November 29, 2013  

Free Ableton Live Plugin: Monster Timestretch Device

We all know that these days, most DAWs come bundled with incredibly powerful timestretching tools. Even five years ago, dropping a track by 10bpm resulted in a noticeable drop in audio quality – now, it can be almost invisible. And while this is good for remixing and working with ideas, sometimes we miss the old digital artifacts introduced by timestretchers of days gone by. Not only did they add some character to the sound, more extreme examples could create a totally new sound to be re-sampled, triggered and mangled as you please. Introducing the Monster Timestretch from our expert instructor Daniel Herbert.

Designed to take your sound to whole new dimensions, the Monster Timestretch is all about creative sound design, mangling sounds and samples to a whole new extreme. And it’s yours, absolutely free. All you’ve gotta do is register and download from our website. Check the video and a word from Daniel Herbert below for more info on this brand new plugin.

“The new Max for Live device from Point Blank is a timestretching plugin based on a technique known as phase vocoding and can time stretch sounds in realtime. It’s similar to the fantastic Paul Stretch and is ideal for creating slowly evolving drone-like textures as well as more futuristic sounds. There are four different modes which allow you to play through and explore the sound in a variety of ways and literally freeze the sound. The plugin is limited to processing the first 30 seconds of an audio file and only works within Ableton as a M4L device and will not play in any other DAW. We recommend you use resampling if you need to record the effect to a new audio file.”

Don’t forget to check out our Ableton Online Courses here.

Video Transcription:



Dan Herbert:      Hi, I’m Dan Herbert and I’m a course developer and teacher at Point Blank Online. I’ve been working for over 20 years as a musician, sound designer, and programmer. I released tracks in the mid ’90s on [Alps Tasty] and Storm. I’ve also worked in TV and film.


In this series of tutorials we’re going to be checking out the Max for Live plug-ins which we’ve been developing here at Point Blank. These are available for you guys to download for free. Make sure you subscribe to the Point Blank Youtube channel and also check out our free sample courses at [music]


The new Max for Live device from Point Blank is a time stretching plug-in based on a technique known as phase for coding, and stretches out sounds to the extreme with potential for creative sound design. As an example we could make a 30 second clip last for a half an hour, which could create slowly evolving drone-like textures. And, we look at techniques like this on the Ableton sound design course for generating new sounds and tambours.


We’ve included four different modes to control the amount of time stretching either using, midi, or your mouse, and most of the parameters are available to automate. If you’re unsure how to install a Max for Live device, please watch the other videos in this series. But, I’m just going to unzip my download and then drag the plug-in directly onto a midi track.  Once it’s loaded then I’m going to load up some audio, so, I’ve got some audio here, just drag that from the browser and drop it onto the plug-in.


You can also import audio directly from your timeline. It will take a few seconds to analyze the file and instantly only analyses the first 30 seconds of a track. [music]


Let’s bring down the volume. [music]


So it sounds as though its playing normally. However, if we adjust the speed control, here, it’s a quite dirty-sounding time stretch. [music]


As you bring it right down, so all it’s doing is playing through this file at really slow speed. If you want to, we can select over a certain portion in the sound that you want to play through, and we can also move this selection point around. You can also change the loop by clicking up and down with this tool.


Let’s zoom in a bit. Got the zoom tool. Drag upwards. And we can freeze the file. So, you can really take your time to explore it. Forwards, or we can kind of jump around, with these kind of step-like textures. So, this is the default playback mode. If we want to turn it off just click the mute button here, and that mutes the audio. We’ve also got a number of other modes as well so timeline sync basically controls how it progresses through the file. If I press play, it starts from the beginning of the file, and moves through the file one frame at a time and it’s synced to the timeline. If you want this to progress really slowly, or faster, and obviously, if you adjust the tempo, this will also be reflected on how it progresses through that file. So you might find an example of when you’re going really slowly, you get some really interesting textures. Let me press stop, and it will change these textures in sync with your timeline.


The selection tool doesn’t have any impact when working with the timeline sync. The midi trigger mode basically allows us to trigger the sound from our midi keyboard. So, if I play middle C, and you can see this number changing here when I play different notes. Play a chromatic scale. So, depending on the selection, if I just select the whole file and play the keyboard again, so I’m just playing over an octave, again chromatically… And I can change that range by adjusting this range control here. C minus tool basically assigns the whole keyboard, so from note 0 up to 127.  This on, C1, was assigned 5 octaves to whatever you’ve got selected, or if you’ve only got one octave keyboard you could potentially… you can see how far its jumping. So that’s C, C sharp, D, et cetera, et cetera. So those are the kinds of possibilities for kind of creative use, here. And, you can record that midi in, and edit it however you see fit.


And, the final mode we have, here is the slider mode. And, this allows us to actually explore the sound [parsecs]. Choose slider… Now, essentially what it does is freezes the playback speed.  So, I can just move this slider up and down. Now this is related to the is related to the selection, so if I want to get finer control… Let’s find another portion of the file up here. We can obviously explore it, just like we did before… Or, we can get it to just slide around, adjusting this slew parameter. We can go backwards, we can go forwards… Or, what we could also do is, actually, manually adjust this parameter here. And this gives you the finest amount of control…


There we go, just press mute, so that is the Monster Time Stretch plug-in from Point Blank. It allows you to really stretch out sounds and explore hidden sounds within them. Try with say, acapellas, or kind of single parts. You can really create some mashed-up sounds from processing stereo mixes as well. [music]


A:            At Point Blank Online, you’ve got two methods of interaction with your tutor. Firstly, you’ve got the weekly online master class which is in real time. And, then also we’ve got feedback on your assignments, and that’s known as DVR.


So the online master class is a one hour session that you get with your tutor every week. You can ask questions about lesson content, and get instant feedback. And, also demonstrations on the fly from their computer desktop with our streaming technology.


DVR stands for “Direct Video Response” and the concept is really simple. You upload your Ableton logical key-based project file to your tutor, he downloads it, and then pushes record on the screen capturing software and evaluates your work. So, basically giving you one to one feedback. You see all of the mouse movements and any parameter changes made by your tutor. It’s kind of like sitting in the studio over their shoulder, watching what they are doing as they work. We have found the DVR process has truly revolutionized the way that we teach online. And, the results speak for themselves. Book your place in a course now, by visiting



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