For those unfamiliar with Ableton Live 10‘s Simpler, let’s explore a virtual instrument that integrates the basic elements of a sampler with classic synthesizer parameter settings.

Concretely simpler…

Simpler includes some of the features of live clips such as Warp. Warp mode audio clip playback in Simpler automatically plays the loop at the tempo of your composition. It doesn’t matter what note you play on the keyboard or with push2, interesting…

Let’s discover the interface.

Simpler to a simple interface, so to speak! It consists of two parts:

Small tricks by clicking on the button as in the image below, you will get a split view where the settings in the Controls tab take up all the space in the device window.

Simpler with loop
The detached view of Simpler

Swiss Army knife in Ableton.

One-shot samples or audio loops are dropped in.

Which forces me to talk about reading modes.

What sample player do you want?

In Simpler, the display mode selector allows you to choose one of three sample playback modes. For information we find the management of these modes via the Push2. As shown in the picture below.

Play Modes
Simpler modes

So Classic, 1-shot or Slice?

– The Classic mode

– 1-Shot mode

– Slice mode

Sliced by menu
Sliced by menu

I confess to being a fan of this mode that I regularly use to reappropriate sounds from loops and reinterpret them at my convenience.

Let’s go back to the classic

To give you a better understanding of the Classic mode, let’s detail what we see in the Sample tab.

Classic Simpler mode
Classic mode settings

Some information about the 1-Shot mode

1-Shot Mode view
1-Shot Mode

This is a very useful mode for percussion or drum samples.

Slice mode to reveal your talent

Sliced Mode
Sliced Mode view

Slice mode is one of my favorite modes.

Little trick to use !!!

In Transient mode, using the CMD shortcut by clicking on a slice will toggle between manual and automatic slicing. Slices created manually in Transient mode are preserved regardless of the Sensitivity setting.

A little bit of Warp

The Warp mode in Simpler works just like for audio clips, as I said earlier in this article, it allows you to work with samples that instead of having their own rhythm and being played at different pitches because of the playback speed, are playable at Ableton’s tempo speed. This is very handy for drum beats to quickly synchronize them to different playing tones from the original version. I’ll come back in a future article about the Warp mode. Because it’s a very powerful live tool.

Apart from using it with drum loops, it’s extremely powerful with guitar loops and really I’m a big fan of it.

Flirting with the Filter

Filtre Simpler
On the left the filter in Clean mode and on the right in OSR mode.

The Filter section of Simpler offers various types of filters:

As with synthesizers the most important filter parameters are:

When using a filter other than the Clean filter, an additional potentiometer called drive appears to add distortion upstream of the filter.

When we talk about a filter we obviously mean high pass, low pass, notch bandpass. In Simpler there is a special filter called Morph that you find when you select Clean or OSR. The Morph knob continuously changes the filter type in a loop from low-pass to band-pass to high-pass to notch to come back to low-pass. I recommend that you experiment with this filter.

Morph Filter mode
Morph via OSR filter

Oldies but goodies

Open a Set that was created in a version of Live prior to 9.5, any Simpler in the Set will open with the old filters instead of the filters mentioned above. These are standard 12dB or 24dB filters, which do not have a Drive control. Each Simpler loaded with the old filters will display an upgrade button in its title bar. Having all my sets updated for Ableton Live 10, I have not found any older versions in my hard drives to show you.


In Simpler there are 3 Standard ADSR envelopes.

Simpler's envelopes
Filter, Amplitude and Pitch Envelopes

Each with its own settings as in the picture above. The influence of the envelopes on the filter’s cutoff frequency and pitch can be adjusted via the Amount parameter. For the amplitude envelope, the following list of settings can be found in the mode setting at the top next to Time:

Time defines the time required to go from the hold level to the initial value.

LFO low frequency oscillator history

The LFO window
The LFO window

The LFO offers sinusoidal, square, triangular, sawtooth down, sawtooth up and random waveforms. It oscillates freely at frequencies between 0.01 and 30 Hz, or synchronizes to divisions of the set tempo. In Simpler, the LFOs are applied individually to each voice, or note played, which is particularly interesting.

It’s very interesting to spend some time on the envelopes and the LFO. Believe my experience.

Global parameters

Global parameters
Global parameters

For information Simpler plays the sample at its original value on the note of C 3rd Octave. Delicate when importing a sample in another key than C 3. Fortunately in this section of Simpler the transpose parameter allows you a range of +/- 48 semitones to tune your sample correctly.

It’s a shame that you can’t find the same mode of operation as in Sampler or that you can enter the sample note directly in Root Key mode.

A quick word about Glide mode. This glide mode allows you to switch from one played note to the new played note. Glide exists in two versions Glide which works monophonically and Portamento which works polyphonically.

Spread allows you to enlarge a mono sample to be tested with discernment.

Pan or pan in standard setting. It can be modulated by the LFO.

Ran>Pan assigns a random factor to panning.

In conclusion

For me Simpler is a real Swiss Army Knife in Ableton Live 10. Its evolution over the versions makes it indispensable and allows to have a simplistic approach quite different from an extremely complex sampler. It’s a pure joy to build your own banks in Simpler knowing that you can access if you right-click on the Simpler title bar to a drop-down menu to convert to Drum Rack or to Sampler. Certainly some will tell me that you lose the Slice mode, but it’s still interesting.

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