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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Sep-16 > Beef up your Ableton Live audio ins and outs

Beef up your Ableton Live audio ins and outs

Do you need more audio inputs and outputs for your Live rig? Before rushing out to buy another interface, make sure you’re fully exploiting what you already have…

Ableton Live Live In Depth - Part 7

Sooner or later, we all have a moment when something changes unexpectedly in our studio or live setup; maybe we borrow a drum machine or synth from a friend, or somebody comes over for a jam, and suddenly the well-organised rig doesn’t quite have enough audio inputs or outputs to go round. In the longer term, you can plan to buy another soundcard, or you can use external audio inputs on your hardware instruments, if they have any, and bodge something together that way. Either way, right there on the spot, you need something to make it work, and this is where aggregate audio devices come in, if you have an unused sound card lying around.

Under Mac OS X, we can combine two or more audio interfaces, including the one built into the computer, so that our favourite music software sees all of the connected physical inputs and outputs as one virtual device. This device will be available system-wide for any software, including Ableton live and other DAWs. In some ways, you might think we’re not talking about an Ableton Live-specific topic here, but it’s incredibly relevant, because Live is at the centre of so many stage and jam rigs. The understanding of aggregate audio devices fits very neatly into that world, just as you ought to know how to ReWire different DAWs, how to use MIDI Sync, and so on.

Typically these days, we’d be using USB audio interfaces for this. It’s the most common form of connection for audio and MIDI peripherals, although FireWire is still around, and there are a few Thunderbolt interfaces available, like the Apogee Ensemble, and FireWire interfaces are still around – and FireWire is compatible with Thunderbolt if you have an adaptor. Just to be clear, when I talk about an audio interface, or a sound card, I’m referring to the same thing.

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About MusicTech

The new issue of MusicTech is all about mastering your music, and mastering it for everywhere! These days you have to master for various outlets so your music needs to sound professional not just in the studio but online too. We have guides to the whole process, the whys, and hows. We also interview leading mastering engineers about the joys of vinyl mastering and other challenges modern mastering experts face. There's well over 1GB of free samples on the DVD plus 2 hours of tutorials and a bumper set of reviews and workshops too. Make music and master it now!