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Create music in real time, on stage, or while producing in the studio, with Ableton Live. In this course, music professor Rick Schmunk shows you how to compose, record, remix, improvise, produce, and edit your musical ideas. Along the way, get familiar with the Live interface, work with its views for recording and editing audio and MIDI, and explore its unique real-time recording and mixing capabilities. Plus, learn real-world production skills that can be applied to songwriting, studio production, and DJing. The final chapters offer an inside look at features added in Live 9, such as new Instrument Racks containing over 3,000 production-ready sounds, and Max for Live, a toolkit for building custom devices.
Adjusting preferences like buffer size can have a big impact on how your computer reacts when you're recording and mixing. Let's take a look at how to configure Preferences that affect computer performance, so that your system will work at maximum efficiency when running Ableton Live. So I'm going to go into Preferences using the key command, Cmd comma for a Mac or Ctrl comma on a PC. And you're going to want to select the audio tab. Now under the latency area, you'll see an option for buffer size. So, just a little background here, computers work more efficiently, when there is a chunk of data waiting for it at the instant that the computer is ready for the next piece of data. The larger that chunk, the more efficient the computer works. But in an audio program like Ableton Live there's a payback. The larger the buffer or chunk of data the more latency that you encounter. Meaning that when you're recording, you get the I played a note, and then you heard the note.
And there's enough delay that it's really disturbing. So the idea here is that when you're recording you're going to want to set this buffer as low as you can. And then, higher when you're mixing and editing, because at that point, you really don't care, whether or not that there's a few milliseconds of delay. So I would suggest setting the buffer at around 128 samples when you're recording. And then maybe upwards of 1024 samples when you're, mixing and editing. So note that Ableton will allow you to set this value to anything. But many interfaces actually have presets that they will work with and those are usually multiples of 32.
Like 32, 64, 128, 256 and so on. So, I'm going to click into this field and I'm going to go ahead, you'll notice that I can scroll up or down, and I can apply that to a different level or you can just click in here and type in the value that you want. So I'll click 128, and then I'll click the Apply button to set that. So you'll notice that now my input latency is a little bit more than four or around four and a half milliseconds. The output is almost four for a total of around eight milliseconds of latency.
Now that's going to be small enough that it's not going to bother you. But we can test how Live is going to be able to work with this by using this area at the bottom. Now if I click this button right here that says Off, it's going to start a test tone and then I can simulate kind of the load on the computer by pushing up this CPU usage simulator based upon what your current buffer size setting is. And the reason we want to know this is because if the buffer is set at too small a size, you may experience some distortion or dropouts in the audio. And this is one of those things that you often forget about, and you'll encounter some problems and you'll wonder what's wrong with your setup, and you'll just have to remember to come back in here and adjust the buffer size, okay? So, just to demonstrate this, I'm going to set this at a very low buffer size, and I'm going to push the CPU usage simulator up pretty high here, and then I'm going to click the button to turn this on so that we could hear that. So as I'm playing this, I'll actually push the CPU usage up, until we can hear what those dropouts or distortions sound like.
(audio playing) So you heard that crackling and popping and that's a really great indication that your buffer size is way too small. So again, I would suggest setting this around 128 samples or so when you're recording and that's for audio or MIDI by the way. And then when you are ready to mix and edit, bump that up to 512 or 1024 or something like that. I'll Enter to apply that and then I'm going to hit my Escape key to get out of this window.
Now, in the future, you can look up here in upper right-hand corner at this button on the control bar, where it says, currently says 4%. And this is the CPU usage indicator. And if you're getting upwards of 75, 80, 85% up here, that might be contributing to the problems. And so, either adjusting the buffer size, or taking a look at how many tracks you have running in the session, you may need to reduce that. But those two things will help balance the performance of your system and then I'll just point out one last button over here to the right of the CPU usage.
We actually see the disc indicator and that will show us if there's any problems actually pulling audio off your hard drive if that starts to light up. Okay. So now that you know how to configure the Preferences in Live that effects system performance. You'll be able to adjust the auto parameter, so that your system will work efficiently, whether you're recording or mixing.
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