Fading out audio is a common mixing technique used to gradually lower the volume of a track or clip over time.
This can help songs end in a more natural, smooth way rather than abruptly stopping.
In Ableton Live 11, there are a few different ways to apply a fade out to your tracks and clips.
This article will outline the various methods and explain when and why you may want to use each technique.
Whether you’re trying to fade out a song, transition between sections, or creatively manipulate your audio, Ableton Live’s fade options have you covered.
Using The Crossfader
One of the easiest ways to fade audio in and out is by using Ableton Live’s crossfader. The crossfader sits between the two main tracks and allows you to smoothly transition from one track to another. To fade out a track using the crossfader:
- Add the track you want to fade out to the A track and ensure no other tracks are playing in the B track.
- Move the crossfader all the way to the right so that only the A track is audible.
- While the track is playing, slowly move the crossfader to the left. As you do so, the A track will become quieter while the silent B track becomes louder.
- When the crossfader reaches the far left position, the A track will be completely faded out while only the silent B track is heard.
The slope and curve of the crossfader can be customized for more precise control over the fade. This technique works well for basic DJ-style transitions and crossfading between sections. The fade time is determined by how slowly you move the crossfader from right to left.
Fade In/Out Envelopes
For more advanced fading directly on clips, Ableton includes fade in and fade out envelope controls. The fade envelopes allow you to apply automatic fades at the start or end of any audio or MIDI clip. Here’s how to use them:
- Select the clip you wish to fade.
- In the Clip View, expand the Envelopes box.
- Enable the Fade toggle above the clip to view the fade envelope.
- Adjust the fade in and fade out times by dragging the envelope handles inward.
The fade envelopes offer a simple visual way to set precise fade times. You can create smoother, longer fades or tighter, shorter ones as needed. The envelopes can also be edited and shaped further using breakpoints and curves for more creative fading effects. This is a handy way to quickly add professional fades to individual clips in your production.
The Crossfade Mode
Ableton also includes a Crossfade mode that automatically applies a short fade when transitioning between clips. To use it:
- Engage the Crossfade button in the Arrangement View. It’s located at the top left of the timeline.
- Adjust the fade time with the Crossfade knob next to the Crossfade button.
- Now when you play different clips one after the other, Ableton will automatically crossfade between them using the set fade time.
Crossfade mode is useful for quickly adding smoother transitions in long forms of audio like mixes and podcasts. The crossfades make the transitions less jarring, especially when switching between clips with very different sounds. Keep in mind that using Crossfade mode doesn’t overwrite any fade envelopes you’ve manually created on the clips themselves.
The Master Track Fade
If you want to simply fade out the master output of your entire Live Set, you can use the Master track fade controls:
- Click the triangle on the Master track to expand it.
- Reveal the fade in and fade out sliders.
- Adjust the fade out slider to set the desired fade out time for the whole project.
This creates a fade that starts when you stop playback of your Live set. Using the Master track fade is an easy way to fade out a whole song or mix cleanly from start to finish. You can also automate the Master track fade slider to create more complex fading over time.
Creative Fading Effects
So far we’ve covered basic fading techniques, but Ableton also allows for some creative fading and automation effects using clip envelopes. Here are a few ideas:
- Fade gradually in and out over time to create a swelling effect.
- Use short fade bursts to create a rhythmic pumping effect.
- Fade different frequencies independently, like highs and lows.
- Fade volume and filter together for a smooth washed out ending.
- Automate the Master track fade slider to create custom shapes.
- Fade between ambient loops for evolving soundscapes.
Don’t be afraid to experiment! Fades don’t have to just be simple or boring. With some envelope editing you can craft all kinds of interesting transitions, builds, and breakdowns.
How do I fade out all tracks at once?
Use the fade slider on the Master track to create a master fade out at the end of your Live Set. This will fade out all tracks together.
Can I fade out an audio clip independent of the track volume?
Yes, by using the clip fade envelopes you can create a fade that is independent of the track’s main volume level. Useful for fading out just a single clip within an arrangement.
How do I make a fade out automaticalIy repeat or loop?
Draw your desired fade envelope shape within the clip, then copy and paste the clip to repeat it. You can also use Ableton’s Loop mode on the clip to make it loop automatically.
What’s the difference between Clip Fades and Crossfades?
Clip fades are applied directly to the audio clip using envelopes, while Crossfades fade between adjacent clips during playback using a fixed fade time set in the Crossfade mode. Use clip fades for precision per-clip control.
Can I save fade settings and apply them to other clips?
Yes, you can save an entire clip including its fade envelope settings as a preset. Then simply drag the preset onto other clips to apply the same fades. Very useful for batch fading clips quickly.
And there you have it – a full overview of the various fade techniques available in Ableton Live 11. Here’s a quick summary:
- Use the crossfader for basic DJ-style fadeouts between tracks.
- Employ clip envelopes for precision per-clip fading.
- Engage Crossfade mode for quick batch crossfades between clips.
- Automate or edit envelopes for creative fading effects.
- Fade the master output to smoothly end a song or set.
Fading is an essential mixing skill every producer should know. Ableton Live provides flexible tools to fade your audio in any way you need. So grab those envelope handles and start perfecting your fadeouts!