Zap! Photo (CC-BY-SA) candescence.

Ableton has introduced various features to its flagship Live tool over the years, but one of the simplest ideas – combining instruments and effects into accessible Racks – is also one of its most useful. They make those sound controls immediate and functional, and they can be a great way of delivering sounds. Two cases in point: free downloads that incorporate synthesized vocals and retro Nintendo blips.

AfroDJMac keeps his free Live goodies coming with noises constructed on a vintage Nintendo Entertainment System, the 8-bit timbres orchestrated by the sadly impossible-to-get MidiNES MIDI adapter. True to form, you get direct access to the NES’ Pulse and Triangle channels, plus Noise, which can give you either pure 8-bit sounds or game-styled chip retro tunes. Sure, there are plenty of other ways to do this, but you can’t beat the convenience here. Enjoy:
Free Weekly Ableton Live Rack #6- “AfroDJMac Nintendo Rack”

You can keep up with his musical productions and free downloads on In case you missed it, one particularly nice entry recently features his mother’s china dinner plates, layered into thicker pads.

Great Tuvan vocalists are already synthesizers of sorts, albeit entirely organic ones. But here’s a synthesized re-imagining of some similar timbres. Photo (CC-BY) zoetnet.

Francis Preve has made a name for himself both as a writer and a sound designer; now he’s focusing on his new record label and artistic career, but connecting those two disciplines. So, when he introduces a classic formant filter used to synthesize vocal sounds, he also walks through the technique of producing it in the software and why it’s a relevant sound on clubland’s floors. (Hint: Pleasurekraft, most recently. But part of why I like classic synth techniques is that they’re become comfortable and familiar, in the way acoustic instruments have been, and thus don’t have to apply to any one genre.)

Picking apart this Rack will give you some good tips on how to build such things – or you can just go ahead and use it to start some new ideas. If you concoct something, I’d love to hear it. (No sound sample, so just go download!)

Ableton Preset: Tuvanism