Mastering engineer and minimal techno artist Mac Vaughn was joined by Ableton Certified Trainer and drum & bass artist Ryan Origin for an evening dedicated to their favorite DAW – Ableton Live. These videos are full of useful tips & tricks for you to use in your own productions including mixing and mastering in Ableton.
The founder of Fierce Animal Recordings and Dark Star Audio sat with us for a couple hours and delved into his business and creative approach to the dance music industry.
He also walked us through his mastering process and his signal chain top to bottom. If you have any interest in learning to master your own music in Ableton, or are curious about how it’s done, these videos are for you!
Quick Tip: Producing Techno
In this Ableton Live tutorial, you can watch minimal techno artist Mac Vaughn create a techno track out of the ethos in about 13 minutes! Using an array of built in Ableton tools and third party plug-ins from Native Instruments, iZotope and Animatek he creates a cool groove from scratch in front of your eyes.
Watch Mac Vaughn drop in a basic kick, snare and hat pattern, bass line and a unique way to create techno “hypnotica” or groove textures that can really add flavor to your tracks.
Listen and learn to Mac’s thoughts on drum sample selection and how important it is to keep your samples organized. Although in this tip he emphasizes speed in creation, he tosses in the caveat “I will spend hours on a snare sound for my genre!”
Set yourself up for success with tips on how to mix as you go and leave headroom for exporting your track’s mix.
Mac then moves on to creating a bass line. He shows off a cool generative plug-in called UltimateZtepZeq by animatek.net that he uses to randomize the rhythmic and harmonic elements of a bassline. Then he scrolls through some presets on the iZotope Iris2 getting something that he digs sonically.
With an emphasis on groove he uses the step sequencer as a starting point, then tweaks the output for something that suits his taste.
Then for the final piece, he loads up Reaktor and goes to Twisted Tools soundscapes patches. With a goal to create a pumping sonic texture he quickly tames a pretty wild patch using EQ and reverb. Then to cap off the idea, he loads up a Max for Live plugin to automate the frequency cut to an LFO. This gives the sound a ton of movement and life. Lastly he cycles through more of the Twisted Tool presets to find one that works well for this quick track.
We echo Mac’s old coach when we say “Come on Vaughn!”
Full Event Video Part 1: Career and Music Business
0:00 – How he got into DJing – Buying a Rave Machine!
2:26 – From DJing to production
3:53 – Making the switch to Ableton
4:58 – His first remix & the start of his label, Fierce Animal Recordings
6:20 – Mastering
7:23 – Definition
8:28 – The beginning of his mastering career
10:17 – Mastering career leading him to mixing and production – From Dark Star Mastering to Dark Star Audio
12:00 – Talks about showing work –
13:23- commercial he did for the University of Phoenix
15:36 – video of Carl Cox opening set with one of his masters
17:33 – His tools for mastering
18:40 – Mastering at home (room treatment)
21:12 – Imports a mix that didn’t work
22:34 – Opinion on the loudness wars
23:40 – Mastering is nerdy J
24:05 – Beginning of his mastering process in Ableton
27:53 – Shows track with no headroom
30:53 – Uses for limiters and the problem with using them before mastering
32:31 – Beginning of his mastering process in Ableton
33:33 – How much headroom he likes
33:58 – A-B comparison using his mastering chain
35:20 – Using Ableton’s Glue Compressor as the first stage in his mastering chain
Full Event Video Part 2: Mastering in Ableton Live
00:13 – EQ
2:04 – Mastering in mid and side vs. left and right
6:34 – Sweeping through to find problem areas in the mid range
9:13 – Learning your ears, Turning down the higher frequencies
10:49 – Multiband Compression
13:13 – Stereo Widening
16:22 – “Mimicking Analog” with the Waves Kramer Master Tape
18:18 – PuigTec Equalizers
19:36 – Limiting
23:18 – Magic A/B
24:08 – Mastering is an art, you have your sound
26:53 – shows an example of a STEM mix and master track
30:06 – Starts making track from scratch
35:14 – Mac talks about utilizing plugins and his “generative” writing style