How to Set Up a Mic on Ableton Live

by Seamus Islwyn ; Updated September 22, 2017

Hooking up a microphone to your computer allows you to record sung or spoken vocals in the Ableton Live digital audio workstation. After you've set up a mic, you can overdub vocals on to a backing track, apply effects to your voice or slice a vocal into a MIDI track. You can also use Ableton Live's built-in Vocoder plug-in to modulate a synthesizer or carrier sample with your voice, thereby creating robotic vocals in the style of Kraftwerk or Daft Punk.

Plug the microphone into the "Mic" jack on your computer's sound card. Right-click the Windows Start button and then select Control Panel from the jump menu. Click Hardware and Sound, then click the Manage Audio Devices link in the Sound section.

Click the Recording tab. Click the icon next to Microphone, followed by Set Default and then OK.

Launch Ableton Live. Go to Options, Preferences and then Audio. If the sound card is not already enabled in Ableton, select it from the Audio Device drop-down menu.

Click Input Config. If you're using a stereo microphone, click 1/2 (stereo). If you have a mono microphone, or if you're not sure about the microphohe type, click 1 (mono) & 2 (mono). Click the OK button and close the Preferences window.

Click the Arm Session Recording icon, which looks like a circle inside a rectangle, at the bottom of the audio track. Click the circle icon inside the first clip slot to start recording from the microphone. Adjust the track's volume slider to change the recording level.

Press the spacebar to stop recording. Click the Play button inside the newly recorded clip to listen to the recording.

Tip

  • Leaving your computer speakers on while recording into a microphone can create feedback.

About the Author

Seamus Islwyn has been writing for radio, print and online publications since 2003, covering subjects from independent Canadian music to automobile smuggling in the Balkans. His work has appeared in the "Tirana Times" in Albania, and he also composes and produces electronic music. Islwyn holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from McGill University and a certificate in radio broadcasting from Humber College.