Ableton Exporting Problems: 3 Solutions

Ableton Live is a world-leading DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), used by millions across the globe. It’s known for its unique workflow and incredible user interface, making music production, mixing, and mastering a breeze.

But now that you’ve finished your song, and are trying to export it, you’re running into some trouble. How frustrating!

In the article, we’ll dive into 3 known problems when it comes to exporting in Ableton, and find you your solutions.

Your Export Settings are Incorrect

So, your track is complete, and you’re ready to put it out into the world. First things first, you’ll need to export it from your Ableton Live.

We know that all of Ableton’s export options can be confusing, leaving you feeling unsure about what to select.

Selecting the wrong settings can lead to trouble exporting but don’t worry, you’re in the right place.

Let’s jump into the basics of exporting in Ableton Live with a step-by-step guide to understanding all your options:

Selection Options

Firstly we’ll need to open up our “Export Audio/Video” window, which can be located in the “File” drop-down menu.

Here you’ll see a few different options for your rendered track, which means the audio signal you’ll be exporting.

Master: This option renders the post-fader signal from Live’s Master output, so what you hear is exactly what you get in the final file.

All Individual Tracks: With this option, Live renders the post-fader signal at the output of each individual track, including return tracks and MIDI tracks with instruments.

This creates a separate sample for each track, all of which have the same length, making it easy to align them in other multitrack programs.

Selected Tracks Only: This option is identical to All Individual Tracks, but only renders tracks that you’ve specifically chosen.

Single Tracks: This option renders the post-fader signal from the output of a selected track or track group. You can choose which track to render from a list of all your tracks, including the return tracks.

The next selection field indicates the start time and length of your export.

  • Render Start: This will set the beginning position of your render.
  • Render Length: This will set the overall length of your render.

N.B. It’s important to note that an alternative and often the preferred method of setting your export length can be done in Ableton’s Arrangement View.

  1. First, you’ll need to set the length of the ‘Arrangement Loop and Punch-recording area’, which is located at the top of the Arrangement View just underneath your visual overview area.
  2. Then, just before exporting your track, you’ll need to click on that same area to highlight the entire track with your set start and end positions.
  3. Once you head into your “Export Audio/Video” window, the start time and length of your export will already be set.

Rendering Options

When exporting your tracks in Live, you have a bunch of extra options to fine-tune the process. Here’s a closer look at what each one does:

Include Return and Master Effects: This option individually renders each selected track with any return tracks used by that track, as well as effects used in the Master track.

It’s particularly useful for live performances or providing stems (individual tracks) to a mixing engineer or remix artist.

Render as Loop: When activated, Live creates a sample that can be used as a loop.

It applies small fades at the beginning and end of the file to prevent clicking, which is especially helpful when you don’t want effects to be noticeable when the loop restarts.

Convert to Mono: This option creates a mono file instead of a stereo file.

Normalize: When activated, Live amplifies your track so that the highest peak attains the maximum available headroom, essentially like a limiter.

This isn’t a good idea if you plan to master your track afterward since it leaves no headroom for additional processing.

Create Analysis File: This option generates an .asd file that contains analysis information about your rendered track. It’s useful if you intend to play the file again in Live, but unnecessary if you only need a final bounce.

Sample Rate: Sound is captured in Ableton Live by subdividing the audio wave into samples, with a higher number of samples resulting in a more accurate representation of the original wave.

The Sample Rate option lets you choose the sample rate for the rendered file, similar to the way a digital photo with more pixels has higher quality.

Encoding Options

Next, we have the Encoding section, which deals with the format of your export. Here’s what each option means:

Encode PCM: This setting uses Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) to transform the analog signal into a digital signal composed of a sequence of bits.

File Type: Live supports WAV, AIFF, and FLAC formats for PCM export, which provides a lossless (no loss of audio quality) representation of the audio data.

Bit Depth: The number of bits used to represent each sample in digital audio is called the bit depth.

It directly corresponds to the resolution of each sample, with higher bit depths providing more precise and accurate representations of the original signal.

For example, Compact Disc Digital Audio uses 16 bits per sample, while DVD-Audio and Blu-ray Discs can support up to 24 bits per sample. By choosing the appropriate bit depth, you can balance the file size and audio quality for your export.

Dithering: Dithering is a process that adds a small amount of noise to the audio signal when rendering at a lower bit depth than the original. This helps minimize artifacts (noises) caused by the reduction in bit depth.

  • The default dither mode is Triangular, which is considered the safest option for processing.
  • Rectangular mode introduces a smaller amount of dither noise but at the expense of quantization errors.
  • The three Pow-r modes offer successively higher levels of dithering, but with the noise pushed above the audible range.
    1. Pow-r 1 is optimized for low dynamic range programs like highly compressed pop music.
    2. Pow-r 2 is optimized for less complex programs like spoken word.
    3. Pow-r 3 is optimized for complex, high-dynamic range programs such as orchestral performances.

This might all seem quite confusing, but don’t worry; if you’re just starting to use Ableton Live and are looking to export your track, you can leave most of these settings as is.

Ableton Keeps Freezing When Exporting Your Track

What’s more frustrating than finishing your next big hit, but not being able to export it as a single file? Every DAW has been known to freeze sometimes when trying to export from specific projects, and it can be infuriating.

Let’s jump into some reasons why this could be happening:

Your Plug-ins May Be Causing The Issue

Sometimes Plug-ins (especially third-party plug-ins) can be quite sticky when it comes to exporting in Ableton Live. This can be caused by a multitude of different problems, so it can be hard to pinpoint the exact cause or even the exact plug-in.

Here’s how to stop your plug-ins from causing issues when exporting:

First and foremost, we need to try to find the problem plug-in.

The easiest and most efficient way to do this is by bypassing each plug-in, one at a time, when exporting your track. This means that when the export renders correctly, the bypassed plug-in is the problem.

This is all good and well, but what if that plug-in is crucial to the sound of the song? We need to include the action of the plug-in without it being activated when trying to export.

To do this, you’ll need to render the track that includes the problem plug-in to audio. You can either freeze or flatten the track, or if that doesn’t work, resample the audio by recording the audio info into a new audio track.

Here’s how to resample audio:

  1. Create and arm a new audio track.
  2. Under the ‘Input’ drop-down menu, select ‘Resampling’
  3. Next, solo the track you’re wanting to resample, thereby muting everything else.
  4. Finally, press record, which will automatically resample your selected track in your new audio track.

You Can Use Resampling as a Quick Fix

If you’re in a bind and need your final mix exported quickly, but your project keeps freezing, you can use Resampling as a quick fix. Here’s how:

  1. Create and arm a new audio track.
  2. Under the ‘Input’ drop-down menu, select ‘Resampling’
  3. Next, instead of soloing a selected track, let the entire song be recorded.
  4. Once you press record, your song will now be a waveform on a single audio track.
  5. Simply drag this audio file onto your desktop, and there you have it, a final mix.

Your Third-Party Plug-Ins Are Being Bypassed

If you’re trying to export on Ableton Live, but some of the third-party plug-ins are being excluded in the render, you’ve come to the right place.

This issue can be very frustrating, especially when you’re trying to export “Selected Tracks Only” or even a soloed individual track via the “Master export.”

This issue is caused by a conflict between your global and export Sample Rate settings, which can be a very common mistake.

Here is how to fix the issue:

  1. First, navigate to Ableton Live’s ‘Preferences’ from the ‘Live’ drop-down menu for Mac and the ‘option’ menu for Windows.
  2. Next, select the ‘Audio’ tab on the left, and note your Sample Rate: In/Out Sample Rate setting.
  3. Finally, try exporting again while making sure that the export Sample Rate setting is set to the same Sample Rate as your global settings.

Final Thoughts

Export problems in Ableton Live can be caused by a variety of different issues and can often be hard to pinpoint a single determining factor. This means it’s important to be methodical and patient when it comes to troubleshooting and problem-solving.

There are also other common and simple problems, such as incorrect volume levels, which can cause clipping or incorrect file names and destinations, which can result in overwriting and loss of work.

By taking the time to check and double-check all of your export settings, you can avoid many of these common issues and ensure that your final audio file is of high quality and free from errors.


Ableton freezing when exporting