Ableton (Link and Live File Export)

Ableton is a music software company that developed Ableton Live (a DAW for macOS and Windows), software instruments, sample libraries and hardware controllers.

However there are several connections with IOS music making:

  • Many IOS apps offer synchronization using the Ableton Link standard.
  • Some IOS apps offer the possibility to export into the Ableton Live format

From the Ableton Link Documentation:

Ableton Link is a technology that synchronizes musical beat, tempo, phase, and start/stop commands across multiple applications running on one or more devices.

Applications on devices connected to a local network discover each other automatically and form a musical session in which each participant can perform independently: anyone can start or stop while still staying in time. Anyone can change the tempo, the others will follow. Anyone can join or leave without disrupting the session.


There more than 150 IOS apps supporting the link sync standard.

You can find a Link-enabled Products List at Abletons website. The app types range from audio mixers, recorders, sequencers, drum maschines, loopers to synthesizers.

The Ableton Link Apps List on the Synthyfrog website lists about 180 apps with link support.


Copied over from InfoCheck's AB Forum Knowledgebase Thread

  1. Any Link enabled apps on the same network or device can be synced together including apps on different iOS devices provided they're on the same network.
  2. The more recent update to Link by Ableton provides the ability to have the link app respond to transport controls. Not all apps or host apps support this functionality.
  3. If an IAA app is synced to a host via host sync and the IAA host app is Link enabled, then the IAA is also Link synced even thoough the IAA app may not have Link or Link isn't enabled.
  4. A hosted IAA app can be eiher Link or IAA host synced, not both.
  5. An IAA host app can have hosted IAA synced apps running inside of itwhich are hosted via IAA host sync while the IAA host app itself is also synced via Link (Link enabled).
  6. AUv3 apps sync to the AUv3 host app which may or may not be Link enabled.
  7. You can set whether or not a Link enabled app notifies you when a new app joins or leaves the Link network.
  8. The app 'MIDI Link Sync' can generate link sync from midi clock signals coming from external hardware or generate midi clock from the link signal bridging these two worlds.

The ALS file format is an XML file format packed with zip compression that can contain

  • midi notes
  • automation data
  • sample triggers
  • sample data (wav or aiff)
  • plugin chain information
  • tempo information

for multiple instrument tracks and the master track


The following table contains a list of apps capable of exporting ALS, the types of data thee files contain and what file extension is used.

Apps with ALS Export Midi Samples Filetype Info
BeatHawk .zip with project.als and project-Lite.als
BlocksWave .zip with project.als
Elastic Drums .zip with project.als and project-Lite.als
Gadget .als (gzip-packed !) with project als-file without extension
Groovebox ?
Patterning 1 .zip with project.als and project-Lite.als Midi only for track #1
Patterning 2 .zip with project.als and project-Lite.als

The Ableton Live website contains a list with some more IOS apps capable of exporting ALS.


ALS to MIDI converter

Using the Pythonista IOS python interpreter and a python script it is possible to convert the midi of the the exported ALS file into a MIDI file containing the exported tracks directly on the IOS device.

  • ableton.txt
  • Last modified: 2019/12/10 10:14
  • by _ki