Soft Clipping in Live

Marco Raaphorst
Jun 15, 2017 · 2 min read

The Glue Compressor of Ableton is not only a superb sounding compressor it can also be used as a soft clipper device. It can overdrive the signal like crazy while the device will never ever go over 0 dB. And without compression or limiting! Try this at home or in your studio:

  • Add a Glue Compressor on a mixer channel.
  • Activate the Soft button on the Glue.
  • Keep the threshold at 0 dB so the Glue won’t start compressing.
  • Optional: turn on Oversampling.
  • Now when you increase the Makeup gain the device will start producing soft clipping saturation (odd harmonics) but will never go over 0 dB.

This method makes perfect sense and works great on the Master channel to keep it from going over 0 dB. If you want a little more headroom for MP3 compression for example, put a Utility device after the Glue and put the Gain of this Utility device somewhere between — 0.3 dB and — 1 dB.

Of course it makes perfect sense to apply some compression from the Glue, this in combination with the Soft Clip option makes it a great sounding alternative to the classic Limiter which can often be found at the end of a Master bus.

What about Hard Clipping?

By default Live will hard clip the sound when you go over 0 dB. Red lights on the meter will light up to warn you. Some people though like hard clipping. It creates odd harmonics which are squared waves and extremely harsh sounding. Soft clipping on the other hand rounds the waves like a tape machine would do (tape = odd harmonics).

Don’t forget: there are no rules. Happy experimenting! :D

Originally published at Melodiefabriek.

Marco Raaphorst

Written by

Fool on the hill blowing his guitar —

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