Ableton DJs: do you set the levels of your songs?

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alearca
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Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2015 11:46 am

Ableton DJs: do you set the levels of your songs?

Post by alearca » Wed Mar 25, 2015 12:04 pm

Hi all,

First post here but been producing music on Ableton since 2009. I have recently started using it for djing too and wondering if anyone has any tips to share regarding song levels.

In my case I mix anything from house to jazz to hip hop, so songs have VERY different RMS levels and that's a problem. I'm not a fan of normalization nor of those softwares such as Mixed in Key - I want my songs to sound as close as possible to the original. So here's my idea:
- I would manually change the gain of each song to reach a RMS level of around -30. This is very time consuming (counting I have around 100 songs)
- and then re-add some gain by adding some glue compression, analog (or soft sine) saturation and limiter on the master channel.

I haven't tried it yet as it might take me some time, so I first wanted to check whether anyone had better tips to share...

depaffect
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Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 9:08 pm

Re: Ableton DJs: do you set the levels of your songs?

Post by depaffect » Tue Mar 31, 2015 3:13 am

yep- when i was djing with ableton i would just adjust each song's clip gain so it would reach a certain RMS level before i saved it into my library

as for glue compressing / limiting... i never bothered with that. the tracks have (usually) been mastered already - no one really expects a total uniform level with a dj set. i don't think there's any need for it

Stromkraft
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Re: Ableton DJs: do you set the levels of your songs?

Post by Stromkraft » Tue Mar 31, 2015 5:53 am

alearca wrote: I haven't tried it yet as it might take me some time, so I first wanted to check whether anyone had better tips to share...
While I don't use Live for DJing — Traktor user since 2000 — the normal way to do it with Vinyl or CDs is to ride the faders (as there are no input levels) when you cue up the next song and set the level by ear.

Thinking of it, you could mimic input levels with Utility on the insert though. Adjusting the volume is likely all you need.

That said, a friend of mine used convert older tracks to 24bit and compress them further. I don't feel that is necessary. I just adjust the volume.
Make some music!

stevemac
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Re: Ableton DJs: do you set the levels of your songs?

Post by stevemac » Fri May 15, 2015 11:31 am

I would assign 2 knobs on a controller to act as trim pots, like on a dj mixer. Use a utility device for this.

That way you have your channel faders to move up and down relative to each other rather than having to remember that one track is way louder / quieter.

It's crap when you finish a blend and the new track comes in but then you realise it's way quieter in volume and the vibe is lost slightly.

Not a massive deal, but a trim pot and proper cueing would solve this.

Having said all that, I did used to dj with Ableton and I would always adjust the volume a wee bit before saving to the library so that any trim movements were small and easy to manage

Tarekith
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Re: Ableton DJs: do you set the levels of your songs?

Post by Tarekith » Fri May 15, 2015 4:31 pm

I used to always set the clip volume to match the levels of my tracks when djing, no need to use something like glue though. Just don't set the rms so low.

prossi78
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Re: Ableton DJs: do you set the levels of your songs?

Post by prossi78 » Sat May 23, 2015 12:58 am

I don't DJ with Ableton yet (plan on doing some of that in the future, though) but I do use it for performance with my duo Gravity Lens. I try (operative word try) to get consistent levels with my tracks before I bring them into my performance set. I have some uniform EQs, compression, and limiters I use before exporting tracks for the performance set. From there, I get the levels as consistent as possible using the clip's gain setting. It's never perfect, but I get it as close as possible. If I can't perceive a difference, I doubt the audience can either. As a last step, I add a limiter on the master track just to be sure that there's no clipping. It's not a hard limit, though. :)

I've found it's much more of an art than a science (though if I'm doing it right--it should probably be a science. ha!)

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