It’s not like the old days. Making music on a computer has it’s own set of problems we have to deal with. Laggy Audio, CPU spikes, the list could go on forever.
Usually these are a result of not getting the maximum performance out of Ableton Live. Here are some tips:
1. Enable Multicore Support
Go under Options>Preferences, locate the CPU tab and make sure your “Multicore/Multiprocessor” tab is selected. This allows Live to distribute the CPU load amongst multiple cores and CPUs (if your computer supports it).
To find out if your computer supports multiple cores and processors in a PC, you can right click on My Computer>Properties, and it will tell you your CPU type.
For Mac users, most modern Macs and MacBooks have multicore processor built it.
2. Freeze Tracks
Freezing tracks can save you a lot of CPU power. I work with Native Instruments Guitar Rig on some tracks, and this thing is a CPU consumption beast. Keep your CPU meter down by simply right clicking the desired track and selecting “Freeze”.
3. Stick To The 44.1kHz Sample Rate
Disclaimer: I am not an Audio Engineer. I am just basing this on my humble personal experiences.
It is of this writer’s opinion that if you are mixing and mastering your own music, anything above 44.1kHz is a waste of time. Unless you are have a mastering engineer’s set up, keep it at 44.1kHz; it saves processing power.
A consumer level CD-R burned out of iTunes will render at 16 bits and 44.1kHz. However, it is a good idea to have your bit rate set to 24 in Ableton because this will give you more dynamic headroom while mixing/mastering the track.
Final thought: A bad song (poorly mixed, mastered, etc) exported out at 96kHz will not make it noticeably better.
4. Use Live’s Buffer Settings
Here is a general rule of thumb: Poor CPU performance (stuttering audio) means you should raise the buffer level (512 to 1,024 samples ought to do). The trade off? Higher latency (the lag between playing a sound and hearing it).
At lower buffer levels your latency should be nearly gone, however, you will experience higher CPU loads, as well as audio dropouts.
Final thought: Find a happy medium where your latency is tolerable, and you are not having constant CPU spikes. (I have mine set at 256).
5. Use Sends For Effects
Some people get into the habit of dropping multiple effects that have similar settings on each of their tracks. To save on CPU power, use sends!
Drop a single effect onto one of Ableton’s Send tracks, and you can instantly send the signal of this effect by simply turning up the send knob on individual tracks. Make sure you have the wet knob turned up to 100% on the effect.
6. Get Rid Of Unnecessary Applications
For the PC it’s Ctrl+Alt+Del to enter the task manager, for the Mac it’s Cmd+Option+Esc. Whichever OS you’re running use these application managers to kill any un used programs in the background.
As an extra word of advice to mac users, be sure to turn off your airport when running Ableton.
Hopefully these tricks will help you to get the most out of your Ableton Live experience. I am sure there could be a few I am missing, if anyone would like to share, please comment below!