How To Build A DJ FX Rack In Ableton Live

For many producers and live performers, being able to have a few basic DJ tools at your disposal while still playing from inside of your DAW during a gig is critical. So how do you keep all of your effects in line and ready to use at a moment’s notice? Gary Harper shares a quick guide to setting up a DJ effects rack in Ableton in today’s tutorial.

When it comes to making a simple yet effective transition between tracks, there’s nothing more satisfying than creating your own. Ableton’s Audio Effect Racks are great for just that and you don’t need any third-party plug-ins to create some really cool sounds.

With this rack, I’ve used just 4 effects:

  • Autofilter: Set macro 1 to control the low-cut as well as the resonance for that classic filter sweep.
  • Flanger: I like the macro to control the dry/wet amount so as you turn the dial, the amount increases. Any modulation effect would work well here so try chorus or phaser too, or both!
  • Ping Pong Delay: In this example, I’ve increased the bandwidth of the filter to maximum and set the beat division to be quarter notes and set macro 1 to control feedback and the dry/wet mix so, like the flanger, as you turn the dial, the sound gets more spaced out but the delay repeats help keep the rhythm stable.
  • Reverb: With the decay time set to about 4-5 seconds again I’m setting macro 1 to control the dry/wet amount.

The beauty of these racks is the freedom to experiment – so why not break convention and mix these effects around? The extra stage to this process is to MIDI-map the macro knob to your MIDI controller. This is as simple as right-clicking the macro you want to control, move the dial/slider of choice and then exit midi-map mode by pressing escape twice and you’re ready to go.

Do you have a different way that you approach DJ-style effects in Ableton Live? Share in the comments below! 

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  • Rayalon

    Just a quick correction: you’ve changed the filter to “Hi-Pass filter”. Not “Low Pass”.
    Maybe you meant to say “Low Cut” and got confused…

  • Chris Wunder

    Thats cool


    It’s kind of off-topic but can someone help me out?

    I wanted to turn any sample into a playable chromatic scale, just like Korg Microsampler does, I know that you can do it manually and adjust it to every key on the keyboard but I’m pretty sure there is a automatic way to do it or even a plugin for a known software or even an app that just do that.

    Can somebody help me or at least give me the name of this process so I can research myself?


    • Ike Mash

      Hey SUBVERSIVE, if you’re just using Ableton, one way to do this is to load your sample into Simpler and play it with a midi keyboard. (you can also use your computer’s keyboard (starting with AWSED) if you don’t have a midi keyboard). I use Maschine, switch to keyboard mode under pad mode, and repitch one shots that way. you should also check out NI’s Kontakt for more control of sampler parameters

      • theSUBVERSIVE

        Yeah, I’ve read about Kontakt and also about Logic Pro. I’ve seen someone that did with Ableton here on this site but Ableton would also speed things up for higher notes. I’m starting to find more things about it, I have to make some tests. Thanks for your help!

        This guy seems to be using Logic Pro:

    • Tarekith

      Drag the clip into a slot in session view, then enter midi map mode. You can now assign your controller keys to a range in that slot and play the sample chromatically from your keyboard. Most people don’t know you can do this 🙂

  • Steven Teijeiro

    Can this kind of process be done in traktor?

  • noxxi

    done this already, great minds eh 😛 try using a looper and filter delay on drum tracks, it gives a very techno styled sound.