Ableton Live 9 – How to make submixes

I am Brandon Fallout from Seattle, WA in the USA. This lesson is for week 3 of Introduction To Music Production at I will be going over creating a submix in the Live 9 DAW environment. If you do not have Ableton Live 9 you can download the demo here. If you missed the last weeks post on recording MIDI and quantization in Ableton Live 9, you can find them here.

Submixes, what’s the big idea?

Submixes are primarily used to simplify the task of mixing a selection of tracks. Additionally, if you have an effect such as a compressor,  you could use it to apply to the submix as a whole instead of each track. This would allow you to save a bit of computational resources when dealing with effects. If you have an aging computer or a lot of VSTi’s, effects, etc., this could really help smooth out your performance. It also gives the added benefit of controlling the one fader for any tracks assigned to that submix!


Help, I missed the buss!

As it turns out, Ableton Live 9 doesn’t actually have submix busses in the traditional sense but rather allows you to group track together to achieve the desired effect. Another method of creating a submix is to create an empty audio track, rename it something such as submix or buss and route other tracks to it. I will cover both methods in the videos below. While there are a few other methods for buss emulation, they tend to be a bit different than a submix and are outside the scope of this post.


Grouping the Tracks

This is considered easiest method to set up.

  1. Select the first track that you want to be in a submix.
  2. Control click to select other tracks until you have all the ones you want in your selection.
    1. If all of your tracks are already adjacent from one another, you can select the first one and hold shift down and select the last one. This will grab everything from the first track to the last track in the selection.
  3. Right click and select Group Tracks to group them. A new group track will appear with the other tracks assigned to it.
  4. Make sure to rename the group track appropriately.

Here is a video outlining the steps above, plus a bit of showing them in use.


Routing tracks to an empty audio track

You can also create a submix by creating a new audio track and routing other tracks to it. Something of importance to note: If you have the live lite edition of the software, using this method will eat into your total number of tracks. If you use the above method however, the submix won’t count against you.

  1. Create a new audio track and rename it to buss, submix or some such.
  2. Enable the I/O routing section.
  3. In the I/O section of each of the tracks to be submixed, change Audio To from ‘Master’ to the submix track created in the first step.
  4. In the I/O section of each of the tracks to be submixed, change Audio To from Master to the submix track created in step 1.
  5. In the I/O section of the submix track, set Audio From to No input and Monitor to In.

Here is a video outlining the steps above plus a bit of showing them in use.


Bonus material

A fun fact, the track I demoed in the videos was completely based on last weeks horrible MIDI performance. I used that recorded MIDI data to play everything you heard in the videos. You can check out last weeks MIDI recording train wreck here.

As an added bonus, I will show you how to add an effect or two to a submix and how let you hear the end result.

Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

Brandon Fallout


2 thoughts on “Ableton Live 9 – How to make submixes”

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