To get more control over your beat than you can with the macro controls, click the ”Edit” tab in the top bar. On the Edit page, you will find all the controls that are present on the Explore page, but also a detailed breakdown of the beat, complete with advanced sound processing parameters and a powerful pattern sequencer.
The slices in the beat are grouped into four lanes. These are like the lanes in your average drum machine, but each lane can have more than one sample (slice) assigned to it. If there’s more than one slice in a lane they’re played as alternating hits (”round robins”). This lets you create complex dynamic beats that are nonetheless easy to edit.
The ”Slices” column shows the slices that are assigned to each lane as small colored squares: each square has the same color as the slice it represents. By default, slices are assigned to the lanes automatically based on similarity, taking into account your favorited and skipped slices. This is indicated by the ”Auto” toggle at the top of the ”Slices” column, which is on by default.
You can override the automatic slice assignment using drag and drop:
- To add a slice, drag the slice that you want to add from the waveform to one of the lanes. Drop it on one of the colored squares in the lane to replace that slice. If there are fewer than 8 slices assigned in total, you can also drop it on an empty slot to add it without replacing anything.
- To move a slice, drag one of the colored squares from one lane to another lane. Drop it on one of the colored squares in that lane to replace that slice, or on an empty slot next to the colored squares to move it without replacing anything. Hold down the [Option] key on Mac or [Ctrl] key on Windows while dragging to copy the slice instead of moving it.
- To remove a slice, drag one of the colored squares and drop it anywhere in the dark area outside of the ”Slices” column.
Under the hood, Life uses 8 channels to play all of the slices. This means that you can have max 8 slices assigned in total, shared between lanes. If you already have 8 slices assigned in total, you can only replace existing slices, you can’t add more.
When you assign slices manually, auto-assignment is turned off, so the slices you have assigned stay in place when you tweak the macro controls. To turn auto-assignment back on, click the ”Auto” toggle.
The ”Sound” column controls the sound processing applied to each lane. You can disable processing completely by clicking the ”Processing” toggle above the lanes. This disables both the processing applied to each lane, and the processing applied to the entire kit and master, letting you hear the beat with the raw unprocessed slices.
The lane parameters let you change the processing applied to the slices in each lane:
Adjust the volume of the slices, from –∞ dB (complete silence) to +10 dB.
Adjust the pitch of the slices up or down one octave in semitone steps. Hold down the [Shift] key to make finer adjustments. The two ”Stereo Pitch Offset” buttons shift the left and right sides by different amounts for additional stereo width. (To turn all pitch adjustments on/off, click the ”Pitched” toggle in the control bar.)
Adjust the stereo balance of the slices, from –100% (left only), to +100% (right only). The two “Haas” buttons delay the left or right side for additional stereo width.
Apply a smooth “tilt” style EQ to the slices. Negative values increase the bottom end and decrease the top end, while positive values increase the top end and decrease the bottom end.
Apply a soft cut filter to the slices, removing frequencies above or below the frequencies that you set.
Reverb & Delay
Add reverb and delay to the slices by sending a percentage of the output to the reverb and delay FX units.
Adjust the Transient, Hold and Decay time of the slices.
Add two or more lanes to the same Mute Group to make them mute each other, e.g. to make a closed hihat sound mute an open hihat sound. Add a single lane to a Mute Group to make it mute itself, i.e. to get monophonic playback.
Route different lanes to separate output buses for advanced mixing and processing in your DAW. Not available in standalone.
The kit parameters let you change the processing applied to the entire kit, before it goes into the master FX.
Adjust the volume of the entire kit, from –20 dB to +20 dB.
Adjust the pitch of the entire kit up or down one octave in semitone steps. Hold down the [Shift] key to make finer adjustments. (To turn all pitch adjustments on/off, click the ”Pitched” toggle in the control bar.)
Reverb & Delay
Add reverb and delay to the entire kit by sending a percentage of the output to the reverb and delay FX units.
The FX parameters let you control the reverb and delay applied to the sends in each lane and in the entire kit section.
You can change the type of reverb algorithm, change the reverb length, and change the reverb tone.
You can change the type of delay algorithm, change the delay feedback amount, and change the delay tone.
The master parameters control the effects applied to the master output, including the reverb and delay.
Add some distortion to the master out. You can change the type of distortion algorithm, and the amount of distortion that’s applied.
Apply a cut filter to the master out, removing frequencies above or below the frequencies that you set.
A great way to experiment with different processing settings is to use the ”Sound Variation” macro control. It smoothly adjusts all of the processing parameters at the same time. When you change any of the parameters yourself, the macro control is reset to zero, and your edited parameter settings become the new starting point for the macro control.
The ”Pattern” column shows the sequencer pattern for each lane, giving you detailed control over what slices are triggered and when.
A & B
Each lane has two patterns, A and B, shown on top of each other. To make the B pattern into an exact clone of the A pattern, click the ”clamp” to the right of the patterns. The ”AB / AAAB” toggle at the top controls how the A and B patterns are chained. Either the A and B patterns are played alternatingly, or the A pattern is played three times and then the B pattern once.
Click the steps in a pattern to add or remove notes. Click multiple times to cycle through the slices in the lane. Drag up/down or scroll to adjust velocity. Drag sideways to “paint” (or erase) multiple notes at the same time. (Drag up/down and sideways simultaneously to paint velocity on multiple notes at the same time.)
Click the small dots below the steps to add or remove rolls. Drag up/down or scroll to adjust roll speed. Drag sideways to “paint” (or erase) multiple rolls at the same time.
Adjust the timing of the notes in the lane up to half a step (16th note) forward or backward in time.
Click the left and right arrows in the ”Pattern” section above the lanes to move the sequencer pattern in all lanes one step forward or backward in time.
A great way to experiment with different sequencer patterns is to use the ”Pattern Variation”, ”Density”, ”Syncopation”, and ”Symmetry” macro controls. They smoothly adjust the pattern in all lanes at the same time. When you edit the pattern yourself, the macro controls are reset to zero, and your edited pattern becomes the new starting point for the macro controls.
Tempo and groove
The sequencer is controlled by the tempo and groove settings in the control bar:
The tempo is set in beats per minute (bpm). By default, the tempo changes automatically to match the new beat when you randomize and browse beats. Also, each beat in your shortlist can have a different tempo, so switching between them can change the tempo. Click the ”Lock” icon to keep the same tempo setting when randomizing/browsing and when switching beats.
The groove determines which steps, if any, are delayed to add swing or humanize the beat. You can choose between different groove types, and control the amount of groove that is applied. Each beat in your shortlist can have different groove settings. Click the ”Lock” icon to keep the same groove settings when switching beats.
Add a kick to the beat
The beats you create in Life make great “sprinkles” on top of a rhythmic backbone, like a kick drum. You might already have a kick drum set up in your DAW, but if you don’t, you can easily add one inside Life. Just click on the “Kick” button in the control bar, and a kick drum with a standard four on the floor pattern is added to your beat. We call this the “Kicktronome”.
Click the up/down arrows next to the pattern to cycle through a number of standard kick drum patterns. You can edit the steps in the pattern the same way you edit patterns in the lanes.
By default, a suitable kick sample is selected automatically when you switch between the kick patterns. Click on the word ”Auto” to set it to a specific sample, or click the up/down arrows to cycle through all available samples.
Route the kick to a separate output bus for advanced mixing and processing in your DAW. Not available in standalone.
Each beat in your shortlist can have different kick settings. Click the ”Lock” icon to keep the same kick settings when switching beats in your shortlist.
Control how the source file is sliced
When you record or import an audio file, it is sliced automatically into one-shot samples, saving you the work of manually slicing the file. However, if the automatic slicing isn’t to your liking, you can always edit it manually. To edit the slicing, click the ”Slice Points” button to the left of the waveform. This opens the slice editor.
At the top of the slice editor is the overview area, which shows the entire waveform of the source file, as well as the ”view frame”, which represents the area of the waveform shown in the editor.
- To zoom in the overview, scroll or drag vertically on the top/bottom edge of the view frame.
- To pan in the overview, drag horizontally on the top/bottom edge of the view frame.
- To resize the view frame, drag horizontally on any of its corners.
- To jump directly to a slice, click on the slice in the overview. This will select and play the slice and pan so the start of the slice is at the center of the editor.
At the bottom of the slice editor is the editor area. This is where you add, move and remove slice points.
- To add a slice point, click the white + button at the top of the waveform. If the + button is gray, you are too close to another slice point to add a slice point.
- To move a slice point, hover over the slice point until you get the drag cursor, then drag the slice point to where you want it. If the slice point turns black while dragging, you are too close to another slice point to drop the slice point there.
- To remove a slice point, hover over the slice point until you see the ”Trash” icon below the waveform, then click the ”Trash” icon.
You can also zoom and pan directly in the editor area, as well as navigate using the buttons at the bottom of the panel:
- To zoom in the editor, scroll or drag vertically anywhere in the editor except on a slice point.
- To pan in the editor, drag horizontally anywhere in the editor except on a slice point.
- To jump to the previous/next slice, click the < and > buttons at the bottom of the panel, or use the [Arrow Left] and [Arrow Right] keys. You can also use the [Arrow Down] key to play the currently selected slice.
When you’re satisfied with your slicing changes, click ”OK” to apply them, or ”Cancel” to get back the slicing you had before entering the slice editor. If you ever want to get back to the automatic slicing after you’ve made your own changes, click the ”Run auto-slicer” button.