Mastering DJ Mixes

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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LDNwell
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:15 pm

Mastering DJ Mixes

Post by LDNwell » Sat Mar 23, 2019 4:58 pm

Hi!

I'm mastering my first dj mix and need some advice if possible.

Although I've looked online for tutorials, I've not found anything helpful.

I've recorded a DJ mix in Serato and wanted to master it in Ableton, but have no idea where to start with my AIFF file - I feel its sounding compressed and needs: thickness in the volume and also consistency volume-wise across the whole mix. My initial painpoint/confusion is that when loading the track in Abelton, you have to define one BPM in the session but the mix has different BPM ranges.

Im not sure if this makes a difference, but Ive recorded my mix with the help of my headphones and controller, no speakers.

Anyone have good guidance on mastering, a step-by-step?

Da hand
Posts: 1622
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2003 8:38 pm
Location: Montreal, Canada

Re: Mastering DJ Mixes

Post by Da hand » Sat Mar 23, 2019 5:38 pm

Just turn off WARP in your clip containing your Mix (the clip containing your AIFF File) and don't worry about the BPM of the session - it will be irrelevant to what you want to do, i.e. Mastering the mix (unless you want to start filling around with the tempos of your recorded mix).

You are doing this in Arrangement View right? If not, you definitely should.

After that you will want to pick which effects you will need (mostly EQ, volume and some compression) and use automation envelopes to adjust your volumes and effects throughout the mix.

When I master long mixes with more detailed work needed, I create a Rack with each chain containing the effects/volumes I need per song and then automate a switch between them to follow the mix switching songs. That way chain1 is active on song1, chain2 is active on song2, etc.

Although this something I feel the need to do for Live mixes more. For DJ mixes it generally needs much less detailed work - as each song is already mastered, so it is more about a general balance of things.

Fanu
Posts: 388
Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2009 7:50 pm
Location: Helsinki

Re: Mastering DJ Mixes

Post by Fanu » Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:43 pm

LDNwell wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 4:58 pm
I've recorded a DJ mix in Serato and wanted to master it in Ableton, but have no idea where to start with my AIFF file - I feel its sounding compressed and needs: thickness in the volume and also consistency volume-wise across the whole mix. My initial painpoint/confusion is that when loading the track in Abelton, you have to define one BPM in the session but the mix has different BPM ranges.
You don't have to set the BPM for this type of work at all, so you can just ignore it.

There's two main things here you'll need to level a mixtape:
Compression – mainly slower RMS-based compression. This will tackle the varying levels of the mix as songs get played at the same time and the level increases; basically you'd like to have the level steady before limiting it. You don't need much quick/peak-based compression as the songs you've played are probably mastered and their dynamics are already treated in this manner. RMS compression is your friend here, and Live can do that.
Limiting – this is what makes the signal loud(er) in the end. Sadly, Ableton Limiter is, sorry to say, poor for master limiting as it will mush the transients. There's a Color Limiter in Creative Expansions pack that's a bit better if you use very short times, but it's not a real mastering-grade master limiter either.

Warping not needed. EQing not needed (your commercial songs are already EQd).

Here's a video by me that can help a little with the compression topic:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=filAcHe7iK0

I work as a mixing and mastering engineer, and if you want me to treat the file, I can do it for fairly cheap as this type of work is very easy and quick.
Just email me at fanusamurai@gmail.com if you need it (and sorry for the blunt ad!)
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Mastering & mixing by Fanu | Ableton Live Basics tutorial video
Mixing and mastering engineer | Ableton Certified Trainer

oratowsky
Posts: 109
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:09 am
Location: la

Re: Mastering DJ Mixes

Post by oratowsky » Fri Mar 29, 2019 10:50 pm

Where is the mix being published?

unless the volumes are really all over the place I wouldn't sweat it. If you're mixing with commercially released music these are already mastered.

If the volumes are all over the place, really the best solution is to automate the volume of the mix so it's more consistent. Otherwise you'll be running already mastered music into a limiter and it can sound 'overbaked' pretty quick.

if you just kinda wanna get it loud and proud super quick... Yea Ableton limiter isn't the best but it gets the job done. What you can do is put the Limiter on and push the gain up until it starts to engage just a little bit.

deerdoexx
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:31 am

Re: Mastering DJ Mixes

Post by deerdoexx » Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:49 am

That's cool you offer that service, Fanu.

I might have to hit you up in the future 8)

Fanu
Posts: 388
Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2009 7:50 pm
Location: Helsinki

Re: Mastering DJ Mixes

Post by Fanu » Sat Mar 30, 2019 7:57 am

oratowsky wrote:
Fri Mar 29, 2019 10:50 pm
If the volumes are all over the place, really the best solution is to automate the volume of the mix so it's more consistent. Otherwise you'll be running already mastered music into a limiter and it can sound 'overbaked' pretty quick.
It's alright unless you try to go louder than the track already was.
Best to reference with the tunes and make sure your mix doesn't get louder…DJ mixes are usually quite a bit quieter than released music as not very many ppl have them treated.
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Mastering & mixing by Fanu | Ableton Live Basics tutorial video
Mixing and mastering engineer | Ableton Certified Trainer

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