The new Live: perhaps no one needs it, but I’ll bet a lot of people will want it.

Ableton’s site is now live with all the Live 8 information. But let’s cut straight to which bits are likely to be really significant in the new version of Live (aside from the new Akai controller and Max for Live support coming later this year, of course).

In no particular order, here are my top 8 new features:

1. Extract grooves: Take an audio or MIDI source. Extract a groove. Build a groove library, then apply it to anything you want, in real-time. Yeah, you can pretty much stop reading here. There’s also a built-in library of groove patterns for people who can’t figure out how to make their own. (Count on extensive third-party support here, too.)

2. Real-time, non-destructive, groove-ready quantize: This was a huge deficiency of Live since the beginning. Now it’s not.

3. A new Warp Drive: Finally, you can drag warp markers directly (far more intuitive), and slice by transient analysis, too. You’ll also find new warp modes (Enhanced Beats, Complex) for better-quality warping, meaning fewer trips to (ahem) other tools.

4. Looper: A lot of you have been waiting for this. There’s finally a tool that lets you record a loop, then set the tempo for your whole project based on the length based on that loop. The Looper has other nifty features, too, like drag-and-drop support, multiple Looper sync (like having various loop pedals going at once), overdubs, and remote operation with a footswitch.

5. Vocoder: With an adjustable number of bands, formant controls, and easy audio assignments, no less. What makes this even sweeter is, of course, the fact that Ableton’s co-founder told you you didn’t need one, got caught on tape, and got his own dance remix. I think it’ll really shine for synth and percussion timbres, and sound design has always been an attraction of the Live world.

6. More effects – included without buying the Suite: Not only do you get the Vocoder in Live, but a new Overdrive, brick-wall Limiter (which, admittedly, can be good for live performance), and a Frequency Shifter. The sleeper hit, though, may be Multiband Effects.

7. Real-time Arrangement Crossfades – and it looks like, finally, this same feature means you get real curves. If this supports the crossfade curves of Live’s Session View crossfades, it means you get nice curves without needing fancy curve editing tools – a very good thing.

8. Use Plug-ins Beyond the 128 Parameter Limit: Frequent plug-in users ran into big control and automation problems when they found Live choked on plug-ins with too many parameters. You still can’t access every parameter beyond a certain point, but you can choose whichever parameters you need, which is just as good if not better.

And there’s more. You can scrub and view waveforms from the Browser, which makes previewing them – well, actually practical. There’s a zoom option, though I’ll have to try it in practice to see if it’s really practical to glance at the screen from across the room (and I hope it’s possible to hide more stuff to make this work). You can group tracks, do step recording, use an insert marker, and select multiple parameters at once across different tracks. All those little things make a big difference, I know.

There’s also a “Share Live Set” feature that lets you collaborate on the Web with permission features, collaboration management tools, and “no issues with external plug-ins and instruments” (so presumably it incorporates some freezing where needed). More on this as we find out … more about it.

New in the Suite

  • The library has been reorganized. The library is easier to navigate, includes new sounds, and new tools. This almost deserves its own story – the sound library in the Suite was, to me, one of the weakest points in Live in terms of consistency, and it looks like Ableton is working really hard to make it quite the opposite. There’s also a Latin Percussion module.
  • There’s a new Collision instrument for physically-modeled percussion sounds. This is another creation of the good folks at AAS. I love Electric and Strike – they’re idiosyncratic, but can sound really organic, and their unpredictable nature makes them even more fun for sound designers. Expect some unusual-sounding drum tracks.
  • Operator has new filters, waveforms, modulation. All the things you wanted in Operator, you now get. You can draw waveforms directly for additive-style synthesis, which previously required a separate tool. You get modulation options for LFO and pitch envelope (something I asked for when I first reviewed it.) And you get the adjustable slopes for envelopes that Sampler has.

Also important: the price is lower. Live starts at US$449; the whole suite is now US$699. That helps make Live more competitive with stuff like Apple Logic Studio, which overshadowed the announcement of Suite by bundling everything at a relatively low price.

So, when do you get your hands on this? If you buy Live now, you’ll get a free upgrade – so that tells you something. Ableton promises second quarter, with a beta coming soon. (We’ll have it.)

Check out the videos and full feature descriptions at

Bonus! Today’s contradictory statement of the day: “Randomize audio and MIDI timing for a more human feel.” Okay, that’s not actually true since (for the most part) humans aren’t mathematically random (or at least not humans you’d want to play music with), but a little randomization is nice to have nonetheless.

  • David

    Yes, but can you play more than one clip in a single track (as is hinted at with the Akai controller…).

  • I think that was a mistake rather than a hint….

  • Wow, I thought they'd never fix that 128 parameter thing. Hats off to them for that.

  • Nobody needs a vocoder my ass.

  • Hope they've fixed the peculiar bug with midi sync and external instrument.

    Not that with Max/Reaktor do I need external synth. Do I?

  • gbsr

    erm.. track folders should be up there on that list peter, shame on you.

    also that looper is way way way handy. not to mention max for live ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

  • Some random thoughts on these points:

    6) FINALLY a brick wall limiter.

    7) Does that mean that you can cross fade the clips on the same channel when you trigger them live? And what about automation curves?

    8) It would be cool if, using max for live, you could create your own UIs for vst plugins

    Any djing related improvements?

  • ebt

    holy carp!!!! a loooooooooooooooooooooper!@!!@@#!#!@!!!

  • format.k

    probably should mention in createdigitalmotion, but being able to use the Max for Live app with ableton and using jitter objects makes this DAW blow the rest out the water.

  • ganjjjj


  • papertiger

    gbsr +1

    what a god send that feature will be.

  • papertiger

    gbsr +1

    what a god send group/folder tracks will be.

  • I thought you could make a brickwall limiter with the right settings in Live's compressor effect.

  • spinner

    For every update they inch closer and closer to top dog of the daw heep. Still no Wacom support tho ๐Ÿ™

  • Well, track folders isn't higher on the list because it's been implemented so many places before. That is, you sure wouldn't use Live to get it. While these features are long-awaited / available elsewhere in some cases, they do get a really unique implementation here.

    I just made that justification up; I'm writing these stories in real time. But it does seem to fit. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • John

    Any word on if it'll support NRPN or OSC instead of just CC? for sending and receiving automation?

  • MMI

    As a resolutions for the new year, I said no new gear. Learn to better use what I have. And start taking guitar lessons. The Live 8 announcements change kill the no new gear resolution.

    I'm having trouble controlling my erection.

    Damn damn damn.

  • and it looks like, finally, this same feature means you get real curves. If this supports the crossfade curves of Live’s Session View crossfades, it means you get nice curves without needing fancy curve editing tools – a very good thing.

    the curves are in the crossfade, but not in parameter automation. The crossfade curve is controlled by dragging it about. Fad-ins and fade-outs also use the same thingy.

  • Heart Pound

    They don't offer a free upgrade to Live 8 when you don't buy suite. And all of the cool deals they're offering aren't available to Educational buyers, which is going to be me (I was waiting on 8's announcement to buy 7). ๐Ÿ™

  • octatone

    What's the non-free upgrade price? For us commercial users already on 7?

  • Dammit, I just went to ableton's site for the pricing information and it's an 189 friggin dollar upgrade!

    Of course I'll be buying it. Tax write off 2010 here I come!

  • "If you buy Live now, you’ll get a free upgrade"

    For non-suite upgrade: Save EUR 100/USD 130 on your upgrade to Live 8, making your upgrade price EUR 49/USD 59 (download) or EUR 79/USD 99 (box)

  • spinner

    @Heartpound. Software makers rarely offers upgrade paths (or very limited ones). The discount is just there to get you hooked on the gravy, once in you have to pay premium like all good drugies ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • spinner

    You gotta wonder about the music in the promo tho.
    Live's has to be the chosen tool among drum&basstechnohardcoreglitz peeps of the music world but Abe choses to use what has to be a demo patch on the Roland Fantom……………

  • Max S

    ….Blody hell , i nearly shit my pants..!

    They've outdone themselfs this time, with really smart collabs.. Akai and Cycling74..!

    One feature i've dreamt about is 'zoom display' feature. Thank you ableton.

    And now we wait…

  • Emil

    what about improvments on the sound engine?
    what about automation handling in session view, is it possible to make smooth curves?
    I looks good, ableton is more than a DAW…its a religion!

  • JohnG

    I'm most excited about the looper, can't wait to see the Ableton take on that.

    Regarding this whole Max thing, will it be possible to access these features without needing another proprietary system I wonder? Doesn't look like it. With LiveAPI anyone can hack something together in Python (granted, no where near as powerful as the native Max integration). It would have been nice to see a proper API rather than another money spinner, Live isn't exactly cheap.

  • prevolt

    So does Jitter integrate as deeply into Live now? Does this mean we can make audiovisual synths with Live-style UIs?

  • smile

  • ^_^

    HOLY CRAP!!!!

  • Peter may post separately about this, but if you've not upgraded from Live 6 to Live 7, you may be eligible for a free upgrade.

    I logged into my account today, clicked on the "Shop" link, and the third item down was a free upgrade. I don't know if this will work for everyone, but so far it has for myself and one other person I know who'd held out on Live 7.

  • They sent me a coupon code for $30 off the upgrade, I guess because I've already given them money so many times before.

    $160 for the upgrade sounds awesome. I am so freaking psyched by these features.

  • karl d

    Yeah they are miles ahead of everyone else right now. All the icing on the cake stuff I can do without, but it will go down a storm with the kids. For all the Max integration and Akai hardware, I think the smartest move of all is the internet collaborating service. They have learned something from Apple, that you don't just need to make things, you can extend that to be a service provider. For myself, I badly want crossfading and transient slicing, things that should have been in version 1… and that's all really. Well better late than never. I'm sold.

  • mode

    looking at the promo video on ableton's site, these look really great.

    the live looping and new warping controls look especially tasty. and the workflow enhancements are much appreciated (scrubbing samples in the library is a great idea).

  • RCUS

    just a heads up, if you buy a Korg Nano series controller, it comes with a $50 off coupon for Live 7 and Suite. Hopefully it will work b/c then I'm looking at $600 for Suite with the free upgrade to 8 and I can finally stop feeling dirty everytime I open my "try before you buy" version. I'm ready to buy now!

  • vinayk

    LOL – after finishing my monome – I thought I was done with more software, but the upgrade price is amazing – upgrade to the download version here I come – it will be like the ultimate sample manipulation/sound design device to rewire into logic (which i’m loving atm)!

  • tim

    yep, been waiting years for track folders/groups…! hooray! thanks for the heads-up peter

  • OMG. Can't wait. I still don't fully understand the 'grooves' terminology.. isn't it just a sample?

  • d

    anyone else a little ticked the upgrade costs $189 AND we have to pay extra to get Max for Live???

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  • pugsfly

    Anyone know if they have dual monitor/screen support yet? Only see the magnifying tool on the Ableton wesbite.

  • Leslie

    $229 US is a little bit too much for me at the moment (upgrade 7-8), but I have said that about all previous updates as well (4-5, 5-6, 6-7) and bought them all… ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Bottom line is – I will probably get this one as well, regardless…

  • Today is a good day to Live!

  • Thanks for the overview. Looking forward to using the new version!

  • Just to back up J. Schnable's comment; I'm still on Live 6, and logged into the Ableton shop last night to see the state of updates to Live 7 and it was a free download, I've got it running right now.

  • I really can't see the point of groove templates, but maybe it's because I'm a drummer and like to program beats on my own. Anyway, all the other features plus Max for Live make this the best upgrade in years. Ableton sure took its time, but I definitely prefer this to a rushed release.

  • @J. Schnable, @equalizer

    I just checked on Ableton, I hadn't upgraded to 7 yet either, but no free upgrade for me ๐Ÿ™

    It could be because the first version I bought was Live 1.5 and have upgraded each time since then? Maybe the free upgrade to 7 is if you purchased the full version of 6?

  • Mark

    Great upgrades, especially the Max for Live thing, but I still miss three things;

    – Smooth automation-curves
    – Recording multiple takes and then being able to choose between them like in Logic
    – A nice score editor… but at the same time that isn't really Live-ish.

    If these three were to get implemented, it'd be the most awesome DAW ever.

  • Looper… MAX…. YES!

  • slawo

    Max for LIVE

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  • glsmaster

    Well, at least a lot of features I was waiting for. Step recording, vocoder. I'm looking forward to try that non-destructive fader.

    Great article. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Max

    Would be interesting where the "shared" live sets are gonna be hosted. On our own servers? Or own abletons? Will they even charge a fee? I don't hope so.

  • This is the first new version in a while that I want, I want, I WANT.


    Just… freakin… Looper!!!

    +extract groove, and track folders thank god.

  • Grooveguru

    So cant wait to get this… MAX+LIVE = LOVE

  • this is the big comet to the cubase dinosaurs.
    <3 ableton.

  • Philippe

    The only thing I was wishing is the possibility to make curve in automation. For the rest, there is enough VST plugin in the world.

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  • We are a live ethnic instruments band doing Silk Road music and wanted to integrate more live electronic performance in our sets. But didn't want to add a new member to do it. So we picked up Live 8 hoping it will fit in and give us what we need. So far it looks great.