How To Route External Gear with Ableton Live

Over the past few months I received multiple questions how to route external hardware audio effects with Ableton Live. Many Lo-Fi producer want to run their mixes through their beloved SP404 for the vinyl simulation and its signature effects. Others have stompboxes that they want to run their sound through.

At the moment I have the OTO Bim, an external analog delay unit, sitting here on my desk, so I thought I’ll document how I hook it up for a test drive in Ableton Live. The whole process is really simple, so let’s get into it.

What you need…

To route external hardware through Ableton Live you will need an audio interface with output and input jacks (here I use the inexpensive, but flawless NI Audio 6) as well as two sets of cables that fit your device.

Route External Hardware in Ableton Live

Step 1: First you need to connect the input of the device to the outputs of your audio interface. Then do the reverse and connect the outputs of the device to the interface inputs.

Imagine you are building a loop – the sound gets sent from your audio interface through the external audio effect and back into the interface.

Step 2: Physically we are all set, so let’s hop into Ableton and tell it how to handle the audio signal. Go to your Audio Effects and add the External Audio Effect to the track you want to affect. Next, choose the right output (Audio To) and input tracks (Audio From) and you are ready to go. In my setup it’s channels 3/4 , but yours might be different depending how your audio interface is set up.

That’s it already! Congratulations, if you followed the above steps correctly, you hear the sample in Ableton running through the external hardware audio effect now. Here’s a quick video of my first minutes with the OTO Bim Analog Delay, which is pretty awesome so far :)

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