Recording Audio from Hardware using the External Instrument Plug-In in Ableton

Word. So we use a fair bit of hardware to produce our tracks (Moog Minitaur, Korg Minilogue, x0xb0x, etc) and one thing that, for some reason, is not that obvious is how to record the audio from the hardware in Ableton, and keep it in sync with the project. It’s actually not that complicated once you’ve done it a few times… but having seen this question pop up, we thought we’d do a quick blog post about it. FYI this picture is only one half of the Club of Jacks studio as it’s a joint project with two of us… There’s even more hardware and FX pedals than this!

First thing is make sure your sound card is connected and the inputs are turned on in Preferences > Audio. And make sure you can see your hardware connected in the midi tab. You’ll either be using midi over USB or a midi cable plugged into your midi interface (often your sound card has midi ports you can use – see below).

Then add an External Instrument plugin to a new track.

In the External Instrument plugin drop downs, change the “Midi To” to the External Synth you are setting up (in this case the Moog Minitaur) and have the “Audio From” be the channel you have the hardware plugged into (in this case it’s Channel 1 ie Ext 1 on the sound card).

Next, record some midi and make sure you’re hearing your synth play, it should now be in sync. NB You want to be monitoring only playback on your sound card.

At this point you can rename your External Instrument track because when you create a new audio channel to record the hardware you need to be recording the output from the External Instrument Plugin and NOT the Ext 1 input from the sound card (that’s what will have latency / seem delayed). I renamed it Moog Minitaur.

To record, you have to click the record arm button on the audio track (which you can rename too) then hit record. Also set monitor to “Off” on the audio track you are recording to.

That’s it. You can also save the External Instrument as the name of the synth (cmd R) so you don’t need to set it up every time.

Hope that helps someone from tearing their hair out!