Ableton is a good DAW, very flexible for the workflow and nice to experience things with the session view.
Hope you'll find Voxengo Span very useful, next to levels & metering it's also a great tool to get precise frequencies information. In the latest version 3.4 they have now implemented LU & LUFS loudness metering too, which is an extra bonus for a free plugin. LUFS is more of a new standard for perceived loudness measurement, but loudness is different than levels, therefore the good old K metering is still a reliable approach IMO. VuMeters can also help to correctly Gain Stage your audio/midi source before hitting effects plugins, especially if using analog gears emulations plugins that are designed after analog equipment that are supposed to receive input signal matching VuMeters ( where 0 dBvu is in fact around -18 or -20 dBFS in the digital domain ). Using K -14 Metering can really help to avoid to drive those plugins too hot.
What many people do not realize is that in most DAW, your tracks fader is the very last "post-fader" in the singnal flow chain, but your source ( audio/midi clip, sample, soft-synth...etc ) is always "pre-fader". So you could get away with balancing a full mix just using the tracks faders and it will sounds right, but in fact if your source material was already too hot ( and many soft-synths presets are ! ), pulling the track fader down will perhaps help to balance your mix, but it won't solve the real issue and might lead to much more difficult mixing & mastering as the tracks count grows. And the last mistake to do is to reach for your master fader and to pull it down : this one should always stays at 0 and never be touched !
This is not gain staging, the simple & first thing to do was to actually reduce the output level of Massive, Sylenth, Ana...etc or your audio sample level inside the audio clip. You can also use Live's Utility as the first plugin on your track and put the level down before any other compressor or whatever effect or plugin you use. For Midi notes, reducing the velocity is also something good to do. A full kick at Max 127 velocity followed by a plucky bass also played at full velocity is not especially doing good for your mix and next to that playing nicely with velocity gives also a "human" feel to your tracks. So yes plenty of tricks to take care of it, but always think about the source, like if you where an audio engineer recording a musician & taking care of your levels not being too hot to hit the pre-amp, compressor and so on before ending inside the console with faders for sure, but hey, you got what you recorded in right ? So that's the concept and this is proper gain staging for me, getting the right level at your source output. The tracks faders should be used to balanced tracks within the mix, but after having taking care of the source level. And that's were K Metering really helps.
Check the concept reading this article and watch an old but good illustration video with Live to illustrate this better. It's a bit cumbersome at the beginning because our ears are always fooling us with the "louder is better" effect and perceived loudness, but it really change the game when you start to be careful about it.
Yes, I know what you mean with the creative VS technical aspect of Music Production, could generate a long talk Will drop a message instead of a long reply here.
Cheers & keep it on, passion + time & work could be only beneficial