suggested default presets for every audio device in ableton live - part 1

default presets can save you a ton of time & keep you focused on producing music rather than repetitious setup. of all the suggestions in this article, the most important is simply that you set up default presets. the particulars are somewhat arbitrary & rather dependent on your individual workflow, but I hope you'll find inspiration in the ideas & recommendations below. 

save default preset audio device ableton live

if you prefer the lazy method - & you trust me - I created a pack you can download that contains every device set to my preferred default settings. you can very easily go through & save each as your own default. grab that here.


ableton live default preset amp

amp is great for adding subtle distortion & crispness when used in low amounts. I tend to use it for these less obvious purposes, so I made my default preset more conducive to this.

  • output set to dual to preserve stereo signals
  • volume down a bit to compensate for gain
  • clean amp for most subtle effect

audio effect rack

default audio device ableton live
ableton live default audio effect rack

I've had opinions about the audio effect rack, but I'm currently a fan of using the default preset to quickly create a dry/wet for any group of effects

  • create two blank chains, name one "wet" & the other "dry"
  • open the zone editor & drag each chain's blue bar across to the other side
  • above each blue bar, pull the thin white bar to opposite sides
  • finally, map the orange chain select ruler to an empty macro

auto filter

default auto filter preset ableton live

in general, I prefer my effects to be as transparent as possible when they're initially added to a track. like millions before me, I prefer the sound of the moog ladder filter & the added utility of the drive knob that comes along with it.

  • set the frequency to 20k
  • set the filter type to PRD


ableton live default preset compressor

I find makeup gain to be misleading because it would have you think compressors make sounds louder when in fact they make sounds quieter. I like these attack & release settings because they "do the least" & from these settings forces you to really "think" about what you want your compressor to do.

  • change the compressor's display to activity view
  • set the release to 1 ms
  • set the attack to 1 s
  • turn off makeup gain


ableton live default preset corpus

these settings are strictly preferential, but if you want to get the most out of corpus, you'll probably want to engage the midi sidechain & filter sections to have them ready to go.

  • change resonance type to "tube"
  • lower decay a tad
  • unfold the sidechain parameters 
  • turn on the filter & set it a bit lower

dynamic tube

ableton live default preset dynamic tube

this is just a copy of the "warm tube" preset, which is what I found myself often using as a starting point anyway & saving it as the default preset makes it a few clicks easier to pull into my session. don't forget to switch dynamic tube into hi-quality mode as well!

  • set the tube mode to "B"
  • give drive, tone, & bias a little boost
  • set hi-quality mode

eq eight

ableton live default preset eq8
ableton live eq eight default preset
ableton live eq eight default presets

of all the default settings listed here, I find this the most useful. I don't think live's layout of frequencies & filter types is very logical. I also leave all the filters off by default (so I can save RAM on each instance of eq I load) but leave the lowest filter ready to high pass unnecessary subs. filter 5 is particularly handy, as I find myself making a cut around 500 hz all the time. 

  • set filters 1-8 to 48db low cut, 12db low cut, low shelf, bell, bell, high shelf, 12db high cut, 48db high cut, respectively
  • set frequencies 1-8 to 30, 200, 300, 500, 2k, 3k, 5k, & 18k, respectively
  • turn off all filters but the lowest
  • set the eq to "oversampling"
default preset filter delay ableton live

filter delay would be a lot more pleasant to use if it didn't come in like gangbusters. & anyway, I think I make better decisions when I have to feed an effect in rather than taper it off.

  • turn dry all the way up - no reason to lower your signal's level
  • turn all delay volumes down

continue to part 2 for more suggested defaults →