Richie Hawtin
Adding Ableton to the Mix

By Steph Jorgl

Audiohead Interviews Tech Tips Events Goods and Gear Featured Music

DE9 | Transitions Richie Hawtin has been spinning and mixing records for over 20 years. But like many who have already proven their mastery of a given art, Hawtin recently decided to move beyond just the realm of vinyl, and into using computer-based, BPM-warping tools — namely Ableton Live rewired into Pro Tools HD — to expand his options for creativity.

The globe-trotting Hawtin took some time out to speak with us from Berlin and share some tips and tricks that he used to record his latest record, DE9 Transitions, and tracks for his other project Plastikman.

Ableton Versus Turntable Speed Warping
“I found that I can use Ableton Live to quickly try out ideas of what will work together with different loops and different sounds from different songs,” explains Hawtin. “Once I had some sort of idea, I would bring those tracks into Pro Tools using ReWire, and upgrade the sample and bit rate to 96K. I do that just to give it a little bit more clarity and have better processing on the effects and such.” So deejays don’t just rely on their BPM-warping minds these days!

“Ableton Live is a great application, coming from the live performance angle,” he says. “It’s very intuitive to try out different ideas and just experiment. Most of my career, as a performer or recording artist, has always been about using technology, plugging things in, letting things run and seeing what happens. I was never a big fan of planning everything out too much. I like having lots of possibilities for accidents. And Ableton is great -you can load it up, and then just start to play around and have fun and not get lost in the program. You can actually have fun making music and seeing what works together so that’s why Ableton was perfect for outlining the basic structure of “DE9 | Transitions.”

“It was also great because I could grab it on a laptop and take that laptop out with me on my performances,” he adds. “That way I could play some stuff out, mix it into Ableton, try things out and see how they worked on a crowd. So by the time I got into the studio I had a good idea already of where I was going with the album.”

Tube Trix in the DJ Mixer
Everything Hawtin does gets processed first through a customized Allen & Heath V6 mixer. “I have some Manley and other really high-end Discreet and Solid State hardware, but this DJ mixer is the best sounding thing ever!” explains Hawtin. “It’s not cheap — it’s a couple grand. But I had a modification done to it by the Allan and Health guys. It’s the full version and now every output stage has a tube on it but I also have special sends and returns so I can actually use it either as a submixer or just send something into it, through the tubes, and then back out.”

So he uses his DJ mixer in the recording process, to send in records that need to be re-encoded and, in some cases, digital files that he wants to process. “I’ll run through that to warm it up a bit,” he adds. “When you’re doing a project like this, it’s important to either retain or re-input warmth into some of the tracks, or it would just become a conglomeration of digital files.

Next page: Recording Records with Pro Tools

Richie Hawtin

1. Adding Ableton to the Mix
2. Recording Records with Pro Tools

The Secret Standard

When it comes to the decks, Hawtin relies on the tried and true. “I use high-end Shure needles on Technics 1200s turntables,” he says. “There are a bunch of web sites that talk about doing crazy modifications to your Technics 1200s and a lot of my friends have done that. But I haven’t gotten around to doing that to mine yet.”

To Hawtin’s work on DE9 Transitions, it was all about getting things to sound as good as possible coming into the computer. He explains, “Once you get the tracks in, then putting it all together really becomes more about how you put it together than the slight nuances you’re going to get from a better turntable — which may not have even been noticed in the end.”

Useful Links

Web sites and Music
Richie Hawtin Official Site
Richie Hawtin Music
Plastikman Music

Digidesign’s Pro Tools
Ableton Live
Eventide Anthology

Power Mac
Cinema Display
Allen & Heath V6 Mixer
Eventide hardware
Martion monitors
Shure needles
Technics 1200 turntable

Audio Interfaces
Pro Tools HD

Remix Galaxy

About Audiohead.netSyndicateOriginateContact

Got a suggestion? Send us your mojo and we’ll put it in our pipe.

© 2004-2006 - - All Rights Reserved.