Update brings all the toys to the yard
It’s been five years now since Ableton launched the last iteration of its respected Live software. More people than ever are experimenting with music production and Live is still the go-to digital audio workstation (DAW) of choice for many. However, after five years, it’s fair to say it’s beginning to look a little long in the tooth. To its credit, Ableton has continually provided free updates which have expanded functionality, but there’s nothing quite like the buzz of an entirely new version.
So it was with great excitement that we received details of the next generation of Live. Ableton Live 10 is due to drop in the first quarter of 2018, and promises a slew of new improvements, add-ons and toys to play with. Let’s run down our favourite new features and look at what to expect from Ableton Live 10.
Live 10 : Look & Feel
In design terms, five years is a long time. Fashions change, and it could be argued that Live’s design, look and feel had become a little dated. While the fundamental stuff that makes Live what it is hasn’t changed – i.e. session/arrangement view – everything has been given a facelift to make it look more 2018. There’s a new system-wide font, for example, which mirrors that used on Ableton Push. We like it; it’s both clean and clear, and different enough to make it look new.
Chief among the new tools you will be able to access is Wavetable. This is a brand new, two-oscillator synth which appears to have all kinds of options for tweaking and tinkering. This will be well received by long-time Live users; the Operator and Analog synths are great but we all love a new toy to play with, right?
As well as Wavetable, users will be able to access a couple of interesting new effects. Echo is an experimental echo/delay device with some pretty cool looking modulation parameters; Drum Buss is an all-in-one tool for giving drum tracks some added sheen; and Pedal is an overdrive/distortion effect modelled on classic guitar pedals. Live say it’s more than just a guitar tool though, and the announcement videos back that up by showing it being used to warm up a vocal track, or fatten out a synth sound.
Ever tapped out a melody on your keyboard, or a beat on your drum pads, and then been unable to remember the exact groove you used when it comes to recording? One of Live 10’s more interesting additions will be able to help with this. Capture is a new, always-on listening tool that silently records everything you play, whether you’re armed for recording or not. Great for the experimenters out there.
Menu-surfing has always been a functional affair in Live. However it was in danger of getting left behind when compared to the excellent system used in Native Instruments Komplete, for example. That will all change for the better in Live 10, courtesy of the new tagging system. Collections, as they are known, allows you to group effects, instruments or sounds into colour coded groups of your choosing. You could, for example, group all your mastering tools (compressors, EQs etc) together, or create sound banks of your favourite one-shots.
As you’d expect, Live 10 will ship with a tonne of included sounds and samples to play with. What’s perhaps more interesting however is the prospect of what Ableton are calling ‘Curated Collections’. These will be available as add-ons, presumably for a cost, in a similar fashion as Native Instruments’ add-on packs for Maschine. These work really well with Maschine, so we’re excited to see what Ableton has in store here.
Ableton Push Deeper
Owners of Ableton’s superb Push controller can expect some incremental improvements to the overall experience. These come in the way of expanded graphical representation of certain Live plug-ins, making use of the full colour screens on the Push unit, along with specific workflow improvements designed to increase the immersion and capability of Push.
Max For Live
Users of the full-fat Suite version of Live will know what an interesting tool Max For Live is. We knew that Ableton had formally bought the company behind Max – Cycling ’74 – so weren’t on too shaky ground guessing Max would be involved somehow. It will now come built into the Suite version of Live 10, meaning any of the more hardcore tweakers and builders can get stuck in inside the regular Live app.
It struck us that, with the exception of the Wavetable synth and graphical improvements, there isn’t really one single headline-grabber. You might view that as a negative; after all, we have waited a long time for this. But the more pragmatic Live user will know that Ableton view progress as a constant journey. Live 10 will land next year, but you know that it will be improved and developed continually over its life.
Ableton Live 10 will be available in the usual Intro, Standard and Suite versions. If you can’t wait til then, Ableton Live 9 is still available.
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