Setting up an Audio Interface

  • Live Versions: All
  • Operating System: All

What is an audio interface?

An external audio interface allows you to connect microphones, instruments and other sources to your computer, so that you can record them into Ableton Live. External audio interfaces generally improve the sound quality both to and from the computer and give you more options such as multiple inputs and outputs as well as record monitoring capabilities.

How to set up your audio interface

Most external audio interfaces use either USB or Firewire to connect to your computer. A USB interface is used for this example.

  1. To connect the 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.
  2. Open Live's preferences to the Audio tab.
  3. Click on Driver Type to select CoreAudio (Mac) or ASIO (Windows). If these options are not available, you probably need to install the latest driver software before you can use your interface. Windows users also have the option to install Asio4All which is a freeware universal audio driver. Capture.JPG
  4. On Mac, you can choose separate devices for both input and output, or you can choose to deactivate one of them (set to "No Device")Screen_Shot_2018-01-11_at_17.18.09.png
  5. Input and Output Config lets you select which of the interface’s audio inputs and outputs will be available for Live to use. This list may look different depending on the number of input and output ports your interface actually has. If you have a basic audio interface with 2 inputs and 2 outputs, these will be automatically selected in Live. If your interface has more audio inputs and outputs then you can select these as necessary. It is best only to click on those you need so you can save CPU power. External_Hardware_with_Live_2018-01-12_at_17.37.19.png
  6. The default In/out sample rate is set to 44100 Hz. These settings reflect the quality of standard sound recording and playback in Live. 44100 Hz is fine for getting started and represents CD sound quality. Using the chooser menu the quality can be increased to higher settings depending on the audio interface you are using.Capture2.JPG
  7. The buffer size is set to 512 samples. This value determines how much time passes between pressing a key on your MIDI controller and actually hearing the sound from your speakers. This amount of time is called latency. The lower the sample value is, the less latency would be experienced, however the more load you would put on your CPU. Find out more how to reduce latency in this article.Overall_Latency.png
  8. If you are working on a PC you may not be able to change this value directly in which case you may have to open the control panel of your particular audio interface. Overall_Latency.png

Connecting headphones and speakers to your audio interface

Make sure your monitor speakers are switched off before connecting the audio cables between your speakers and audio interface. Connect the inputs on your speakers to the outputs on your interface. If your interface has a volume dial, make sure this is turned down to the minimum.

Now plug your headphones into your interface’s headphone port. Finally turn on your monitor speakers.

Further Reading