Mixing and Mastering in one set?

I wanted to ask other Live-Members how they master their songs. Till now, when one song was properly finished and mixed, I exported it WITHOUT any mastering-plugins on the master channel, just to load it in a new Live-set with some mastering tools (EQ, Mix-Gel, Multiband-Comp, Limiter).

When all the mastering was done, I exported a new file, and loaded it again in another Live-Set, to compare it to other results. In this way I improved my songs.

But the longer I did it this way, the more annoying it was, because if there was something wrong in the mix, I had to open the first arrangement again and so on..


The reason while I'm doing it so complicated is, that a sound-engineer told me, Live's Mix-engine is not really programmed for studio-producing but for live-performance and if I overload my master-channel in my first set-up I will lose quality.

--> Is that right? Someone else told me, that I dont have any lack of quality on 64bit systems..


How do professionals work? It would be really more easy, if I could do mixing AND mastering in one set-up to export only ONE final file (that I can compare in another setup)!

Therefore I have to say, that my cpu-load is in the first set already about 70% WITHOUT any mastering-plugins on the master channel!

Do I lose quality in the exported file when I work with a cpu-load of 80-90% while exporting the file?

Would be great if anyone could help me!



Lorey 6 years ago | 0 comments

4 answers

  • Mark One
    68 answers
    163 votes received
    5 votes

    There is no reason (I am aware of) why loading your CPU would give you a lower quality output unless it was so loaded that the CPU was maxing out. The problem with loading the CPU during live playback is that you run the risk of glitches if you do max out the CPU during a particular section of the song. This problem is not so relevant in the studio as you can increase the load your CPU can handle by increasing "Buffer Size" (Preferences-Audio-Latency). This of course gives you some delay between audio and the screen display but it can be tolerated to a certain degree, especially during the mastering stage. 

    I personally prefer to master in the set and use a number of techniques depending on the source material. If you are low on CPU you can always 'Freeze' some of your tracks to reduce CPU load before using mastering plugins. I endeavour to use Ableton's built-in plugins wherever possible as they generally use less CPU than 3rd party plugins.

    Here's a track I mastered in the set and only using Ableton plugins (the glitches in the bass at the start of the track are due to Soundcloud's transcoding):


    In this way it is much easier to edit the mix if something really doesn't work in the master stage. Also you can save your master plugin chains for each set and this enables you to delete and reinstate them if you then wish to perform a set live and don't want the extra CPU load.

    At the final export stage if you are rendering there should not be any problem with the CPU load the rendering will just take longer, after all it is only doing calculations, the more it has to do the longer it takes... If you are re-sampling then CPU load is an issue if it's maxing out and causing glitches. Careful listening is the key but as long as CPU load doesn't go over about 80% there should be no problems, again increase the "Buffer Size" at this point to give the CPU maximum headroom.


    6 years ago | 0 comments
  • warper
    10 answers
    12 votes received
    2 votes

    hey Thx,

    (would be nice to know your name...)

    if you read the manual, in Chapter 31 Ableton explains, in which case the sound is a neutral or non neutral operation. So, mixing/mastering is getting non neutral because of plugins, not because of the host. In technical aspects, i think, there is no reason why you should NOT master in LIVE. So, I think, the position of your sound engineer is wrong.

    I for myself, would prefer the way you did before: first Mixdown, new session, then mastering. A good mix is worth for this  more work... BUT: if you render your mixdown: be aware that audio export is WITHOUT dithering!!! Use dithering ONLY FOR ONE TIME: by creating the final 44.1kHz/16bit-CD-File!

    6 years ago | 0 comments
  • gdomusic
    28 answers
    65 votes received
    2 votes

    I like to "print" my tracks and sub groups (including all instruments and effects) to audio, by either freezing and flattening or resampling to a new track. This reduces massive amounts of CPU. Before I print, I will highlight the track or group, and bring it into the file browser for the Live set I am working on. It is located in the 1st of the 3 numbered folders located below the plugin icon on the left hand side of the screen.

    By dragging the track  here, all your samples, effects, automation are saved as a new session file. You can then delete the track(s) from your set after you have the audio. It's a great way for making and working with stems. In this way, you can take a session that was maxed out CPU wise and bring it down to 10% or less.

    In addition, you will also have your original tracks, instruments and settings saved in your file browser for the set. Any time you need to go back, click on folder 1 and drag what you need back into the set and it is instantly recalled. Tweak what needs tweaking, render new audio, and you are ready to continue with mixing or mastering your project. 

    As far as mastering is concerned in my process, I wait until all of the major elements in the track are happening (peaking at about -6db) before I will place anything on the master bus. Limiting colors your sound and your mix. If your not careful, it will trick your ears into making some suboptimum mixing choices. I double check my decisions, by routinely A/B-ing between no mastering FX and with mastering FX. As far as FX go, I recently started using iZotope Ozone. I think it is fantastic and wish that I had access to it years ago. If you are just getting started with the software, Dubspot has some great videos going through the basic-basics of it's use. 

    6 years ago | 1 comment
  • hatefish
    1 answer
    1 vote received
    1 vote

    well I am trying another approach. I export the stems into Studio One Artist. For the moment it is an "experimental" procedure... but I found some of the features in Studio One quite useful for the mastering purposes (e.g. maybe a better mixer, and (definitely) the chance to hide/unhide the tracks that in complicated mixes is really useful)

    6 years ago | 0 comments

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