The funny thing about Ableton Link is that it doesn’t require Ableton Live. It isn’t even an app. It’s a sync technology, one that allows software to jam together, wirelessly, without any one clock having to be the source or “master.”
But as of today, if you do use Ableton Live, that wireless magic is built-in – and requires almost no configuration.
Live users can jam with other Live users. Live users can jam with apps. If you were on the beta, you’ve been doing this already, but with Live 9.6, the functionality is out of beta.
Link comes to Ableton Live
In case you weren’t already using the Link beta for Ableton Live 9.5, Live 9.6 quietly adds a “Link” section to preferences (in a tab now renamed “Link/MIDI”). And when connected to a WiFi network with Link devices on it (either iOS or other laptops running Ableton Live), you’ll see sync abilities.
To make this play nice with other sync tech, Link and The Bridge (if any of you still use that) are mutually exclusive, and each is disabled if running as a ReWire slave (if any of you do that).
Meanwhile, iOS developers have been busy. They’ve been making not only demos, but real-world jam sessions.
First up, a bit of an exclusive – one of my long-time favorite apps, SoundPrism from Audanika, is now updated with Link support. It’s not live on the store until tomorrow Thursday, but it brings some cool sync functionality to a lovely graphical touch instrument.
And more jams from other iOS devs, showing just how many apps support this.
Previous coverage (okay, you can tell we’re a bit excited about this):
A new free app bridges Ableton Link and MIDI (this explains how to work with iOS and MIDI hardware)
And as before, you can find out more – and even sign up for the SDK if you’re an iOS developer.
To me, the big remaining question about Link is if and when we’ll see a desktop SDK. I’d love to see a Traktor user switch off with a live set in Ableton in a DJ booth without dropping sync, for instance, or see Live users jamming with FL Studio and Reason users… and the list goes on. I expect it’s coming, and I expect you’re as enthusiastic about that as I am.
Also, new in 9.6
Live 9.6 isn’t just about Link. A whole slew of stability improvements and fixes are in there, too. (I was much happier using the beta of this release after a couple of hiccups in 9.5).
You can check the release notes for fixes, but I’m most interested in what they’re doing with control surfaces and Simpler.
Arturia fans, there’s now control surface support for KeyLab, BeatStep, and MiniLab.
Hackers, Live’s Python interface finally supports Python 2.7. (There’s also something very cool coming to Ableton Live called the Connection Kit, which brings new options to people using technology like OSC and Arduino. They’re demoing that here in Berlin during CTM, so I’ll report more on that once I’ve had a look.)
Meanwhile, in Simpler, you see Warp mode parameters (grain size, flux) in real-time rather than per-note, improved visualizations, and other tweaks.
Oh, yeah, and if you hate Live 9.6’s clip coloring, you can bring back random clip coloring again.
9.6 is a free upgrade for current users.