Out with the old, in with the new. When Ableton released Live 7 they simplified the way to bring in audio and midi from an external device such as a hardware synthesizer or drum machine. If you use external hardware and your not using the Live’s new External Instrument Device read on.
So let’s take a look at the old way of bringing an external instrument into Live. You would have to create an audio channel, select it’s input and arm monitoring. You would also have to create a separate Midi channel, choose then Midi Interface (Midi To) and Midi Channel.
Now for the new imporved method. Go to the Live Device browser (upper left side of the interface) and under Intruments drag an External Instrument device to a Midi track. On the device you can choose all the parameters that were previously spread over two channels: Midi To, Midi Channel and Audio Input. You also have the additional Latency parameter which is usefull if you notice your hardware synth or drum machine notes are coming in a little late. The best part of the External Instrument Device is now that you set it up you can save the preset and your now one click away from adding any hardware you have into your current song. I have seperate presets for all my hardware synths and drum machines.