Lets set up a powerful mastering chain in Ableton with the goal of only using built-in audio effects. When “mastering” on this basic level, we are trying to accomplish 3 things:
- balance the mix
- clean up resonance
- add loudness (punch) to the track
Of course there are different definitions of mastering and many philosophies on the order of your effects used. For example, one could perfectly argue, that the multiband dynamics should go in front of the Glue compressor.
But lets go ahead and lay down our chain as we are using it inside of the video tutorial:
EQ8: Lowcut - This EQ is operating in mid side mode. We are cutting out frequencies below 100hz on the side and freqs below 35 hz in the mids. That way we have a clean low cut and our bass is operating in mono
Glue compressor: We are catching some of the peaks over the entire frequency range
EQ8: We are flattening out some unwanted resonances
Multiband Dynamics: We are balancing the low, mid and highs with 3-band multiband compression
Compressor Punch: We are adding punch to the mix, emphasizing the dynamics
Compressor Sustain: We are flattening out the mix a little bit (in order to be able to make the sum louder in the end)
EQ8: Final touches, we are pulling up the bass a bit and adding a little bit of brilliance in the top end
Limiter: We are increasing the loudness of the sum of our track. Note: don’t push it too far, Ableton’s limiter starts distorting the sound quite quickly.
Of course, this chain has its limitations - but we found it a good way to start with a basic master for your Ableton productions. Make sure you adjust the loudness of your mix before entering the chain. If the mix plays at low volumes, add a utility in front of the chain an turn up the level to get the chain compressors working - if its getting too heavy - turn it down a tad.
"The best mastering chain I have ever used man!!!!"
- Youtube Comment by Robert B.
Keywords: Mastering with Izotope Ozone, LUFS vs dbFS, Fab-Filter Saturn, Mastering with Fab-Filter only, Mastering with Ableton only, Fletcher-Munson Curve, Mastering Chain Blueprint