Glossary: Technical Terms

  • Live Versions: All
  • Operating System: All

Ableton Indexer: is a little helper application, responsible for scanning Live's browser content. Introduced with Live 9.

ASIO: is a computer sound card driver protocol for digital audio specified by Steinberg, providing a low-latency and high fidelity interface between a software application and a computer's sound card. (Wikipedia)

Audio Units (AU): are a system-level plug-in architecture provided by Core Audio in Mac OS X. The format has been specified by Apple. (Wikipedia)

Bit Version (32/64-bit): In computer architecture, 64-bit computing is the use of processors that have datapath widths, integer size, and memory addresses widths of 64 bits. (Wikipedia)

Please find more information about the differences between the 32 and 64-bit version of Live in our knowledge base article "64-bit - Myths and Facts".

Buffer Size (Audio Buffer, Plug-In Buffer): is an amount of data stored in the RAM. This buffering is needed in order to provide a continuous audio stream for example when recording or processing audio. The unit of audio buffer size is normally Samples (1 Sample = 1 sec / Sample Frequency (in Hz)).

Example: the length of a 512 Samples buffer at CD quality is 11,61 ms. 1 sec / 44100 Hz * 512 Samples

The buffer size should always be a power of 2 value (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096 Samples). Some audio interfaces and even plug-ins have problems with "odd" values. The buffer size can be adjusted in Live's preferences → audio tab.

Cache: is a component that transparently stores data so that future requests for that data can be served faster. (Wikipedia)

Live uses caches to store data for example for decoded audio files, as well as for the browser database and some other purposes.

Windows XP

\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Ableton\Cache\

Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8


Mac OS X


Codec: is a device or computer program capable of encoding or decoding a digital data stream or signal. (Wikipedia)

In Live codecs are used to convert compressed audio files like MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, Ogg FLAC and FLAC and when importing or exporting video files like MOV, MP4 or AVI.

The following article provides further information on the special codecs required to encode and decode video in the 64-bit version of Live on Windows.

Core Audio: is a low-level API for dealing with sound in Apple's Mac OS X and iOS operating systems. (Wikipedia)

CPU: is the hardware within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program by performing the basic arithmetical, logical, and input/output operations of the system. (Wikipedia)

CPU Meter: displays the CPU load of one or several applications on a computer.

The following article describes in detail the difference between a system CPU meter and Live's own CPU meter.

Crash Log: is a file containing informations about the crash of an application. Normally, consisting of a so called "call stack" which shows the last functions called in the application before it crashed.

On Mac crash logs are created by the system. You will find them here:

OS X 10.4 (Tiger)

/Users/[Username]/Library/Logs/Crash Reporter/live.crash.log

OS X 10.5 (Leopard)

/Users/[Username]/Library/Logs/Crash Reporter/live.xxxx.crash (xxxx = crash date and time)

OS X 10.6/10.7/10.8 (Snow Leopard/Lion/Mountain Lion)

/Users/[Username]/Library/Logs/Diagnostic Reports/live.xxxx.crash (xxxx = crash date and time)

On Windows Live creates its own crash logs.

Crash Pack: is a file archive, created by Ableton Live when launching Live the next time after a crash appeared. It contains basically the same information like a Live Status Report, see below. File extension: .ALP. Those files are stored here:

Windows XP

\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Ableton\Live Reports\

Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Live Reports\

Mac OS X

/Users/[username]/Library/Application Support/Ableton/Live Reports/

Driver Error Compensation: a parameter in Live's preferenes → Audio tab. Some audio interfaces report incorrect latencies. With this setting, you can tell Live about any deviation that it can't detect on its own. To learn how to set this to the correct value for your system, please follow the "Setting Up Audio I/O" lesson in Live.

This setting should be applied when direct monitoring through Live. The parameter can't be used to eliminate the latency of an audio driver.

FireWire: developed by Apple, is a serial bus interface standard for high-speed communications and real-time data transfer between electronic devices. (Wikipedia)

Latency: refers to a short period of delay (usually measured in milliseconds) between when an audio signal enters and when it emerges from a system. Potential contributors to latency in an audio system include analog-to-digital conversion, buffering, digital signal processing, transmission time, digital-to-analog conversion and the speed of sound in air. (Wikipedia)

Live Set: is a file, containing the layout of a set, such as tracks, devices, Clips etc. File extension: .ALS

Log: is a file that records events taking place in the execution of a system in order to provide an audit trail that can be used to understand the activity of the system and to diagnose problems. (Wikipedia)

Live's two most important log files are Log.txt and for Live 9 and above the Indexer.txt. Both of them can be found in Live's preferences folder:

Windows XP

\Documents and Settings\[Username]\Application Data\Ableton\Live x.x.x\Preferences\

Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8

\Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Live x.x.x\Preferences\

Mac OS X

/Users/[Username]/Library/Preferences/Ableton/Live x.x.x/

Memory, RAM: is a form of computer data storage. A random-access device allows stored data to be accessed quickly in any random order. In contrast, other data storage media such as hard disks, CDs, DVDs and magnetic tape, read and write data only in a predetermined order, consecutively, because of mechanical design limitations. (Wikipedia)

MIDI: is a technical standard that describes a protocol, digital interface and connectors and allows a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers and other related devices to connect and communicate with one another. (Wikipedia)

MIDI Clock (MIDI beat clock, MIDI timing clock):  is a clock signal that is broadcast via MIDI to ensure that several MIDI-enabled devices such as a synthesizer or music sequencer stay in synchronization. It is not MIDI timecode. (Wikipedia)

Live can send and receive MIDI Clock.

MIDI Timecode (MTC): embeds the same timing information as standard SMPTE timecode as a series of small 'quarter-frame' MIDI messages. (Wikipedia)

Live can receive MIDI timecode.

Plug-In: (or plugin) is a set of software components that adds specific abilities to a larger software application. (Wikipedia)

Live supports VST plug-ins (Windows/Mac) and Audio Unit plug-ins (Mac only).

Preset: a file containing settings of an effect or instrument device. Please refer to the following article for more informations about Ableton specific file types.

ReWire: is a software protocol, jointly developed by Propellerhead and Steinberg, allowing remote control and data transfer among digital audio editing and related software. (Wikipedia)

Live can be run as ReWire Host or as ReWire Device.

Sample Frequency, Sample Rate: defines the number of samples per unit of time (usually seconds) taken from a continuous signal to make a discrete signal. (Wikipedia)

Status Report: is a file archive that can be created by Ableton Live, containing information about your setup and a log of what Live has done since it was last opened.

File extension: .alp

USB: is an industry standard that defines the cables, connectors and communications protocols used in a bus for connection, communication and power supply between computers and electronic devices. (Wikipedia)

USB Hub: is a device that expands a single USB port into several so that there are more ports available to connect devices to a host system. (Wikipedia)

If possible we recommend to connect audio and MIDI hardware directly to the computer's physical USB ports.

VST: is an interface for integrating software audio synthesizer and effect plugins with audio editors and hard-disk recording systems, developed by Steinberg. (Wikipedia)

Live supports VST standard 2.4.