How to Edit Waves in Ableton

Updated March 23, 2017

A sound wave file, which uses the WAV file extension, is a high-quality, uncompressed audio recording. Although the Ableton Live digital audio workstation is designed for producing and performing music, you can also use this program to perform simple WAV audio editing. The Arrangement View in Ableton Live allows you to import and edit a WAV file as you would in a normal WAV audio editor. Once you've edited and rearranged the WAV file as desired, you can export the edited audio from Ableton in the WAV format.

Launch Ableton. Press "Tab" to switch to Arrangement View. Right-click inside the mixer window and select "Off" from the "Fixed Grid" section. Turning off the grid allows you to perform precise edits on the audio.

Click the file folder icon in the browser section of the program window and navigate to the WAV file you want to edit. Drag and drop the WAV file into the Ableton mixer window.

Move the mouse cursor to the top of the mixer window; the cursor changes to a magnifying glass. Click and drag downward to zoom in on the WAV file until it stretches across the entire window.

Edit out a section of the WAV by highlighting it with the mouse, then pressing "Delete." Click and drag the resulting separated sections together. Repeat the process to make as many edits as desired.

Rearrange parts of the WAV file using Ableton's "Split" function. Click at the beginning of the portion of the WAV that you want to move, then press "Ctrl" and "E" simultaneously. Click at the end of the portion, press "Ctrl" and "E," then drag the separated portion to its new location.

Click the drop-down menu under the "Audio" channel heading and select "Mixer." Select "Track Volume" from the second drop-down menu in this section.

Press "Ctrl" and "B" simultaneously to enable the pencil tool. Click and drag the pencil tool on the WAV's waveform to change the volume. The volume level displays as a pink line; the higher the line, the louder the volume of that point in the waveform.

Click the second drop-down menu under "Audio" and select "Track Panning." Use the pencil tool to adjust the track's position in the stereo field. Moving the line to the top of the waveform pans it all the way to the right; moving it to the bottom pans it to the left.

Click "File," then "Export Audio/Video." Select "WAV" from the "File Type" menu and click "OK." Type a name for the WAV file and click "Save."

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About the Author

Seamus Islwyn has been writing for radio, print and online publications since 2003, covering subjects from independent Canadian music to automobile smuggling in the Balkans. His work has appeared in the "Tirana Times" in Albania, and he also composes and produces electronic music. Islwyn holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from McGill University and a certificate in radio broadcasting from Humber College.