  • I try out various presets and tweak the settings until it is right for my use case.

  • I then save my edit by hitting the small disk symbol in the right-hand corner of the device, this saves all my current settings.

  • I rename the device to something memorable, let's say 'Craig Vocal Reverb Hall 2022'.

  • The device is then saved into my User Library.

  • I now Right-click on the device and choose where I want to add it, in my case I'm saving it to my Audio FX Collections.

You can see how we can now start to build up our own library of sounds and effects. Nobody who uses Ableton Live, or any other DAW, uses every single sound or effect on offer. There are literally thousands to choose from and some will be a million miles away from the types of sounds you want to use in your music.

Collections let you build up your own sound and effects library over time. It's not something you even need to think too much about. If you are new to music production, get in there, and try out the presets, you'll start to find the sounds you like and will find yourself using those same sounds again, then, add them to your Collections Menu.

I like to approach the DAW environment in the same way a band would approach a practice session. The band turns up with their toolkit - drums, guitars, bass, keys, etc. They don't have to waste time scouring through thousands of drum sounds or guitar fx, they usually just have what is in front of them, a set of tools they have acquired through trial and error and have settled on the right set of tools that suits them and the sound they are going for.

We can do the same when creating music in Ableton Live. Start to build your own collection of sounds and effects. Build your own synth sounds and save them to be used again and again. Do you really need to use a different bass sound on every track? Or would your finished songs flow better if they used similar sounds throughout?

Head to the Ableton Knowledge Base to go even deeper into 'Collections'.

If you want to learn more about Ableton Live and Music Production and come from Edinburgh, Fife, or the East of Scotland, get in touch to join one of my Ableton Live Courses, aimed at all levels from Beginner to Expert.

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