Mastering sets in Ableton??


Feb 21, 2013
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, 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!

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Well-Known Member
Mar 19, 2003
Kirkland WA
First of all I would not use MP3s to make tracks, it's a lossy compression format. That means some data is left out for smaller file size, vs a full fidelity .wav or .aif.

From my mix, where you eq and compress, add effects to individual tracks.
Then export a stereo file, send off to be mastered or self-master.( preferably in Mastering-centric app)

Then from the high quality file you generate the Mp3

Be aware that largest factor in getting a good mix, is the ROOM, and monitor system.