How to Set Up Audio Preferences in Ableton Live
Setting up audio preferences
Using an external audio interface with Live allows you to record and monitor audio at a higher resolution than using a computer's built-in audio inputs and outputs. In this video we'll discuss how to configure Ableton Live to work with an external audio interface, and learn how to activate the interface inputs and outputs. So before you start using Ableton Live you want to connect your audio interface to your computer, start your computer, and then if necessary load the interface's driver. Then you can go ahead and launch Ableton Live. To access the settings that will allow you to configure your audio interface to work with Live, choose Preferences from the Live menu on Mac, or the Options menu on a PC, or use the key command Command+Comma or Ctrl+Comma on PC.
The Preferences are organized into tabs, and I'm on the Audio tab here. First of all, we see the Driver Type, which in this case I only have the option of CoreAudio. On a Mac or a PC if there is a driver that's specific to your interface, you'll need to load that, and it should be visible in this menu. Then we can go down and click the Audio Input Device, and we should see your interface listed in this list. If not, again, you'll need to go back and check on that driver. So I've got the Hammerfall DSP set currently as my input device, and I want to check the available input, so I am going to click the Input Config button.
And here I see that currently, out of all the inputs and outputs available on this device, only 1 and 2 are enabled, both mono and stereo. So I am going to go ahead and I am going to enable 3 and 4 for both mono and stereo, and I'll click OK. And I am going to close Preferences by hitting the Escape key. Now I'll click the Input Assignment button on the Audio Track in Live, and I see both 1 and 2 available stereo, 3 and 4 stereo, and then it's mono inputs 1 through 4.
I'll go back into Preferences by using the key command Command+Comma, and I'll see that I have the same options here available for the Audio Output Device. Now I am doing something different here because I'm recording this video, but in most cases you are going to want to make sure that the input device and the output device are set to the same device to avoid conflicts. We have the same option here for the Output Config, and in this case this particular interface only has two outputs. Next, if you are going to record audio into an Ableton Live set, you'll want to set the sample rate, bit depth and audio file type here in Preferences; these settings will affect any audio recorded into a Live set.
For Sample Rate, the options are 44,100k, 48,000, and 96,000, with 44.1 kHz, being the consumer audio CD standard and 48 and 96 being higher resolution options. Let me go ahead and choose 44,100. The Sample Rate and Pitch Conversion parameter affects the audio quality of an audio clip when it is stretched to fit a different tempo, or transposed to work in another key. The default Sample Rate and Pitch Conversion setting is a global setting. This can also be set at the clip level if necessary, and we'll discuss this in a later video.
So next, I'll click the Record Warp and Launch tab, and our top option here is File Type, and our choices are WAV and AIF. WAV was developed for the PC and AIF for the Mac, but today they are both cross-platform, interchangeable. They are both uncompressed audio format, so they work both the same pretty much. So I am going to choose WAV. And then for bit depth our options are 16, 24, and 32-bit. Again, 16 is the consumer audio CD standard, 24 and 32 being higher resolution options.
Now most engineers are going to recommend that you record at a higher bit rate. That's going to give you the biggest bang for your buck in improving the audio quality. I'll go ahead and choose 24-bit. So in this video we learned how to configure Live so that you can effectively use an audio interface rather than your computer's built-in interface.
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