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How To Use Headphones With Ableton Live (Complete Guide)

Using headphones in Ableton is a straightforward procedure. Plug your headphones into your computer’s headphone output. If you are using an audio interface, you should be able to plug your headphones into the interface’s headphone port. Then ensure the correct audio output device is selected in Ableton’s Audio settings.

Using Headphone With Ableton

Although headphones don’t offer the same excitement as blasting your new track on great speakers, using headphones with Ableton is important for monitoring audio while recording and avoiding noise complaints!

It can be scary when you unbox your brand new $550 studio monitors only to be unable to hear anything out of them when you plug them into Ableton. 

In most cases, using headphones in Ableton is as easy as plugging them into your computer or interface’s headphone jack.

But rest assured, in this tutorial, we will show you how to get your headphones functioning.

What you will need to follow in this tutorial

To follow this guide, you will need headphones at the very least, but you may need external speakers or an audio interface and a copy of the Ableton Live software.

How Do I Change Audio Output In Ableton?

Your audio settings can be changed by accessing the “preferences” menu located under the “Live” drop-down menu on Mac OS and “Edit” on Windows. 

This can also be accessed by hitting “command/ctrl” +, “

How Do I Change Audio Output In Ableton 1

From here, navigate to the “Audio” tab. Here you will be able to select your audio output device. 

If you are using corded headphones, “headphones” may not be an option. If this is the case, you should select “built-in audio output” if your headphones are plugged into your computer’s headphones port.

Select Built in Audio Output In Ableton

If you are connecting your headphones to your audio interface, you will need to select your audio interface or audio driver as your output device.

How Do I Set My Headphones To Audio Output?

If you are using Bluetooth headphones, you may be able to select them directly in the audio output settings. 

To do so, you will need to access your audio settings using the process explained above. 

Why Can’t I Hear Ableton Through My Headphones?

You may have the wrong audio output selected. For example, if your headphones are plugged into your audio interface, you must ensure that your audio interface is set as your output device.

If you still can’t hear anything, check to make sure the volume is up on your interface and that all of your connections are working.

I like to isolate the issue by testing each piece of gear independently to ensure it’s working correctly. 

If your headphones are brand new and cannot hear the sound, plug them into something you know works to check they aren’t defective. 

Does Ableton Work with Wireless Headphones?

Your wireless headphones can be selected the same way as any other audio device. However, wireless headphones may result in more significant latency than a regular cable connection.

Does Ableton Support Bluetooth MIDI?

Ableton does allow you to use Bluetooth MIDI by setting up a virtual midi network. The specifics of this process are more complicated than I will get into in this article, but you can check out a guide to walk you through the steps here

Remember that a Bluetooth connection might not be as stable or fast as a physical connection. Hence, issues with latency or disruptions are a risk. 

Related Questions

Why Do I Hear Crackling on My Headphones in Ableton?

Vinyl Distortion Plugin In Ableton

Cackling in your headphones has a few common causes. The first thing to do is try listening to music in a separate program on your computer to isolate the issue to Ableton. If the crackling continues, it may be an issue with the headphones or your audio driver.

If you have isolated the issue to Ableton, first check if you are experiencing a CPU overload during playback by looking at the CPU meter in the top right corner of the screen. Anything above 50% may cause cracking and distorting sounds. 

If your CPU load is low, between 5-30%, the crackling is likely caused by something else. 

A channel that is too loud can cause clipping, as indicated by the volume bar turning red. You may also hear crackling due to specific plugins. For example, the “vinyl distortion” effect creates a constant hiss to emulate the sound of a vinyl record when applied to a channel.

Even if the play button is not active, the volume is still registered on the master channel. When the “volume” knob is above 0.0 on vinyl distortion, it causes a constant crackle effect. 

Do You Need an Audio Interface to Make Music?

An audio interface is not required to use Ableton. However, you will need an audio interface to use most XLR microphones with Ableton. 

There are workarounds, such as USB microphones or an external recording device. 

Though an audio interface is not required, it does provide options that allow for a smoother workflow.

What Are the Main Types of Headphones?

Headphones can come in many shapes and sizes. In general, we can differentiate between in-ear and over-the-ear headphones. Most studio headphones will be over-the-ear as they offer higher quality sound.

Over-the-ear headphones can be broken down further into two subcategories: hardback and softback

Softback headphones have the clearest sound, as their soft backing allows sound waves to escape. However, this can also lead to significant headphone bleed, particularly when recording vocals.

This is where hardback headphones come in. Their hard backing isn’t as sonically ideal but lets out less sound that might bleed into your recording.

How Do You Hear Yourself While Recording in Ableton?

Auto monitor setting in Ableton

To hear yourself while recording an audio track in Ableton, you must make sure the monitor setting is set to “auto.” This can be located on an armed audio channel where you select the input. 

Be sure to adjust the sample rate to something reasonably low to avoid latency in your monitors. 

Are you looking to learn more? Check the following article to find out the difference between Ableton’s Session View and Arrangement View.