5 Tips On Optimizing Ableton Live’s Performance During A Live Set

5 Tips On Optimizing Ableton Live’s Performance During A Live Set.

The worst thing that can happen to a live performer using a computer is a complete onstage crash. One fantastic thing about Ableton Live is that it’s a remarkably stable program – if used right. I’ve used Ableton Live since 2005, starting with version 3, for live performances. Since then, I’ve played hundreds of shows and in all of those, I can count only 3 times when the program crashed. Two of those instances came from playing outdoor shows on hot summer days with the sun directly on the laptop which happened to overheat the computer and drastically slow the processors. I’ve even dropped a computer off a DJ booth onto a dance floor (ouch) and when I picked up the laptop, the Live set was still up and running.  Here are five ways I’ve found over the years to keep my live sets from ending with a computer fail.

1. Clean and Organize Your Sets Before A Performance

As an Ableton Certified Trainer, I consult with artists on their live Ableton sets. It’s amazing how many people I’ve seen come in with seemingly infinite numbers of tracks, scenes and clips for a 45 – 60 minute set. Before the show, go through your tracks, clips and scenes and clear out anything that you know you are not going to use. I do this before every performance. So invest a bit a time into it if you haven’t before and make it a habit.

2. Keep Plug-Ins Native As Much As Possible

Ableton’s native plug-ins work quite smoothly and are incredibly stable and efficient. Although I use plenty of outside plug-ins in production and mixing, for live performance I try and avoid them as much as possible. If you absolutely need to use them, use them with caution. Instead of putting a bunch on different tracks, can you put just one into a send? Can you take parts that are played with MIDI and an plug-in synth and convert them to audio? I think a lot of what’s kept my performance Ableton happy has been my avoidance whenever possible of external synths and effects.

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Comandante Zero (CØ) Ableton Live Set.
Comandante Zero (CØ) Ableton Live Set.