Ableton Rendering Errors (Explained & Solved)

When you’ve finally finished your next big song and are ready to show the world, what’s the next step? Rendering!

Rendering in Ableton Live is the process of exporting your project as a final audio file, ready and waiting to show your friends or be given to the mastering engineer for that last additional step.

Unfortunately, rendering in Ableton doesn’t always go to plan, sometimes acting up, glitching, or even rendering painfully slowly.

But don’t fear, in this article, we’ll help you get to the bottom of your rendering problems and help you get back on track!

Here’s Why Rendering is Problematic Ableton:

There are multiple reasons for errors when exporting in Ableton. A project with too many tracks, third-party plug-ins, and problematic VST plug-ins can cause a slow render or might not start to render at all. There might be a CPU overload. An older version of Live will take longer to render.

Home music producer with midi keyboard plugged into laptop

Should My Tracks Render in Real-Time?

Rendering in Ableton Live can be a painless process, but sometimes, it can take far too long. Sometimes an export happens in real-time, meaning the exact time it takes to play through your track.

You’re probably wondering if this is correct, or if Ableton Live should be exporting quicker. Let’s jump into why this could be happening, and how to solve it.

By default, Ableton Live is set to render audio as quickly and efficiently as possible, which is usually faster than real-time.

If Ableton is exporting in real-time automatically, there’s a problem.

You’ll first need to check that you’re not using any external effects or instruments. Ableton Live will always export in real-time when tracks with external effects and instruments are activated.

However, there may be certain cases where you want to render your set in real-time.

Here’s a helpful method to achieve this using External Audio Effect:

  1. First, add Live’s ‘External Audio Effect’ device to an empty audio track in your project.
  2. Within the ‘External Audio Effect’ device, select any channels for “Audio From”. You don’t need to choose a channel for “Audio To”
  3. Set the Dry/Wet knob to zero percent.
  4. Press CMD (Mac) /CTRL (Windows) + Shift + R to export the audio.
  5. Live will now render your set in real-time using this method.

Another way to do a real-time render is to, instead of the traditional export, rather record a “Bounce” of your track. The best way to do this is by “Resampling” your track.

Here’s how to Resample on Ableton to create a real-time Bounce:

  1. Enable Resampling: From the top window box on your chosen audio track, left-click the down arrow and click ‘Resampling.’
  2. Solo the Tracks: Left-click the ‘S’ box on the tracks you want to bounce to solo them. It will turn blue when selected. If you’re looking to Resample the entire track, you can skip this step.
  3. Arm the Audio Track for Recording: Left-click the “Arm Recording” button located on the top right of the audio track you want to record onto. Once clicked, it will turn red and the track will be armed for recording.
  4. Record the Audio: Hit the record button located at the top of Ableton Live. Once you have done this correctly, the button will turn red and you will hear the track playing. You will also see the audio file appear on the audio track. Press Spacebar to stop.

Make sure that the Arrangement Insert Marker (the blue line) is set to the start of the track you want to bounce. To move it, simply click the line at the start of the track.

When recording, keep in mind that if you are using delay or effects on the original track that last longer than the clip, allow the recording to continue after the clip until the effects are no longer being used.

Once you have finished recording, you will see the recorded audio appear on the armed track. Now you can easily record and bounce your audio track in real-time in Ableton Live.

You should also check out our article about how resampling can affect your track quality.

Does CPU Affect Rendering Speed?

CPU in Ableton Live is responsible for processing and executing all the software operations that make up the music production process. It handles tasks such as playback, recording, rendering, and running any plugins or effects that are added to your Ableton project.

Generally, the more CPU power a computer has, the more smoothly and efficiently it can render in Ableton Live.

However, it’s not always that simple. While more CPU power will generally decrease rendering time in Ableton Live, there are other factors to take into consideration.

Ableton is designed to utilize multiple cores for each track, which can help with processing speed and efficiency. When it comes to rendering the final output through the master channel, the workload is primarily handled by a single core.

This means that upgrading the CPU can only get you so far when it comes to rendering in Ableton Live. DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) have gotten better over the years at taking advantage of cores and threads.

Here’s a simple explanation of cores and threads.

  • In simple terms, a CPU is made up of processing units called cores.
  • These cores are responsible for carrying out the actual physical computations that the CPU is designed to handle.
  • On the other hand, threads are virtual instructions that the CPU uses to manage its workload.

Does it Matter Which Version of Live I Use?

In older versions of Ableton Live, rendering was restricted to a single core on your CPU. This changed when Ableton released Live 9, as multi-core support became the standard.

Something to keep in mind when looking to export in Ableton Live is that an older version, like Live 7 or 8, will generally take longer than newer versions of Ableton, after the release of Live 9. 

Here’s how multi-core CPUs work:

  • A multi-core CPU is like a brain with multiple sections, each one acting like its own little computer inside the main computer.
  • A dual-core CPU has two of these sections, while a quad-core CPU has four.

This allows the computer to handle multiple tasks at once more efficiently, making it faster and more powerful than a computer with just one brain section (or “core”).

Nowadays, most computers have multi-core CPUs, so you’re probably already using one!

It’s important to note that to run Live 10 and 11, you need a computer with a multi-core processor. This feature is always turned on by default when using Live 10 and 11.

Live 9 can still run on computers with only one core, but it may not perform as well. However, if you go to the Preferences section of Live 9, you can choose to turn on or off the multi-core support feature on the CPU tab.

Why is Rendering Not Starting at All?

If you’re looking to export in Ableton Live, but the render isn’t starting at all, it may be down to a number of different issues.

This can be an incredibly frustrating problem to have but don’t stress, we’ll help you get to the bottom of it.

The main reason that Ableton’s export isn’t working is likely to be that you have problematic plug-ins or third-party VSTs in your project.

These can sometimes cause issues when trying to export in Ableton.

Here’s a helpful way to troubleshoot an issue in your project:

  1. First, make a copy of the entire project folder.
  2. Open the duplicate project and go through all the tracks.
  3. Check for any devices or plug-ins that might be hidden inside racks. Some of these may be active but not actually being used.
  4. If you don’t see anything obvious, try deleting half of the tracks and see if the issue is still there when you export.
  5. If the issue is still present, undo the deletion and delete the other half of the remaining tracks. Keep doing this until you’ve identified the specific tracks causing the issue.
  6. Once you’ve found the root cause, go back to the original project and make the necessary fixes.

This is a surefire way to find problematic tracks, third-party plug-ins, and any other possible issues that might be affecting your Ableton export.

What Does “Render Aborted Due to Internal Error” Mean?

“Render Aborted Due to Internal Error” in Ableton means that the software encountered an unexpected problem while trying to export your project.

Essentially, it means that the rendering process had to be stopped due to some sort of technical issue that the software wasn’t able to handle.

This can be annoying but there are a few things I recommend that you try to fix the issue.

First, make sure to restart your machine as well as Ableton Live, also making sure that you’re using the most up-to-date version of Ableton.

Another possible solution is to simplify your project by removing any unnecessary tracks or effects. You can also try rendering your project in smaller sections, rather than all at once.

This can often be down to problematic VST plug-ins that prevent Ableton from rendering successfully, which means you’ll need to find the culprits before moving on.

Another solution is to simply change the “Audio Output Device” settings. Instead of selecting your “Interface Output”, switch over to your “Built-In Output” before exporting.

Here’s how to do this:

  1. Navigate to Ableton Live’s “Preferences”
  2. In the Preferences window, click on the “Audio” tab.
  3. Under the “Audio Output Device” section, you can select your desired output device from the dropdown menu.
  4. Select the “Built-In Output” before exporting your track.

Final Thoughts

Rendering in Ableton Live is a necessary process for any producer or musician who wants to release music. Understandably, when the exporting process isn’t going smoothly, it can be difficult to deal with.

Here are a couple more tips for exporting in Ableton:

It’s important that you double-check your export settings, including the format, sample rate, and bit depth when exporting. These settings can have a significant impact on the sound quality of your exported audio.

You may want to export a high-quality WAV file for mastering, as well as a compressed MP3 for sharing on social media. You need to figure out the best format for your needs.

Don’t forget to listen to your exported audio files to make sure they sound the way you intended. You may want to compare them to the original project to make sure that nothing was lost in the export process.

Happy rendering!

If you’ve got further issues or tips to add, contact me on the About Page 🙂


Multi-Core CPU Handling in Ableton Live

How to Render Audio in Real-Time