An Exploration of Creative Audio Spatialisation Tools for Ableton Live

  • Mortimer Pavlitski-Bell

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Electronic music composers working within Ableton Live lack integrated spatialisation tools that give global control over spatial behaviour. Popular spatialisation tools like GRM Tools Spaces (2011) and Ableton Live’s Surround Panner are tied to specific speaker layouts presenting several drawbacks. Firstly, the tools cannot be chained together as is standard practice with stereo plugins, limiting their creative potential. Secondly, Ableton Live channels are restricted to stereo, making the setup of these tools a complicated and slow process, requiring many additional channels to route spatial audio signals. Other spatialisation tools such as the IEM Plug-in Suite (2020) and Envelop (2020) use ambisonics to enable the chaining of effects but are not sufficient for composers, primarily due to their utility-focused nature or unintuitive user interfaces.

This thesis proposes a solution utilising the Max for Live device format and 5th order ambisonic audio encoding to decouple the spatialisation from a specified speaker layout and enable chaining of spatial effects. The new tools integrate effects into the spatialisation process and enable a more rapid workflow for composers. Audio examples demonstrate the creative potential of the tools.
Date of Award2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAlex Harker (Main Supervisor)

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