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How to create a submix track in Ableton Live

Hi, I am Julien Nicault from Annecy, France. I am following the Coursera class “Introduction to music production”. In this post, I’ll teach how to create a submix track in my DAW, Ableton Live 9, as part of the third week assessment.

Why to use a submix track

Suppose you’re recording a drum kit with several microphones, one for the bass drum, one for the snare, one for hihats, and two overheads. Now you’ve set all the levels for each microphone relatively to each other, and you’re happy with your mix. But what if you wish to change the level of the whole drum kit, all the microphone sat once? That’s where a submix track is useful, you would redirect the output of each independent microphone track to your “drumkit submix”track, and there be able to adjust the level for the whole group. In Ableton Live, this can be done very easily.

How to create a submix track in Ableton Live

In my project in Ableton Live I have 5 tracks as seen in the screenshot below: the Bass Drum, Snare and HiHat tracks are for my Drumkit, and I also have a Guitar and a Bass track, when mixing, I would like to be able to consider the three tracks for the drum kit as a single track, so we will create a submix, or group track for the drumkit.

Our five tracks in Ableton Live

  1. Select all the tracks that you wish to add to the submix.
  2. Right-click in one of the tracks header, and click group track, or simply hit cmd-g shortcut on a mac.
    Group tracks submenu
  3. A submix track is created, give it a proper name using right-click -> rename, or cmd-r shortcut on a mac. Now you can change the level on this submix track to change the level of all the drumkit tracks.
    The drum kit submix track
  4. To ungroup your tracks, right-click the header of the submix track and select ungroup, or hit shift-cmd-g shortcut again.
    Ungroup tracks submenu

A few tips and tricks about submixes in Live

As we’ve seen, creating and deleting submix track in Ableton live is extremely simple, so there’s no reason not to use them, here are a few more hints about submix tracks in ableton:

  • It is possible to hide or unhide the tracks included in the submix by clicking the little arrow next to the track name in the submix track header.
  • The submix track is shown with a header that extends over all the included track in the submix, this helps to visualize which tracks are included in the submix, using colors makes it even easier.
  • All tracks inside the submix have their outputs redirected to “Group”, you can momentarily redirect only one track of the group to a different location by changing the output setting for this track.
  • You can add automation, effects, change the output destination on the submix track.

the full drumkit submix section

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