Audio cross fading can be a useful tool in certain circumstances. Here’s a look at how to do it with Ableton Live.

What is Cross Fading?

Cross fading is a technique that lets you take tracks and blend their volume output or separate them completely.

Ableton Live Cross Fader

Along the bottom of the Master track in Session view, is the cross fader horizontal slider. If you move the slider to the far left, the first set of tracks will get all the volume output. If you move the slider to the far right, the second set of tracks gets all the volume output. By centering it, both set of tracks get equal volume output.

Cross Fader Questions

Now that you know what cross fading is and where it is in Ableton Live, some questions you may ask are:

  • How do I make a track known to the cross fader?
  • Can I assign more than two tracks to the cross fader?
  • How do I fade to silence and in reverse?
  • Is there only one way to cross fade?

How To Assign Tracks To The Cross Fader

Ableton Live AB Cross Fade buttons
Along the bottom of each track (if you have the Show cross fader button enabled) are two buttons – A and B.

Lets say you have 2 audio tracks you want to cross fade, Track 1 and Track 2.

  • For track #1, click on the track’s A button.
  • For track #2, click on the track’s B button.

In the example above, the Vocals track is assigned to the A cross fader and the Guitar track is assigned to the B cross fader.

Now, play both tracks and use the mouse to click on the cross fader and move it to the far left and far right.

How Do You Fade To Silence and Reverse?

To fade to silence:

  • Play/record Track 1 set to A
  • For button B, assign no tracks to it
  • Move the cross fader from the far left of the fader and slowly move it to the far right to silence

To go from silence to full volume:

  • Play/record Track 1 set to A
  • For button B, assign no tracks to it
  • Move the cross fader from the far right (silence) and slowly move it to the far left (full volume sound)

How to Assign More Than Two Tracks To Cross Fade?

The cross fader can take two sets of tracks. One set is assigned to A and the other to B.

Ableton Live mutli track cross fading

To assign multiple tracks to set A, simply select the A button. Do the same if by selecting multiple tracks for set B.

Are There Additional Ways To Cross Fade?

Ableton Live allows for different patterns in cross fading including:

  • Dipped
  • Intermediate
  • Constant Power
  • Slow Fade
  • Slow Cut
  • Fast Cut
  • Transition

Each is a different signal pattern with unique characteristics.

Use Your Novation Launchpad To Cross Fade

One neat trick is if you have a Novation Launchpad, is to assign a row of pad buttons to the cross fader.

Here’s how:

  1. In the Preferences | Link MIDI, make sure Launchpad is your control surface
  2. For input, turn on Track and Remote; Output Track, Sync, and Remote
  3. In Session view, click the show/hide cross fade button next to the Master Track
  4. Click the MIDI Map Mode Switch button to enable
  5. Click on the cross fader in the Master track
  6. Center it (very important)
  7. Click the first button on a row in your Launchpad
  8. Click the last button on the same row in your Launchpad
  9. Click the MIDI Map Mode Switch button to disable

Now, if you press any of the pad buttons in the row you enabled on your Launchpad, it will be your cross fader.

I have to admit though, that this doesn’t work that great. There’s a few problems with this:

  1. There are 8 buttons on a Launchpad which is an even number. There is no middle.
  2. Without a middle, there is a jump from buttons 4 to 5 so the transition isn’t good
  3. The granularity of each button is too high

In live performances, this isn’t going to work very good. The mouse is a better option.

Removing Novation Launchpad Midi Mapping To Cross Fader

If you want to delete the Launchpad to cross fader mapping:

  1. Click on the Midi Map Mode Switch button to enable
  2. Right click on the cross fader
  3. Select the Delete Mapping
  4. Click on the Midi Map Mode Switch button to disable

Where Cross Fading Is Useful

Here’s the cases where I have found it useful:

  1. It works best if Track 1 is someone speaking, and Track 2 is music.
  2. If you want to cue up a Track while playing another track in a music set, it can work ok as well.

That’s primarily the main use of it – for sound transitions in setting up recordings. You can also use it live while playing back, say, in a DJ or audio show.

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