Daily Dispatch

How to Organize Your Plugins in Ableton Live 10

This post is a further exploration of an previous entry I made, on how I organise my plugin and sample library. I have received many requests to cover the plugin section again, in further detail.

Ableton introduced a new ‘collections’ feature with the recent announcement and beta release of Live 10, this feature is by far from being revolutionary, and feels a little half thought out if I’m honest. But, in saying that it has had a huge impact on the speed in which I’m able to find my plugins, which as any producer will know, makes a big difference to your workflow. The collections feature gives you seven different coloured tags, which can be named to your liking. Many users have opted to use this tagging system as a way of organising their sample library, I prefer Samplism for this, but I also don’t think that only seven tags are enough to properly organise your sounds. I choose to use the collections feature as a way of tagging all of my plugins into their given category, after some playing around, it ended up looking like so:

If you’re not on Live 10 yet, a similar concept could be achieved in Live 9 with VST instruments using the ‘User Library’ feature. However, for users of audio units (Apple’s equivalent) I at least, couldn’t find a way to categorise and arrange my plug-ins.

I have been trying my best to minimise the number of plugins I own but hey, who am I kidding, I want them all. One issue I had was the structure of the Waves bundle as well as the Universal Audio collection. The problem with both of these is that it takes quite some time to find the desired plugin as both options are just a gigantic list inside of Ableton. For those unfamiliar with UA plugins, you download their whole plugin bundle with the ability to demo the ones that you don’t own licenses too. Because of this, in your D.A.W. even if you only hold one license you see all of their plugins. There is an option to hide them in the software, but it doesn’t seem to work for me. Regardless, sorting through plugins is slow and inefficient if you’re lazy like me and don’t like typing them into a search option.

Like many producers, even though I own a gazillion plug-ins, I only use around 5% of them on a regular basis. Because of this, I’ve found the ‘Favourites’ folder to be invaluable, in here, I’m storing all of my most commonly used plugins, my favourites. As to what you keep within this collection, well, that comes down to your favourite plugins, but here’s how mine is looking:

I’ve made sure to include at least one of each processing effect: an EQ, Compressor, Reverb, Delay and a couple of Synthesisers/Samplers.

After favourites the next four tags are self-explanatory. But I’d like to cover ‘Creative Effects and ‘Utilities’ separately.

The Creative Effects tag contains all of the plug-ins that will, for lack of a better word ‘effect’ a sound once it has been created. For example Modulation, Distortion, Saturation, Tape Processing, Filters, the list goes on. Tagged as a creative effect, I have plugins such as Effectrix, LFO Tool, Camel Crusher, WOW2, Melodyne, and Moog’s Multimode Filter.

The last tag, ‘Utilities’ could be renamed to ‘Tools’ as that’s what it contains. I think of this tag as tools for either fixing a mistake or problem in an audio recording or as tools for simply analysing what’s going on inside my project. Within this collection, I have a bunch of iZotope’s plugins: DeEsser, De-crackle, De-reverb (great tool), De-plosive, and so on. I also have a couple of free plugins that I’d highly recommend: SPAN, and s(M)endoscope.

Just to emphasise, this is my set up, it’s not what I’m advocating you should copy, as your set up needs to suit your workflow. Some producers will prefer using this whole collections system as a means for tagging their samples, which is fine, this was just an idea I had and wanted to share as I haven’t seen an article or video on using collections in this way (that’s not to say this hasn’t been done before, I’m confident it has).

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