Monitoring in Live FAQ

  • Live Versions: All
  • Operating System: All

What does monitoring through Live mean?

Monitoring means that you're receiving a signal from an input source (which could be an audio input on audio tracks, or a MIDI input on MIDI tracks), processing it with effects (if required), then passing that signal to the track's output where you can listen to it on your speakers or headphones.

What kind of scenarios is monitoring useful for?

  • Playing notes on a Live Instrument or plug-in using a MIDI keyboard.
  • Singing through a microphone and applying effects on the vocals in Live.
  • Connecting an electric guitar and using an amp simulation plug-in while playing.
  • Using external hardware with Live.

These are just some of the possible applications of monitoring.

Does a monitored signal have latency?

Yes - any signal in a computer based environment is going to have a certain amount of latency. This latency is the time it takes for that signal to enter the computer, then travel through the software and back out through your speakers or headphones. Latency can be reduced as much as possible, but can't be eliminated entirely. See our primer on latency here.

How do I monitor in Live?

  1. Connect an audio device or MIDI device to Live using the appropriate cables.
  2. Open Live's Preferences and enable the audio input (if it's audio device), or the MIDI port (if it's a MIDI device - make sure that "Track" is enabled for that input port).
  3. Open Live's I/O section.
  4. Choose your input source in the dropdown: "Audio From" on audio tracks, "MIDI from" on MIDI tracks.
  5. When the monitor is set to "In" you'll always hear play-through signal from your chosen source.
  6. When it's set to "Auto" you'll only hear play-through when the track is armed for recording.

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When should the monitor be set to "In" or "Auto"?

  • If you prefer to monitor through Live.
  • If you want process the monitored signal with effects while playing back/recording.
  • If you have no other way to monitor (no interface with direct monitoring, no external mixing desk).

When should the monitor be set to "Off"?

  • If you're using direct monitoring. Direct monitoring is a function of certain audio interfaces that allows you to monitor directly through the interface in order to reduce latency.
  • If you're monitoring through an external mixing desk.
  • If you can hear the source already without a need for monitoring (eg. an acoustic guitar or your voice).
  • If you're monitoring the source already through another track in the Live set, and are recording the same signal to a separate track. For example when working with external hardware and recording the audio directly to another track as described in our article: Using External Hardware.

Why are my recordings out of sync?

If the track monitor is set to "In" or "Auto" and you start recording, the recorded audio or MIDI is played back using the exact same timing and placement as what you've played. Depending on how large the buffer size or sample rate is, and how many latency-inducing devices are in the set, the recorded notes or audio could be offset in relation to the rest of the clips in the set. If you're playing in by hand then the difference is usually not so perceptible as the timing will already be quite loose in feel. However if you're recording from a fixed source (eg. a hardware synth playing a quantized pattern, or a drum machine) then the offset will probably be quite noticeable. In those cases we recommend setting the monitor to "Off" instead.

When the monitor is set to "Off" then Live compensates by offsetting the recorded material by the exact amount in the "Overall Latency" section in Audio preferences.