Mastering in the Box with Ableton Live
This course achieves what no one thought was possible, including the person that made it! Producertech tutor Nick D'Ombrain, owner of Zeitgeist Mastering, has surprised himself with the outstanding results that can be achieved by mastering using only the devices that come with Ableton Live 9.
Currently residing in Berlin, Nick has worked with a huge number of impressive names from the music industry - Alex Smoke, Sascha Braemer, Orbital, D-Unity and Eric Volta to name but a few. With his vast array of predominantly high end plug-in mastering tools, limiting himself to Live 9's devices seemed an impossible task. However, as 8 hours of quality tutorials proves, professional results are entirely possible, and this course shows you how!
Accompanying the tutorials is a Live Template Set, containing a giant Mastering Rack, constructed throughout the course, so students can open up the session and import their own tracks to get going straight away. In addition, there is a written Pro Tips Guide, a Mastering Flow Diagram and 8 Custom Mastering Weapons (Live Racks), which include an Aphex-style Exciter, a Bass Maximiser and various Stereo Enhancement Effects.
Check out the pre-mastered and mastered versions of the track Nick uses as part of the course on our SoundCloud page, to demonstrate the effectiveness of his Live mastering setup.
Mastering in the Box with Ableton Live - A closer look at the Rack Presets and Template Session
Modules in this course:
Module 1 - Introduction
A few words on what to expect throughout this complete course, as we embark on a mastering journey!
Module 2 - A Master Beginning - How to best Master with Accuracy & Confidence
A look into creating a Mastering Project Template for best workflow in Live; gaining some consistency between masters, be it single tracks, an EP or an Album. Using reference tracks in combination with level and spectral metering and how stay confident that we're on the right track when seeking a balanced audio master. We also briefly discuss other vital topics such as: Different DAWs, Monitoring, Acoustics & Soundcards.
Module 3 - Where to start - A look into Live's Effects & Mastering Racks
It's time to start getting familiar with what we might use on a mastering chain. The options are vast and varied, so we take a look at Live's Mastering rack presets for inspiration and discuss their possible pros and cons.
Module 4 - Pro Audio Mastering Tips - Ableton Live 9
A thorough look at common mastering trends and the way to get the best out of our mastering tools. Learn how compression can be extremely versatile when tailored to specific needs. We cover EQ and some very helpful features of Live's fabulous new EQ Eight, different forms of Mastering Compression (Glue, Parallel, Multiband, etc.), Stereo Enhancement, Reverb, Saturation, Limiting & even a brief practical problem solving example on applying Mid Side EQ. This chapter comes with a handy 13-page pdf booklet containing a full summary of all of the main points & tips.
Module 5 - Building Custom Mastering Weapons Pt. 1 (Aphex Style Exciter)
It's time to expand the toolbox that we have at our fingertips, and think about custom designing a few specific mastering weapons. The famous Aphex Aural Exciter sound can be fairly closely simulated in Live, with just a bit of effort. In this chapter we'll put it together, explaining the thought process and every step along the way.
Module 6 - Building Custom Mastering Weapons Pt. 2 (Bass Maximiser)
Similarly to Chapter 5, in this module we'll consider how we can achieve a little extra bass, especially when mastering for good translation on small systems or speakers. It's not uncommon in the age of the Internet to make sure that the bass or the low end of a track can be heard on systems of all sizes, including tinny PC speakers or trashy mp3 headphones. The plugin we build here will do exactly that and can be compared to the likes of the Waves MaxxBass example.
Module 7 - Building Custom Mastering Weapons Pt. 3 (Stereo Enhancer)
Stereo Enhancement is a very sought after & necessary tool in any mastering arsenal. Since we do not have anything of mastering quality at our fingertips in the standard range of plugins, we'll look at how we can best assemble an enhancer that is both flexible and musical. You'll wonder how you lived without it! By the end of Pt. 3, you'll be confident with macros, control mapping, audio effects racks and signal chains within Ableton Live.
Module 8 - Mid Side EQ & Mid Side Processing
Mid Side EQ is a seriously valuable mastering tool with many benefits. It is here where we can really start to bring our mastering shaping into the next dimension! This chapter will give you a great intro into the mastering uses of Mid Side EQ and the concept behind it. Live makes it easy! We'll also put together a handy Mid Side EQ Rack for dropping into any Mastering Chain and learn about the endless creative potential of Mid Side processing.
Module 9 - Build Your Own Custom Mastering Rack
Build a dedicated Mastering Rack with all the bells and whistles dedicated to your needs, making mastering a much simpler and straightforward process. It will also really help you learn the ins and outs of Live and its massive potential and could help to develop a signature sound. Also included is an intuitive pdf guide with a visual approach to achieving a specific sounding master.
Module 10 - Preparing and Mastering a Track from start to finish
Take a hot seat in the studio with a pro mastering engineer and go through the thought process from start to finish as we put together everything that we've learnt and our custom mastering tools to achieve an industry-ready master. We also cover the basics of premastering.
Module 11 - Loudness Trick - Alternative to Limiting
In this Chapter, we look at two new ways of adding final loudness or character to our mastering chain without the use of a limiter. Live is very versatile and these simple alternatives can make all the difference to that overall mastered sound.
Module 12 - Vinyl Mastering Considerations (Mastering a Track for Vinyl)
A rare opportunity to learn some tips on mastering for vinyl. We work through a practical example and look at treating various things like sibilance and harsh notes so that we can be safe knowing that our master will translate well to vinyl. Everything you need to know if you're mastering for a vinyl release.
Module 13 - Live Mastering Summary
The journey is complete, or is it just beginning? Final thoughts about mastering in today's world and where Ableton Live 9 fits in.
Module 14 - Bonus - Building and Applying a 3-Band Exciter & Mid Side Compressor
We are not finished yet! We'll build 2 more extremely useful mastering tools. The Mid Side Compressor can really achieve results that a standard compressor cannot as we experienced in the mastering of a full track chapter. The 3-Band Exciter is simple in design but also very effective - a plug-in of desired taste but nonetheless a great alternative way to add a touch of bass impact, mid presence or warmth, or even some high sizzle to a master!
The Head Engineer at Zeitgeist Mastering - Nicholas D'Ombrain - has over 17 years experience in the industry, and in this time he has worked for major production studios around the globe, including Universal & EMI, as well as being responsible for several international independent record labels. Nicholas is connected to well-renowned studios in London and several of the big guns around Berlin, including Manmade Mastering, so is well versed in studio life! Artists he has worked with include Alex Smoke, Orbital and Sascha Braemer. With a deep understanding of the world of mastering and a love for sharing knowledge, Nicholas makes an excellent tutor on the subject.