Plug-ins Tips and Troubleshooting

  • Live Versions: All
  • Operating System: All

Plug-ins are devices created by other developers that expand creative possibilities in Live. It's important that they be installed and configured correctly, to avoid issues like crashes, high CPU meter levels, and audio issues. This guide offers tips on:

How to avoid the most common plug-in issues:

All platforms

  • Keep all third-party software up to date. Outdated plug-ins are very often the cause of crashes and performance issues. Check the developer's website for supported versions. 
  • Avoid mixing different formats (AU/VST2/VST3) of the same plug-in in one Set. In Live 12, you can identify the plug-in's format in Live's Browser by using the filter to sort them out. 

    VST AU VST3 Live12.png
    In Live 11 and earlier Live versions, you can identify the plug-in's format based on the categorized plug-in folders in Live's Browser.

    VST AU VST3 Live11.png
    You can also identify the different plug-in formats by the appearance of the device. Only VST (short for VST2) includes a preset browser.

    VST AU VST3 Device.png
  • Install plug-ins to default locations on the local disk [HD / C:] not to an external drive or cloud storage.
  • Use the developer's plug-in manager / product portal to install and update correctly.
  • Keep iLok and e-licensing software up to date.
  • Avoid using unofficial or unauthorized ("cracked") plug-ins.
  • Watch out for "Demo Mode" restrictions, like white noise and periodic silence.
  • What to do if a plug-in doesn't appear in Live's Browser


  • VST3 (.vst3 files) are installed by default to the VST3 folder. The installation path of VST2s is somewhat more flexible, and can usually be selected while installing the device. However, VST2s should not be installed to the VST3 folder. VST2 (.dll) and VST3 (.vst3) files must be stored in separate, dedicated folders.
  • Do not install any unrelated or system .dll files inside the VST2 folder. Only install valid, up-to-date, authorized audio plug-ins there.
  • For detailed instructions on where to install plug-ins, see Using VST plug-ins on Windows.


  • Waves plug-ins in AU format are not supported in Live. Use WavesVST3
  • If using Custom Folders, set each plug-in folder to its own unique location, and make sure each only contains plug-ins of the correct format (VST2 or VST3). If not needed, simply turn Custom Folders off.

  • For detailed instructions on where to find or install plug-ins, see Using AU and VST plug-ins on Mac or consult the user manual or product support for the device. 

Are my plug-ins affecting performance?

  1. Test performance without plug-ins to see if they are the cause of an issue. To do this, if Live is open, go to Preferences > Plug-ins and turn off all plug-ins folders, then close and re-open the Set. If the application is not running, Launch Live while holding down [ALT]/[OPTION]. This will disable the scanning of plug-ins. If performance improves or crashing stops with plug-ins disabled, a plug-in might be the cause.
  2. Test a single instance of any suspected plug-in in a new, blank, empty Live Set, to see if the crash or issue occurs without other factors. If so, follow the tips below to fix the problem, or contact the developer of the device directly for additional support if it's still not solved. 
  3. The per-track CPU meter in Live 11 and later Live versions can help reveal a high processing load on individual tracks. You can use this to find plug-ins incurring a heavy processing load and reduce CPU usage. 

    Live 12:
    Live 11:

Troubleshooting crashes:

If a Set containing a specific plug-in consistently crashes, follow these steps:

  • Update all third-party plug-ins to the latest versions.
  • Uninstall, then reinstall the plug-in. Be sure to install to the correct location: (Windows / macOS).

  • Try a different format (AU/VST2/VST3).
  • Test the device by itself in a new, blank, empty Set. 
  • If crashes persist, contact the plug-in manufacturer for additional support.

To work around a plug-in related crash, disable plug-ins scanning by holding [ALT/OPTION] when launching Live. Or, you can temporarily or permanently move a specific plug-in file outside the folder where it's installed on your computer, so it won't be scanned when Live launches. Then open the Set and delete the problematic device to avoid further crashing. Re-launch Live, or rescan plug-ins, to re-enable all devices.


Troubleshooting and FAQs for popular third-party plug-ins in Live:

More help with plug-ins in Live: 

About plug-ins (all platforms)

Live Manual: Using Plug-ins

Supported Plug-in formats

Guide to VST plug-in locations on Windows

Which plug-in format do I need?

VST2 vs VST3

Waves plug-in compatibility

Using Waves plug-ins with a custom VST folder


Using AU and VST plug-ins on Mac

Plug-ins on Mac in Live 11.1

AU preset handling


Using VST plug-ins on Windows


VST/AU plug-in doesn't appear in Live's Browser

VST/AU plug-ins reset to default preset


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