Ableton Feedback Problem: 4 Common Issues (Explained)

In Ableton Live, feedback refers to the sound that is created when an audio signal is fed back into itself, either through a hardware or software loop. You’ll have often heard the term from guitarists who use the process on soaring guitar solos.

This can result in a repeating or sustained sound, which can be used creatively or be a massive problem in music production and sound design.

If you’re having trouble with feedback in your Ableton production, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll dive into 4 common feedback issues, and help you get to the bottom of your feedback woes.

Music Producer deep in thought at computer. Midi controllers plugged into computer.

Your Plug-Ins May Be Causing Feedback

Certain audio effects and third-party plugins can be one of the main causes of feedback within an Ableton Live track. This is especially true for effects like Reverbs and Delays that, if unchecked, can form an unwanted feedback loop within the plug-in.

If you’re experiencing an unwanted feedback loop on one of your tracks, make sure to troubleshoot your plug-ins, turning each one off and on again to see if they’re the culprit.

On Delays and Reverbs, make sure that your “Feedback” knob isn’t set to a higher value than 100. Any number above this will start to form an infinite loop of feedback, and can quickly become unmanageable.

It’s also important to test whether a plug-in is acting up by removing or replacing it, as certain effects can malfunction from time to time. The best way to troubleshoot this problem is to remove each plug-in one by one until you find the problem.

Be sure to keep an eye on third-party VSTs and plug-ins as these are generally the most problematic.

You Might Have a Routing Issue

Another common cause of feedback loops in Ableton Live is routing issues. Routing is essentially the process of directing audio or MIDI signals from one track or device to another.

These feedback loops happen when audio or MIDI signals are routed through Return tracks, which in turn send audio back to the tracks in your project, causing a loop that gains volume until it becomes unmanageable.

To avoid an infinite feedback loop in Ableton Live, it’s important to ensure that the Send controls on your audio tracks are deactivated.

If left activated, the signal can feed back into the Return track and result in Latency Compensation being deactivated for all tracks involved.

  1. To deactivate the Send control on a track, simply right-click on the Send control.
  2. Select “Disable Send” or “Disable All Sends”.
  3. Also, note that the same problem can occur when activating Send controls on other return tracks.

When routing a return track back into an ordinary audio track in Ableton Live, there will always be a delay of at least 1 sample due to the computation cycle of the audio engine. Unfortunately, this means that full-phase cancellation cannot be achieved in this routing scenario.

It’s important to note that this delay only affects return tracks routed back into audio tracks, and not when routing a normal audio track into another audio track in any direction.

Your Microphone May Be Causing Feedback

Have you ever been watching a live show where the singer’s mic keeps feeding back? Unfortunately, it’s not fun for anyone! If you’re struggling with feedback on Ableton Live, you might be experiencing the same issue at home.

Let’s dive into why this might be happening and give you some tips to help you solve your feedback issue:

  1. Gain levels:
    • The first issue that might be causing feedback is the gain levels on your microphone. By simply lowering the gain on your input, you can often help reduce feedback.
  2. Proximity:
    • Holding your microphone too close to your speakers or monitors can also cause feedback. Try moving the microphone further away from your speakers or monitors to reduce the feedback.
  3. Room acoustics:
    • Poor acoustics or excessive reflections in the room can also contribute to feedback. Albeit expensive, the right acoustic treatment can really help your acoustics.
    • A cheaper alternative is to choose a room with better acoustics that can help reduce feedback.
  4. EQ:
    • If your microphone or track has an EQ boost in the same frequency range as the feedback, it can contribute to feedback. Removing the boost from the EQ can often help reduce feedback.
  5. Faulty equipment:
    • Faulty equipment, such as a microphone or other hardware, can also cause feedback. Consider getting your equipment checked to ensure it’s functioning properly.

Feedback can be quite tricky to deal with, and is also dangerous at loud volumes as it can cause damage to your hearing.

It’s important to be careful with your microphone and monitors, maintain a reasonable distance, and watch your volume levels.

You might also be interested in my article, Microphone Not Working On Focusrite Scarlett? (6 Fixes).

Your Audio Interface Might Be Causing a Feedback Loop When Re-Routing

An audio interface is an external hardware device that is able to record, playback, and process audio into a computer. It’s a must for any home or professional studio!

But what if your audio interface is causing feedback when you’re trying to reroute audio back into it from an external source? Don’t worry, we’ll run you through why this might be happening and get you back to recording in no time.

The main cause for feedback when trying to re-route through an audio interface is because of its direct monitoring capabilities.

Here’s how direct monitoring can cause a feedback loop in Ableton Live:

If you are direct monitoring an external hardware’s output using your audio interface while also enabling input monitoring in Ableton Live, you’re bound to create a feedback loop.

  • To resolve this issue, you can switch off the direct monitoring of inputs 1 & 2 on your interface’s mixer.
  • You can then monitor through Ableton Live without creating a feedback loop.
  • It’s important to note that you cannot do both direct monitoring through your interface and monitoring through Ableton Live simultaneously.
  • By disabling direct monitoring, you allow Ableton to take full control of the monitoring process.

Please also check out my article looking at reasons why rendered tracks sound different on Ableton.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with feedback in Ableton Live can be frustrating, but with some patience and perseverance, you can get to the bottom of your feedback problems.

I have found it a helpful practice to learn more about the process of feedback. Getting a better understanding of it will help you better navigate any problems that might pop up in the future.

There are great guides online for achieving a better understanding of feedback, as well as helpful information on Ableton’s website.

Ultimately, with a bit of foresight and attention to detail, you can minimize the risk of feedback and ensure that your Ableton Live sessions run smoothly and produce high-quality results, getting you right back to producing your next hit!


Routing in Ableton Live