Control Ableton with Drum Pad

How to control Ableton Live via an electronic drum pad

You don’t want to buy or bring a trigger-to-midi interface when you just need one drum pad to trigger one function in Ableton Live. You might have an old rubber drum pad laying around or wan to get a Roland BT-1 trigger and just set this up to trigger through your scenes in Ableton Live’s Session View. This is now possible via a collection of Max for Live devices of mine. This pack will let you control Ableton with drum pad without the need for any extra gear. IF you have an external sound card, you can plug your pad(s) into that.

Max for Live device for Ableton Live.

What do I need to set up an electronic drum pad to control Ableton Live?

Electronic drum pad or drum trigger

Well first you would need an electronic drum pad obviously. If you are using a stereo trigger or drum pad you might need to split the signals via a Y-jack cable. This way you would be able to trigger two different actions in Ableton Live.

External audio interface / external sound card

You would need an external audio interface with an audio input socket where you can plug in your drum pad or drum trigger with MONO jack cables. You can set up and use several electronic drum pads depending on how many audio in sockets you have available.

Max for Live

Max for Live is an extension of Ableton Live.Max for Live is included in Ableton Live’s SUITE version or can be bought as an add-on for Ableton Live STANDARD.


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Set-up in Ableton Live

I would advise you to store and install the Max for Live devices in your User Library.

Connect your drum pad into one of your sound card inputs


-phantom power is de-activated

-yo gain is set all the way down

-if you have the option to lower the input, please activate this. (“PAD” or similar). Please refer to your sound card manual.

If your INPUT is set to high, this might lead to overdrive your audio input!

This could harm your sound-card!

Set up in Ableton Live

Create an Audio Track in Ableton Live and place one of the Audio Trigger Max for Live devices on their.

Please select the right audio input for your pad. Set the Monitor to “IN” and deselect the “Track Activator” / turn-off this track.


Setting the threshold to control Ableton via drum pad.

You are now able to Monitor the amplitude of your hits in the device. Please set the threshold here according to your amplitude. You want to set the threshold according your normal hitting strength.

Hold Time

Holdtime to eliminate double-triggering.

The Hold Time determines the time between triggered actions. In other words: once you trigger an action the device will wait a pre-defined time before another action trigger is possible. This HoldTime avoids double triggering. If you experience any double triggering, you can set this to a longer time value.

Selecting a Trigger-Action

Control remote actions in Ableton Live.

You are now able to select the remote action you want to control Ableton Live with e.g. to fire the selected Scene in Ableton Live’s Session View. You now just need to select the desired action from the menu. Your hits will now control Ableton with Drum Pad.

Max for Live device for Ableton Live.