So you’ve just finished the final touches to your masterpiece of a track. Now what? It’s time to get that tune out of Ableton and ready for the next step – whether that’s sending it off for mixing and mastering or getting it out there on streaming sites and socials.
Before you go and export your tune, it’s a good idea to check everything over in the project first.
Make sure all the tracks you want to be playing in your final tune are active and you haven’t accidentally left any plugins bypassed or turned off, automation issues or anything that could mean your mix sounds less than its absolute best.
Now you want to make sure you’ve actually got all of your project that you want to be exported selected with the full length highlighted. It’s usually a good idea to leave a bit of space after your last notes ring out to give a bit of space for the final reverb and delay tails to end, so they don’t get cut off abruptly.
Go to the file menu and select Export Audio/Video. You can also just use ctrl+shift+R on Windows or ⌘+shift+R on Mac.
Once you’ve opened up this window, you’ll be greeted by a load of different options for how to export your project.
Best settings for exporting
Exporting individual tracks or master
The ‘rendered track’ option lets you pick which of your tracks you want to export. By default, it’ll be set to ‘master’, which means it will export the master output – all of the sound that plays in the project.
You can also export individual tracks in Ableton, which is useful for getting stems out of your project. To do this, select ‘All Individual Tracks’ and each track will be rendered to a separate audio file.
Another way to export stems is to select ‘Selected Tracks Only’ or ‘Single Tracks’ which will just export the track or tracks that you currently have selected in your project.
Render start’ will select where you want your audio render to start from. 1.1.1 will be the very start of your project and is likely where you want to go from unless you’re only exporting a selection of your track.
‘Render length’ will, unsurprisingly, set the length of the range you’re exporting. It will change based on the range you’ve selected, so if you’ve already highlighted the desired range, leave this as is.
'Render as loop’ lets you create a loop out of the selected portion of your track. This includes any effects and reverb tails.
‘Convert to Mono’ will turn your stereo output into a mono file. You probably will want this turned off when exporting your whole project but it could be useful for individual stems.
‘Normalize’ will export the track with maximum volume and make your song as loud as possible. Make sure this is turned off if you’re sending your track to be mastered.
‘Create Analysis File’ will make an .asd file with information about the track. You should have this turned on if you want to reuse the file in a Live set.
‘Sample rate’ should usually be set to the same sample rate as the rest of your project. Generally, 44100 is a good choice for most applications.
Having the PCM options selected will allow you to export an uncompressed or ‘lossless’ audio file. These are higher quality, better-sounding files but also take up more memory. You can choose which file type you want – either WAV, FLAC or AIFF.
‘Bit depth’ means how many bits of information are in each sample. 16-bit is usually a good choice if in doubt.
‘Dither’ applies a small amount of noise to the signal to help reduce artefacts when reducing the bit depth. So when you are exporting at a lower bitrate than your project’s, you should apply one of the dither modes. If you’re not sure which of these to go for, ‘Triangular’ is a safe bet.
How to export MP3
Select the ‘encode MP3’ option to create an MP3 file. These are lower quality, compressed and slightly worse-sounding files but take up far less space than lossless.
Once you’ve got the low down on all of these settings, you’re ready to press the button and export your file. Now you can get out there and share your amazing music with the world!
Do you want to know more about how to use Ableton? Whether you’re a completed beginner looking for the absolute basics or a seasoned pro who wants to speed up their workflow, you can learn everything you need from an Ableton-certified trainer in our Foundations: Ableton Live video course.