How to Import / Export Tracks for Collaboration in Ableton Live

Overview

Any audio worker who has ever wanted to share his musical ideas with others can probably tell the tale: It can get pretty damn time-consuming! Although one frequently hears about so-called standards for the exchange of audio projects, the current situation is still sobering.

Many producers and musicians have realized that due to this lack of standards it is best to keep their hands off it and prefer to go for methods that are a bit more elaborate, but work almost anytime: Raw Track Import / Export.

In the following sections you learn how to easily import and export your raw project tracks or stems depending on your DAW.

What to Consider

Call it Bouncing, call it Audio Mixdown or Render in Place. The principle is always the same: For a defined range a stereo audio file including one or more tracks is created. This can often be done in many ways, for example, by incorporating all track's effects and volume data.

But this example is not what we want to achieve here. For others to work on our tracks, we want our material to be raw - that is, without any effects or track settings, like volume or panning. We want files that can easily be re-imported into any other music sequencer software to be processed with completely other effects maybe.

Of course, every DAW has its own process of importing and exporting tracks this way. Find your software in the list below and follow the corresponding link to learn about how to share your project for collaboration.

How to Export Tracks in Ableton Live

  1. Select the entire arrangement and open the Export Audio/Video screen: CMD + Shift + R (Mac) or CTRL + Shift + R (Windows).
  2. Set the Rendered Track dropdown to All Individual Tracks.
  3. Make sure that Render Start and Render Length span the entire length of the arrangement, from the beginning to the very end, regardless of where an individual instrument begins or ends in the arrangement.
  4. Turn off Render as Loop, Convert to Mono and Normalize.
  5. If the mix engineer is using Live too, turn on Create Analysis File, then when they import the files all the settings will remain the same. If not, there's no need to create an analysis file.
  6. Set the sample rate to a minimum of 48,000 samples (or higher if you were already recording with a higher sample rate).
  7. Enable Encode PCM, then select either Wav or AIFF.
  8. It's best to export at a bit depth of 32 bits, to avoid doubling dithering of the audio.
  9. Press Export to export all tracks individually.

How to Import Tracks to Ableton Live

  1. Open Live's preferences to the Record Warp Launch section.
  2. Turn off Auto-Warp Long Samples. This is important to ensure that start markers line up exactly at the beginning of the audio files - even if there's silence at the beginning - and that no warping or audio degradation will occur. Also turn off Create Fades on Clip Edges, otherwise clips with a sharp attack (eg. kicks) will have that attack slightly muted on the first beat:
  3. Drag the audio files into Live, either from the Browser or from Finder (Mac) / Explorer (Windows). Select multiple files and press CMD (Mac) / CTRL (Windows) to drop them into separate tracks.
  4. Set the tempo in Live to the same as the source files. You can ask the person who provided the files to let you know the original tempo, or you could find it out by warping a drum track.
  5. If you need to change the tempo in Live, you'll need to warp the audio files so that they follow the new tempo.

Import & Export Guides for Common Sequencer Software