Hey, i'm a newbie to Ableton and music production altogether so i'm sure this question has been asked before. The two main problems i'm having (probably the most common) are, when it's exported its too quiet, and sound's very unclear, i'm assuming its from my poor mixing/mastering skills. Anyway, i'm using Ableton to mix/master a track i just did, should i set the EQ's for each of the channel's to 0db (or slightly below), then export each indivdual channel as audio, then mix those WAV's and if needed use EQ or compression on them once i bring each of them into a new Ableton project for mixing? Or is none of this even necessary.
Thanks for the help.
this might be the wrong forum for this question which might be more suited to a mixing forum, but in short...
it's not necessary.
ableton will have all the necessary tools to produce a competent mix the first time around without having to export separately and mixing them again. you're essentially doing the same thing twice.
some advice for mixing (especially if you're working with a computer) is this...
make all adjustments with your eyes closed.
decide if you need to make an adjustment.
grab that virtual fader or virtual knob in ableton with your mouse or trackpad.
close your eyes.
wiggle it around a bit so you don't know where it is.
listen and adjust it solely by ear.
repeat as necessary!
if you do a mix like that from start to finish i guarantee it'll sound better and whatever mastering engineer you send your tracks on to will probably thank you for it! plus your eyes will be way less jaded from staring at a screen!
You really are talking about a few different skills, that all take a while to develop.
First, mixing takes a lot of practice and decent equipment. Spend time learning about hearing, room acoustics, EQ, compression, reverb, and signal flow.
Once you are good at mixing, then you might want to begin to focus on mastering skills. Start by reading "Mastering Audio" by Bob Katz. If you can follow most of what he's saying, then great, if not, you have more homework to do : )
Live still has the reputation amongst a lot of serious engineers of being just for DJs and Techno producers. What a lot of people don't realize, is that Live has one of the best audio engines in the industry. Prism even uses it to test their Orpheus Firewire interface. So if you know what you're doing, its actually great for processing files during pre-mastering. Their EQ8 is 64 bit, and can even do M-S, and they have some decent dynamics processors. Eventually you will want to add some higher quality VST / AU plug-ins.
Go one step at a time, read a lot, practice more, be patient, and keep at it.
I've mixed/mastered in Ableton and I've used other programs (Samplitude, Record). They all sound a little different to me, but once you get decent at mixing it really doesn't matter. Transparent D/A conversion and accurate monitoring are necessary for mastering with any software though.
I've tried exporting raw Ableton tracks and re-mixing, but in the end I always went back to the original Ableton set and it sounded better. If anything, I would do some offline processing on individual sounds/tracks (if your DAW can't handle it real-time) with low end cuts (below 80 Hz where possible) and fine-tuning/exciting the high-end to gain clarity and lose harshness. Ableton shines when you clear up the top end and emphasize only a few elements up there, so roll off the highs where it isn't necessary and it will open the mix up. To me, ableton sounds best when I mix and master in the same session but it is hard to match levels across a series of songs, making it hard to master a whole album this way.