Join Rick Schmunk for an in-depth discussion in this video Overview, part of Ableton Live 10 Essential Training.
- [Instructor] The mixing interface is the center of any music production system, so understanding the various buttons and knobs and how to use them plays a big role in shaping the sound of your tracks and projects. So let's open up exercise one in chapter nine and let's take a look at the mixer section here in session view. Now if your window looks any different than mine you'll want to come over here on the right hand side of the master track and select the show hide buttons that are the same as mine and I'm showing the io, the sends, the return tracks, and the mixer section.
Remember that you can click those to show and hide them or you can recall them by key command and that would be Option + Command + the first letter of the button on a Mac or Control + ALT + the first letter of the button on a PC. So to show and hide the io section I can go Option + Command + I to toggle that closed and then the same thing to open it back up. So we've already talked about inputs and outputs in the videos on audio and MIDI and I'll just remind you that we have two drop down menus for each of those.
The first one being for the specific device and the bottom one for the channel. On the outputs of both the MIDI tracks and audio tracks you'll notice here in the mixer that most of them are going to the master and that means that the audio is going to be routed over here to the master track where it's then going to be output as a single stereo audio signal. Now on this first guitar track you'll notice that it says guitar and that's because this is part of a group track and the audio is being routed from the track itself over to this group track which is then routed to the output.
Now if you want to reroute that you can. You can just click the audio two button, choose an external output and then choose a specific output and the things we see here will reflect your particular interface. So mine has four inputs and four outputs. So we see the two stereo options and then the four mono options. Let's set that back to the group track. So what I really wanted to talk about in the io area is the monitor section and we have three buttons here the input, auto, and off.
If a track is set to off you'll only be able to hear audio from the clips that are on the track. If you put the track in input you can monitor the signal from a microphone that's plugged into that track or if you're on a MIDI track you can hit a key on you MIDI keyboard and audition the sound on that track. So for example, if I go over to this plucked synth track and I put that in input monitoring I can now hit a key (plays music) and we can hear sound, but in most cases you're going to leave that at auto and that will allow you to hear the signal from the clips that are on the track or if the track is record enabled you can monitor the input to the track and again that would be by pressing a key on your MIDI controller to trigger or audition the synth that's on that track (plays music) or if you had a microphone plugged into an audio track.
Now below the io section we see the sends area and we'll be dedicating an entire video to this so I won't go into too much detail other than to say that sends allow you to copy signal from the track onto a virtual wire that will then route it through one of these return tracks and when you create a send in Ableton Live it hard wires it over to one of your return tracks. So a goes to a and the b send goes to the b return track.
You'll typically put something like a reverb or a delay over here so that you can share that processor with multiple tracks. Now below the sends area we see our mixer area and what we see here depends upon how the track is sized. For example, if I make the track narrower by putting my cursor on the edge up in the name and then dragging to the left I can narrow the size of the track and we'll notice that many of the knobs in the mixer area now just become little places where you can type values.
If I enlarge the track width now not only do we see the knobs come back, but we also see a numeric scale appear on the right hand side of the meter display. Also if you want to move your cursor to the top of the meter display you can click and drag up and increase the detail that we're able to see here in that numeric meter display on the right hand side of the meter. If you want to set the width of multiple tracks simultaneously you can do that by selecting multiple track names.
So I'm going to select the pulse base track and then shift click the bridge base track and now I can move my cursor up there in the name area and drag right or left to adjust the track width. Okay, so in the mixer area we see this meter and the meter is interesting in that it displays both average or RMS levels and peak levels. Now I'm going to play a clip on this track in a second and I want you to notice that the meter display is divided into a darker green at the bottom and a lighter green at the top.
So the darker green shows you the average or RMS level and the lighter green at the very top shows you the peak levels as they happen instantaneously. That's also reflected in this meter over here on the left hand side of the meter display. So let's go ahead and play that. (plays music) Okay, so you saw the darker green and lighter green areas.
Now we can set the level if we want by clicking on this little triangle on the right hand side of the meter display that's effectively our fader. If you want to set the level on multiple tracks we can do it the same way we were adjusting track width so if I Shift select multiple tracks here and then grab one of the volume sliders here notice that as I move that it's moving it on all of the tracks. If I do the same thing on the pan knob here you'll notice that it's changing all of those simultaneously.
Now if you need to reset those you can do that by clicking on the little arrow button at the top of your pan knob and that will reset that. You can also do the same thing, and let me lose that selection, if you've got one of these changed. If you want to reset that you can click select it and then just hit your Delete key to reset it back to its default value. Now you're probably wondering why I've got one pan knob on this track and then I've got these two values here on the track right next to it.
That's because there's a new option in Ableton Live 10. Before this version we only had one pan knob per track and now with Ableton Live 10 you're able to select what they're calling split stereo mode and you can do that by right clicking on a pan knob and choosing that top option there in the contextual menu. I do that, now you'll see that that's changed and I can send that back to the stereo pan mode by right clicking again and choosing that from the contextual menu.
Now the purpose of this split stereo mode allows you to define a very precise range in your pan. So for example if I wanted to set this mostly to the left I could extend my left panner out to 50 left, which would be the entire distance and then I could take the right panner and I could drag down and I could set that let's say to 25 and so now I'm at half way out on the left side to all the way out on the left side and that's something that I've really enjoyed being able to do in Pro Tools and I'm really glad that they've added that into the mixer section here in Ableton Live.
Now below the pan area you can see the track activator buttons. These work the opposite of the way a mute button works. So if the button is enabled or gold we'll actually hear the signal from a track and if it's disabled the track is muted. Below that we see that tracks solo buttons and if you click one of those you'll notice that it mutes the rest of the track. Now it doesn't mute the group tracks or your return tracks and the reason it's not muting the return tracks is because if you right click on that you'll notice that there is a option for solo in place and that's actually really useful, and this way when we solo this track we'll still be able to hear any signal that we're copying over here to add reverb for this track.
That way we'll be able to audition the track with reverb. Now if you want to solo a second track along with this notice that when I click the s button it cancels that one and that's because of a preference that I've currently got set. So let's go up to the Live menu and if you're on a PC preferences would be under the options menu and in the record warp launch tab there is an option here that says exclusive and the solo and arm buttons are both enabled right now.
Let me go ahead and disable those and notice that when we come back out I can now solo multiple tracks and if you want to clear those solos all you need to do is hold down your Command key if you're on a Mac or the Control key if you're on a PC an click any one of those solo buttons. We can also do the same thing with the record buttons, because we disabled that arm preference and now we can click a record button and click a second one or a third one to put those tracks into record.
Now there's no way to clear all these record buttons simultaneously other than to just click them each until you've disabled them. So notice over here on the return tracks in the master track that we only have outputs on the track, there's no input settings, and then I'll also comment that the audio level or the fader position on this master track should be left at unity gain or up here at zero. You only want to make a change there if you start to see the clipping or distortion, which is indicated by red in the meter.
Then at that point you're going to want to reduce the output level by pulling down that slider or fader until you don't see any additional clipping. Now if you want you can also put effects on the master track, so if I click the name plate up here you can see that right now I actually have a limiter on there protecting the level so that it never goes over zero. Now in the past we've talked about differences between session view and arranged view and this is one place where it's different in that whatever we're doing with the mixture controls in session view is reflected in arranged view as well.
So if I Tab over there and disable the back to record button and let's get rid of the automation. I'll press the letter a to do that, so I don't have to look at it. Now we can see our track headers without all that stuff going on. So the parameters that we see here in the mixer section directly relate and will actually change if you make a change in the other window. So if I go back over to session view and pull this fader down here, so it's no longer at minus five, when we go back over you can see that it's the same thing, it's minus 19 here as well.
If you need to see more detail increase the track height and now you can see that we've got the io buttons that we had in the other window and also we've got our track activator solo record buttons and the audio level is reflected in this read out and the panning in this one and then our three pan knobs are here. So if I'm working in arrangement view I'll make adjustments using the mixer area here in the track header, but when it really comes down to mixing the set and finishing the project it's very likely that I'm going to Tab over and I'm going to use the mixture controls here at the bottom of session view.
It's just a lot easier to see what's going on and easier to use. So now that we've discussed the basics of how the controls in the Live mixer section work we're ready to dig in and take a closer look. Check out the next video where we'll look at group tracks.
- Choosing the right gear for a home recording studio
- Setting audio and MIDI preferences
- Optimizing performance
- Loading, playing, and moving clips
- Working with Live sets
- Recording and overdubbing MIDI
- Using groove quantization
- Editing pitch, velocity, and duration
- Looping audio
- Working with locators
- Creating beats with Impulse
- Building instrument racks and drum racks
- Recording and editing automation
- Creating sounds with Wavetable
- Using Max for Live devices