Getting Started 1: Audio Interface

  • Live Versions: 8
  • Operating System: All


Learn how to set up an external audio interface with Ableton Live.


An external audio interface allows you to connect microphones, instruments and other real-world sources to your computer, so that you can record them into Ableton Live.

You can use Live without an interface, but with a lot of limitations - the sound will be output from your computer’s built-in speakers, and you can only connect devices via whatever audio ports your computer happens to have.

[Note: if you're using Live on a Windows PC and you don't have an external interface, we recommend using ASIO4ALL as the drivers for your built-in soundcard.]

External interfaces either use USB or Firewire to connect to your computer. We’ll assume you're using a USB interface for this example, but the procedure for a Firewire interface is very similar.

  • To connect your interface, plug the narrow, square side of your USB cable into the port on the interface, and the wide side into a USB port on your computer.
  • Now launch Live, open Live’s Preferences from the Options menu and click the Audio tab.
  • In the “Driver Type” chooser, chose the correct driver type for your interface if not already selected. On a Mac, choose CoreAudio. On a PC, choose ASIO. If these options aren’t available, you probably need to install driver software before you can use your interface. Check the instructions that came with your interface to learn more.
  • In the “Audio Input Device” and “Audio Output Device” choosers, select the actual interface you’re using.
  • The Input and Output Config buttons let you select which of your interface’s audio inputs and outputs will be available for Live to use. This list may look different depending on the number of ports your interface actually has. In this movie, we've enabled one pair of stereo inputs and one pair of stereo outputs. It’s a good idea to only enable the ins and outs you’ll be using, because this saves CPU power.
  • Now plug your headphones into your interface’s headphone port.
  • Connect the inputs on your speakers to the outputs on your interface. Make sure your speakers are off until after you’ve made this connection. Only turn them on after they’re plugged in.

Now your computer and Live 8 are connected to your audio interface.