Will Ableton Open My File? (10 Formats Checked)

Ableton is a powerful DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) that supports various features and characteristics. But every DAW has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to compatibility with different file types.

So if you’re asking yourself, “will Ableton Live be able to open my specific file format?”, you’ve come to the right place. 

Here are the File Types that Ableton Supports:

Ableton uses WAV/WAVE (Waveform Audio File Format) and AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) as its native audio file types, but also supports FLAC and OGG Vorbis. However, when using Windows, MP3 (MPEG-1 and/or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III) and M4A/MP4 files rely on external decoding.

Man with black cap sits at two computer screens with midi keyboard plugged in

Can Ableton Open M4a Files?

An M4a file is essentially the ‘audio only’ version of an Mp4. Mp4 is a file that includes both video and audio streams.

Ableton’s compatibility with M4a files is dependent on whether you’re working on Windows or Mac.

  • M4a is an Apple file format, meaning it is not natively supported on Windows.
  • To use on Windows, an M4a file will have to be opened in conjunction with Apple Quicktime.

It’s important to note here that Apple only has support for the 32-bit version of Quicktime, meaning it will only work in conjunction with the 32-bit version of Ableton Live.

Mac’s relationship with M4a’s is completely different. The external codec that is needed for M4a files to work is native to the operating system, which means that these formats work in Live seamlessly.

If you still run into issues while using M4a’s on a Windows version of Ableton Live, you can convert the M4a file into a compatible file that you’re familiar with, such as Mp3 or Wav.

Can Ableton Open AAF Files?

AAF files act as universal project files, meaning all tracks get converted to audio, and the hierarchy of your tracks and track names, etc., are all encoded into the file.

With collaboration between video and audio studios constantly growing, and software working more seamlessly together, there has been a call for Ableton to grow with the times.

Although a lot of other DAWs offer support for AAF files, Ableton Live, unfortunately, does not. This means that Ableton can be quite tricky to use when working in conjunction with video software. 

The only way to import audio files from video software, such as Premier Pro, is to individually export all tracks, and re-import them to Ableton as individual stems. This can be cumbersome and laborious, whereas with other DAWs the process can be quick and easy.

Overall, Ableton would not be the right DAW for you if you’re looking to open AAF files.

Can Ableton Open WAV Files?

WAV (meaning Waveform Audio File) was developed by Microsoft and IBM to store digital audio on a PC. The file type is regarded as an industry standard for most DAWs, and boasts a premiere quality in audio, for a relatively small file size.

Live does support WAV files, as long as they follow certain guidelines indicated here by Ableton:

  • 8-bit, 16-bit, 24-bit integer Little Endian (pcm, aflt, araw)
  • 32-bit float Little Endian
  • WAV files with an audio stream encoded as MP3 might open in Live after changing the file extension from .wav to .mp3

While a WAV file can contain compressed audio, it predominantly contains uncompressed audio. For us audiophiles, this means the quality of the audio is clean and crisp, and far superior to more compressed audio types, such as Mp3.

Can Ableton Open MIDI Formats?

MIDI files (.mid) are sample files that contain musical note data. This means it holds information such as notes along the musical scale, velocity, and note length.

MIDI notes do not make any sound and have to be run through an instrument to activate that instruments sound. MIDI notes are incredibly small files but contain exact note information, which means they’re a perfect means to share music and melody in a digital format.

MIDI files are compatible with Ableton Live and can be dragged and dropped on any Instrument track to be used.

MIDI files can even be multitrack, meaning they can hold musical information for multiple instruments or tracks in one single file. This is why producers love MIDI files and use them all the time.

Can Ableton Open FLP Files?

FLP files are native to FL Studio (Fruity Loops), which has become a very popular DAW due to its quick and intuitive layout.

FLP files are unfortunately not compatible with Ableton Live, as there are formatting differences between each platform.

There is good news, though!Converting FLP files over to Ableton is achievable through a third-party website called Jukeblocks.

Jukeblocks ensures that all of your tracks, audio clips, MIDI notes, and patch presets can be converted and moved on to the new desired format, even retaining regions and notes that are no longer active in the arrangement.

This is a great workaround when looking to open up a project in a different DAW. However, due to looping, time-stretching, and warping all being achieved differently in various DAWs, this will not yield you a perfect result.

Please also check out our article does Ableton autosave projects?

Can Ableton Open AIF Files?

AIF files are audio files saved in the Audio Interchange Format (AIFF). These files contain high-quality, uncompressed audio, which is very similar to WAV files which we talked about earlier in this article.

CD audio is where you’ll find AIF files most commonly used, but they also open in Adobe Audition.

Ableton Live supports AIF files just like it does WAV files, meaning they can load on Ableton without any conversion.

You may be confused as to why you’ll sometimes see AIF files, and other times AIFF files. The simple answer is that they’re basically the same format, just labeled slightly differently for either Mac (AIFF files) or Windows (AIF files).

There is however another file format called AIFF-C or AIFC, again Mac and Windows. This stands for Compressed Audio Interchange File Format.

The difference between these file formats is that the audio contained within them is compressed, in comparison to the uncompressed audio contained within AIF or AIFF files

The positive of this format is that the file size will use considerably less disk space.

Can Ableton Open FLAC files?

FLAC (which stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec) is an open-source audio compression musical file format. It contains bit-perfect audio quality but is only half of the original audio file’s size.

FLAC audio is lossless, meaning there is absolutely no loss of sound quality during the compression process. This is unlike other popular audio compression formats, such as Mp3 or Wma, where a noticeable drop in audio quality is par for the course.

Ableton Live does support FLAC files, which means you can quickly and easily drop your FLAC audio files into your Live arrangement, and listen away!

Due to FLAC being a lossless audio format, the quality will sound just as good as a Wav or Aiff file but will take up significantly less space on your hard drive.

Can Ableton Open Garageband Files?

Garageband was and is many people’s introduction to the world of music production. Apple includes Garageband as standard on its computers.

Although it’s a beginner DAW, and usually used by more casual producers and musicians, Garageband is still an excellent tool when creating and learning about music production.

Unfortunately, though, Garageband files cannot be opened in Ableton. Its software instruments are not compatible and cannot be transferred into Live.

You can however try to recreate your digital instruments using Ableton sounds or external VST plugins, transferring your MIDI information over to Ableton and replacing each instrument.

Please also check out our article about common issues with Garageband and Focusrite Scarlett.

Can Ableton Open Files From Logic?

Logic Pro has fast become one of the world’s leading DAWs for beginners and professionals alike. It’s been one of Apple’s most used creative apps, with Garageband users usually making the switch over to Logic Pro once they’re hooked on music production.

Logic Pro files are not able to open in Ableton Live, as the two alternative DAWs use completely different formats. 

However, you can select all of your tracks/regions and export them simultaneously as one single MIDI file. Once you’ve done this, you can simply drag your exported MIDI file into your Ableton Live arrangement, and Live will automatically create your corresponding tracks.

This is incredibly useful when transferring your project data from one DAW to another, and will save you a lot of time and effort which you would have had to spend on exporting individual stems and effects.

Please also read our easy answer guide to whether Ableton is 100% compatible with Windows.

Can Ableton Open Files From Pro Tools?

Avid Technology’s Pro Tools has long been one of the most tried and trusted DAWs across all genres and spaces, with a focus generally on its recording, editing, and mixing prowess.

Created as a Sound Designer all the way back in the early 1980s, Pro tools was used as Mac-based sample editing software to edit and adjust samples for hardware samplers like E-MU, Roland, and Akai.

Pro Tools file types are called .PFT files, and are unfortunately not able compatible with Ableton Live.

The workaround for transferring your project over from Pro Tools to Ableton Live is, unfortunately quite laborious, as you’ll have to export your track stems, and open them up in a new Ableton arrangement.

Make sure to turn off “auto warp long samples” in Ableton Live’s preferences before you import your stems. Having this setting on would result in your tracks possibly shifting start/end points or even changing tempo’s and lengths.


Supported Audio File Formats