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Mastering Dance Music in Ableton Live Part 1: Creating a Mid/Side Matrix

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Mastering engineer Alex Zinn (Richie Hawtin, Typ3 Records) shows you how to create a Mid/Side matrix in Ableton Live in part 1 of our new tutorial series.

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32 thoughts on “Mastering Dance Music in Ableton Live Part 1: Creating a Mid/Side Matrix

  1. In Ableton 10, much simpler with just two tracks: First track, set Utility to Mono, second track, drop another Utility and drag the "M/S Balance knob" to the right. You will have a mono and a side signal. You can test by dragging the mix on a third audio track and throw the Utility "Phase Invert" preset. You will get silence listening to all 3 tracks. meaning no phase issues are involved.

  2. I also noticed many of the panned elements of my track collapsed in to mono with this set up. After reading various comments in this video, as well as pt.2, I discovered it was due to the multiband compressor on the mono buss. Why this should collapse the stereo field in the sum buss, I have no idea. I moved the mbc to the sum buss instead and the panned elements of the track were restored.

    I agree with many of the commenters that said this matrix set up is overly complicated. However, there are many ways to skin a cat. I prefer to have a single track and use a rack with a mid chain, and side chain, both with Utility in m/s mode. This way I can process m/s in a simple way and have the multiband compressor etc. after the rack, preventing the stereo field collapse.

    If anyone has an idea as to why the mbc would do what it did on the mono buss, I'd be interested to know.

    Saying all that, I found this vid series incredibly helpful in putting together a process for mastering.

  3. My question is: Within the utility function, turning up WIDTH to 200% gives the same result with wwhat you have done to get the stereo image: that is subtracing the phase inverted mono image from the original. I have tested it with many tracks, so why do we need to go through extra steps and add many additional tracks? Is there someting that I am missing?

  4. when exporting the original track from ableton to proceed later with the mastering process you describe in this video, before exporting to WAV, should I down the master volume instead of putting limiters on the master in case my instruments are peaking? thank you for your help, excelent video

  5. I noticed , I did all the same but my panorama are killed . I founded that problem in Multiband dynamic , he kills my panorama and all sounds center but not in mono . How to avoid this

  6. Sorry I'm a bit of a newbie at this. I am trying to figure out how to combine all your clips and instruments into one Master track. Just like he had labeled as his original. That way I can play the Master as one complete track, and achieve what the tutorial shows.

  7. def has made a difference with my mastering process, thanks! One issue I've recently noticed is that in some of my projects, the panning disappears or become diluted after using this mastering technique… Wondering if Im missing or messing up a step at some point in the process? Anyone feel free to help out!

  8. I need help! Anyone reply.
    When "mastering" and "mixing" I turn the volume up on my bass so I get nice loud bass. But I can't get nice loud bass notes and kicks without the other sounds getting kinda like a muffled sound?

    I get what a compressor should do, but I'm not sure I fully understand how to use a compressor. I've been looking around forever but haven't found the right kind of answer.

    To get a better idea of what I mean is If you listen to the song ol'english by the game. The base is nice and big, but the other sounds are also very apparent. I want that kind of sound?

  9. @1:59 you insert a Utility plugin. Then you make it mono and then invert the phase. Doing that is just the same as making it mono and not touching the invert phase buttons does it not? It sure sounds the same to me. However, when you solo your mono phase inverted track I hear a version that sounds more like it has its stereo width set to 200% but I can see clearly in your tutorial that it is set to 0%. How the heck did you achieve that lol. Unless I set the width to 200% I cannot achieve stereo only content. If I hit both phase invert buttons, what I had panned to the right in my mix starts to sound like it is on the left. What I did was set up the matrix the same way but set one track to 200% width (stereo only) and the other to 0% width (mono only) therefore achieving stereo only and a mono only tracks which then get bused as you outlined ready for processing the sides and middle seperatley. Also, shouldn't we turn off the track activator for the original track so that it doesn't play over the top of our Stereo and Mono bused versions?

  10. To take +rist98's idea a step further: effect rack on the one track, 2 chains, one with a Utility with width set to 0%, the other with a Utility w/ width set to 200%.  Do any separate M/S processing you want on those chains, continue any stereo processing outside the chain. If you're feeling really snazzy map the chain volumes to a macro for quick width control (mid range 3 to -3; side range -3 to 3).

  11. Or you could simply switch your EQ to M/S mode(mid/side). If its important for you to hear both tracks separately you could simply have one of those originals with a utility with its width at 0% (for mono) and the other at 200%(for side).
    First variant has you messing with only one track and the second with 2 tracks. Not 5.
    I just think that this way is an overly complicated way of doing this. Yes it works. Thats what counts. But its more complicated than it should be in my opinion.

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