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Working with the mixer

From: Up and Running with Ableton Live 9

Video: Working with the mixer

After recording our musical idea, arranging it into Arrangement view, adding effects and changing parameters over time using automation envelopes, it's time to mix our song and to make all the different elements in the song work together. So, for that, we're going to create the new Live set, go into File > New Live Set, and let's save it already. Go into File > Save Live Set as, and I'm going to call it Mixing Project. Now, let's go to the folder where we exported all the tracks, and I'm going to import them into the Arrangement view.

Working with the mixer

After recording our musical idea, arranging it into Arrangement view, adding effects and changing parameters over time using automation envelopes, it's time to mix our song and to make all the different elements in the song work together. So, for that, we're going to create the new Live set, go into File > New Live Set, and let's save it already. Go into File > Save Live Set as, and I'm going to call it Mixing Project. Now, let's go to the folder where we exported all the tracks, and I'm going to import them into the Arrangement view.

So first, let's switch to the Arrangement view. I'm going to hit the Tab key, go back to the Finder, and we can see we also have A-Reverb and B-Delay. We didn't use them, so they are basically going to be silence audio files. So, I'm going to choose them and delete them. I'm also going to delete the Mix test, which is the export from the master track, which is going to play the entire song before mixing, so we don't really need it right now. So, I'm going to also delete that one. I'm going to choose all the audio files by holding Shift, and I'm going to drag them into Ableton Live.

They're going to be placed one after another. So, to be placed on each individual tracks, I'm going to hold Command or Ctrl. Let's go to Live. Now, we have all the tracks imported into our mixing project. I'm going to click on one of the tracks. I'm going to hit Command+A or Ctrl+A to choose all tracks, and I'm going to hit the left arrow in my computer keyboard to fold all tracks.

Now, let's rename them. I'm going to click Command+R or Ctrl+R and rename it. I don't even have to hit Enter. I can just hit the down arrow key to quickly rename everything. I'm going to arrange the tracks. So, I'm going to take all the drums to the top, give them the same color. Backing Lead with a Guitar Lead.

The Bass, the Guitar with a Reverse Guitar, Transition, and Focus. I'm also going to color the clips the same color. As you can see, I'm first clicking on the track to see what color it is and then I am coloring the clips. It's also a good practice to delete the silence in the audio clips. You don't have to do that, but it might free up some CPU power in really big projects.

Place the play bar and hit Command+E or Ctrl+E to split, do the same with auto-silence, and delete the silence clips. We can do the same with all of them. But for now, I am only going to do it for the drums, because once again, this is not a must step, but it's a good practice to do. So, clicking again, Command+E or Ctrl+E to split the clips and delete the silence parts.

The Mixer Device in Live can be used from both Arrangement and the Session view. But in the Arrangement view, you will have to unfold the tracks and then use the Mixer Device next to them. I prefer using the Mixer Device in the Session view because we have a much more classic analog mixer layout. The first stage in my mixing process is to adjust the volumes and pan positions of each track to make them blend together in a much more musical way.

So first, let's work only on the drums. I'm going to solo all of them by holding Command or Ctrl and hitting the Solo buttons. Let's go to the Arrangement view by hitting the Tab key and loop a section of the song where all the drums are playing. Turn on Loop, go back to Session, and play them. (music playing) So, I want to place the perc and hats. Let's move the snare on. I want to place the hats slightly to the left in the stereo field and the perc slightly to the right, and I'm also going to turn the perc a tiny bit down, and also the hats.

(music playing) Let's add the bass to the mix. (music playing) So, as you can see, I adjusted the pan position and the volume of each track and slowly added more tracks into the mix to make them more balanced and work together.

If you want to see exactly where you are in the pan position, you can look at the status bar on the bottom. It will indicate what number you are in the track panning. Right now, I'm 13 L, which is 13 Left, or 15 L, which will give you a more accurate measure to the panning. If you want a more detailed view of the Mixer Device, you can expand it up and have much more space to observe the meters in the mixer. The first stage of mixing might be the most important one, and that's to make everything balanced and to work together musically.

I would recommend leaving the master track where it is and not touching it at all. If the master track volume is reaching the reds, you can choose all the tracks by holding Shift, and change the volume, which will change all the volumes together. (music playing) Although you can see we have a lot more to turn up, it's always good to leave a space, which is called headroom, for the mixing part, so in the less part, in the mastering, we can push it up and then bring the levels up.

The first mixing stage will help you get a rough mixing for your song. So, take your time adjusting the volumes, pan positions, renaming, and coloring the tracks, so we can keep organized and move on to the next step of the mixing.

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Up and Running with Ableton Live 9

33 video lessons · 5556 viewers

Yeuda Ben-Atar
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