Using external audio effects

  • Live Versions: All
  • Operating System: All

You can use an external effect device to process audio in Live.

To integrate synths, drum machines, or hardware samplers into Live, see Using external hardware (with MIDI).

If you use CV-enabled hardware, see External Hardware (With CV).

Step 1 - Requirements

For optimal results, you’ll need an audio interface with at least two stereo outputs and one stereo input. It is possible to do this if you have just one stereo output (two mono outs) and a single mono input - but in this case, the effects will be in mono.

Step 2 - Setup

  1. Connect an audio output (mono), or pair of outputs (stereo), from your audio interface to the input(s) on the external effect device.
  2. Then connect the audio out of the external effect device to an input (mono), or pair of inputs (stereo), on the audio interface.

Step 3 - Use External Audio Effect (Recommended)

The External Audio Effect can be used as an insert effect or on a return channel. 

Note: this device is only available in Live Standard or Suite. If you are using Lite or Intro, see Step 4 below.


  1. Audio To select the output(s) on your computer’s audio interface that is connected to the input of the external effect.
  2. Audio From selects the input(s) on the interface that is connected to the output on the external effect.
  3. Use the Hardware Latency slider to adjust for any latency.
  4. Read more about External Audio Effect Check in the manual
  5. Depending on your audio interface, you may need to configure the routing in the interface's control panel.

Step 4 - Use a return track and audio track

It's also possible to use external effects with a combination of a return channel and an audio track.

  1. Create a blank return channel and set the Audio To to the same output(s) on your audio interface that is connected to the input of the external effect. 
  2. Create a blank audio track and set the Audio From to the same input(s) that is connected to the audio output of your hardware effect.
  3. Set the monitor to In and make sure that the send is disabled if not latency compensation does not work correctly
  4. TrackMixerDisableSends.png
  5. Use the relevant send dial to send audio to the return channel (and further to the external effect), then adjust the level of the audio track which monitors the effected signal to balance the amount of Wet audio.
  6. In order to compensate for any latency, adjust the track delay on the monitoring track.


Step 5 - Recording Audio From External Audio Effects

The methods described above route audio signals through external effects in real-time.  As a result, it is important to note that the "effected" audio signal is not printed into any recorded material until the audio is exported as a real-time render.

To ensure consistent playback, however, you may want to record the post-effects audio signal onto a separate track.  For more details on how to do this, please refer to the manual's section on Post-Effects Recording.  (The examples shown make no mention of external audio effects, but the same concepts apply).

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