Live Looping with Ableton Live

Published: Sun 14 February 2021
Updated: Sun 28 February 2021 by L.Drolez In Music

Are you struggling to succeed with your live looping performance on Ableton live? Here are my quick tips if you want to loop real instruments (guitar, synthesizer) in a live set, and do not miss a beat.

The simplest answer would be, use the Ableton Looper device! Yes, why not, but I find that the looper is really usable only if you only need 2 or 3 loops in your live. But it has the advantage of being standard in all versions of Ableton Live.

But what if your live is more complex and you need to record and loop 20 or 30 audio clips?

I think that the key is fixed length recording in session mode.

This is what I did in this Live performance where I built a song with only One Analog Synthesizer. I think that I couldn't have done it without fixed length recording.

One Analog Synth Live

If you cannot set the length of a clip record, then you have to be super focused on timing and press the stop record button a fraction of a second before the end. This is possible but with a lot of practice! 😅

If you can set the recording length for all your clips for example, 8 bars, just press the clip to record in the armed track, and you know that it will stop after 8 bars. Much less stress in perspective! And you can MIDI map the recording button of some of your clips, to your keyboard, if you don't have a control surface like a Launchpad.

Fixed length recording using a Lauchpad Pro or a Push

If you have a Novation Launchpad Pro (mk3 or not) or any Push, then you're lucky because they have a fixed length recording option.

On the Push you have a 'fixed length' button and you can set the length of the recording from 1 beat to 32 bars.

Push fixed length

On a Novation Launchpad Pro, you also have a fixed-length button on the left, and then on the bottom buttons, you can set the length from 1 bar to 8 bars. It's set to 6 bars on the photo below:

Launchpad fixed length

By the way, if you want to support the blog, you can buy a Push or Launchpad with the affiliate links below:

Fixed length recording using a M4L device

If you have Ableton Live Suite, you have Max4Live, and someone have made a cool M4L device to have fixed length recording.

You can download the M4L device here.

Now load this device in each track where you need fixed length recording, set the clip length in bars and voilà, each new record will be the length you've set.

M4L fixed recording

Fixed length recording using a ClyphX macro

If you don't have Live Suite, you have a nice 100% Free option: using ClyphX macros. Moreover, a Free version of ClyphX can be downloaded on Github.

Once you install the ClyphX script, you can trigger special actions in clips by using a special naming.

For our fixed length record, you will have to dedicate one track to ClyphX actions in session view.

  • create an empty MIDI clip on that track
  • rename the track to [] SRECFIX 8, if you want 8 bars of recording
  • arm any other track for recording
  • click on the 'SRECFIX' clip, this will trigger the recording using the
  • a new clip will be recorded and stopped after 8 bars

In the image below, you can see a 32 beats recording triggered after the '[] SRECFIX 8' clip was clicked (or triggered via your Launchpad).

Clyphx fixed recording

Fixed length recording using the Ableton Looper

Finally the last method for fixed length recording is using the Ableton looper device.

I've never used it because you need one looper per track, so one track = one recording.

However, with clever macros, you can control 2 or more loopers in a single track. I recommend this awesome video from Seed to Stage: Live Looping with Ableton Part 3: Multi Looper Technique

What's my favorite?

If you don't have a Push or Launchpad Pro, my favorite is to use a ClyphX Free SRECFIX macro. It works will all versions and flavors of Ableton Live, and the version for Live 11 will be released soon!

Do you have more live looping tips? Feel free to comment below 👍

LD. --

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