Is an audio interface necessary for live performance?

Hi all,

Real easy question here for those who perform with Ableton.

In a Live environment, is an audio interface essential?

Let's assume a basic USB-MIDI controller/s with Live 9 and a mac/laptop setup. Is either the audio playback quality or Live9 performance enhanced with an interface, or is it just an extra box to lug around?

I ask as someone who has never performed live but is hoping to in the near future.

Many thanks in advance,



fesboy82 7 months ago | 0 comments

2 answers

  • mcbpete
    183 answers
    204 votes received
    1 vote

    You should be fine - In your particular setup (no external i/o and a USB midi device) an audio interface would be useful for volume gain (when I first played live the main mixing desk had to be on full for an acceptable volume to be produced, which unfortunately introduced some humming) and also for cueing/monitoring the sound no headphones before routing it to the main speakers.

    If neither of those issues are a problem for you it's not too much of an issue not having an audio interface.


    7 months ago | 2 comments
  • Krow01
    1 answer
    1 vote received
    1 vote

    I would also add that running direct from a laptop headphone output can sometimes cause some serious ground loop issues depending on what else is being plugged in. I would recommend carrying at least a direct box with a 1/8" input or stereo RCAs which you can adapt from the headphone jack that will allow you to do a ground lift. 

    The other advantage is that you can get an interface that would allow you to offset some of the DSP. My current Focusrite PRO24 allows me to do some input compression/EQ without adding to CPU overhead. 

    3 months ago | 0 comments

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