The gear and software you will need to Lead Worship with Ableton

Before using Ableton Live to run a click, tracks, and lighting and lyrics automation in worship, you’re going to need some gear in place to utilize the power of this amazing software. The following is a list of hardware and software you will need. I will cover the following.

  1. Sound system requirements
  2. Recommended computer for running Ableton
  3. Media storage
  4. Which version of Ableton Live you should buy
  5. Gear and software for lyric automation ProPresenter
  6. Gear and software for lighting automation with myDMX 3.0

This may seem like a lot! If you are new to leading worship with Ableton, focus on acquiring the gear and software in steps 1-4. If you are willing to commit the time to learning Ableton for worship and you enroll in my upcoming training, you will learn everything you need to know in only a few hours and you'll become an Ableton ninja!

1. Sound System Requirements

Sound console. Have a sound console (digital or analog) with at least two available input channels for your click track and backing tracks.

In-ear monitoring. Your band members need to be able to hear the click track. You do not want to send the click track through floor wedges. At the very least, I recommend having in-ear monitoring for the drummer and worship leader. If your band does not have in-ear monitoring, do not despair. Check out this article on how to get them set up at your church even on a low budget.

How to connect your laptop (which runs Ableton) to your sound system. You’ll need a 3.5 mm TRS to Dual 1/4 inch TS Stereo Breakout Cable. The 3.5mm end goes into the headphone jack of your laptop. The dual ¼ inch end of the cable will plug into a stereo DI box (or two mono DI boxes). From the DI box, you’ll run XLR cables to your stage snake or sound console (like you would any other microphone or instrument)

2. Computer Recommendation

Use a fairly new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. You can run Ableton Live on PC, but I recommend Mac because Ableton runs 10x better on Mac (like every other creative software) and you will be able to maximize my training. You do not need the biggest, high-performing, overpriced MacBook Pro. Make sure it’s not more than a few years old, and it meets the tech specs Ableton has on their website.

3. Multitrack and Ableton Project File Storage

You'll learn quickly that using Ableton Live to run your multitracks requires a fairly large amount of file storage and management. I highly recommend buying an external hard drive that has the sole purpose of storing your Ableton Live sessions and multitrack stems. Solid state hard drives are becoming more affordable, so buy one of those if you can. If not, a regular external hard drive (at least 500GB) will suffice.

4. Selecting the right version of Ableton Live

The exciting part is you do not need to purchase Ableton Live to begin using it. At ableton.com you can download a 30-day free trial of the Ableton Live Suite. They give you 100% functionality of the software. Personally, I recommend Ableton Live Standard because it gives you unlimited tracks. But you can still make the most out of Ableton Live for worship with the Intro version. You will just need to consolidate your tracks to 16 or less.

Those are all the gear and software requirements to get going with Ableton Live to run a click and tracks. I would master this setup before advancing to production automation described below.

Here are additional things you will need to automate lyrics in ProPresenter and lighting with MyDMX3.0. Can you automate other presentation and lighting software with Ableton Live? Yes but I have not researched or learned how to do it. This level of Ableton Live programming is pretty advanced, and I have only spent time learning how to do it with ProPresenter and MyDMX 3.0. I highly recommend these two pieces of software for any small to mid-sized church. Together they will run just under $900, but the automation capability you will have for lyrics and lighting is incredible.

5. Gear and software to automate lyrics and video

A newer Mac to run ProPresenter - ProPresenter is significantly more stable on Mac and in my training I can walk you through how to control ProPresenter from Ableton Live using a Mac-only ecosystem.

ProPresenter - As I mentioned, this is the #1 presentation software for worship. It’s not perfect, but it is super powerful and can receive MIDI commands, which is how you automate it with Ableton Live. If you do not have ProPresenter, you can download it in trial mode and try out all the features. There will be a watermark on the output screen until you purchase it.

ProPresenter MIDI module - This is an add-on to ProPresenter that allows it to accept MIDI cues. You can fully demo this add-on before purchasing. You’ll have the ProPresenter watermark on your screen until you do purchase it.

Wifi Router - You can use an existing wifi network or create a new one by purchasing an inexpensive router. You need wifi so you can network your Ableton computer to your ProPresenter and Lighting computers.

6. Gear and software to automate lighting

A newer Mac to run Lighting software - You could run your lighting software on the same computer as ProPresenter, just make sure it is a newer and powerful Mac to ensure stability. At my church, we have a 2016 15” MacBook Pro running ProPresenter and MyDMX 3.0.

MyDMX 3.0 Controller and Software - This is hands down my favorite way to run lights in a church setting. The controller is a small USB to DMX interface. The lite version of the software comes free with the controller.

MyDMX 3.0 Software Upgrade - To utilize the MIDI functionality on MyDMX 3.0 you must purchase the FULL version of the software.

Wifi Router - You can use an existing wifi network or create a new one by purchasing an inexpensive router. You need wifi so you can network your Ableton computer to your ProPresenter and Lighting computers.

That is all of the gear I use to run Ableton Live for worship. That may seem like a lot at first, and it can be a bit overwhelming if you are new to this setup. I would encourage you to start first with the click and tracks set up. Once you feel like you’ve mastered that, then up your game with production automation.

Do you want to know exactly how much this will cost? You’ll want to download my Lead Worship with Ableton Toolkit for just that. It’s a detailed spreadsheet that will give you estimated totals for all of this software and gear. It also includes links to the best place to purchase them. It will save you a ton of time making sure you have everything you need to get going with Ableton Live.

Click the button below, complete the form, and I’ll send you instant access to the Lead Worship with Ableton Toolkit.