Using Rewire with Logic Pro, Reason 5 and Ableton Live

Rewire is a really valuable tool that's now available to users of just about every DAW out there. It acts as a virtual pipeline sending audio, MIDI and even sync data between any number of application  

Rewire is a really valuable tool that's now available to users of just about every DAW out there. It acts as a virtual pipeline sending audio, MIDI and even sync data between any number of applications.

As there are so many applications that support Rewire I have decided to demonstrate it's use with some of the most popular titles, namely Logic, Reason and Live. If you use a different DAW do not despair as the set up is extremely similar from program to program and this will certainly get you moving in the right direction.

01 - Master and Slave Applications

When using applications in Rewire mode it's very important you grasp the basic concept of  masters and slaves. One application will act as the Rewire master while all other application being used will become the slaves.

The status of your applications will be decided by which order they are opened in. The application that is opened first will automatically become your Rewire master, any app opened subsequently will become a slave.

The master application will essentially act in the same way as you would expect with its master outputs being fed to the normal destination. CPU usage, transport and BPM info will also be displayed in the usual way.

A slave application will take any transport based info from the master and will only be able to send it's audio through the master application. The slave application's CPU usage will also be deployed in the master applications CPU meter.

It's worth remembering here that you will also have to close your applications in the reverse order to which you opened them in. Some apps will actually not allow you to close them before Rewire slaves are shut down.

02 - Setting up your Rewire Input

With our Rewire applications open (in this case Logic and Reason), we can begin to make the connections needed to allow audio and other data to flow between them. We'll start by setting up the input for incoming audio in the Rewire master (Logic Pro).

Logic uses auxiliary channels to bring in any external audio and this includes Rewire audio. To create a fresh 'Aux' channel go to the mixer and press the plus (+) icon that resides on the very left hand side.

You will now be presented with an Options dialogue, here you can ensure it's a stereo channel and you can choose your input. Both Reason and Ableton Live should be in this list by default. Pick the first two channels from the Reason list for this demonstration.

03 - Making the First Audio Connection

Now we have our inputs set up we just need to move to the slave application and complete the connection. When using Reason all these connections are made in the hardware interface area.

There are actually 64 audio outputs that can be utilized in Reason 5. This is pretty impressive and could essentially accommodate 32 full stereo audio streams. This should cater for even the most demanding projects.

We need to use the first two outputs, which should now be lit green to show they are active and available. Usually the first mixer, device or mastering Combinator will be connected to these outputs by default. Be sure to double check this though and also ensure your master  outs are properly connected.

You have now made the audio connection between your two applications and any connected device in Reason should now be heard and the incoming level should be displayed in your new auxiliary channel in Logic.

04 - Using Rewire MIDI Connections

It's not just audio that can be sent between your applications, you can also send MIDI data to the slaves. This means you can trigger virtual instruments in Reason straight from Logic. Using Logic in this way effectively gives you a rack full of extra instruments to use in any other application and as some of it's instruments are so good this is certainly a welcome addition to any set up.

To set this up in Logic simply create a new track using the plus (+) button at the top of the arrange screen. This will bring up an Option dialogue allowing you to select 'External instrument'. Also ensure that 'Open Library' is ticked at this point.

Your new MIDI track will now appear and the Media Library will also be open to the right of this. It's in the library that you can select specific instruments that are open in Reason. You will even notice that any custom names you have given your devices will show up here. Thankfully the integration is pretty tight.

With your instrument highlighted and the active MIDI channel selected you should be able to input MIDI straight from Logic and the audio will also come straight into the mixer. Remember that any MIDI you can play here can also be recorded, so literally everything can be done straight from the Rewire master's interface!

05 - Keeping in Sync

Another great feature of Rewire is it's ability to send sync and tempo information between apps. A change in loop points or BPM in either the master or the slave will be mirrored in any other applications in the set up. All your instruments and audio will attempt to stay in sync when anything is changed.

You will also find that you will be able to play, stop, fast forward and rewind from any of the active applications transport systems. This is great as you could be working on an instrument in a slave application and still effect the project's playbacks.

06 - Using other Applications (such as Ableton Live) as a Rewire Slave

As you can see setting up Rewire communication between Logic and Reason is a pretty straightforward process and once you've done it a few times you should find that it becomes second nature.

The question is how is this achieved with other applications. The truth is most of the process is more or less identical to what you have read here. The only real difference is how you set the output in your slave application.

Obviously this technique differs from one application to another and may require a quick read of your user manual but Ableton Live for example is a nice transparent process. All that you need to do is set the main output to one of the available Rewire inputs.

Once this output is set the Ableton input can then be selected in Logic auxiliary channels. Remember no matter which application you are using, to add more channels the process can simply be repeated, using another auxiliary channel and the next free pair of Rewire outputs from your slave application.

Hopefully this shows you how easy it is to get things set up and use your applications in Rewire mode. This should allow you to utilize instruments in other applications, mix projects from one application in another's mixer and generally be more creative.

Want to learn more? Check out the full range of Logic tutorials here, Propellerheads Reason tutorials here and Ableton Live tutorials here.

Mo has been a professional in the music industry for around 15 years. He has released material with the world's leading record labels and also produces music for TV and Film. Mo is also a prolific writer and is a regular contributor to magazines such as Music Tech, Future Music and EQ magazine. There isn't a piece of music software tha... Read More


Hey Mo! Thanks for your blog contributions, I've been reading them all....good stuff. I've tried in the past to use rewire with Ableton but had some issues. For one, ableton always tells me that midi is disabled when using rewire. It seems as though it can only send audio. This makes sense for when Live is the slive. However, I do quite a bit of live performance use Ableton and I would love to use some Logic sounds in Ableton. It seems like that should be possible by opening Ableton first and then Logic. Is this correct? If so, would the next step be to instanciate a midi track in Live and then search for AU plugs? Where would I find my Logic instruments? Any help clearing this up would be appreciated. Btw, I'm using Live 7.18 and Logic 9.1 on an 8 core power mac.

Mo Volans
Hiya Steve, Thanks for your comments.

As for your questions, let's see if we can clear things up for you a little. Your totally correct in thinking that your Rewire slave can only send audio. MIDI can only be sent the other way, with your master triggering instruments and devices within the slave app.

As far as using Logic as your Rewire slave, I'm afraid this isn't possible. Logic can only be used as the master presently. There are some work arounds where third party applications such as Soundflower can be used to route audio but this wouldn't include MIDI and it is fairly convoluted.

Hope this helps, although it may not be the answer you wanted to hear ;)


Hey Mo!

Cool, thx for the advice. Interestingly, the Logic manual does say that Logic can be used as master or slave. At any rate, I can always bounce Logic samples to audio and bring them into Ableton. I generally like composing in Logic and performing live with Ableton. For the most part, I generally use 3rd party plugs anyway (e.g. I have all the Native Instrument stuff which I love). I try to stick with VI's and midi to keep my CPU load down as opposed to a slew of audio clips. However, since I have spent so much time in Logic, I have a few favorite instruments that I have created that I would like to use in Ableton. Would you agree that it sounds like bouncing those samples would be the thing to do?
Mo Volans
Hey again Steve ;) To be honest I haven't delved into the manual on this subject, I seem to remember trying this myself and running into issues. Of course this may have been rectified in more recent versions so I would encourage you to try it.

Maybe our resident Logic Jedi Rounik could shed some light on this subject for us? ;)

If you do run into problems then I would strongly suggest considering your bouncing idea as your first option. I tend to find Ableton works much better with loops and clips anyway.

Mo Volans
It appears you can't use Logic as a slave. At least not with Ableton!

On opening Logic, after Live, you are presented with a helpful message saying "A different Rewire host application is running : Remember that you need to start Logic Pro first to use it as a Rewire host application."

Bit of a shame.
Hey Steve & Mo (great post Mo btw!)

You can't use Logic as the slave in rewire mode as Mo says. However, you can however, send the audio out from Logic to Ableton using Soundflower (by Cycling74). Soundflower, I believe has upto 16 outputs... so you can in theory send the audio signal of a few different instruments from Logic to another application like Live.

You'll need to create an aggregate device in the Audio MIDI Setup (Applications/Utilities/)

In this case, you'd need to select Soundflower as your audio device, assign your channel strips to output on one of those SF outs.

In Ableton, assign the inputs on certain tracks to their corresponding outs from Logic... and assign the output of Ableton to your audio interface's main output.

You should be good to go... though I smell a blog post coming on for this topic ;-)

Would be much nicer if Apple allowed Logic to used as Master and Slave with rewire though!
Thx guys!
@Rounik: I've used the soundflower way before and it definitely works. I'm in an experimental phase right now and this post tweaked my curiosity:-)

BTW, I've said it before and I'll say it again....MPV is the absolute best place to come for knowledge, dialogue, encouragement, etc. There are no egos here and everyone is completely helpful every step of the way.

@Rounik again: I told you before that I was going back to school and as part of one of my courses, I must do a service project. I would really be interested in doing something for MPV and the community at large that frequents this site. If you have any ideas of how I could do something for you guys, please let me know. My time would be completely voluntary. Maybe you could run it by Martin and the rest of the gang:-)
Hey Steve,

Thanks for the kind words again!! Glad you find macProVideo such an excellent place to learn software... a lot of thanks goes to Mo Volans and our other trainers and authors... and there's more on the way too ;-)

Drop me a line (with my name in the subject) to Support:

This sounds interesting! In the email to Support could you explain the concept behind a "service project"? I'm not familiar with what this would mean in a practical sense... :)

Thanks again Steve!
Piano Chord Training
Mo, I just wanted to thank you for the detailed tutorial you have supplied us with. How are you liking Reason 5? I hardly ever rewire as a I like to write music with Reason 5 but I do rewire when scoring to film.

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