Band Blog

How To DJ with Ableton Live: The Crossfader

crossfading in ableton live

This weekend I bought an APC-40 to experiment with a more portable rig (the “old” rig had a DJ Mixer, Novation Launchpad, Sound card, and a large Midi Controller with motorized faders, and lived in a huge coffin case that took up too much room in small booths). Though I’m still experimenting, and it’s a little uncomfortable, using the APC-40 means the only other gear I need is the sound card. Which will be really nice for portability, and once I get it dialed-in – workflow.

The other big benefit is that, for small venues, (like this Thursday’s Live DJ Gig,) I can make up for the lack of an outboard dynamics rack by putting it “in the box” – essential when mixing 8 tracks live.

The biggest pain is that mixing the box sucks, at least it does when you’re used to a DJ mixer… It is fun to mess with features I’ve never touched before, though – notably Ableton’s built in cross-fader.

If you’re like me – you’ve probably pulled up the crossfader to play around – tried it – and said – this sucks. The default cross fader is a joke. Luckily, if you right click – you can see that there are seven different crossfader curves you can apply – Nice!

So which one is right for you:

djing in ableton - using the crossfader curves

These are the seven curve options (just ctrl/right click the crossfader). The Constant Power curve type is reminiscent of early crossfader types from the late seventies for mixing Disco – if you know your DJ history – you’ll know that DJs hated this curve, and most stuck to just mixing with the channel faders. Transition, the default, was the next stage in cross fader technology – you might call it the “no dip” fade type. I find this fader type to be plain, and want a little more dramatic a cut. Slow Cut and Slow Fade are both medium taper fades for “Cut In” and “Pump it up Style Mixes.” Dipped and Intermediate are inverses to those Medium taper fades – to deal with beat volume while fading. The final cut type, Fast Cut, is a Sharp Taper fade for scratching – I guess if you’re using bridge.

Here’s another graphic if it helps you understand.

Ableton Cross fader curve types

What’s your favorite cross-fader curve?




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