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Ableton Live

Review of Version 3 and Version 5



Version 3

Ableton LIVE 24-Bit Recording Software (Macintosh and Windows)
Ableton Live is the music-production solution that allows you to spontaneously compose, record, remix, improvise and edit your musical ideas. Live brings your acoustic, electronic and virtual instruments, as well as your digital audio recordings, together in a single interface with unparalleled ease of use.


Version 3 of the Ableton Live added even more.  At first I was skeptical and when I first booted I was more so.  But that that quickly diminished when i tried my hand at some of the new features in Live 3.0.

I have Live 3.0 running on a Mac powerbook G4.  The application is almost perfectly suited for it and it looks great on the Mac in OS 10.3. 

New Features:

While Live 1.5 was good at modifying the loop from the outside, with effects, filters, and envelopes, Live 3.0 goes a huge step further by letting you control your samples and loops from the inside.  You get a number of tools that can be used in the sample editor to warp and transform them.  Ableton says you can make hundreds of variations for a single sample, so i tried my hand at this.  Its as easy as can be.  Perhaps the most powerful is transpose.  You can select a region of the sample and draw a pitch envelope over it, making it rise and fall the way you want it to. You can also mute or attenuate regions of a sample or re-arrange the hits in a beat. 



Into the Glitch? 

One of the hottest areas of sound development is one that i call "glitch sampling".  Buzzes, stutters, dropouts, extreme aliasing, scrambling, granulating are becoming more and more popular in today's music.  While there are many ways to make an interesting glitch, the better ones typically take a lot of work (forget those "stutter plugins" if you want to sound original). The Ableton live gives you some powerful glitch tools  Listen to a few of them. You'll never think of your old loop collection the same way again.  And guess what, all these strange sounds can be made in real-time with the song playing and are non-destructive.  You are not going to do this kind of sample warpage in Acid, Fruity, Forge, Sonar or any of the usual editors.  

There's more coolness to Live 3.0, but I can't get to everything right now.  I just wanted to convey how a great program just got greater.  Its worth the upgrade.

Of course there is more to the program than I mentioned, but hey, it's late and I have tweaking to do.  If you want your loop based compositions to stand out from the rest, the Live is a must have, even if you have and like Acid ( I certainly fit in that group).  If you are on the Mac, it's one of the few loop constructors in town.  If you are a DJ and want a tool to use real time on gigs, don't hesitate.  Get it now, before everyone else does.  My bet is that the Ableton live will be here for a while.  And with all the new audio editing features, it's bound to be the secret weapon in many a loop constructionist's arsenal.


Novation Remote 25SL 25-Key USB Controller Keyboard with AutoMap  Tweak: works great with Live 5


Version 5

I skipped V4 of the Ableton live after running the demo and not liking it.  But with version 5, I was ready, and i am happy to report, its smooth running and, of course, much more powerful.  The main thing is the ability to use MIDI and software synthesizers in the Live as seamlessly as you can in the big sequencers like Logic, Sonar, Cubase, etc.  I was impressed on how fast I could get working with these and how easy midi editing was. 

Live 5 also now works with Control surfaces such as the Novation ReMOTE SL series keyboards and with Mackie Control Universal.  Live 5.21 also added support for Frontier's Tranzport controller. 

Version 6 is due for release in Sept of 2006 and adds Multicore support, movie import, "Deep Freeze", instrument and rack effects and a new essential instrument collection. 

In sum, the Live offers the ability to produce tracks fast with audio loops and midi, unique effects, and do it all on the fly.  I think it is an excellent tool for hip hop beat creation and adding vocals and mixing it all down.  DJ's doing shows, if they take the time to learn the intricacies of the GUI, will be rewarded with performance far beyond what can be done with CDs.  Yet the hardcore tweakers will like the Live as well with its extensive non destructive editing of audio.  If you want to get weird, the Live will help!


All the best!

Rich the Tweakmeister


Bias Peak 2-Track Editing Software (Macintosh)
Peak, the world's most popular audio editing/processing/mastering application for the Mac, is now fully OS X native - and includes support for BIAS’ new SoundSoap™ noise reduction plug-in. Peak 3.2 is still fully compatible with Apple's latest OS upgrade - Mac OS X v10.2 Jaguar and the OS 10.2.3 update. Peak 3.2 is even faster on OS X now, as it is a native Mach-O application. A version of Peak 3.2 for Mac OS 8.6 - 9.x is also available. The update is available free of charge for owners of Peak 3 as a download from the BIAS web site. Using SoundSoap as a OS X compatible VST plug-in for Peak 3.2 gives Mac OS X users access to one of the most powerful yet easy-to-use audio restoration solutions out there.

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