Making 808s using Ableton Live Operator Part 1

Making 808s using Ableton Live

In this tutorial you will learn that making 808s using Ableton Live is easy with Operator.

Operator is probably one of the most underestimated synthesizers due to its proprietary connection to Ableton Live.

But if you are not aware it is a diamond in the ruff of synthesizers. Operator is capable of producing deep and hard hitting bass tones with ease. Operator can make  808 sounds that fit well with Trap and Hip hop music.
In this Tutorial you will learn to make an 808 style kick drum with Operator.
One of the benefits of using a synthesizer to make a kick drum is being able to pitch and tune the kick to each note on the keyboard. Operator can even tune a sound to a specific frequency if needed.
Drag and drop Operator to a new MIDI track.
By default Operator loads with a sine wave selected. We will shape this sine wave into an 808 kick sound. To do so we must make adjustments to the amp envelope. First turn off Oscillators b,c, and d,.
We only need to use one.

This is what Operator sounds like by default.

        THE ENVELOPE-ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release)

Leave the Attack at zero.
Bring the sustain down as show in the screenshot. Extend the Release to get rid of the clicking sound. Adjust the Decay to taste. The Decay will determine the length of the kick.

Long Decay Example:

Short Decay Example:


(More than one note playing at a time is not necessary,)

Making 808s using Ableton Live


Next we will adjust the pitch envelope to give the kick more PPUNCH!!!

Turn on the pitch envelope and make it look similar to the ADSR envelopeOperator Pitch envelope

Turn the picth percent to at least 10% (if set to zero the effect is still off)

Adjusting the decay will increase the effect

high pitch

Long Pitch Decay example:

low pitch

Short Pitch Decay example:

In part 2 you will learn how to add flavor to your 808s using Ableton Live’s built in effects and processors…

Operator was used extensively in one of our feature soundsets “Subfinity”
Download free Operator 808 presets here

Purchase Ableton Operator
Ableton Live Homepage offers various 808 samples and 808 synth presets, download them here.
Stay tuned for more tutorials in the 808 secrets series from


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