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Export All Tracks Signal Path

Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 2:25 am
by claytonsquire
So I'm finally getting around to creating 8-track performance versions of my tracks and I've hit a little snag. Normally when I export a final version of a song it goes through some light mastering on the Master channel (namely compression, EQ and limiting, maybe a little light saturation). I've more or less come to peace with the fact that playing 8 stems isn't going to sound quite as good as playing the one master file, but what I'm wondering is when I use the "Export All Tracks" option, where is live sampling the outputs for each track? Is it doing a virtual Solo In Place and sampling each track at the master post-fader, or is it just sampling the post-fader output of each track before it gets inserted onto the master bus? I have a feeling that it's doing it before the master bus, but I'm curious to see if anyone else has any insight.

What I'd really love is 8 stems that when combined would equal the master out. I'm trying to devise a sum/difference method to do this and here's what I've come up with so far:

1) Export a master.
2) Export the master with one track/group muted, eg. bass (call this a "master minus track/group").
3) Repeat step (2) for all the tracks/groups you want stems of.
4) Put all the resulting files in a new session and invert the polarity of the master.
5) Solo the master and one of the "master minus track/group" tracks and export.
6) Repeat step (5) for all your "master minus track/group" tracks.

This is admittedly a bit arduous and unfortunately imperfect as obviously something like a bass will effect what the compressor on your master track is doing and thus a "master minus bass" will not truly be just that. I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this issue.

Re: Export All Tracks Signal Path

Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 5:17 am
by Trypset
you could set up resample tracks for each track you have...? record them once....then export those channels. Or preferably stop producing with something on the master track :)

Re: Export All Tracks Signal Path

Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 3:49 pm
by claytonsquire
Trypset wrote:you could set up resample tracks for each track you have...? record them once....then export those channels. Or preferably stop producing with something on the master track :)
Yeah, or just freeze and flatten everything. I put master compression/EQ/limiting on tracks for a reason: it helps glue all the parts together and give the track a more polished sound (and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only producer/engineer who does this).

I essentially tried what you are suggesting last night before posting this and the end result was, simply put, unacceptable. Could I mix the individual parts with additional EQ and compression such that their sum sounded close to the original master? Probably, but I have this nagging suspicion that there's a better way. We have DSP for a reason :)

Re: Export All Tracks Signal Path

Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 4:54 pm
by Cezband
Perhaps this is more work, but I thought I'd suggest it...

You could export the performance versions of your tracks with no master effects at all, and then set up a rack on the master of your performance set with tweaked settings for each song which resemble the original processing...then just map them to a nob or something and cycle through them with each song?

Re: Export All Tracks Signal Path

Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 7:10 pm
by claytonsquire
Hmm, that could work. I'm a little hesitant just due to CPU usage as I'm usually running Traktor simultaneously (I know, I should have them running on separate computers), but it's certainly a viable possibility. Do you know if there's a way to scroll through presets? Maybe the chain selector...? Definitely worth investigating though.

I guess I should admit my ultimate vision here is to have 8 tracks that anyone could play and have it sound as good as the master without needing the specifics of my ableton setup, as I feel that's the way EDM performance is moving anyway.

Re: Export All Tracks Signal Path

Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2010 8:25 pm
by Cezband
Yeah, If you're computer is up to it, I don't see why you couldn't have a different "master chain" for each song, then just cycle through them - set each chain to a different value, so on song 1 you use path 1, then when you start up song 2 you cycle it to path 2 and everything in path 1 turns off. In theory the inactive chains shouldn't eat cpu but I gotta admit I'm not as clued up on how Ableton manages resources as a lot of other people here. Hope you can work something out though, man...