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Setting up Ableton outputs for live performance

Posted: Sun Sep 13, 2015 9:04 pm
by stza maa
Hey there all,

So, I've been thinking about this question for a couple months and I'm still not sure how to write it the best..

Basically, I have a live setup where I'm looping several instruments live (guitar/bass/synth) and triggering samples via FCB1010 and MPKmkll. Im running the instruments into a Scarlett 18i20 and then into Ableton. Now, I'm gonna be starting to play venues and i want to know what would be the best way to set up my outputs for the sound board.

I have played a few house concerts before, and what i did was pre mix all the songs on a PA before hand so i just had to run from my scarlett the main left and right stereo outs from the ableton master into a stereo channel in the 8 channel mixer. Twas pretty easy and it sounded good, Except for one show that had one of those mono Bose tower things. That didn't help with all my stereo delays haha

Now, all of my songs have different tones and some have multiple bass (synth/bass guitar) or several drum racks or even a handful of synth etc. I have thought that maybe i would have to just group the instruments and set them to a designated output on the scarlett. -i.e guitars to output channel 1 -- Synths to channel 2 -- Basses to channel 3 etc.. Thus giving the sound guy control over the levels

This seems all fine and whatnot, but these songs have been mixed and produced to the master rack that I've created and the sound quality drops significantly when i lose the Multiband EQ and glue compressor and all the little nicknacks.

SO i guess the question that I'm wanting to ask is.. Should i stick to my old way and just make sure the set is mixed well to a PA system and then just leave those set tracks alone? Or is there another was that this would make it easiest on a sound tech by giving him some control and me still not losing the audio quality of my mixes..?

I hope that this made enough sense for anyone who reads it. I appreciate any help or input. If it at all helps, ill post my soundcloud which has an example of the songs in question. They are the live tracks.


Re: Setting up Ableton outputs for live performance

Posted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:10 am
by blastique
Hi Stacy,

My advice would be to either:

1. Work closely with the live sound engineer and get him familiar with the balance of all of your material before the event, and also have a dry run with him handling your balance (at least in the studio), record it and listen back to it together with him so that you can address any balance issues that may fall out of any acceptable ranges you may have. The advantage of this approach is that you'll get a venue-suitable "mix" if the engineer is really on the ball and experienced.


2. As you suggested - get your mix to where it needs to be for each set, but also get a mastering engineer's opinion on what will effectively form your final output audio. I personally would not rely on a mastering chain on the output to the point that without it my set suffers, and would rather focus on getting the mix to the point that it is just about there spectrally and dynamically, short of the limiter. Depending also on how their board is set up (for Live bands vs DJs), would determine whether it might be a better idea to depend on their limiter rather than yours for a better end result.

Hope that helps.

Re: Setting up Ableton outputs for live performance

Posted: Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:53 pm
by stza maa
Thanks for the reply!

Now, the only problem is that i don't think i would be able to get much time with the sound engineer. Most of the shows i play with my band, the guy shows up late and kinda just figures it out as he/she goes along.

And the reason that i have that master chain on my songs is cuz i usually export them to listen while I'm out and to get idea or to post them on the internet, or whatever. SO you're saying that if i remove the chain, the sound engineer would be able to compensate for my loss of multi band eq and compression. The mixes sound good dynamically on their own, but they just sound flat without that master chain on. Keep in mind, I'm playing most of this with live instrumentation, so I'm unable to freeze a lot of tracks. My cpu usually gets pretty high on any given song, and i am looking into a new computer, but i really just want what comes out of my interface to be what the audience hears. with just minor adjustments to the low end or whatever is necessary for that particular bar or venue. These will also be small shows.

anyhoo, thanks for your reply. Perhaps some other suggestions will come up and i can blend a few together or someting

Re: Setting up Ableton outputs for live performance

Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2015 2:05 am
by fishmonkey
unless you know that the sound engineer is good, and that he/she understands and cares about the sound you are after then you are better off feeding him a stereo master, not stems...

Re: Setting up Ableton outputs for live performance

Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2015 9:05 am
by stza maa
Thanks for the reply Fishmonkey.

That is kind the answer i was hoping for. I know that a lot of sound engineers do if for a full time job, and some arnt really that into it every night, especially on a small scale, so leaving them to have control over it worries me. I was kind thinking that they would maybe just be able to eq my mixes to fit the setting and not the actual levels of my instruments, cuz they're all coming out of ableton.

I appreciate the feedback on this question thats been on my mind for a while


Re: Setting up Ableton outputs for live performance

Posted: Fri Sep 18, 2015 9:54 am
by fishmonkey
in reality there isn't enough work for most sound engineers to do it as a full-time job...