Mastering a liquid set in Ableton??

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#1
Hi all,

First and foremost, apologies for this being my first post on here! Though I'm not new to mixing on decks, I am quite new on the mastering and production side of things - so if it shows (and it probably will!), then please have patience. I really do appreciate all the help I can get with regards to this

As part of an "artistic endeavour" I've decided to embark on, I am pushing to create a series of digital sets/mixes using Ableton Live that explore and express the musical styles that have kept my feet tapping over the years! I've just finished planning out my first one (you might be happy to hear this is liquid dnb), which has taken about 3 months of research, trial and error on the decks and a looming sense that I should maybe be doing other things with my life! Haha as a result of this, I want to make sure the sets have a good sound across varying systems. This is where you guys come in.. (I hope!)

The tracks being used are EDM (pre-mastered 320 kbps mp3), have all been 'volume levelled' (using mp3gain) to about -8db below recording volume (to give a little headroom), and will be used sequentially in Ableton's arrangement view using automated volume and EQ controls for the transitions. The first set pans out to about 2.5 - 3 hours of recording time (doubt the sets I made after this one will be much longer!).

My questions are as follows..

Would it help to EQ the tracks beforehand (esp. since they've already been mastered)? To what degree should this be carried out? I was thinking a 'less is more' approach on this would probably be better, with a slight boost to the low-ends and hi-hats whilst leaving the mid-ranges where they are.

How should I go about smoothing out the transitions? Is using compression advisable? I don't want to affect the dynamic range too much as the audio is already compressed, I was just thinking of sticking a limiter on the master to help limit any clipping.

I'm also thinking of investing in a PSP Vintagewarmer plugin and using this delicately on the master, to give the finished product a 'warm,' analog feel as opposed to the sometimes 'harsh' sound of pure digital. Does this seem like a good idea, or could it very easily come back and 'bite me in the arse'? Haha

In general, what advice could you give in this situation to make the sets sound as clean and 'un-muddy' as is humanly possible whilst not forking out thousands on a professional recording engineer? From your past experience with Ableton, can you foresee any problems with what I'm describing?

Just to clarify, I don't have an amazing monitoring environment, however to aid in this and isolate the sound - I've picked up a pair of Beyerdynamic headphones with a relatively flat frequency response, and was thinking of using these for the majority of the exercise. The computer I'm using is fast enough though not 'off-the-chart', and has a old and basic PCI soundcard installed with multiple stereo outputs (what I'm using for my headphone out).

Guys, the ball is in your court on this one..

Thanks again!

Ryan
 
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#2
Well, I wouldn't EQ a finished tune, that's for sure. It will mess the balance of the track completely.

You shouldn't need to "un-muddy" anything because the tracks you are playing are already "un-muddied".

A limiter on the master is all you should need just to level everything off and prevent any clipping during any loud transitions.
 

Rajstah Vibe

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#3
Nice thread.
It's not really often that someone post this q. In this section, but I'm actually very keen to this kind of topics, as I like to program live sets for gigs.

As stated before, a limiter with 0 threshold and 0 ceiling is the really need.
Eq, just for creative transitions or mash ups.
Investing in PSP vintage is quite a waste of money, as if you really need a little of warm you can just learn how to use Saturator of Live. It's bundle, not CPU consuming and good one.

Try to avoid Mp3 as much as you can. Use FLAC or WAV.
You can use all the warmers and compressors you want, but none of them they will get rid of the crap harsh of a compressed Mp3.
They will actually make it worse and bring more distorcion and mud from the lossy file compression.
Which controller are you gonna use?
 
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fractal

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#4
if your mixes are sounding 'muddy' at all then id suggest mixing different tunes or eqing them differently. post-processing on a mix should be kept to the bare minimum IMO
 

Howitzer

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#6
Firstly, ditch MP3 Gain. Ive used it before and it fucked a lot of my tracks up, maybe I used it wrongly, either way, never again.
Adjust the volume for each track by ear.

secondly, youre over-thinking this thing entirely. A mastering engineer was probably paid quite a lot of money to master each of the tracks youre putting in the mix. By EQing and putting vintage warmers on, etc, you'll be degrading the original sound.

Muddy mixes = bad EQ blending. Probably too much bass from both tracks, but it can be difficult with liquid dnb, just make sure youre not trying to layer vocals on vocals.

From personal experience I would mix it, bounce it then maybe run it through a 2:1 compressor if your volume is all over the place. If its stable then just normalize it to 0db.
 

RUSSLA

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#10
Basically just use the techniques you use when mixing with decks when making a set in Ableton. Imo you just need a decent filter and EQ to get it to work. Automate the bass frequencies and lop off a bit of treble as your switching and vice versa (I dont know anyone who boosts when mixing). Once you have a decent EQ and filter automation drawn in, just copy and paste that across all transitions.

Deffo dont saturate the master, just use something forgiving like the CamelPhat in built limiter to stop peaks.
 

spyre

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#11
Basically just use the techniques you use when mixing with decks when making a set in Ableton. Imo you just need a decent filter and EQ to get it to work. Automate the bass frequencies and lop off a bit of treble as your switching and vice versa (I dont know anyone who boosts when mixing). Once you have a decent EQ and filter automation drawn in, just copy and paste that across all transitions.

Deffo dont saturate the master, just use something forgiving like the CamelPhat in built limiter to stop peaks.
Basically this, I always have 2 autofilters on each track when doing mixes in ableton (HP and LP) and automate them for transitions or little edits. Also sometimes i'll use eq's for certain songs, like having one sitting on the track that takes away a bit of 200hz snare punch (or other clashing freqs) that you can automate on/off is neat.
 

Krispy

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#12
I believe I am telling you the right location for this but....

You could always try adding an "Instrument Rack" called "Mastering Suite" onto the master
Just click the down arrow on "Instrument racks"


I actually made a set in Ableton doing exactly what you explained above and added the "Mastering Suite" on it afterwards
The set is in my signature

And for mixing just stick an "EQ Three" on each channel
 
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