7. Recording instruments and vocals into Ableton Live

 Prepare your Audio interface

1. XLR and 1/4" inputs

These are combination inputs, so you can plug in an XLR jack (commonly used by microphones), or a 1/4" jack (commonly used by instruments)

The inputs can be balanced or unbalanced (click here to read more)

2. Phantom power (+48V) switch

Press this if you are connecting a condenser microphone, because those require 48V phantom power. Condenser microphones are more sensitive and give clearer sound than dynamic microphones, but they are also more fragile.

DO NOT PRESS this if you are plugging in an instrument.

3. Hi-Z Switch

Press this if you are connecting a guitar. This will optimize input impedance and high frequency capture. Without this, guitars may sound dull or muffled.

4. Gain knob

This adjusts the input level of the sound being recorded.

5. Signal or Overload LED

Green = OK


6. Monitor knob

Adjusts the volume of the output going to the mixer / speakers.

Always TURN DOWN THE MONITOR before changing any connections, plugging or unplugging.

7. Phones jacks

This is to connect your headphones. If you are using consumer headphones, you will need an adaptor to convert to 1/4" jack.

8. Phones level


9. Direct Monitor Switch

Switch this on if you want to hear the recorded sound directly from the inputs to the headphones. If you don't switch this on, the recorded sound travels into the DAW/computer and back out again to the headphones, which will cause several milliseconds of delay (latency), which can give you a weird feeling of losing timing.

10. Mix knob

With switch 9 in mind, 

  • full left = you only hear the inputs, no DAW
  • centre = you hear both
  • full right = you only hear the DAW, no inputs

11. USB indicator

If this is on, the audio interface is being powered by the computer. If you don't see it, it's not working.

12. MIDI indicator

This indicates if the interface is receiving MIDI signals, which would happen if you connect a MIDI instrument (e.g. a keyboard) to the interface

Back panel

11. USB connection - to connect USB to computer
12. MIDI connection - to connect MIDI cables to a keyboard or other controller
13. Line Output - to connect 1/4" cables to a mixer or speakers
14. Kensington lock - so that nobody steals it

Record an instrument or voice

Arm for recording

Left: Arrangement View / Right: Session View

Start a new Audio track
Click on the round button to Arm (prepare) the Audio track for recording 

Start Recording

(1) Press the Record button (circle) to start recording. You may need to press the Play button as well if nothing moves. Recording creates new clips in all tracks that have their Arm button on.
(2) Press the Stop button (square) to stop recording

Recording with Count-in

A count-in for recording can be set via the pull-down menu next to the Metronome switch. When set to any value other than “None,“ Live will not begin recording until the count-in is complete. The Arrangement Position fields in the Control Bar display the count-in in blue as bars-beats-sixteenths.

The Count-In is Displayed in the Control Bar.
The count-in runs from negative bars-beats-sixteenths (beginning at -2.1.1., for example, with a Count-In setting of 2 bars) up to 1.1.1., at which point recording commences.

Recording and Comping takes (a bit more advanced)

Recording different takes

  • While recording new clips in the Arrangement View take lanes are automatically added to armed audio tracks.
  • Recording over existing clips, either by recording individual passes or by recording in a loop (see ‘The Arrangement Loop’), will add a new take lane for each pass. 
  • Existing take lanes will be automatically reused when no other clip exists after the punch-in point.
  • The last recorded clip in a track is always copied to that track’s main lane, so that it becomes immediately audible when playing back the Set.

Auditioning Take Lanes

You can audition a take lane by clicking the Audition Take Lane button (displayed as a speaker icon) in that take lane’s header, or using the T keyboard shortcut.

Comping (combining the best part of) Takes

Selected material in take lanes can be copied to the main lane by drawing.
In Draw Mode (with the Pencil icon on), the pencil copies selected take lane material to a track’s main lane.

Have fun trying!