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How To Add Plugins To Ableton
Ableton Live is the most popular DAW for music producers and can be used in a powerful way with additional plugins.
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It can be tricky to load plug-ins into Ableton Live, so I’ve created this guide to show you how to import, add, and open VST and VST3 plug-ins on Windows.
If you follow these steps correctly, you will have VST and VST3 plugins added to your channel in Ableton Live. I’ve included images below each step to help you navigate the system.
Don’t worry if these steps don’t work for you! It’s possible for two simple reasons that I covered in my troubleshooting guide at the end.
Push 1: Using Third Party Plug Ins
This is the first important step and is usually the reason why plugins don’t appear or work! Ableton Live is a 64-bit software and only supports 64-bit. If you download a 32-bit copy of their plugin, it won’t work!
Newer plugins will generally offer 32-bit and 64-bit versions, but older plugins may only be available in 32-bit. If you can only find the 32-bit version you wanted, I suggest you look for a new plugin.
While you can use a bridge program like jBridge to allow you to use 32-bit plugins in a 64-bit program, this can cause security problems later on. Also, since this is 3
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Tip: If you have trouble installing your plugin, you can refer to the “README.TXT” document with instructions. Otherwise, check the developer’s website for additional support.
Ultimately it’s up to you where you save your VST plug-ins, just make sure you save the same type in the same place.
That means all your VST2 plugins are stored together, all your VST3 plugins are stored together, and all your 32-bit plugins are stored together. So, you should have 3 stores in total.
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This is the “MeldaProduction Audio Plugins 14” installation wizard asking where to save the VST files. Most plug-in installers will have this option.
Tip: Create subfolders in your main VST folder to group plugins by company name or plugin type! This is accomplished by creating a new folder in the VST folder and dragging the plugin .dll file into this folder. I do this to make it easier to find plugins in Ableton, as shown in the 2 images below!
With Ableton Live open, open the “favourites” window by choosing “Options” from the menu, then select “favourites”. Alternatively, you can use the shortcut “Ctrl +,”.
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Select the “Plugins” option from the left in “Options” to open the menu. I have highlighted this part in red in the image below.
Make sure that “use VST2/VST3 plug-in software” is selected “On”. It will turn orange when it is on.
Setting this option to “on” should automatically open a window to choose the folder where your VST is stored. If not, selecting “Browse” will open Windows File Explorer. I’ve highlighted them in red below.
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Select the folder where you saved your plugin in step 3. For my VST2 device, this would be C:Program FilesVSTPlugins (as shown in the image below).
Note: 32-bit VST files are stored at C:Program Files (x86)VSTPlugins, but again, these are not added to Ableton Live.
Open the browser by clicking “view” in the menu bar and then “show browser”. You can also use the shortcut “Ctrl+Alt+B”, or click the small up arrow on the left side of the DAW (I’ve circled it in red in the image below).
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Now that the browser is open, click on the “Plugins” tab to see a list of your plugins. I’ve highlighted this in red below!
As you can see, mine is in a plugin-based directory. I find this easy to navigate. Check out my tip in step 3 to see how to do it!
You have done a great job! Then it’s just a matter of dragging the VST you want and dropping it on the channel you want. It’s easy!
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To do this, you must first click on your channel and show “details”. You can do this by selecting “View” from the menu bar and then “Show/Hide Details”. The shortcut is “Ctrl + Alt + L”, or click the arrow in the lower right corner, circled in red.
You must have successfully installed, added and opened the VST plugin in Ableton Live! If you run into any problems, check out my troubleshooting guide below! Problem solving
If you are here, then something is wrong with you. That’s right! It’s probably pretty simple, so let’s take a look at some common questions.
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If you created a custom folder to store your VST plugin that wasn’t listed as one of the recommended folders in step 3, try moving the plugin to the recommended folder now and see if that works.
Make sure it’s a .dll file stored in your VST folder and not a plugin program (ie the plugin version you can open outside of your DAW)
As I said before, this is very important. If your VST plugin is not 64-bit, you will not be able to run it. Make sure you have the correct version. If you are downloading from 3
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Party site (ie not from the developer), then there is a possibility that it will be incorrectly listed as 64-bit (this has happened to me before!).
Try searching for the plugin on the developer’s website and see if it comes as 64-bit. If so, download the copy from there.
Event software like jBridge can’t help you here! I recommend avoiding using it and looking for another plugin. You’ll save a lot of trouble in the long run! 3. Your plugin is AU or AAX plugin
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If you downloaded the AU or AAX plugin for the Windows version of Ableton Live, it won’t work! The AU and AAX plugins are intended for Mac only and will not work on Windows machines. Related Questions What is a VST plugin?
A Virtual Studio (VST) plug-in is a software program that can be added to your DAW. They can be physical instruments such as standard synthesizers, effects such as reverb, or processing such as compressors and EQs. What is the difference between VST, VST2 and VST3?
VST and VST2 mean the same thing. When talking about VST plug-ins, people talk about VST2 plug-ins, because this is the technology that powers VST MIDI (VST1.0 can’t support MIDI). Ableton Live calls the VST2 plug-in the correct name.
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VST3 is the latest version of VST, packed with many advanced features such as CPU efficiency, multi-MIDI input and management.
You cannot use 32-bit plugins in Ableton Live or later. 32-bit plugins are not compatible with Ableton Live, as it is a 64-bit program. You can find third-party software, such as jBridge, that will allow you to create a 32-bit plugin.
However, the results may be incorrect, so I recommend looking for the 64-bit version you want or finding another 64-bit version. Can I use AU or AAX connectors on Windows?
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AU and AAX plugins cannot be used on Windows devices because they are designed for use with Mac operating systems.
Conor is a British music producer, multi-instrumentalist and all-rounder with 15 years of experience. He is the founder and sole producer of audio websites and YouTube channels. Looking for an easy way to import VST plugins into Ableton Live on Windows? Then you have come to the right place. In this article, we’ll show you how to integrate external VST plugins to get the most out of free and paid synths, effects, and tools in Ableton Live 9 and 10.
Virtual Studio Technology (VST) is an audio plug-in that integrates software synthesizers or effects with, in particular, digital audio processing platforms such as Ableton. External plug-ins can increase the functionality of your DAW by allowing you to use new or different instruments, effects, or meters than what your DAW offers.
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