How do l setup my hardware synthesizer (not a vst) with scaler

I would like to play the sounds from my cobalt synthesizer in scaler using Ableton but l can’t make it work. I’ve seen tutorials on how to use vst’s with scaler but not one with a hardware synth. Is this possible if so how would l set it up?

Welcome to the Scaler forums.

I don’t use Ableton, but there must be a way to use an “external instrument” in it.

Of course, you’ll need MIDI In/Out from your computer to the Cobalt and audio from Cobalt back to your computer’s audio input for monitoring and recording.

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Nearly the same as with a vst. Set up 2 midi tracks. Scaler2 on the 1st. Ableton’s External Instrument device on the 2nd.

On the Ext. Instrument MIDI track…
Set ‘MIDI From’ to Scaler2 & Scaler2
Make sure Monitor is set to ‘In’ or track is armed to record (forgot that in the screenshot).

On the Ext. Instrument device…
Set the ‘MIDI To’ to send the midi to your Cobalt and the channel the Cobalt is set to receive MIDI on, typically channel 1 unless you changed it.
Set ‘Audio From’ to the audio input your cobalt is plugged into.


Hey Jeremy thank you so much for this information unfortunately l tried this but it didn’t work l don’t have the ext instrument parameter like you do. I’m only using Ableton live lite and this may be the problem.

Ah I see. Try it this way then. Always a dozen ways you can do things in Ableton. Hopefully this way works in Lite. Just set ‘MIDI To’ directly on the channel to your external synth instead of using the external instrument device.


It worked!! I really appreciate your help l went from a drummer who can’t play keyboard to a pro within a few minutes lol. Take care.


Thank you @inz1. I am not an Ableton user, but I have done something similar in Reaper using Reaper’s routing, but things didn’t go so well with computer resources.

I have never given Ableton a try; but I do know of some who have used Reaper, but now prefer Ableton. Makes me wonder if I am missing something. :upside_down_face:

Thanks again! :grin:

Good job @inz1 So I assume your first solution (external instrument) works by monitoring the input of your sound card, IE you can record back to that channel? I haven’t used Ableton to control my hardware synths but may give it a try.


Almost. Think of the Ext. Instrument device as allowing you to convert your external synth into a VST synth in a sense. MIDI Out and Audio IN from a single rackable device. You will now be able to monitor the incoming audio from the synth on that channel but it is still a MIDI Channel. So if you hit record on the Ext. Instrument channel it would record the MIDI data being sent by Scaler2.

Just as you would with a VST synth, you would still need to create an audio channel to record the audio from that external synth.

It’s definitely the more elegant approach. Advantages being…

MIDI To and Audio From your external synth in a single device and on a single channel.

Racking - you can rack your external instrument into an FX chain… with MIDI FX before… and Audio FX after. You could set up macros in the rack to those FX.

Portability/Recall - You could then save the rack and recall it quickly in any project or move it to any channel.

In the hypothetical setup in this screenshot… if you were to send notes to Scaler2 and hit record on all 3 channels you would record the following on each track…

1 Scaler 2 (MIDI) = the MIDI data being sent by your external MIDI Controller that is triggering whatever you have set to bind in Scaler2.

2 Ext. Instrument Rack (MIDI) = MIDI data being sent by Scaler2. Those notes would be manipulated by the Arpeggiator Device, then out to your your external synth, its audio coming back into the device, then passing through the Spectral Resonator. Additionally you could send that audio to your aux sends from that track as well.

3 Audio Record Ext. (AUDIO) = the audio output of the rack on channel 2.


Here is a slightly more complex/fun example of what’s possible that would allow you to roughly split chords across 3 individual instruments… link to a zip with the Ableton Live Set and Device files inside below.

Red circles are areas you would have to adjust to your MIDI and AUDIO setup.

This places 3 external instrument devices in a single rack each on its own rack layer. Note that the Ext. Instrument devices could be swapped out for any VST instrument as well. Or even a mix of external synths and VST synths in a single rack.

The Macros are high and low filters for each of the 3 instruments / rack layers.

There are MIDI Pitch and Note Length devices in front of each instrument.

By adjusting the Range on the pitch devices (green circle) you can adjust the note range that pass through to each instrument. You can dial this in however you want. Initially each layer in the rack is set to octave ranges C1, CO, C-1 respectively. You could then adjust note length settings per instrument as well.

So with a single note on a midi controller, you would generate chords in Scaler 2, those chords would be split based on the pitch devices ranges, and route the notes to 3 different instruments (external or vst).

This can be built and expanded upon incorporating more layers, midi fx and audio fix. Fun stuff!


Brilliant thanks so much this will be handy for many users.

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Great posts.

I don’t use Abelton, but I was impressed with the workflows you covered. I use Cubase but got a few ideas of things to try in my DAW.

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