Ableton Plug-in Issues: 7 Common Issues (Explained)

Every plug-in installed by an artist or producer can be likened to adding another color to a painter’s palette. But sometimes getting plug-ins to function smoothly in a DAW can be a real frustration.

With the sheer number of plug-ins and plug-in manufacturers available today, there can sometimes be problems.

This article will serve to unpack a number of the common issues found when using plug-ins within Ableton.

1. Plug-ins not Appearing in Ableton

Compatible installed plug-ins can be found listed in Ableton’s “Browser Sidebar” on the left-hand side of the window.

The issue of plug-ins not appearing in the plug-ins bank is fairly common and is an issue that has a few methods of fixing.

Here is a list of a few solutions:

  • Go into Ableton Live’s preferences and do a rescan of all plug-ins installed on your laptop or PC. This is done by holding ‘Alt/Option’ and clicking ‘Rescan’
  • Check that plug-ins are installed in the correct location.
  • Check that your version of Ableton Live supports the plug-in and the version of plug-in you want to use
  • Make sure Ableton Live is updated to the latest version. Often updates include important bug fixes.

For a more extensive list and in-depth information on solutions to this specific issue, please see our article, Ableton Not Showing Plug-ins? (9 Solutions).

2. Plug-ins Causing Crashes

Plug-ins can crash Ableton Live entirely, and there are a variety of reasons for this.

If Ableton Live is crashing repeatedly using a particular plug-in, then it is advisable to do the following checks:

  • Check the plug-in is fully compatible with your laptop or PC and the specific iteration of the operating system you are using.
  • Check the plug-in is fully up to date.
  • Check that Ableton is up to date.
  • Completely uninstall the plug-in and all its files, and then reinstall.

3. Plug-ins Causing CPU Spikes & Peaks

Plug-ins produce complicated sounds, apply complex audio effects, or model guitar amps and microphones and subsequently use a substantial amount of CPU processing power. D

Depending on the plug-in’s function, one can run into issues with CPU usage spiking or peaking.

There are a few things that can be checked to remedy this issue:

Keep an eye on the number of instances a particular plug-in is being used in a project (more plug-ins running means more CPU usage).

Set your Ableton buffer size higher (256 or 512 samples) to accommodate the heavier CPU load from plug-ins.

Note: A higher buffer size will reduce CPU usage but will increase latency.

Use Ableton Live’s per-track CPU meter (enable by clicking the ‘C’ at the bottom right of the screen). This will indicate if a particular plug-in is causing the CPU spikes and peaks.

Reduce the ‘voices’ used in synthesizers and keyboard modelers. The voices are the depth and complication of a particular sound).

It is important that you keep all plug-ins up to date. The manufacturers of plug-ins are continually working on fixing bugs and improving compatibility with the plug-in and Windows/Mac software.

4. Plug-ins Reset to Default Preset

Some have experienced this frustrating issue where a plug-in that is in use and set to a particular custom preset will randomly reset to default on opening up the plug-in.

This results in the enormously frustrating loss of personal settings of the plug-in.

This is best understood as some sort of bug, either within the plug-in itself or in the relationship between Ableton and the plug-in in question.

Again, having plug-ins up to date is a vital practice to keep the bugs away!

Please note: it is very useful and good practice to save custom-made presets to keep your carefully crafted sounds and settings on the file.

5. Ableton Freezing while Loading Plug-ins

Many people on user forums have reported Ableton freezing at the point of selecting and loading up plug-ins.

This seems to be an issue mainly when trying to use a plug-in with the wrong bit-depth for the version of Ableton you are running. 

Ableton Live versions 10 and 11 are 64-bit only and therefore require 64-bit plug-ins.

There are methods of converting 32-bit plug-ins to 64-bit using a third-party tool like jBridge. But there is no guarantee of the stability of those converted plug-ins.

6. Ableton Stuck in Plug-in Scanning Process

When one initially opens the Ableton Live software up, there is a scan of plug-ins that takes place, and Ableton will not open up fully until this scan has taken place.

If this is a common issue for you, then it might be that one of the installed plug-ins is causing Ableton to get stuck in this scanning process.

A good practice would be first to take note of the last time Ableton Live was fully functional for you. There is a chance that one of your more recent plug-ins is causing this problem.

Here are some simple tips to possibly fix this issue:

  • Uninstall all plug-ins and related files and then re-install plug-ins one by one, testing Ableton all along the way.
  • Check the version compatibility between Ableton and the plug-ins.
  • If you are using custom folders for your plug-in installation, make sure that the folders are set correctly.

7. Screen Resolution Problems within Plug-ins

This is a fairly bizarre issue but an issue nonetheless.

Many people have reported that on opening up their plug-ins in Ableton, they’ve found the plug-in user interface and settings windows to either be too zoomed in or too small to operate. 

Although plug-ins with this issue are generally still fully functioning, it can be frustrating to work around this and can hinder progress in your project.

Before pursuing any other solution to this, please make sure that you check that the plug-in in question is completely up to date.

Here is a solution to this problem:

You need to disable the “Auto-Scale Plugin Window” feature manually:

  1. Right-click on the plug-in title bar or right-click on the plug-in found in the Live Browser
  2. Then, you need to deselect the ‘Auto-Scale Plugin Window’

Final Thoughts

Although we have not exhausted all the possible plug-in issues users may have experienced, this list is the majority of the most frequent problems Ableton users have.

Ableton also has fantastic support on their official website to solve such problems and other technical issues.

How can we help you? If you have other issues with plug-ins, please email us and we can get some troubleshooting tips to you right away!


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