Creative Mixing in Launchpad for iPad

FX Secrets Series: Part 1

Great sounding effects are vital in electronic music production. You can use them to transition smoothly between musical sections, add touches of rhythmic finesse, build immersive breakdowns, or even completely transform the character of your sound.

To that end, Launchpad for iOS’s free FX are remarkably handy. They are packed with great sounding ready-to-use settings. However, while these standard FX settings are extremely entertaining, they get a whole lot more awesome when the ability to tweak them is fully unleashed…

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If you decide to get the full FX by via Launchpad for iOS’s store, you can build your own custom FX templates. You can modify FX parameters, decide which channels each effect applies to, rearrange the whole 16-button FX layout, load and save FX presets, and give your performance the edge it deserves. In this article we’ll look at Launchpad for iPad’s newly expanded FX section in more detail, and begin exploring how to get the most out of it.


Without Delay

Few self-respecting electronic music-makers would leave the house without a delay. Widely regarded as perhaps the most important effect in electronic music history, with a decent delay you can do anything from adding subtle depth and nuance to your sound, to transforming a relatively sparse loop into an attention-grabbing sound vortex.

With the latter in mind, here’s a simple delay trick to spice up any mix. Open ‘Edit FX’ and select the Delay FX. Now, select the 'Evolver’ preset from the FX Presets browser on the right. Using the yellow channel numbers across the top, switch off channels 1 + 3, engage 'FX Latch’, turn up the filter frequency a little, turn down feedback slightly, and enable the delay by pressing the red FX Pad so it turns green. [see below]

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Now let’s go back to the performance grid by pressing the ‘Edit FX’ button again.

Now, try hitting a one shot sample pad and see what happens. Pretty cool, but it gets cooler. Because channels 1 + 3 are de-selected, any beats or basslines played will be unaffected by the delay, allowing the core of the tune to continue pumping while the delay floats gracefully about on top.

This long, high-feedback delay can be extremely useful in a wide range of genres; house, dubstep, drum & bass and most others can benefit from the sonic depth that they produce. However, for really musical results, a 'send and return’ type of setup tends to work best of all…


Send and Return FX

Here’s how to setup your Delay FX to mimic a send/return configuration. Return to the Edit FX Screen, select the Delay FX you just created, and save it as a preset by clicking the little ’+’ sign, and inputting some kind of humorous name.

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Turn off Latch for this effect.

Now, select the delay in the FX slot to its immediate left, and load your newly-created preset into it. It will appear as a 'Custom’ preset in the list on the right. Now, turn off ALL the channels for this delay, turn on 'Latch’, and engage the delay by re-pressing it’s red button.

If you followed all that, what you should now have is two identical delays, one of which is fed by everything but drums and bass on a momentary switch (send), and one which is fed by nothing at all, and is permanently switched on (return). Press the 'send’ switch to feed the delay, and when the switch is released, the adjacent 'return’ carries on the delay feedback signal. You may wish to leave channels 7 + 8 engaged on the 'return’ delay, so that one-shot samples are always effected.

This is a great way of making your performances sound more musical and fluid. The ¾ timing of the delay introduces an interesting polyrhythmic effect, great on bursts of percussion, melody and sound fx. You may also notice that if you engage beat repeat or gater while feeding the delay, those effects are echoed as well. This is because the delay is the last effect in the chain. All 4 FX types may be used simultaneously to create some extremely weird and wonderful textures.


Total Recall with FX Groups

Once we’ve tailored our effects to our satisfaction, it would be nice if we could recall that FX setup in another session. This is where FX Groups come in. FX groups are a way of saving & recalling entire FX setups instantly. It works in exactly the same way as saving individual FX.

Press the little plus sign to save the state of entire FX setup, and it can be recalled from any session. The FX setup of any particular session is automatically saved with that session, and can be reset from the Edit FX screen by hitting FX Groups / Original settings.

In our next instalment, we’ll continue to explore Launchpad for iPad’s FX section and offer a few more tips on how to derive maximum satisfaction from it. Until then, enjoy…