How to Fix Recording latency in Ableton Live?

Published: Sat 04 December 2021
Updated: Thu 22 June 2023 by Ludo In Music

How to reduce recording latency in Ableton Live? Latency is the time it takes for a signal, audio or MIDI, to be sent from one point to another. Read this quick guide if you want to minimize your Audio or MIDI recording latency.

Usually we start to notice audio latency above 10-15 ms, so the acceptable latency for live audio is around 10 ms, to make sure it won't affect the recording.

You may have already reduced your buffer size in 'Preferences - Audio', but you still notice some latency on your recorded clips. Yet you have the best sound card, with the lowest possible latency, so you don't understand... The latency issues are still here and the audio does not start right on the beat and you have to cut your clips... 🙄

Did you know that your Ableton latency issue is related to the Monitor track option?

If you set Monitor to IN or Auto and record arm the track, then you'll get more latency on that track.

Fix Ableton audio latency with Monitor set to Off

The solution is to set Monitor to Off, and record arm the track:

Ableton Live recording latency problem

As you see in this screenshot above, when monitor is set to Off, the latency is greatly reduced on track 3.

But how to listen to the track then? That's simple, while recording, if you need to listen to your track and lower the latency:

  1. Duplicate your Audio/MIDI track
  2. Set the 1st track Monitor to In
  3. Set the 2nd track Monitor to Off
  4. Arm both tracks.

So just one thing to remember: If you record with Monitor set to In or Auto, then you'll record with latency.

What about MIDI latency in Ableton?

In the case of Ableton Live, this is the time it takes for the MIDI signal to be sent from Ableton Live to the controller or synth and for the synth to start producing a sound.

This MIDI latency can be taken into account by Ableton if you use the device named 'External Instrument' (not available in Live Lite or Intro):

  • Simply set the latency value in the 'hardware latency' box, usually a few ms.
  • And record with Monitor set to Off, as explained above.

Ableton Live MIDI latency

Correcting the latency for individual tracks

Maybe you've already recorded some audio or MIDI tracks, and you notice that there are different latencies and delays between them, that need to be corrected. Fortunately you don't need to move your Clips one by one, you can directly modify the global delay of each track in Session or Arrangement view:

  • Click on the little 'D' on the right of the master track, to show Track Delays,
  • Adjust the delay of each track as you can see below

Ableton Live tracks delays

Note that these track delays can also be modified for creative purposes, to add an unexpected groove to your master ;)

If you have more Live recording tips, feel free to discuss them below 😉

LD. --

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