Levels and Panning

Starting off correctly will help with the mix down the line.

  1. Setting up your basic mix
  2. Making sure you have enough space for your sounds
  3. Placing things in the stereo field
  4. Mixing into pink noise
  5. Automation
  6. Envelopes

Properly adjusting volume and panning cannot fix everything.


  1. Course link

Levels at the Source

Depending on the instrumentation and things you are working with (samples, recordings, synths) there are a number of places to check with to ensure signals are at a healthy level.

The Built-in Microphone

For the Mac, you change the gain through the Settings > Sound > Input.

You want a healthy signal but without clipping.

The example after recording shows a lot of dynamics and a healthy gain volume which includes a lot of flatlining and overloading the input. This will distort and blowout your signal.

On the flipside, you don't want to have your recording too low otherwise the signal will be too queit and you'll need to boost the gain on the sample. You can boost the gain within the audio clip on live but you'll need to be careful that you are not amplifying floor noise.

If you want to up the gain on an entire track, you might want to use the utility audio effect.

Software Synths + Plugins

You'll be inclined to turn the volume down using the track gain slider, however most instruments and plugins will have their own gain control. You want to do this on the output of the synth. After that, you can do your usual track changes or use the utility audio effect.

Warning on the signal

Pay attention and listen to the signal. It may not look like it is clipping on the meter, but you want to make sure that is truly the case throughout the processing to the rack.

The rule: adjust at the source.

Panning Overview

Panning comes from panarama. You have complete control of placing the sounds.

The "phantom center" is a term that comes from a phenomena where two speakers sharing the same information in a stereo field can give the illusion of a third speaker in the center.

Note: for linear panning as you pan from hard left to hard right, the gain applied to each side will change in percentage.

There is a constant perceived gain using the "constant power pan" that Live applies automatically.

Automation: Drawing

We can use track automation to change things such as pan changes.

You can right-click and ensure each automation has their own lane too.

The example shows panning on the mixer, but generally its a better idea to use an audio effect.

With envelopes, you can also highlight over a section and right-click and copy the envelope automation.

Pink Noise

There is a technique for setting the initial level. Use pink noise instead of one of your first sounds.

There are different colour noises. Talking about different coloured noise generally means talking about different coloured noise spectrums.

White noise has the same power across different frequencies.

Pink noise has a steadily decresing slope of energy across the spectrum. Pink noise is used to being linear in logarithmic space and follows a similar spectrum to finished tracks.

Since each octave in pink noise contains the same energy, we can use this calibrated at -20dB for scale and bring in new the noises and mix until we can hear it just above the pink noise.

As for the pink noise, you can grab a sample from the resources on this course to use on another track.