Korg-M3: OSX Audio and MIDI setup for Ableton Live


On an OSX system (Apple Mac computers), you want to configure Ableton Live to record both audio and MIDI from your M3, and to playback MIDI from Live to the M3. You want the audio recording to have as little latency as possible.

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In this article, the original author specifically recommends recording at a sample rate of 44100 and a bit-depth of 24 bits, so all the setup instructions and screenshots reflect this. This recommendation is based on the simple fact that most users of Ableton Live chose Ableton specifically for its ability to easily incorporate commercial loops/samples into a project along with your own recorded clips, and to use Live's unique Session view to perform/record in a looping scene-based workflow.

Because most commercial loop/sample libraries are recorded at 44100, you are adding a lot of work for yourself if you record at 48000 in the Ableton Live environment, because you'll need to use an external audio editing program such as SoundForge or WaveLab to convert your 44100 samples to 48000 //before bringing them into your Projects and Live Sets if you want the best results at 48000.

That said, you might have good reasons for disregarding this general advice for the Ableton Live environment and instead recording at a different sample rate and bit depth supported by your audio interface. For more information and guidelines about this complex subject, see Korg M3: Choosing a sampling frequency and bit rate


Depending on the quality of the audio interface you are using, you can achieve effectively zero latency even with direct monitoring (monitoring the signal directly instead of monitoring the output from Live). For example, an Apogee Duet using a Firewire 800 connection to a MacBook Pro has zero latency in a direct monitoring setup and needs no driver error compensation. If your audio interface does "cheat" and you need to compensate for driver-error latency, Live has an excellent step-by-step walkthru to help you precisely compensate.

The following procedure was written based on the use of an Apogee Duet interface. The essential steps will be the same regardless of your specific audio interface.

Note: Not every browser/OS will render the following screenshots clearly, especially the ones I resized to fit the text column. If any of the following pictures are too small to see details clearly, or are too garbled from being resized, you can browse much larger versions by viewing this gallery. And if some of the gallery pics aren't clear enough, you can always click the download control in the gallery window to download the full JPG, which should be perfectly clear on any system.

  1. Set up your audio and MIDI in your M3 and OSX itself.
    • Ensure that your audio interface is installed and working properly in OSX itself, and plays output from GarageBand or iTunes. Also ensure that its OSX-based mixer or monitor app registers input when you play the M3.
      • On the control app for your audio interface, set the inputs connected to the M3 to have 0 gain. Set the output feeding into your Mac's firewire or USB to be 0 attentuation.
      • In OSX, open Applications > Utilities > Audio MIDI Setup and ensure that your audio device is selected as the Default Input and Default Output in the Audio Devices* page. Also check the **Audio Input and Audio Output sections and set the Format in each to 44100 and 24-bit. (These are values that I recommend—you can trust them if sample and bit-rate are scary subjects for you, but of course you might have different preferences and should set these values accordingly.) Your audio settings in OSX should look something like the following screenshot.
    • Connect a USB cable from the USB 2.0 "B" port on the back of the M3 to a USB port on your Mac and make sure the M3 is turned on.
      • On the M3, in the GLOBAL mode on page P1:MIDI, go to the MIDI Basic tab and in the MIDI Clock section, select Auto and select the Receive Ext. Realtime Commands checkbox. This causes the M3 to be run by your sequencer's clock when you are playing back (or recording) MIDI data from Live, but as soon as playback/recording stops, the M3 switches over to its internal clock again. This enables you to easily jump between playing the M3 by itself when Live is stopped, versus having Live play the M3 when it is playing/recording tracks.
      • In OSX, open Applications > Utilities > Audio MIDI Setup and ensure that you see an icon for the M3 in the **MIDI Devices* page.
  2. In Live, choose Help > Lessons Table of Contents to display the Lessons pane.
  3. Select the Audio I-0 Setup lesson and work through it completely.
  4. On page 8 of the lesson, once your basic audio preferences are correctly set, follow the link to the Driver Error Compensation lesson and work through it completely. (Note: if your audio interface is an Apogee Duet, you can safely skip this step.) When you've finished both lessons, your Audio prefs in Live should look something like this:
  5. Now, select the MIDI Controllers lesson and work through it completely. When you've finished, your MIDI prefs in Live should look exactly like the following screenshot. Note that Remote must be on to enable Live's Instant Mapping feature with the M3. (Refer to Korg M3: Assigning unused CC numbers to the EXTERNAL control surface for more information.)
  6. Finally, set the recording bit-depth in Live by going to Live > Preferences > Record/Warp/Launch. In the Record section, set the Bit Depth to 24. (Again, this is a recommended setting; if you have other preferences select a different value and ensure that it matches what you set for the bit depth of your audio interface.)


  • On the M3, use Audio Outputs 1 and 2 to drive the inputs of your audio interface, and in the GLOBAL mode on page P0:Basic Setup, go to the Audio tab and set the L/R Bus Indiv. Out Assign to 1/2. This enables you to directly monitor the M3's sound on your speakers/headphones via the Main L/R outs, while sending the same exact signal to the inputs of your audio interface.
  • Ableton Live does not seem to generate MIDI loopback notes to the M3 when Live's MIDI prefs are correctly configured and track I-O is correctly configured, so there is probably no need to set Local Control to Off on the M3.
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