How To Set Up Audio Preferences In Ableton Live

Sample Rate Section

  1. In/Out Sample Rate – This will determine the audio quality coming into Ableton Live (your guitar, synth, etc) as well as the output quality. 44100 is CD quality and is usually good enough for common uses.
  2. Default SR Pitch Conversion – Enable this option for the highest possible quality when it comes to audio clips and samples. To reduce the load on your CPU, disable this option. Most modern computers can handle this, and it is recommended to keep it on.

Latency Section

  1. Buffer Size – The general rule of buffer size goes like this: the lower the buffer size (64 is usually the lowest) the less latency you will have (a key hit on a MIDI keyboard will respond faster). This sounds like a great idea, but the reality is, it’s unstable and can cause audio dropout rather quickly.

    The higher the buffer size (up to 4096, usually) will create a “safer” way to work (your CPU is freed up to deal with more effects, etc) which is why this is sometimes ideal when mixing.

    The recommended buffer size with most audio cards is 256, this seems to be a nice balance between stability and low latency.

  2. Input and Output Latency – This is where your latency is visually represented. The lower the number, the better. When you hit a note on your MIDI keyboard, and it lags a bit before any sound comes out, this means you have high latency. It starts to get really noticeable in the 30ms+ range. Lower this by lowering your buffer size.
  3. Driver Error Compensation – Audio drivers are imperfect, most are well designed, but some may display inaccurate latency reading (your latency may say 4ms but it really feels like 300ms. Use this setting to compensate for a much more accurate latency reading between Ableton Live and your audio interface.
  4. Overall Latency – The sums up your input and output latency into a nice, easy to read figure. This is essentially the time it takes for the computer to process sound coming in, then play it back out.

Test Section

  1. Test Tone – This option will toggle your test tone on and off. All other elements of Ableton Live will be muted while this is running. This option also activates the CPU usage simulator.
  2. Test Tone Volume – Always start with the volume set at it’s default (-36db) and raise it up if needed.
  3. Tone Frequency – Use this option to change to frequency of the sine wave used for the test tone. Ranges from 20hz to 20,000hz.
  4. CPU Usage Simulator – While the test tone is enabled, you can slide this value up or down. You can use this in conjunction with your buffer settings to check for audio drop outs. Use this to find the sweet spot for your audio buffer.

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4 thoughts on “How To Set Up Audio Preferences In Ableton Live”

  1. Is there any way to force the ASIO driver setting when Ableton starts up?

    I use Ableton without a screen, keyboard, or mouse, which can work, but if Ableton starts before I’ve got my USB interface plugged in it will disable the ASIO driver and requires a screen to select it again.

  2. To whom it may concern,

    I just installed suite 8 and downloaded the ASIO driver…and have followed all instructions for that sound card. However, when I drop an instrument into the midi section I see things going on, but I have not sound. I DID have sound when I was setting up the audio preferences and using the TEST TONE, but I hear nothing regarding the instruments. I have a feeling it’s how the internal mixer section within Abelton is set up. I have looked everywhere on the web for a tutorial on how to set up the Audio From/Audio To area, but cannot find anything. I’m beginning an online class soon with Dubspot and I would like to use the software a bit. Could you please point me in the right direction for clear, basic instructions on how to set up this part of Abelton?

    Thank you,

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