Sync Ableton to Machinedrum with Options.txt


Ableton’s default Midi Clock sync is very responsive to micro-shifts in the tempo.
When synced to the Machinedrum clock, this results in a (Midi Track in Ableton_ softsynth’s delay having a glitchy sound.

to alleviate this, make a simple text document called Options.txt (in TextEdit on the MacOS, start a new document, it is Rich Text by default. From the Format menu, select Make Simple Text.

Paste this line of “code” on the first line:


the “b” tells Ableton the strictness of the timing is “bad” only in the sense that it is a bit jumpy and any micro-shifts in tempo are to be ignored.

there is some advice online that gives the code syntax slightly differently, and this did not work for my computer, after starting Ableton, the application complained and said the command in the Options.txt was not recognised.

the code that did not work reads:


there is no underscore before the M.

there was another command regarding Autopopulating plugins, i tried that and the application did not complain.

wondering why, i looked at the syntax, and there was an underscore after the hyphen. Thankfully, including the underscore after the hyphen does in fact make the Midi clock slave code be accepted by the Ableton application.


Select Save, it should then show the suffix .txt, or wait a few more seconds and the .rtf suffix will auto-change to .txt … Save the file in documents or somewhere, then go select it and Command-C to copy.

the Options.txt file needs to be placed in a certain location as shown by this article:

to find the correct location on MacOS, with the desktop selected, from the Finder menu, select the Go menu, and then hold the option key. The Library will then show up as a place to go. After navigating to the Library, it’s a simple matter to find the Preferences folder, Ableton folder, appropriate Live version folder, and Command-V to paste the Options.txt file there.

Restart Ableton. Set external sync to on.

For the midi input of the soundcard receiving the Machinedrum Clock/Transport sync signal, open the Ableton Settings window. Choose “On” for Track Sync and Remote. The triangle expansion for more settings allows the Midi Clock Sync Delay to be changed from the default of zero. I found that -38 ms was making the sync work in time with the Ableton metronome, for the incoming audio from the Machinedurm (monitored on an Ableton audio track).

in the Audio screen of Settings, i had to set the Buffer to the lowest setting of 14 to make things sound acceptable, not sure why. Also set the Driver Error Compensation to 18 ms. Resulting in a display of overall latency of 22.3 ms. All these settings a fairly interactive so it is simply a matter of adjusting so everything sounds acceptable in quality and tempo sync. The previously mentioned Midi Clock Sync Delay is key to achieving the sync.


thx i’ll try that out


after some thought, i’m inclined to just keeping ableton running on its own clock, and then pressing play on the Machinedrum (also internally synced), nudging into the same pulse as what is playing on ableton, then recording with that.

when maybe 8 bars are captured to disk, playing that in ableton and micro-adjusting the start time to really get it synchronised. Command-4 while the edit screen of the recordng is selected to micro-adjust start time.

if my computer was more current and running the latest version of ableton then it might be easier to get cool results with ableton being externally synced to the Machinedrum.

but the code does work and the vst delay glitch does not happen when externally synced.

it might be useful for live gigs.


I wrote a tutorial on how to sync Elektron machines with Ableton, maybe this helps: Machinedrum and Ableton - Stable Sync via Ableton Link and iOS