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Ten Essential Ableton Live Tips & Tricks - Part 5: Routing Audio Featured

Each track in Ableton allows you to specify the inputs and outputs. By default, each tracks output gets sent to the Master, whether it be an Audio Track, or a MIDI Track with a sampler/synthesizer.

By changing the route of the Audio, a number of possibilities open up for expanding the way you work. You can think of routed audio tracks as gateways for the sound to pass through before it goes to the final master mix.


The main reason I route audio, is for resampling something on the fly, so I can quickly save what I have created as a mixed down audio file or loop, and continue working with the evolution of the sound in the track, knowing my previous idea is safely stored for later use.

For this example, we will route the Audio output of a MIDI track with a VST instrument into a new Audio track, so we can sample the synth while we mess with it.

First we will need a MIDI track and VST instrument. I am going to use the free synthesizer Superwave p8 (, but you can use whatever you like. Name this new track Synth.

Create a new loop in a blank clip slot, write some notes into the piano roll and get the loop playing. Muck around with your VST until you get something sounding good.

The next step is to create a new Audio Track. This will be the track that we route the output of our VST to so we can resample. Add a new Audio Track (from the Insert menu) and name it Routed.

Now we need to tell the new Routed track where to get its input from. We do this by opening up the In/Out options, by selecting In/Out from the View menu.

Each channel now has a new set of options where we can specify the inputs and outputs. We want the input of the Routed track to come from the Synth track, so select 1-Synth from the Audio From dropdown menu.

Next we need to change the Monitor section of the Routed audio track. This controls whether we hear the input audio signal or not. As we just want to resample what is being played from the 1st Synth track, we don’t need the input of the Routed track to be played, so select Off. If this was left on Auto, we would get a double up of the audio as the Routed track would play exactly what the original Synth track is playing.

That’s it! The new Routed track is set up to catch the audio from the original Synth track. To test this, start playing the original synth loop, and arm the routing track ready for recording (resampling) by clicking the round red record button at the bottom of the track.

You will notice that all the blank clip slots now have little circles in them. This means they are ready to record. Try clicking on one of the circles, the Routed track will wait for the next bar and then start recording a loop, with exactly what is happening in the Synth track. This will continue until you click the stop button at the bottom of the track.

We now have a new audio loop, resampled from the Synth track. Rename this to whatever you like and store it ready for use later. You can now make changes to the VST, but know you will always have sampled audio copy of the original.

Bonus Tip #1

When you arm a track with blank clip slot that are assigned Key or MIDI triggers, you can use the triggers to quickly record new loops one after the other, or instantly start playing a loop once it’s finished resampling.

This is handy for doing lots of on the fly variations when you are performing live. Say you are mucking around with your VST and come up with something cool, by using your triggers you can quickly resample this so you can keep it playing and move on to other things.

This example we will set up our new Routed audio track with 8 blank clip slots with key triggers. Do this by entering Key Assign mode (selecting Edit Key Map from the Options Menu), clicking on the first blank clip slot and pushing [ 1 ], [ 2 ] for the second, [ 3 ] for the third etc. until you have keys [ 1 ] through [ 8 ] assigned.

Turn of Key Assign mode, and start playing your Synth loop again, but this time open up your VST instrument and start messing with parameters to change the sound real time.

As you are changing these sounds, you can press the keys we assigned to the blank clips to quickly resample the VST. If you hit [ 1 ], it will wait until the next bar and start recording a loop, then if you hit [ 2 ], it will keep recording until the next bar, then start recording a new clip. You can work your way down through the number keys recording 8 new loops.

Once a clip slot has been filled by recording the input to a new loop, it changes the behavior of the trigger assigned from recording, to playing. So now if we stop the VST loop on the Synth track and hit the same trigger buttons, we can trigger each of the new loops we just recorded.

Bonus Tip #2

Routing audio can also be used to group similar tracks, for example you could route the audio from the Kick, Snare and Hihat tracks, to a new track called Percussion. This is handy because you can now apply effects to all the percussion by just dropping effects into one audio track.

Let’s say you have 6 tracks in your live set; Bass, Kick, Snare, Hihat, Synth1 and Synth2.

To group together the Kick, Snare and Hihat, we need to add a new Audio track for them to be sent too. Add this in and call it Percussion.

Instead of specifying the Input of the percussion track, we need to specify the Output of the Kick, Snare and Hihat. This is because you can only specify one input of a track, but you can send the output of multiple tracks to one single audio track. From each of the three tracks we want to send, choose the new 7-Percussion as the output from the Audio To dropdown menu.

On the new Percussion track, select No Input from the Audio From drop down menu and set the Monitor to In.

Now when we play any clips that output audio from the Kick, Snare or Hihats, it will get fed through the Percussion track before the sound reaches the Master. We can now chain up effects on this Percussion track and have them change all three of the percussion tracks at once.

Bonus Tip #3

The Audio To dropdown menu can also be used to send audio all over the place! For example, you can choose to send the audio of a track just to the Send Channels and not the Master.


If you have a soundcard with multiple outputs, you can choose which output the signal of each track sends to. This would come in useful

if you wanted to plug into an analog mixing desk for live performance, you could route your Kick through the first output, Bass through the second, Percussion through the third and fourth (left and right) and your Synths out your fifth and six.

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