Does Ableton Run On M1 Mac? We Found Out


If you are a music producer looking to upgrade your hardware, you are probably considering getting an Apple computer with the M1 chip. It is a pretty impressive piece of hardware, but is it capable of running professional music production software, particularly the Ableton Live Suite? 

Ableton can run on the new M1 chip without any problems. It may be an Intel-based software, but Apple created Rosetta 2 which allows users to continue to use Intel software on the new Apple M1 Chip. The M1 Chip combined with Ableton’s powerful sound engine makes an excellent combination for music production.

I tried maxing out the M1 chip by running dozens of tracks and plugins simultaneously, and I was definitely impressed by the results. Not to mention that Rosetta 2 was running in the background.  

Running Ableton on Apple M1 Devices Through Rosetta 2

Rosetta 2 allows Intel-based Mac Apps to Apple Silicon M1. It is basically Apple’s solution to run Intel apps on the new M1 chip, and it works great and smoothly with Ableton Live 10 and 11. 

Because the M1 chip is a relatively new processor, many software developers have not yet released more recent versions of their software to run on it properly. Fortunately, Apple already projected that this problem would happen during the Intel to Apple M1 transition period and came up with Rosetta as a temporary solution.  

It works behind the scenes whenever you launch an Intel-based app such as Ableton, but because the M1 has 8 cores, it doesn’t really affect the performance. The M1 can still run Intel-based apps quite fast. 

That is because Rosetta already translated the app to work on the M1 chip during the installation and not while it is running. And apparently, that is what caused a lot of problems with the first version of Rosetta, so they fixed it.

Is the New Apple M1 Chip Good for Music Production?

The all-new Apple Silicon M1 Chip is Apple’s first-ever processor. You can either love it or hate it based on software compatibility and the applications you use. It is advertised as the fastest Apple line of computers yet—and Apple does make a good point.

After a couple of months since I last upgraded from the Intel MacBook Pro 2018 to the new MacBook Pro M1—I have never run into significant problems with the usual programs and software I use for work and music production—not to mention that it is significantly faster than my old MacBook.Impressively enough, even if it runs with Rosetta 2 in the background, the M1 chip still manages to run over 50 Wavetable tracks playing eight-note chords at once with two oscillators on top of it.

If you are a Windows user and planning on switching to macOS, maybe the M1 is not the best choice for you if you produce music using 32-bit software and plugins. However, if you are ready to let go of the usual plugins that only work on Windows computers, you will eventually get used to it. Most popular DAWs work on it, and only a select few old plugins don’t. 

On the other hand, if you have been a macOS user for a long time and the majority of the software you use is compatible with your old Mac computer, you will most likely love the new Apple M1 line of computers!

Ableton Versions are Compatible with Apple M1 and Mac BigSur

Ableton Live 10 and 11 works with macOS BigSur and Apple Silicon through Rosetta 2. Ableton Live 10 and 11 also work well with older versions and Intel versions of Apple computers, and many users are debating that Ableton runs far better on a 2018 MacBook Pro. 

In my experience, Ableton Live 10 or 11 worked smoothly on my 2018 MacBook Pro. The highest number of Wavetable tracks I had simultaneously is around 40, but I think I could have added more without the app crashing or slowing down, but the song I was making didn’t need more tracks. 

However, I am glad that the M1 MacBook Pro turned out to be compatible with Ableton Live 11. Since most of the plugins I use are mostly Ableton Stock, I didn’t encounter any software compatibility issues—thanks to Rosetta 2. 

Aside from running a ton of virtual instruments at once, the loading and rendering times are also speedy. However, Apple M1 and BigSur no longer support 32-bit apps and plugins, which might be an issue for some music producers who rely on 32-bit plugins and small plugin creators to upgrade their plugins just to make it run on new Apple computers. 

Apple M1 Chip Features

If you are looking to upgrade to the new Apple M1 computer, you might want to know some of its specs and features. The MacBook Pro M1 is an excellent choice for music production, even the 8GB RAM base model. 

Right off the bat, this MacBook boasts an 8-core CPU and 8-Core GPU. It is equipped with a 256GB SSD, 17 hours of battery life, and the best thing about it is that Apple brought back their USB ports, which are perfect for music producers. With the inclusion of 4 USB ports, you can say goodbye to the annoying dongles just for plugging in your MIDI controller and audio interface. 

Intel vs. M1 for Music Production

As a long-time Mac user, I have used Intel-based Apple Computers for all my music production work for almost 10 years now. I love Intel processors, and they are excellent when it comes to running data-heavy programs, such as DAWs, VSTs, and other virtual studio software that requires a ton of processing power. 

However, ever since I got my hands on the M1, I was very impressed with its processing power—even on the base MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models. I think Apple did a really great job with their new M1 chip, and we can only expect it to be better in the future. 

Of course, there are some problems, but people can definitely live with it. It is only the first generation after all, and based on Apple’s history of developing products—they tend to make significant improvements every year.

Intel might be the more stable processor now, but who knows what M1 will become in the foreseeable future?

Related Questions:

What is the best DAW for Apple M1 Mac?

The best DAW for Apple M1 users is none other than Logic X Pro. Since it is optimized for the M1, it runs at lightning speeds! Launching the app, opening projects, and running stock plugins opens instantly, and all the settings, knobs, configurations, and audio editing functions execute rapidly and accurately with little to no latency. However, Ableton still runs pretty quick on the M1 if you are used to this DAW. 

What is the best processor for running Ableton?

The best processor for running Ableton is a 64-bit Intel, Intel Core i5, or i7 processor. It also works pretty well on an AMD multi-core processor. However, compared to the M1, Ableton runs really better on an Intel i7 processor. 

Mori B

I'm a music producer, a dj and a blogger.

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