Ableton this week has released 8.2.5; it’s worth mentioning here primarily as it adds Lion support on Mac OS. I still strongly recommend against upgrading to 10.7 for the time being, until you’ve verified that your particular mix of plug-ins and hardware is also compatible, but it’s a promising sign. Other improvements are also worth a look; via the Ableton forum:

– MIDI sync has been improved when Live is a MIDI clock slave
– Imported tracks (from the Live Browser) now route to Master if their original output routing can’t be resolved, instead of “Sends Only.”
– The default for the Takeover mode in the MIDI Preferences is now Value Scaling instead of Pick-up.
– We now prevent choosing the root of the system hard drive (or the Windows system folders on Windows machines) as the third-party plugin location. Doing that would crash Live on startup, because these folders contain files that are interpreted as third-party plugins.

Registered users can download the new release from the Ableton site.

Also, Ableton quietly introduced a new Support site with searchable direct Q&A.

Okay, since dot releases aren’t terribly thrilling, let’s use this an excuse to check out some artists. Christian Andersen, aka XI talks working with the Operator synth and shares some custom patches; Bruce Pronsato chats Resonator (one of my favorites, going back to the pre-Ableton AAS days).

We’re still working on catching up with Nicolas Jaar himself, especially after some comments, without much context, caused controversy. (See our previous coverage, which I personally still think points to a pretty good video!) But here’s more on Mr. Jaar’s live performance approach, and how he’s set up Ableton with live band and vocals. Some nice stuff; it’s always great to get some live band performance, and something that dates back to the origins of Ableton Live.

By the way, speaking of Operator, here’s a terrific-looking download of Operator patches, accompanying live clips, and tutorial videos, all for the absurdly-low price of $10. Samples:

Operator Ambience Vol. 1 by nickmaxwell

20 Operator Patches. 20 Live Clips. 21 Videos. Inspiration + Education In 1 Pack! [Nick’s Tutorials]

Heck, I may give myself the day off from being the one writing the tutorials and doing the sound design and check it out myself. Nick’s been doing great stuff.

  • Adam Young

    It'd be nice if they spent more time on stability. Nice of them to address certain crashes in the last couple versions finally but there's stability issues that have existed for years now. Version 8 has been the least reliable thing they've ever done.

  • Peter Kirn

    @Adam: Any specifics you'd like to call out?

    There are some stability fixes in this release, I know, though that may or may not address your concerns.

  • Digid

    Spent more time on stability?

    They have basically postponed any work on Live 9 for, I don't know, The last 18 months, just to work on stability and bux fixes. Not sure they can give it any higher priority. 

  • Peter Kirn

    I'm not certain at what point they shifted work to the next major release of Live, but yes, they have devoted a significant amount of time to stability and delayed that next release.

    That said, if people have specific stability complaints, I'd love to hear them.

  • Digid

    Is there any evidence they *have* shifted their activities towards the next major release?

  • Bendish

    Live's always been solid for me. No stability problems at all. Looking forward to 9!

  • Peter Kirn

    @Digid: Ableton, like most developers (with a few notable exceptions), doesn't tend to discuss future versions until they have a publicly-testable version ready (in other words, at the end of the process). I wouldn't read anything into it. I don't think it's going out on a limb to think that a version "9" will follow version "8."

  • I'm really interested to see what the MIDI Sync improvement is, anybody try it out yet? I'll be trying it when I get home tonight.

  • Mister Snnnrub

    I'm interested to check out their midi sync improvements. I've never had luck with syncing DAW's via beat clock, but we'll see what happens.

    Any one know the protocol Rewire uses for sync? That seemed to be pretty solid, but I stopped working with Rewire when I found out that the slave can't load 3rd party plugins.

  • Peter Kirn

    Sync is part of ReWire, so the short answer to what protocol ReWire uses for sync is ReWire. 😉

  • I always hear talk about how 'unstable' Live 8 is… but I really don't get what that means. It's always worked just great for me, and I use it heavily with lots of plugins and everything. Either I'm just lucky, or perhaps the 'instability' issue is just loudly emphasized by a vocal minority.

    Anyway – I just want to add that I totally dig Nick Maxwell's patches and tutorials. He is a very helpful dude, and his approach to sound design is interesting and cool. Glad to see him brought up here.

  • Brian Tuley

    The MIDI sync was in dire need of improvement.  I used to try to sync up to max before max for live came out.  Was latent to say the least.  Never got Rewire working as perhaps that might have solved my problems.  But no worries now, with max4live.

    Also, Max 8 seems to be very unstable.  It crashes a lot, and it is slow to boot up, whereas Live was always a stable platform in the past.  I would expect max4live patches to crash occasionally, but not the core system.  Kinda a downturn for the product, although I still love the live platform for the time being.  Especially with the Max4live add-on.   The only thing I would even consider switching to is Motu's Digital Performer DAW, but I'm not a Mac user, so that's not even an option for me……

  • Brian Tuley

    Beat clock should do the trick well enough, but my various experiments syncing Max/MSP with Live yielded major latency issues.  Granted I'm no Einstein but the beat clock is a pretty simple design to realize.

  • Curious if anyone knows the answer to this- Do Ableton have any plans to create a better scheme for controlling program changes / patch select in the external instruments dialogue? The clip based method isn't really ideal- I suppose I am hopeful for something more like what I work with in logic as far as it goes… I wish they would- I like coming up with ideas in Abes but it tends to be more convenient to keep my externals out of the loop in the current scenario so a lot of times I end up starting up in logic just to have my outboards under control…

  • Stevieraysean

    synced abletons clock to max/msp yesterday. abletons bpm display locks solidly on to the correct bpm. when the clock changes it fluctuated a little (for about 1 bar) then locked on again.

    however syncing max/msp to abletons clock with [rtin] – [sync~] still fluctuates a lot. though you can use rewire in max/msp to get much better sync you do loose max/msp's audio inputs.

  • amnesia

    Live 8 has always been solid for my except when I upgraded to Lion, now its back to being solid.

    One thing Ableton should allow us to do is colourise our fav plugins!!!!!

    If you have 400 plug ins and only use 20 most of the time it would be nice to be able to find them quickly by colourising them.

  • mothergarage


    well, you could save each of your favorite vsts as an instrument rack to a location of your choice

  • 3 phase

    ableton has gone way down hill…

  • Bynar

    Maybe it's wrong but I have felt (for the last couple years) that Ableton's biggest weakness is its overuse. It seems like every live dj or electronic music show you go to anymore revolves around clip triggering with a matrix controller. I know Live can be used for so much more but I just feel like it's a paradigm that can box your music into a formula. I think Live was at its best when it was a simpler tool designed to load audio loops for live performance. Unfortunately what was once new (10+ years ago now) quickly grows old when everyone is out doing the same thing. 

  • Bynar

    I feel like that might was a little harsh. I know that there are plenty of talented performers tearing it up with Live too. I don't want to start a "my daw is better than yours" conversation. 🙂

  • Random Chance

    For me, Live is still an expensive and fun toy, one I would not really want to miss. And I mean toy in the best sense of the word. The only real problem (apart from MIDI sync not working (in the past?)) is that I just don't think in terms of loops and the arrange windows is uninspiring to me compared to Logic. I've done a few things completely inside of Live but most of the time I just come back to Logic for the more down-to-earth stuff. And I hope that it will stay that way. We have enough DAW style applications that feel like clones of each other. Live still stands out however old the basic idea and implementation may be at this point. 

  • @Bynar: Actually there's an interesting article about this by Robert Henk (one of the Ableton founders):&nbsp ; – Although its around 4 years old by now, most parts of it still apply to today.

    Anyway, I upgraded quite early to Lion (on my non-production computer which has most of the plugins I use on my main DAW) and subsequently on my main DAW and had no problems with Ableton and my collection of plugins at all (except maybe running NI stuff in standalone and Abletons MIDI-related crashes, but that was known before).
    Havent tried out the new MIDI-Sync yet, but we'll have rehearsals soon. Though it has always been quite reliable in the past.
    Also I dont get these stability discussions, I also use Live with a lot of external plugins and hardly encountered any crashes (well, maybe a couple here and there, but the recovery/autosave does a quite good job)

  • amnesia

    Live is an instrument much like a synthesizer. You dont have to use it as loop triggers. I treat it more like an advance Cubase with way more scope for making it an instrument with Max4Live etc.

    Someone once commented to me that the Studio ELectronics CODE is a hiphop synth. I thought that was the stupidest thing I had heard! A synth is what ever you make it to be same with Live.

  • To those talking about Live 9, are you really that eager to spend your money again? We're still on 8.2! It seems like I get my performance template up and working, maybe beefed up since the last version, play a few gigs, then hear about the mad craze to beta live 6, 7, 8 just to start the process over again. Why not get better at your instrument for awhile? I don't even think a professional tennis player would tweak their tennis racket or brand at a faster rate, and I certainly wouldn't swap out my trumpet after 2 years. Maybe skis, but that's a rich person's game to begin with.

    And Ableton is hardly played out: grid controllers are. Whenever I go out and there's a dj, they're never playing Ableton. It's tractor? Or serato? 

    What I'd like to see with their support is a more sophisticated data mining of the log-in file. Or at least a walk through of how to read it for yourself. Right now, I imagine some QA engineer looking through your crashed pack if you bothered to mail it in and going hmmm, so what happened here, let's fix it. I'd rather see a public, coordinated report of which plugins are nono's which interfaces with what driver version, rack sequence as it pertains to latency, etc. Problem with the new answers section, is the forum could already be mined for most of the answers; the answers section repeats the topic for the 11th time, and there's quite a bit of inertia for responders to overcome if they want to organize the resources available in the forums to give the answers section a clean response, effectively "closing" out the inquiry. Many subjects are not closed loops for that matter.

  • Brian Tuley

    I'm definitely not about to shell out more money for a Live9.  

    I see live as a great one man band platform.  You can do folk songs on it, or go the DJ route or whatever you like.  It's great for one man band type stuff.  its essentially a Daw with a loop mode.  Tracking on a pro-tools or cubase type DAW is great for multitracking bands, but I've always found Live to be great for my soloist sessions. 

  • youngcircle

    I love Live, but it crashes on me a lot. I do have a lot going at one time though: touchosc apps on wifi and Mascine, Launchpad, a KP 2 etc. But I'm not very technical, I don't even know exactly what computer I'm running (whatever my trusted tech friends tell me is best at the time of purchase.) But one great thing about getting old is getting to experience completely different eras. And when I first started, you couldn't gave even explained a concept like MaxforLive or OSC. I literally wouldn't have understood any of the words aside from the common articles. So yeah it's buggy, but I never forget what a miracle Live is either. Of course the complainers help make it better, so complain on lol