11 Underrated Ableton Stock Plugins You Need To Try
It can be tempting to shell out your extra cash on a limitless selection of plugins, but what if you didn’t need to in the first place? You’d probably save a lot of CPU and have a wad of extra cash to dedicate to your music.
We have good news for Ableton Live users – You simply don’t have to buy plugins to build amazing beats. There are plenty of free plugins and VSTs available, but that’s beside the point. Ableton Live’s stock plugins are more than sufficient to create polished music.
Below, we’ll share why you should be using Ableton Live stock plugins if you aren’t already and demonstrate some of our favorite free tools for you to use in your DAW.
Why Should I Use Ableton Stock Plugins?
Aside from the obvious cost factor, Ableton stock plugins are extremely intuitive, versatile, and powerful when utilized by a trained engineer. We often forget that the person behind the gear is more important than the gear itself in many cases.
Since Ableton Live is designed for typical production and live performance, the stock plugins are incredibly stable and CPU-friendly. With the DAWs integrated racks and audio effect chains, the plugins stack remarkably well and seamlessly work together.
In short, there’s a lot more to Ableton’s Stock library than you may think. You might not get the exciting UI provided by 3rd party pieces, but it’s the sound that counts, right?
Best Ableton Live Stock Plugins You’re Missing Out On
Ableton has plenty of plugins to fall in love with! We’ll share and demo a few of our favorites that you might have missed.
1. Max For Live
One of the most underused features of Ableton Live is the Max for Live suite. This whole host of plugins is created by experts within the community, and as a result, Ableton is constantly releasing both free and affordable plugins for Ableton suite users.
These add-ons aren’t downloaded by default, but boy, are they powerful. Some free community favorites include Convolution Reverb or the Surround Panner which is perfect for stereo imaging.
2. Drum Buss
Want your drums to pack a punch? The stock drum processor is perfect for shaping transients and adding useful compression and color with the “Drive”, “Boom”, and “Crunch” controls.
If you can’t afford Serum, don’t fret! Ableton’s included wavetable provides an impressive contender synthesizer that’s incredibly reliable and has a ton of instrument presets to choose from. You won’t have all of the capabilities that come with Serum, but the capabilities are incredibly impressive for the price or lack thereof.
4. Drum Rack
Ableton’s drum rack is incredibly useful for live performance, but the use cases don’t stop there. This versatile tool can be used to demo samples, and tackle automation, too. In this clip, we decided to use the rack as a built-in launchpad for vocal samples.
Understanding music theory as a producer is certainly helpful, but with stock tools like Ableton’s scale feature, it isn’t a prerequisite to bumping out strong beats. This MIDI effect adjusts any instrument to play within just about any scale you can think of. For example, this piano track is mapped with multiple keys outside the pentatonic scale, but the scale plugin adjusts accordingly:
One of Ableton’s strengths is having plenty of functions geared toward live recording and performance. The amp effect allows producers to have invaluable control over the fuzz and color of guitar tracks or any other audio clip. You can instantly transform samples into something a bit more organic with the help of this powerful plugin:
While some debate whether the sampler is an instrument in itself, you can’t deny the power of Ableton’s simpler. This plugin makes it easy for you to chop and manipulate samples within a matter of seconds. The built-in slice view is particularly helpful for finding those choice cuts.
Traditional overdrive pedals can be incredibly difficult to control, which can be a nightmare when you make it to the mixing stage. Thankfully, Ableton presents a fix with its stock overdrive plugin. You can add plenty of color and saturation without going too far with the plugin’s built-in dry/wet controls.
Are you ready to make an atmospheric masterpiece? Check out the powers of Ableton’s Echo! It’s fairly self-explanatory, but this time-based effect utilized delay and reverb to give you a lush sound that’s sure to leave an impact on your mix. I personally use the “Ethereal Canyon” on a wide variety of songs.
If you’re looking for a classic analog filter feel, look no further than the power of autofilter. This underrated plugin is perfect for subtle or not-so-subtle automation and can even be used to sidechain.
Looking for noisy artifacts? Want to completely degrade the audio quality of a sample but in a tasteful way? You might want to try out Erosion. This stock effect degrades an input signal or sample with filtered noise or a sine wave. Take a listen:
As you can see, Ableton Live’s stock plugins are downright powerful. The next time you have that itch to purchase another plugin, why not try these instead? You can also opt for Controlla, which a completely free VR automation tool, but hey, maybe that’s just us.
Enjoy building beats with these audio effects and instruments. Your stock plugins await!