If you use Ableton Live you may have been confused by the appearance of some files ending with .asd in your computer folders.
These Ableton .asd files are found next to audio files stored on your computer and have the same name as those audio files, but with .asd added at the end.
So what are these mysterious .asd files and why does Ableton put them there?
Also, do you need these files, is it safe to delete them, and is there a way to stop them appearing in the first place?
Ableton .asd files are analysis files containing information on audio files for things like time stretching, speed, tempo and pitch. Analysis files are created when an audio file is brought into Ableton for the first time. It is safe to delete analysis files, and you can stop them being created in Ableton preferences.
I finally took the time to find out more about these .asd files and how they work with Ableton Live to store information on audio files used in Ableton projects, or Live Sets as Ableton calls them.
What are Ableton .asd Files?
Ableton files ending in .asd are Ableton sample analysis files. Information on the Ableton website says that these .asd files contain analysed audio data
Although these .asd files don’t take up much space and don’t cause any problems, it can get annoying to see them next to their associated audio files on your computer. It can also be worrying if you don’t know where they came from.
If you look up .asd files online to find out more about them, be careful to specify that you mean Ableton .asd files. Microsoft Word also produces .asd files, which are “auto-saved documents” to help you recover your work if your computer has problems.
Ableton .asd files are produced when you bring an audio file into Ableton Live for the first time.
Previewing Audio Files Creates .asd Analysis Files
You don’t have to actually load the file into a project for one of these analysis files to be produced. You just have to preview the audio file in the browser and analysis file is created.
Ableton analyses the imported audio and the resulting .asd file contains information about the pitch, tempo and warp marker positions relating to the audio.
All this information is stored in the Ableton project (or Live Set) where you are using the audio file.
This is normally referred to as the audio file having been warped.
The .asd file that Ableton creates to store this information stays in the document folder where the audio file is stored.
On Windows this would be referred to as a document in the File Explorer, and on an Apple Mac a document in the Finder.
This means that next time you load the audio file into an Ableton project the analysis will already have been done, and the information in the .asd file is loaded with the audio.
The relevant section of the Ableton Live Manual has some more information on this.
The .asd Files Aren’t Visible in the Ableton Browser
One thing that can be a bit confusing is that although you can see the .asd file in the document folder in the File Explorer / Finder, it isn’t visible in the Ableton Browser.
Also, if you try to open the .asd files you get a message telling you there is no application set to open the document.
As a result you might think the .asd file is something malicious, which is why beginning Ableton users often worry about what these files are and where they came from.
In the Ableton browser the creation of the .asd analysis file is indicated by a little tick in the audio file icon. Audio files that haven’t been warped yet don’t have this tick.
If you preview an audio file or load it into an Ableton project you will see a little tick appear after the file has been analysed and warped.
The audio files in your File Explorer/Finder don’t include the little tick, it’s the .asd file next to it that contains the analysis information.
Can You Stop Ableton Making .asd Analysis Files?
You can choose whether or not Ableton makes an analysis file when loading audio into a project using the Ableton preferences.
Here’s how you do it.
Open the Ableton Preferences panel. The menu item to do this can be found in the Options menu using Window, or the Live menu when using an Apple Mac.
In the Preferences panel select the File / Folder tab.
At the top of the File / Folder tab click the button next to Create Analysis Files so that it says Off.
In the image below it says On in the yellow box, so you click that to turn it off.
Now when you import audio files Ableton won’t create the associated .asd analysis files. Ableton will still analyse the imported audio file but no associated .asd file will be created.
Is It Okay to Delete .asd Files?
If you only use the Ableton browser to access audio files and import them into projects you might never know the .asd files existed.
But if you use your computer’s File Explorer / Finder to look for audio files you might find them annoying.
For example, in a folder with a large number of audio files the number could be doubled if many or all of them have an associated .asd file. This can make things look cluttered.
So is it okay to delete them?
Well, since .asd files are just analysis files it should be okay to delete them. Analysis files contain information that Ableton Live uses as a reference and deleting them doesn’t do anything to the audio file itself.
What Happens When You Delete .asd Files?
If you go ahead and delete .asd analysis files, then look at the associated audio files in the Ableton Browser you will notice that the little tick disappears from the file icon.
If you load the audio files into Ableton you shouldn’t notice any difference now that the .asd file has been deleted.
Ableton analyses the audio file and you will be able to see the warp markers if you look at it in Ableton’s sample editor.
Not Having the .asd File Can Delay Ableton Playing the Audio
Ableton needs to analyse audio files before they can be played, and not having .asd files in place can delay Ableton’s ability to play the audio.
If your Ableton Preferences settings allow the creation of analysis files then a new .asd file will be created next time you preview the audio file or import it into a project.
If you preview a large audio file you can view the analysis process as the waveform appears and see how long this takes without an analysis file.
When importing larger audio files Ableton might display a message saying the audio cannot be played until it has been analyzed.
If your Ableton preferences for Create Analysis Files is set to Off then no new .asd file will be created, although the audio file will still be analysed ready to be played in the project.
Is It Possible to Hide .Asd Files?
It is possible to hide .asd files if you want to avoid the clutter but still have the audio analysis information available.
This is a little bit complicated and involves changing the File Explorer / Finder settings on your computer, so I will maybe come back to this in another article.
Ableton .asd Files – Helpful But Potentially Annoying
So, Ableton .asd files are actually providing a helpful service by storing additional information about audio files that Ableton can use to speed things up.
Some people (myself included) find them quite annoying because of the extra clutter they cause.
I guess it’s up to the individual Ableton user whether they create and keep these analysis files or do without them.
Learn More About Ableton Live
If you want to learn more about Ableton Live, and how you can use it to produce music, I would recommend The Music Creator’s Creative Guide to Ableton Live 11 by Anna Lakatos.