Posts categorized "Synth: Ableton Operator" Feed

Get Inspired to Create Unique and Expressive Sounds with Operator Ambience Vol. 1 by Nick’s Tutorials


Nick’s Tutorials has released Operator Ambience Vol. 1. This is more than just a sound set and in addition to 20 Operator Patches the library also contains, 20 Live Clips, and 21 Videos.

I consider Ableton Operator (along with Ableton Sampler) to be required instruments for your rig. Operator is not only an expressive FM synth with a great user interface, it also can be used as a utility of sorts.  For example, you can use it to create discrete frequencies to say surgically give a kick drum more oomph. If you are new to Operator, your going to want to check out Nick’s previous tutorial Sound Design in Ableton Live: Operator.

Back to Operator Ambience Vol. 1 - according to the web site:

“Unlike larger, bloated libraries that attempt to cover every need possible, this affordable set is all about providing a tightly focused, thematically consistent set of ambient and atmospheric sounds.”

I really love this idea of a smaller deep thematic set of sounds and went the same route with my “Sounds From a Distant Outpost” library. As always Nick’s videos are informative and inspiring and even if you know Operator fairly well, odds are you’ll pick up on some new tricks. 

The Digital download Contains:


  • 20 Operator patches that are completely open to reverse-engineering, tweaking, and learning
  • 20 modifiable Live Clips corresponding with the patches which provide musical phrases and inspiration
  • 1 substantive introductory video packed with Ableton Live tips as well as detailing common elements between all the patches
  • 20 short videos detailing unique or noteworthy aspects of each patch, giving insight into their construction and suggestions for using them
  • The same open inbox policy for support that I provide with all of my products (limited by my schedule, of course!)

Sample Audio

Here are some samples of the sounds, but remember, these are all under Macro control so you can take these same sounds and get different results using the knowledge you’ll pick up in these videos.

Operator Ambience Vol. 1 by nickmaxwell

Incredible Value & Highly Recommended

Of course the idea here is you’ll take these core concepts to improve existing patches or create your own unique patches. Nick's tips on using velocity as a modulator throughout Operator alone are with the price of admission. This is an incredible value at $9.99 when you consider how much work Nick put into this package and I'm really glad I bought it. Highly recommended.


Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Synthesist | Composer | Keyboardist | Performer
Official Web Site:
Listen/Download Albums:

"Melodic Metal" by Mark Mosher - One Patch Performance Series with Ableton Operator

I posted a new “One Patch Performance” to YouTube. One Patch Performances are a series of experimental videos I’ve come up with where I use an instance of one synthesizer plus automation to create a song. 

Watch embedded video. Performance notes are below.

In this song I use Ableton Operator, Chorus, and Ping-Pong delay. I’ve placed these elements into an instrument rack then assigned Macros to various parameters.

I created a custom patch for Operator from scratch. I won’t go into extreme detail on this patch is it’s fairly complex, but here are some highlights and performance notes. I used the new partial editor (P. 389 in the Manual), and modulation of the FM algorithm on the fly.


I also assigned “Time” which is a global control for envelope rates to a Macro knob alone. I also modulate oscillator levels, LFO rates and more. I then created some simple melodies which I stored into MIDI clips. I then recorded an improvisation where I manipulate these automation parameters in one pass in real-time.

I have an oscilloscope and spectral analysis window at the top of the video which illustrate the amazing range of the harmonic content being created by Operator’s.

In the end, I’m hoping this video inspires you to dig deeper with some synths to create unique sounds and to use automation to add dynamics to your tracks.


Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

"Circuit Path" - First in the "One Patch Performance" Video Series

One Patch Performance
Over the years I’ve produced some very detailed step-by-step videos with voice-over on sound design and music technology. To balance things out, I’m launching a new video series called “ONE PATCH PERFORMANCE”. 

In this new series there will be no voice over just sound and music. The videos are intended to show what's possible when you go constrain your tool set to one synth and one preset with many modulation routings mapped for performance. Ultimately I hope to inspire others to extend their craft by "going deep" and transcending technology. I’ll also start showing controller use in future videos.

“Circuit Path”
In this first video I thought I’d start of with a very brief and  simple performance utilizing the fantastic Ableton Operator. The song is called “Circuit Path”.

Programming Notes
The synthesizer used in this video is the FM/Subtractive Ableton Operator.


I create a custom preset. Along the way I set the Volume Envelope Loop Mode to Beat so while I press a note it repeats.




I loaded Operator along with FX (EQ Three, Chorus, Beat Repeat, and Filter Delay) into an Instrument Rack so I could assign Macro Control knobs making it easy to tweak parameters in real-time. For example “Plastic” increase these level of oscillator 2 which increases Frequency Modulation and changes the character of the timbre.


Plastic Gate is assigned to Osc-B Envelope Rates.


Time Travel is assigned to EQ Three GainH controlling brightness.

Performance Notes
I went into Arrangement View in Ableton Live, hit the global record button, held down a note then started performing with the Macro Control knobs. In the video you can see my knob movement in the automation lanes.

Start Tweaking
Hopefully my brief notes are enough to get your creative juices flowing. So what are you waiting for, fire up your DAW and drop in a Synth and start tweaking!


  • Modulate This post on Ableton Operator
  • Sound Design in Ableton Live: Operator by Nick’s Tutorials 
  • Operator Mini-Pack by Ultimate Ableton Tutorials
  • Official Ableton Operator page

    Mark Mosher
    Electronic Music Artist, Composer, Sound Designer

    Download/Buy my album REBOOT on Bandcamp
    Buy on iTunes

    Meet the New Ableton Operator - Watch These Videos

    What’s new in Ableton Operator 8? Watch this video.

    Here is a second video with Dennis DeSantis demoing Operator 8 at the 2009 Winger NAMM. Watch Video on YouTube.

    Ableton has announced that when Live 8 ships there will be an also provide an update Ableton Operator. Ableton is calling it a “major overall”.

    So what’s new?

    • User Waveforms: Draw your own waveforms by adjusting the amplitudes of each oscillator's harmonics. You can also edit the built-in waveforms. So, it’s like a mini-additive synth.
    • Feedback is now available for all oscillators that are not being modulated by another oscillator. This should provide for some pretty interesting possibilities.
    • New filter types: New ladder modes and SVF filters bring the total number of Operator's filter types to fourteen.
    • There is also a frequency response curve view in the filter display and an integrated waveshaper in the filter, featuring an adjustable drive amount and four curve shapes.
    • The filter, LFO and pitch envelopes now feature adjustable slopes, like those found in Sampler.
    • There's a new MIDI modulation section in the global display, with multiple destination and amount settings for five MIDI control sources. We've also added new modulation options for the LFO and pitch envelope.

    Personally, I’m a big fan of Operator and it has fantastic third party support. I hoping companies like Covert Operators and Pure Magetik are already working on killer presets.

    Ableton has posted a great video on their web site which summarizes what’s new.

    Mark Mosher

    Installing and Using Ableton's Free "Designer Drums" Operator Live Pack


    Ableton has released a new free Live Pack called "Designer Drums". You can listen to a preview and download the Live Pack from here.

    The cool thing about this collection of drum presets is that they are not samples but Operator synth presets. For the most part the installer integrates presets inside of existing folders so finding all the presets can be tricky. In this article I'll walk you through installing and finding presets and offer usage tips.


    For those unfamiliar, Operator is an add-on synth you can buy from Ableton's web site. If you already own Live, it will cost you EUR 129/USD 159. Ableton is running a promotion for new users that's pretty amazing - Buy Live, Get Operator for Free.


    Ableton's blurb.

    We're giving all Operator fans some "Designer Drums", a free Live pack with brand new Operator presets. It features classic analog drums, a number of innovative percussive sounds and dedicated drum racks for
    instant and intuitive beat-making.


    DOWNLOAD "Designer Drums"

    Download from here Extract the DesignerDrums_v01.alp file on to your computer.


    From the file menu select "Install Live Pack..." and specify the DesignerDrums_v01.alp.


    The install requires 24.7 MB. 



    image The kit presets are implemented as Drum Racks. They are not installed in their own folder called "Designer Drums" and are instead integrated into "Instruments-> Drum Rack -> Kit" and the new presets are labeled with "(Operator)" in the end of the name. See example on the left.

    There are a series of clips saved as live sets in "Library -> Clips -> Designer Drums".

    The individual Operator patches that make up the drum racks are again integrated within existing folders in "Presets -> Instruments". For example, there are two 808 high-hat presets (open and closed) at "Presets -> Instruments -> Drum Rack -> Cymbal -> Hihat-808(Operator)".




    Most of the Drum Rack presets place Devices in a cluster around the same set of 16 locations which is fantastic if you are using a controller like a Trigger Finger. The Kick, Snare, Hihat Open, Hihat closed are in the same position for most kits which I really appreciate since I like to hot swap kits.


    Operator had been around a long time and I've always liked it. This Live Pack really shows off the range of sounds that can be produced from Operator. Once you start working with the presets you'll be amazed at the amount of work that went on behind the scenes to create this Live Pack. Thanks Ableton!


    Mark Mosher