Play Plus multitracking over USB via Ableton audio distortion

Hello, thanks in advance for any help!

My Play Plus recently arrived after upgrading from the regular Play which I’ve been using in my live set for the last couple of years. My main draw to the upgrade was the ability to multitrack audio from the Play into Ableton so I could add effects and generally have more individual control over all of the seperate sounds coming from the machine.

I followed the manual and created an aggregate device (I’m on an M2 Macbook Pro) which included both my Play Plus and my audio interface (Scarlett 8i6), with the interface as the main clock. I can route the audio into Ableton no problem (I have my audio input and output in Ableton both set to the aggregate device) but when I do so the audio always seems to have issues. For example, I set up a simple snare hit playing on every beat and although it comes through clear at points, it will fluctuate between missing a hit/the clock slowing down/a quick repeat of snare hits/general distortion. I have played around with different combinations of audio inputs and outputs on Ableton, using the MIDI jack from my interface to control the clock rather than over USB and delay compensation as well as drift correction tweaking on Ableton and the Audio MIDI Setup program respectively. I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do at this point and a bit disappointed that this seems to be quite tricky to set up, especially considering this is the main reason I upgraded.

Any and all help would be so appreciated! Have attached a screenshot of my settings in the aggregate device if that helps!

These are my Ableton audio settings:

Regarding the Distortion, i’ve noticed this only happening when i don’t connect/start things in a particular order (which is true for the Tracker Mini as well):

  • Have the Play+ turned off and disconnected
  • Ableton is closed as well
  • Connect the Play+ via USB (and probably click Allow for the USB Device)
  • Then turn on the Play+ (click the Allow USB Device… again)
  • Then start Ableton and go about your business

Let us know if that helps already. This might solve the sync issues as well. And if not, we’ll take it from there. Do you have an audio recording of what is happening? Might help in figuring out what is going on as well.

1 Like

Thanks for your reply! I followed your instructions and currently it seems to be working fine - will reply in here if I have any more issues, thanks for your help!

1 Like

Ok maybe I spoke too soon :confused:

What I’m noticing now is mainly clock issues, there seems to be some drift going on, I set up a simple hi hat pattern and you can see it misses some hits and there is general inconsistency in BPM throughout the pattern.

Settings the same as before but tried a couple times quitting Ableton and then going through the process above (Allow USB Device option never came up), but didn’t seem to make a difference.

Yeah i dunno about the USB Permission Popup. If that is a OSX Ventura/Sonoma thing or just an individual setting i have active :man_shrugging:

Out of curiosity. This drift that you are describing… Does this happen regardless of which of the two devices is in control of the Clock?

  • Does it happen when the Play is the master
  • Obviously seems to happen when Ableton is the master… yes?

And according your first post, this seems to happen both via USB and/or MIDI?

Yes, it doesn’t seem to make a difference if it’s audio or MIDI - maybe it has something to do with the aggregate device?

Could you clarify the following:

Based on your answer i can’t tell if you tried that or not and that would be interesting to know.
i’ll see if i can setup a test myself to see what happens for me.

Sorry yes, even with the Play as the master I still seem to be getting clock issues. Here are a couple videos to show what’s happening, the first with Ableton as the master:

I have a metronome going on Ableton trying to line it up to a hat on the Play, you can hear them skip from time to time and at the end of the video you can see the Play’s visuals lag as the audio does.

Here’s a video of the Play acting as the master, no metronome this time but you can clearly see the hat miss as well as some weird distortion-y artefacts as well:

One thing I’ve noticed is the clock seems to be running completely fine if I haven’t selected the aggregate device and I have my regular audio interface set as the input and output device instead in Ableton (as I usually would), obviously the issue with this set up is I can’t multitrack the audio over USB now…

A reminder of the settings I had for my aggregate device: