Audio Input Routing
In this section of the course we cover all the possible midi and audio input, output and monitoring options. In particular, this video will focus on the audio input routing.
Within our input routing options (under the i/o tab) we have a few different input options for audio tracks…
• No input
• The master track
• External input (ext in)
• Rewire from other programs
• Return tracks
• Internal track/group
These options essentially allow us to pull audio into an audio track from any other area both within live and from external applications and devices.
The first drop-down allows us to choose our main input source, whilst the secondary drop-down underneath it allows us to choose the secondary source or “tap-off’ location. so if we choose another track within Ableton as our main input source, the secondary menu will allow us to choose at what point in that tracks chain we wish to pull the signal.
If we chose a group as our main input source, the secondary menu would allow us to choose a specific track or drum pad to use, as well as also being able to choose the point in the audio chain we wish to take the signal from.
Let’s look at these sources in a bit more detail…
as the name suggests, setting the track to ‘no input’ means there is no audio being routed into that particular track. We can still place audio samples on that track to listen to though, it simply means we haven’t input any ‘audio sources’ into that track such as a microphone or another track’s audio.
The Master Track
This setting allows us to feed the master output of Ableton Live back into our track. This can be useful for re-recording or resampling our main Ableton Live output audio. Be careful with this setting because it can be easy to accidentally create a feedback loop (where the audio gets louder and louder as the output audio feeds back into its own input).
External Input (Ext-In)
This is one of the more commonly used settings for input audio. This setting allows us to choose an external input such as a line in from a DJ controller, a microphone, a hardware synthesizer or drum machine, or multiple inputs from a soundcard. The secondary menu will then allow us to choose which ext-input we want to use if we have multiple, for example, Soundcard usually has between 2 to 16 separate inputs, each one could potentially be a different instrument, mic or device.
Rewire From Other Programs
Rewire is a technology created by Propellerheads reason which allows DAWs to be able to route audio into one another, usually with one acting as the ‘master’ and another acting as the ‘slave’ depending on what order you boot the programs up in. This setting allows you to pull in audio sources from other software which is great if you find yourself jumping between different programs for different tasks.
Re-sampling allows you to use your track to record anything else in your Ableton Live project. All you have to do is set it as an input source, arm the track and then either solo the tracks you wish to record or mute the ones you don’t want to hear. This is a great tool for consolidating and tidying your project as well as coming up with new ideas combined of multiple layers or simply to amalgamate sounds your working on during a sound design session.
We can also choose to take our input source from a return track, these are generally used for FX but could also be used to route audio from elsewhere either in or out of Ableton Live.
Finally, we have the option to take audio from another track or group of tracks from within Ableton Live. If we choose a group of tracks, (whether that’s a group you have created, a chain, or an instrument with multiple pads such as ‘impulse’ or ‘drum-rack’) we will get a secondary option underneath to decide which sub-track or pad we wish to select. We will then get even more options on where we would like to take the signal from in that particular tracks signal chain.
Signal chain… What’s that?
Each track in Ableton follows a common routing of first going through any midi fx, and instruments (if its a midi track) then any audio fx, then through the mixer to the group (if it is grouped) then to the master track to be output to our speakers.
This routing has some more generic terms to explain the different points where we can tap off the signal. the reason we may want to take the signal at different points in the chain is because it will sound or behave different depending on where we take it from. Our 3 options are:
• Pre FX
• Post FX
• Post Mixer
These options will be covered over the coming videos in the course.