Simulated VCAs in Ableton Live


Recently, our mixing class had a discussion about VCAs in Ableton Live. Though I’m learning to mix in Mixbus 5, I wandered how could this be accomplished in Ableton. If I’m correct, in VCAs allow all the faders to be adjusted by one designated fader. Me being an Abletonian didn’t understand why Live would forget to include such a feature. We all have become familiar with Groups in groups which adjust the unity gain of the included elements, but to lower the faders of the included elements we are forced to shift-click the first element and the last element within the group, and all the elements can be adjusted simultaneously, however, we would still be left without a proper way to measure how far they were reduced or increased as a whole. So, to create a modified VCA, include a blank audio track within the group and label the track VCA. Shift-click the VCA, and the last track in the group. All the tracks should be highlighted, make sure the VCA is positioned a -0dB, and adjust to taste. If you are bothered by performing this task within the group, simply un-group the tracks and follow the same process. You can now look at the meter markings to see how much you are increasing or lowering the faders of the elements in unison. Only keyboard shortcuts will make this process less tedious: Cntrl + G (Grouping/Un-grouping) and Shift or Control clicking the elements (Shift + Click for a Row/ Cntrl +Click for individual elements) This is contrary to the traditional VCA usage where tracks can be controlled without being visible in the DAW. But, if the mix is close to completion and a group of elements need to be adjusted simultaneously by a certain amount, create blank tracks, one for each grouping and color accordingly. Choose the group you want to adjust, Un-group the elements in that area of concern only, Shift-Click the first element and the last element of the group, after they are highlighted, Cntrl + click the corresponding track titled VCA (it helps to color) and make the adjustment. Cntrl +Click will skip the tracks in-between. When you are finished or satisfied, Cntrl + Click the track titled VCA to de-select, and then regroup the elements you’ve adjusted. This sounds tedious, but keyboard shortcuts make the process very easy. This is just a compensation of a shortcoming within Ableton Live. I’m a beta tester, and I will attempt to make the suggestion to the Ableton for proper VCAs in the future, for the Mixers of the music world. Peace, Next Level Sound Crew… (The VCA cannot be highlighted unless its in the group of elements or the group of elements is un-group prior to highlighting your selections.)

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