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Production Tips with Das Nibley: Ableton’s Utility Effect and Width Control

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

ableton live set up

Ableton Live: Utility

Hey friends! Das Nibley back again this week with another production tip. While last week’s post was more general or philosophical advice, this week we will get more technical and take a look at one of the more underutilized effects in Ableton Live: Utility. Ableton’s Utility can perform a variety of useful tasks on anything from individual tracks to entire mixes, but the parameter we will focus on today is its Width control (the most useful in my opinion).


Width control

Since Ableton processes/outputs all audio in stereo (100% Width on Utility or how you would hear a normal unaffected track), the Width control is an incredibly useful tool for narrowing or widening audio. With the Width set to 0%, Utility effectively “removes” the sides of a stereo signal and you will hear the audio in mono (essentially straight up the middle of the stereo field). At 200% Width, the middle is removed and you are only hearing the sides of the stereo signal or the difference between the left and right channels.


It is easy to see how useful the Width control can be for a variety of situations. For example, try adjusting the Width to somewhere above 100% (say 125%) to “widen” your audio. Don’t forget though that when you do this, you are also removing signal from the middle (and vice versa for when using Width values below 100%)! If you have any questions about how to apply this to your productions, just leave a comment below and I'll get back to you. Check back next week for more tips!