Simple Mastering in Ableton

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Bee Dub
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Joined: Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:13 pm

Simple Mastering in Ableton

Post by Bee Dub » Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:19 pm

I am just curious if anyone has any tips on just 'simple' mastering of a wav that I have already made in Ableton. For instance mixing a track and then taking that wav file back to live to do basic master in terms of warming/deeping the bass and raising the volume so that it is a bit louder.

Does anyone have any suggestion on what effects to use in Ableton to do this with? Again, I am not looking for a professional master, I just don't want to jeopardize any of the elements in the track, just make it a bit louder and clearer (if that is possible)...

ANY tips would be greatly appreciated, also if there is another thread on this topic (I couldn't find any that were relevant) that would also be very beneficial.

I have Ableton Live 8 LE

luddy
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Re: Simple Mastering in Ableton

Post by luddy » Sun Jul 18, 2010 5:31 pm

Well, probably the best built-in effects that Live has for mastering are the Multiband Dynamics plug and the Limiter. I really like ththe MD plug. It can compress "from below" as well as "from above", meaning that it can both raise the level of too-soft material (anti-peaks, you might call them) as well as dampen the level of too-loud material, so it's a great tool for compressing dynamic range. It can also be used to do simple 3-way eq, in the sense that you can apply gain to each of the three bands on the input as well as the output side. So, a very simple mastering chain in Live might consist of this MD plug, followed by Live's Limiter. You might get the output of the MD plug to be driving the Limiter just enough that it is acting on peaks but not engaged across the board. You can do this with the input level controls on the Limiter. The limiter threshold can be just a hair below 0dBFS, say -0.2dBFS or something like that. You can play around with the knee. What you want is basically not to hear the limiter, in spite of the fact that you are gently turning up the gain going into it. You can listen carefully through the loud passages to see whether you can detect it, and back off when you can.

EQ8 isn't a bad equalizer, even though it's not really designed for mastering. You can pop a spectrum right after it, open the spectrum up so that is "full screen" in Live, then watch for bands that are jumping out or are too depressed. Especially keep an eye on the bass. If it's putting out stuff that's just ridiculously low (e.g., below 50Hz) you might roll that off with a low cut, otherwise use a shelf on the bass (and a high shelf on the high end) to tweak those ends of the spectrum. I typically put EQ first in the chain, so that it might go EQ8 -> MD -> Limiter. If you can control the EQ through the MD plug to your satisfaction, you can skip the EQ8 altogether. Make sure EQ8 is in high quality mode if you use it.

If you are feeling brave you could try throwing a utility plug at the end and playing around with a touch of width to see whether you like what it does to the stereo image. This is very often a bad idea however as it can give you bad mono compatibility problems if you go too far with it.

I make 'rough masters' in Live all the time, although I often use some 3d party plugins along the way.

hth,

-Luddy

yleh8k
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2006 1:40 am

Re: Simple Mastering in Ableton

Post by yleh8k » Mon Jul 19, 2010 5:36 am

The simplest mastering: just make everything loud and toss a Limiter set to 0db with a lookahead of 6ms on the Master.
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Bee Dub
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Re: Simple Mastering in Ableton

Post by Bee Dub » Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:06 am

luddy wrote:Well, probably the best built-in effects that Live has for mastering are the Multiband Dynamics plug and the Limiter. I really like ththe MD plug. It can compress "from below" as well as "from above", meaning that it can both raise the level of too-soft material (anti-peaks, you might call them) as well as dampen the level of too-loud material, so it's a great tool for compressing dynamic range. It can also be used to do simple 3-way eq, in the sense that you can apply gain to each of the three bands on the input as well as the output side. So, a very simple mastering chain in Live might consist of this MD plug, followed by Live's Limiter. You might get the output of the MD plug to be driving the Limiter just enough that it is acting on peaks but not engaged across the board. You can do this with the input level controls on the Limiter. The limiter threshold can be just a hair below 0dBFS, say -0.2dBFS or something like that. You can play around with the knee. What you want is basically not to hear the limiter, in spite of the fact that you are gently turning up the gain going into it. You can listen carefully through the loud passages to see whether you can detect it, and back off when you can.

EQ8 isn't a bad equalizer, even though it's not really designed for mastering. You can pop a spectrum right after it, open the spectrum up so that is "full screen" in Live, then watch for bands that are jumping out or are too depressed. Especially keep an eye on the bass. If it's putting out stuff that's just ridiculously low (e.g., below 50Hz) you might roll that off with a low cut, otherwise use a shelf on the bass (and a high shelf on the high end) to tweak those ends of the spectrum. I typically put EQ first in the chain, so that it might go EQ8 -> MD -> Limiter. If you can control the EQ through the MD plug to your satisfaction, you can skip the EQ8 altogether. Make sure EQ8 is in high quality mode if you use it.

If you are feeling brave you could try throwing a utility plug at the end and playing around with a touch of width to see whether you like what it does to the stereo image. This is very often a bad idea however as it can give you bad mono compatibility problems if you go too far with it.

I make 'rough masters' in Live all the time, although I often use some 3d party plugins along the way.

hth,

-Luddy
Thank you very much for the in-depth analysis, I will definitely try these out in the near future. appreciate it very much!

Tarekith
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Re: Simple Mastering in Ableton

Post by Tarekith » Mon Jul 19, 2010 1:42 pm


DangerousDave
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Re: Simple Mastering in Ableton

Post by DangerousDave » Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:45 pm

^^^ all good advice, and I highly recommend Tarekith's guides, but if you read the mastering guide, do yourself a favor and read the mixing guide as well.

I just wanted to back up the point of the multiband compressor, it can be EXTREMELY useful for spatializing your track, but I would recommend that you look into how to use one before slapping one on a track. I was a little turned off by them at first because they aren't really setup like a normal compressor and they are a tad confusing at first, but they are really great for isolating and adjusting (compressing) certain areas of frequencies.

Most importantly, getting your mix sounding as good as you can BEFORE mastering is very key, (see Tarekith's guide) but the plug-ins in Live can be very useful. Try a few different plugin racks and see what works for you, and always have a purpose in mind with the tools you use.

Best
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