Master Fader in Ableton Live

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strat1980
Posts: 20
Joined: 25 May 2021

Post 05 Jan 2022

Hi, I wanted to share something because it has caused me some headaches myself.
While composing, I usually don't care much about clipping because it doesn't matter when working "in the box". When I want to export later, I usually just pull the master fader down a few db so that it doesn't get above 0 db before I master with Ozone.This works well in Reason. But not so in Ableton Live. Here the master fader has no effect at all on the actual volume. I only realised this when I measured it with the Youlean Meter. Maybe everyone knew that again. I didn't know it before. The only remedy is a utility in the master channel. Of course, you can also adjust the individual channel faders accordingly. :-)

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selig
RE Developer
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Post 05 Jan 2022

strat1980 wrote:
05 Jan 2022
Hi, I wanted to share something because it has caused me some headaches myself.
While composing, I usually don't care much about clipping because it doesn't matter when working "in the box". When I want to export later, I usually just pull the master fader down a few db so that it doesn't get above 0 db before I master with Ozone.This works well in Reason. But not so in Ableton Live. Here the master fader has no effect at all on the actual volume. I only realised this when I measured it with the Youlean Meter. Maybe everyone knew that again. I didn't know it before. The only remedy is a utility in the master channel. Of course, you can also adjust the individual channel faders accordingly. :-)
Curious where you measured it - some DAWs such as Pro Tools have master inserts post fader so mastering inserts are the last process in the signal path. Lowering the fader in that case would affect the processing but may not have much effect on the final output depending on the processing in use.

This would only work in Reason if you patch Ozone after the master outputs. That said, you don’t need to do this. Ozone will still keep levels at 0 dBFS or below depending on ceiling setting.

Other options are to avoid the problem in the first place, which is my preferred approach. By simply turning up your monitor level and setting source levels lower (both when recording audio or using software instruments), you can still rock out when composing but not ever worry about clipping inputs or output. Make sense? :)
Selig Audio, LLC

strat1980
Posts: 20
Joined: 25 May 2021

Post 05 Jan 2022

selig wrote:
05 Jan 2022

Curious where you measured it - some DAWs such as Pro Tools have master inserts post fader so mastering inserts are the last process in the signal path. Lowering the fader in that case would affect the processing but may not have much effect on the final output depending on the processing in use.
I have now done some more research. Ableton's master inserts are always pre-fader. Apparently there is no way to change this.

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ShelLuser
Posts: 348
Joined: 25 Aug 2019

Post 05 Jan 2022

I really fail to understand the issue here... I guess you just discovered that different DAW's work in different ways?

Sorry if this sounds harsh but seriously... The master channel on Live is just that: the channel where everything "leaves" the DAW and because it's a channel like any other it works just like any other: sound comes in, goes through any optional effects and leaves.

But inserts... not sure what you mean by that. If you mean added effects then yah, obviously they get processed first; why else would they be on the master channel? If you meant inserts then... no, you can pick for yourself if you want this pre or post where the default is post.

No offense intended but you make it sound as if this is weird somehow, but it isn't. Reason behaves exactly in the same way. Note that I am referring to adding insert effects to the Master Section. Unless you click 'bypass' they will be used no matter what and the master level will not affect this.

Insert returns otoh will behave differently, but that too is pretty much the same for Live.
--- :reason:

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selig
RE Developer
Posts: 10232
Joined: 15 Jan 2015
Location: The NorthWoods, CT, USA

Post 05 Jan 2022

strat1980 wrote:
05 Jan 2022
selig wrote:
05 Jan 2022

Curious where you measured it - some DAWs such as Pro Tools have master inserts post fader so mastering inserts are the last process in the signal path. Lowering the fader in that case would affect the processing but may not have much effect on the final output depending on the processing in use.
I have now done some more research. Ableton's master inserts are always pre-fader. Apparently there is no way to change this.
Interesting - so are Reasons (master inserts are pre fader), so I have to wonder why it works in one but not the other?
Selig Audio, LLC

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selig
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Location: The NorthWoods, CT, USA

Post 05 Jan 2022

ShelLuser wrote:
05 Jan 2022
But inserts... not sure what you mean by that. If you mean added effects then yah, obviously they get processed first; why else would they be on the master channel? If you meant inserts then... no, you can pick for yourself if you want this pre or post where the default is post.
Are you saying the inserts can be swapped pre or post master fader?
Selig Audio, LLC

strat1980
Posts: 20
Joined: 25 May 2021

Post 06 Jan 2022

ShelLuser wrote:
05 Jan 2022
I really fail to understand the issue here... I guess you just discovered that different DAW's work in different ways?

Sorry if this sounds harsh but seriously... The master channel on Live is just that: the channel where everything "leaves" the DAW and because it's a channel like any other it works just like any other: sound comes in, goes through any optional effects and leaves.

But inserts... not sure what you mean by that. If you mean added effects then yah, obviously they get processed first; why else would they be on the master channel? If you meant inserts then... no, you can pick for yourself if you want this pre or post where the default is post.

No offense intended but you make it sound as if this is weird somehow, but it isn't. Reason behaves exactly in the same way. Note that I am referring to adding insert effects to the Master Section. Unless you click 'bypass' they will be used no matter what and the master level will not affect this.

Insert returns otoh will behave differently, but that too is pretty much the same for Live.
You are right. I made a mistake in thinking. So, in Reason I put Ozone and the loudness meter just before the output to the audio interface. If I now reduced the volume on the master fader, this of course had an effect. And I could send the reduced level to Ozone.

Now, with Aleton Live, I wrongly assumed that effects inserted in the master channel would also be processed after the master fader, which is of course nonsense. I now know that too.
In order to work here with a reduced overall level, a gain utility must be inserted.

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selig
RE Developer
Posts: 10232
Joined: 15 Jan 2015
Location: The NorthWoods, CT, USA

Post 06 Jan 2022

strat1980 wrote:
06 Jan 2022
ShelLuser wrote:
05 Jan 2022
I really fail to understand the issue here... I guess you just discovered that different DAW's work in different ways?

Sorry if this sounds harsh but seriously... The master channel on Live is just that: the channel where everything "leaves" the DAW and because it's a channel like any other it works just like any other: sound comes in, goes through any optional effects and leaves.

But inserts... not sure what you mean by that. If you mean added effects then yah, obviously they get processed first; why else would they be on the master channel? If you meant inserts then... no, you can pick for yourself if you want this pre or post where the default is post.

No offense intended but you make it sound as if this is weird somehow, but it isn't. Reason behaves exactly in the same way. Note that I am referring to adding insert effects to the Master Section. Unless you click 'bypass' they will be used no matter what and the master level will not affect this.

Insert returns otoh will behave differently, but that too is pretty much the same for Live.
You are right. I made a mistake in thinking. So, in Reason I put Ozone and the loudness meter just before the output to the audio interface. If I now reduced the volume on the master fader, this of course had an effect. And I could send the reduced level to Ozone.

Now, with Aleton Live, I wrongly assumed that effects inserted in the master channel would also be processed after the master fader, which is of course nonsense. I now know that too.
In order to work here with a reduced overall level, a gain utility must be inserted.
Its not nonsense, in fact it’s the way Pro Tool has worked since around v3 or so. BTW, I use Ozone elements in the same position, post master section because that’s how mastering works in the traditional approach.
Selig Audio, LLC

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