Fades in Ableton Live: How to Introduce Sounds Smoothly


Thales Matos


Want to know how to use Fades in Ableton Live? This article is for you.

You can use fade ins to introduce sounds smoothly, whether it's a single audio sample or an entire a loop. 

It works by making the sound start in complete silence then slowly reach its original volume.

And you can do the opposite with fade outs to smoothly get rid of audio elements in your song.

Fade in and fade out in ableton live audios

By the way, you can take that concept and apply it to MIDI too.

For instance, if you're using a VST instrument instead of an audio sample, you can use gain automation. We'll talk about that later in this post.

How fades work in Ableton Live

Fades are a pretty simple concept but, in Ableton Live, sometimes they can get lost. It can become a bit of a problem, but I'll show you where to find them.

This is how to create fades in Ableton Live

how to create fades in ableton live

Just pick your audio sample or loop, and drag these little squares on the corners of you clip.

Drag them to the right if you're creating a fade in, and to the left if it's a fade out. The more you drag it, the smoother it gets.

smooth fades

By the way, it's possible to design the shape of the slope by dragging this square in the middle of the fade line.

And that will change the dynamics of how the fade behaves. You can make it fade faster or slower.

how to change the fade slope or speed in ableton live

And you can tell visually by looking at the weveform that gets smaller when you apply more fade.

When to use fade-in and fade-out

Fades are excellent to make transitions between sections.

For example, from verse to pre-chorus, if they have different instruments that are entering the arrangement or leaving it.

If you're going to introduce — let's say — a guitar sound in the pre-chorus, bring it during the last few bars of the verse with a nice slow fade.

That will help build anticipation towards the pre-chorus so that the transition won't be too shocking — if that's your goal.

That's what I did in my song "Maybe we'd be together": 

Using fades in a song

It starts with rain sounds, but I wanted them to leave the arrangement as soon as the song actually started — but in a soft way, instead of just cutting the audio suddenly.

To listen to that section, watch the video above.

You can also make crossfades between two different audio clips, which can result in some interesting textures.

Here's an example — two random drum loops:

crossfade in ableton live

Where did my Fades go? Ableton Live

Now if all of a sudden you can't edit your fades anymore — they're gone, can't find those tiny squares —, it's because Ableton Live is on automation mode

That means you can draw automation lines on your effects and plugin's parameters, like this one.

cant find fades Ableton live automation mode

When you're in automation mode, you cannot edit your faders. To do that, you have to turn it off by clicking this blue button on the top right.

Creating Fades on MIDI tracks

If you want to create fades on MIDI tracks, instead of audio tracks, the regular fades won't be available.

But it's possible and there are different ways of achieving the same result. 

My favorite one is to insert a Utility effect, then design a gain automation curve that looks like a fade. It does a similar job.

Drawing fades on Midi tracks with utility gain automation ableton live

You can actually select a couple bars, then right click, and pick one of these shape presets.

ableton live automation fade shape presets

It's your turn now

There are many possibilities with Fades. So much cool stuff you can come up with now that you know how to do it.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

And if you're looking for resources to produce pop music, don't hesitate to ask for help. I'm very passionate about that.


Thales Matos

August 7, 2022


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