How to Get Rid of Microphone Delay in Ableton Live

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Ableton Live is an audio recording and editing application for the PC and Macintosh. It can be used to edit MIDI data or record live instruments. The delay that sometimes occurs when recording vocals or instruments into a software application is called "latency." It is essentially the computer's "thinking" time as it converts the electrical signal from the microphone into audio data. All recording applications suffer from this problem to a certain degree, and there are fairly simple ways to rectify it.

Things You'll Need

  • USB/Firewire audio interface
  • Ensure the computer is powered off. Connect the interface to the USB or FireWire port using the appropriate cable. Connect the microphone to the interface. Power on the computer and allow it to boot up. Launch Ableton Live. Click "File," "New Live Set."

  • Click the "Live" menu if using a Macintosh, or the "Edit" menu on a PC. Select "Preferences" to open the Preferences Dialog box. Click "Audio." In the top section of the dialog, ensure that the name of your audio interface appears in both of the drop-down boxes labeled "Audio Input Device" and "Audio Output Device."

  • Locate the "Latency" section of the the audio preferences. The "Buffer Size" setting adjusts the size of the system resources set aside to create a "Holding Area" for the audio, to ensure it outputs at a smooth and constant rate. The predicted latency amounts are displayed in milliseconds below. The field at the bottom allows the adjustment of the "Driver Error" buffer, which performs the same buffering job at the opposite end of the signal chain.

  • Adjust the "Buffer Size" and "Driver Error Compensation" sliders until the "Overall Latency" field is as close to "0.0 ms" as possible. Hit the "Apply" key and test the microphone.

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