In Ableton Live, it seems like I get better (clearer, louder, better dynamics) results when I route and record my master track to an audio track instead of using the "render-to-disk" function.

Has anyone else experienced this? Is this just my perception, or am I doing something wrong when using "render-to-disk"?

(EDIT: My entire Ableton Live render settings:

  • Normalize: off
  • Render as Loop: off
  • File type: aiff
  • Convert to Mono: off
  • Sample rate: 44100 (which matches my default "In/Out Sample Rate" in prefs)
  • Bit depth: 16
  • Dither: Triangular
  • Create analysis file: off


  • Do you use recorded material in your sets? I would recommend adding your current rendering settings to the post. There're quite a bit of similar old topics on the official Live forum, perhaps your question could be answered better if you could post your settings.
    – Scorchio
    Dec 19, 2010 at 23:08
  • Good point, I added all the settings to the post. I had seen some discussion of this in the Live forum, but it seemed a bit stale, from 2006 IIRC.
    – daniel
    Dec 19, 2010 at 23:16
  • As I remember VSTs have information from the host whether it's live play or render. Also in programming very common to use random "delays"/"thread freeze" for some reasons. It's very possible that sound is different. I'm rendering live right now in BITWIG instead of rendering - not because it's better, but because I worked on "live" sound - don't want it to sound different. I've tried to subtract signals, they are different/ Feb 19, 2022 at 18:46

2 Answers 2


I find it better to render in 24bit with no dither then allow whatever I use to convert the resulting WAV file to mp3/whatever to dither it down if needed.

I contacted the Ableton support team about this problem a while back and they recommended ditching the dithering after I sent them a demo set with comparisons of sine wave sweeps.

One way you can check if this is making a difference is to export something simple (like my sine-wave thing), then import that file back into the original set as an audio track, invert it's phase and play it alongside the original sound source. If your set is being rendered correctly the two sources should (almost) cancel each other out, if not you'll still be able to hear it (at a lower volumn).

  • Yeah, I'm not too stoked about Ableton's dithering math.
    – d-_-b
    May 5, 2011 at 4:34

What you experience might be true indeed - in terms of different, not better quality. The reason this difference occurs is very simple:

  1. There are some effects in Live that have their default 'quality' settings set to normal instead of best (i.e. Reverb - the rendering difference between the different quality modes is pretty obvious here). It is like this in order to spare some resources and not to lose the performance-oriented aspect of Live. So, when you're rendering - these effects are rendered with 'best' quality - therefore they might sound different. You might try switching the effects quality setting to the highest value - therefore you either have to sacrifice more resources, or freeze some tracks. Usually freezing is the best practice when working with more complex sets.
  2. There is a possible reason for decreased quality during render though - there are some buggy/old VST effect/instruments that don't work well in rendering mode - but this is very rare. If you think this might be the case, you might examine the cause of the problem by exporting your channels one by one (don't forget the routing, if any).


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