This article explains how to insert Native Instruments plug-ins in Ableton Live, including:
- Inserting instrument plug-ins (e.g. MASSIVE, KONTAKT, etc.) in a MIDI track.
- Inserting effect plug-ins (e.g. GUITAR RIG 5, SUPERCHARGER, etc.) in an audio track or a MIDI track where an instrument is loaded.
Note: some NI products can be inserted both as instrument or effect plug-in (e.g. ABSYNTH 5 / ABSYNTH 5 FX, etc.).
Inserting a NI Instrument Plug-in
Third party plug-in instruments, including NI plug-ins, must be loaded in an empty MIDI track.
- If the Browser is not visible on the left-hand side of Live's user interface, click the Show / Hide Browser button in the upper-left corner of Live's window.
- In the Browser CATEGORIES, click the Plug-ins label to access the third party plug-ins. These will be grouped by plug-in format: Ableton Live supports Audio Units and VST on Mac systems, but only VST on Windows systems.
- Click the triangle next to the plug-in format you wish to use to display the available plug-ins. Locate the plug-in you want to use in the list. Here, we want to insert FM8 as an instrument plug-in.
Note: if you cannot find any plugins here, please read this article to learn how to manage your plug-ins in Ableton Live.
Note: Ableton's Plug-ins Browser will display all available third party plug-ins, including both instruments and effects. Plug-in instruments can be differentiated from plug-in effects as a keyboard icon appears next to the instrument's name. In the image below, we have zoomed in to see the detail of the icons. You can see the little keyboard in FM8's instrument icon which is absent from the FM8 FX effect.
- Once you have located the NI plug-in instrument you want to load, drag and drop it to an empty MIDI Track.
- FM8 is now loaded in a MIDI track. When loaded, the plug-in's user interface will automatically open for editing the instrument's parameters. To show or hide the plug-in in a floating window, press the Plug-in Edit button in the instrument's device pane (in our example, FM8).
Inserting a NI Effect Plug-in
The method for inserting an effect plug-in is almost the same as for loading instrument plug-ins.
- In the Browser, locate the effect plug-in you want to load. In our example, we want to insert Guitar Rig 5 as effect into the device chain after the FM8 instance we have previously loaded.
- Once located, drag and drop the effect plug-in on a MIDI track or on an audio track. In this example, we load Guitar Rig 5 to the track where we have previously loaded FM8. You can drag and drop as many effect plug-ins as you wish; each of them will influence the audio coming in from the device chain before it.
Important note: if you drop an effect plug-in on an empty MIDI Track, Ableton Live will prompt you to drop an instrument before it in the device chain of the respective track.
- GUITAR RIG 5 is now loaded after an instrument on a MIDI track or on an audio track. The plug-in's user interface will automatically open for editing the instrument's parameters. To show or hide the plug-in in a floating window, press the Plug-in Edit button in the Guitar Rig 5 device pane.