After weeks of watching Ableton’s trainers and testers have the fun, Live 10 is now the current version. Here’s what that means for you.

Live 10 is now the official release version of Ableton Live. If you didn’t jump on the discounted upgrade or preorder pricing, that’s done. Live reverts to its original pricing and retains the same editions Live 9 had (Suite, Standard, Intro).

What you get with Live 10: lots of new Devices including the Wavetable synth and Echo multi-engine delay, automatic Capture of your ideas before you hit record, improved editing of MIDI and audio especially in the Arrange view, lots of additional sounds, more Push integration, and a faster, more integrated Max for Live. It’s also much easier on the eyes, certainly on Retina displays, but across the board.

Now, in those intervening weeks, a lot of people have gotten their hands on the software. I’ve been using Live 10 betas since early fall. Here’s what I’ve found, comparing my own personal experience with other Live users, both advanced and novice.

Live 10’s highlights

Arrangement view finally feels fleshed out. Editing multiple MIDI clips in Arrange, being able to directly manipulate audio, and navigating Arrange more quickly is really essential. I really hope Ableton continue to develop this area – and that some day we even see the sort of hardware integration with Arrange that we do with Push and Session view.

You’re going to use Drum Buss a whole lot. Drum Buss sounds like a specific drum compressor. That’s even how Ableton markets it. In practice, its combination of dynamics processing and “crunch” turn out to be pretty useful all over the place, especially since its simplified controls can be used in a variety of ways to dial in very different results.

Echo and Wavetable are really beautiful. Do you need another delay and another synth? Well, maybe not. Do these add character to the release? Absolutely. Look, lots of DAWs use pack-in instruments and effects to try to earn your loyalty and upgrades. Ableton is arguably a little different in that some of these designs are so specific to the software maker as to make little sense elsewhere – think Operator or Simpler. For me, though – and your experience may be different – the new devices were an easy test. I had Live 9 on my MacBook and Live 10 on my Razer for quite a while. I was comfortable enough switching back to 9 to work on lots of projects. But it was the devices that often made me migrate over to 10 again.

Push is more useful for editing. The addition of the melodic step sequencing layout (which combines real-time entry and sequencing), the ability to work on MIDI patterns on Push, and new device support continue to make Push feel essential.

Groups inside Groups. There are a lot of usability improvements, but I think you could say this is the most important one. I can’t tell you why exactly subgroups make the whole use of groups more useful, but they do. I find myself using groups a lot more – and I know of all the usability improvements people asked for that appeared in Live 10, this was the most significant.

There are a lot of other improvement here that may require adapting a bit. Capture is something found in DAWs like Cubase, but oddly it’s easy to forget that you don’t have to hit record to grab ideas. The Arrange view’s new features require some investment of time learning shortcuts and the like – and that pays off. And you should invest some time in organizing your Library to exploit that nice new browser, for sure.

For a complete run-down of what’s new:

Ableton Live 10 in depth: hands-on impressions, what’s new

What does Max for Live integration do?

We’ve been talking to Ableton now for years about their ideas for better integrating the ideas of Cycling ’74, who make Max/MSP, and Ableton themselves, even before Ableton bought Cycling.

The big thing you’ll notice right away is that Max for Live is integrated with Live – that is, you won’t see a separate load screen. It’s “built in.”

But there’s more to it than just that, which CDM has confirmed with Ableton:

Max is better, faster, stronger, etc. Max itself has been optimized, improving device load time and CPU load, plus a lot of bug fixes.

Versions are in lockstep. Since Live and Max are integrated, you can’t accidentally run the “wrong” version of Max. This also means that a sound pack that supports a particular version of Live won’t run into a compatibility problem with an out-of-sync version of Max.

The future is surround. One easy-to-miss improvement is really an important one: Max for Live support for multichannel audio mixing opens up new possibilities for multichannel setups.

Max 8 is coming! When Max 8 ships, it’ll include the internal improvements found now in Max for Live, plus new Max 8 features for people making their own patches.

So, that’s the good news. Now, the bad news: while we’ve been promised more integration of Max and Live, they remain separate products. Standalone Max licenses may have features that don’t become available in Max for Live. And while eventually Max 8 features will come to Live 10, it sounds like there will be a lag while Ableton tests those features.

Ableton describe this as “lockstep” versions of Max and Live, but – if the versions come out at different times with different features and there’s a lag as they test integration, that’s obviously not lockstep in regards to Max. At least you have one installer and one version as far as Live and Max for Live.

We’ll keep talking to Ableton and Cycling as the Max 8 release gets closer to fully grasp how this is working, and how the closer partnership of the two companies would shape this over time. The reality here still seems to lag what we’ve been promised in terms of Max and Live being integrated and the two developers acting as one.

What might hold you back?

Live 10 doesn’t make any advances in allowing you to integrate custom hardware. As other software has added support for OSC and other protocols, or integrated native scripting, Ableton mostly keeps that kind of integration accessible to hardware vendors. (Hopefully with official support for polyphonic MIDI expression announced, Ableton will follow soon. That may be an edge case, but it’s an edge case that tends to use Live!)

That said, some quiet improvements to Max for Live regarding System Exclusive data support and custom control surface creation now became a lot more useful. MIDI-CI, a new technique for automatically configuring hardware, could combine with Max for Live in interesting ways. (My only concern there: native support would be better.)

Live is also at the pricier end of DAWs available today, for both new and existing users. Users are of course also weighing the price of this as they budget, and I know that’s been a disincentive for some of you for whom money is tight. I can’t personally say what software should cost, as unlike hardware, you can’t calculate what it costs to make. But if you don’t have the money for this, I feel your pain – been there.

By the way, if you preordered Live, you aren’t automatically charged. So you can still back out if you’re not in the financial state you thought you might be – check refund/return pricing and contact support if you need.

But I do think that Live 10 is among a handful of Live upgrades over the years that seem to make everyone happy once they take the plunge. If Live is what you use most of the time, if you’re productive in the Live workflow more than other DAWs, should you get the Live 10 upgrade? Yes. That’s an easy answer.

We’ll look a bit more at some of the devices in future and can discuss that – plus the state of other software. Stay tuned.

https://www.ableton.com/en/live/

  • Since you mention upgrade pricing: I have a Live 9 Standard license, and the upgrade to Live 10 Standard was and still is €179 for me. No difference before and after release. I tried the beta for a while and I’m afraid, I cannot justify that money for the limited benefits I get for my specific workflow and use cases.

    That being said, I will definitely watch out for seasonal discount offers and might just upgrade when there is a 20, 30 or whatever % sale later this year.

    • Well, maybe an even shorter version of this:

      If you like the new Devices, or you use Arrange frequently, you should probably get 10.

      If not, it’s another story. Depends on what your beta impressions were?

      • Marcsonic

        Many of the new devices are only for Suite owners, correct? It still might be worth it for the workflow improvements.

        • Sorry, that advice goes for Suite.

          I’ll be perfectly honest; I haven’t been able to wrap my head around the ‘Standard’ use case apart from ‘someone who doesn’t want to spend the money for Suite.’ But I’m not Ableton’s accountants; just looking at this from the user perspective.

          • Marcsonic

            I had Standard for a long time because I record a lot of guitar into Live and didn’t need the instruments so much. Finally I caved so I could play around with all that extra stuff. It seems like they are really pushing Suite now, as earlier upgrades had a lot more Standard inclusions. Annoying, but it’s worth it to me to convert audio to midi and throw different instruments at it.

          • As I wrote above: I use external instruments for pretty much everything that makes sound. And I make my own samples for drums etc. So, none of the synths and only few of the additional effects that come with Suite are of any use for me. Heck, I could probably use GarageBand for most of that… 😉

      • I wasn’t overly excited about the new features, to be honest. It’s all very nice, but since I mainly use Live to convert audio to MIDI recordings I do elsewhere – and then arrange everything roughly to get a feel for the ideas I work on. Well, and then it’s all about sequencing synths outside the laptop and feeding an MPC with custom samples and the like. So, no, I tried that before, but anything included in Suite is of no use to me. Hence, I am neither too excited about all the small workflow improvements – or, at leat not excited enough to justify a 180 EUR investment right now. If it were < 100 EUR, I would probably not hesitate purchasing an upgrade, though.

  • Would be interesting to get data on how many Live 10 licenses will be upgrades for existing users as opposed to completely new users. From the immediate subtext of this writeup and your previous comments, Peter, it really sounds like this is an incremental update for people who are in the current Ableton mindset. Really glad you included comments about custom hardware, MPE, and OSC. These are emerging as some of the relevant strengths of competitors’ products (Reaktor, Tracktion Waveform, Bitwig Studio…). But, perhaps more importantly, these relate very directly to Max.

    Still in the dark as to what’s happening with Max 8. Been searching for more info and been receiving some C74 newsletters, but apart from this one mention of sysex handling right here, haven’t heard a peep about any new feature in that environment. My pipedream is that `gen~` could enable all sorts of neat things connecting MPE and OSC to custom hardware (including those based on Raspberry Pi like MOD Emulation for Pisound). Throw in microtuning and mobile devices in there and you cover a whole lot of ground. These might be edge cases, but they’re the very edge of where incredible stuff is happening.

    Live 10 made it obvious to me that Ableton’s priorities don’t align with mine. Really hoping that Cycling ‘74 won’t go too far in that direction. They’re the older team, but they remain the avant-garde in the most appropriate sense of the term. Must be because of their IRCAM roots.

    Otherwise, Puckette’s Pure Data does have a brilliant future, which integrates all of these dimensions. Much to do about Pd.

    • Depends on what your priorities are?

      So, no additional support should be necessary as far as the additions to MIDI 1.0 spec apart from MPE. I didn’t get to talk to Ableton about the specifics of why they chose not to implement MPE, but I would think the fact that it wasn’t an official spec was a reasonable argument. Now that it is, the time is right for them to look at it – hopefully.

      One interesting use case: they could have Push itself do polyphonic expression, if the sensor were capable.

      To be fair, this is still a use case that I’m sure is a fraction of their users. I’d just hope that some solutions for hardware performance are a priority, as it’s one of the most interesting use cases of Live, generally. It’s where a lot of the use of this tool came from in the first place.

      • There’s one part about my own, personal priorities. You could think of it as the edge case of edge cases. It does imply that Live isn’t for me, but Ableton really doesn’t need to care about me in the least.

        What might give stakeholders pause is the longer term story. The forward-looking stuff (“forward-listening”, since we’re working with sound?). Answers to tough questions people will ask much later. Signs that they’re ready for the next waves of “disruptive innovation” (though people may dislike the notion, Christensen’s work on the “jobs to be done” front does sound like it’d fit). Value propositions outside of what they have done recently with Live as their flagship. New business models which can reach other markets.

        They have something very intriguing with Link and Push and Cycling ‘74… But not so much in Live. It’s not about MPE, OSC, iOS, MIDI-CI, Raspbian, or ARM chips. It might not be about loops vs. linear. But it can include a move away from the DAW model, laptop-based shows, prohibitively expensive licenses, individual producers’ dreams of “making it big” in an established industry, or exclusive beta testing.

        • Ah, okay. Sure, but Live *is* their DAW, and those users wanted an update..

          Link very much went outside that model, and is available free to mobile developers and open source developers, and opens the possibilities in all the regards you just mentioned to the whole developer community.

          Now, whether they do more outside Live/Push in the way that Link was, we’ll see. They certainly hinted at that with the C74 acquisition and the conversation that followed, but radical ideas would take time.

          • We’re on the same page.
            Recently came to the DAW world, still trying to grasp what’s happening. Get to feel that it’s been an important moment, and Ableton had an important role to play with Live. But there are many other approaches to digital musicking.
            While it’s true that radical ideas take time to unfold, there’s a lot which can happen from hashing out radical ideas in the open or at least teasing out some direction. Nothing wrong with addressing your key constituencies. But part of the messaging can cue in other people as well.

    • jhonlagos

      Max 7 already supports MPE and OSC. It is only non-M4L Live that doesn’t support those easily.

      Pretty easy to find videos of custom hardware used with Live, plenty of those.

      maxforlive.com has new interfaces for hardware been released weekly, almost daily

      There is a workaround for MPE in Live, but it requires routing and a track for each MIDI channel.

      MPE is finally an standard now, but the actual documentation with actual specifications hasn’t been released yet.

      • jhonlagos

        http://maxforlive.com/library/index.php?tag=hardware

        702 and counting

        Of course this 702 number excludes the Python Remote Scripts such as those that Ableton and others like Native Kontrol or Remotify provide.

      • Yeah, but that potentially worries me even more. It says that Max for Live has become an answer to leaving out features that would benefit from native implementation.

        That said, no, I don’t fault Ableton for failing to implement MPE when it isn’t yet a final, published standard. And it isn’t a use case for everyone. I think it is something that makes sense for a release soon, now that hardware and specs have arrived.

      • Interfaces for new hardware are a neat way to cater to your existing audience and they’ve been around for a while. At the same time, they don’t have that much to do with the kind of Raspberry Pi projects people are doing, these days.

    • DPrty

      My guess is that a very high number will be upgrades from existing user’s. Probably completely new user’s has mostly stalled.

  • chaircrusher

    Have been running the beta for a while too, and the Drum Bus thing is great. The one thing that annoys me is that if you select notes in a clip piano role, they light up around the edges but stay the same color. I much prefer them turning black so I can see what’s up more easily.

    First world problems amiright?

  • Upgraded to 9 Suite a few weeks before the announcement – outside of the automatic upgrade window. Contacted support and despite only launching the program twice since I upgraded wouldn’t upgrade me to 10. Ableton 9 will be the last time I purchase from Ableton – Logic Pro is much more affordable, and even NI has much better customer support and service. Two nearly $300 upgrades in a short period of time is a tough pill for a student to swallow.

    • DPrty

      Dude just use Reaper for free it kill’s logic.

      • Only for 60 days. The personal license is 60$ after that time.

        • DPrty

          Well Enkerli thanks for being the hall monitor. Yeah.. some of us need to buy the licensed version after 8 years of use. I’ll probably just go ahead and buy the Pro Lisc. at this point.

  • sacredgeometry

    “Live 10 doesn’t make any advances in allowing you to integrate custom hardware. As other software has added support for OSC and other protocols, or integrated native scripting, ”

    What the fuck do you think control surfaces and max4live are? You can integrate OSC through max

    • Because that relies on Max for Live, it means you don’t get a native interface, and only Suite is supported.

      The actual native controller mapping interface from Live originates in Live 1.5. Trust me on this – I used it then.

      • sacredgeometry

        yeah as I said “control surfaces” … you have live controls in ma4live which cover most bases for ui not to mention more with jitter. Also most of the controls are live styled.

  • TJ

    Live 10 looks interesting, but nothing is really catching my attention right now. I will wait until I finish a bunch of Live 9 based projects and probably upgrade at the end of the year during the holiday sales.

  • 10 years after being reported, PDC is still corrupt tho. ie make a gated beat synced autopan , now drop a gate device with 10ms looked in front of it, bypassed. duplicate 10x gate to simulate 100ms latency. Autopan timing is now completely messed! 10 F,;;,;,ng years and still not fixed grr. live still add its own ‘pdc groove’

    • disqus_nURY1n6kAG

      hahahaha i cant believe this is still a thing, i was “into” live for about a month until i realized it was wrecking my drums

      doesnt matter, im just gonna use renoise until i die anyway, if you think about it you probably dont need any of this crap either

      • I was waiting to see if they fixed in in 10, but seems not.. bought bitwig license and moving to it aniway. PDC is flawless on bitwig, among tons of other things it does much better than live now^^ will only miss operator i think.
        .

    • disqus_nURY1n6kAG

      actually fuck being reasonable, if i know an artist uses live i would actually think less of them because of this issue

  • chap

    I’m not stoked by the features even if i think Wavetable is amazing, and Drum Bus is killer. Echo is awesome too.
    So i think it’s, for now, a bit pricy.
    But remember when 9.5 came out, with some great additions, for free ? That’s it, i bought Live 10 hoping for Live 10.5.

  • Andreas Russo

    @peterkirn:disqus , as far as you know, does “Max for Live is integrated with Live” mean that we’ll be able to ReWire Live in Logic and still be able to use M4L devices?
    Right now no M4L or 3rd party plugins can be used when Live is slaved.

  • itchy

    enjoying live 10 .
    live 9 feels old in minutes of using the new version.
    im glad this is the only software i use as all the updates and new devices are welcome.
    look forward to more key commands . and wavetable is awesome. never had this type of synth.
    i also look forward to these type of pop out devices utilizing the screen like the wavetable does.
    more refined. im happy

  • R__W

    Live is going in an increasingly obtuse direction and if someone made a 50 dollar program that does 80% of what Live does, they’d make 50 million dollars.

    • Matt

      I don’t think thats true because Bitwig has existed with in some cases more features than Ableton at about half the price and Ableton hasn’t gone under and its industry standard status is only growing not being threatened. Don’t get me wrong I switched to Bitwig I think what they are focusing on is more important to me than Ableton! But Ableton transformed computer music making and its serving a vast majority of actual professionals in the industry just fine and has become a nice common denominator for collaboration. Every day I see on instagram more and more producers that I know to use logic or cubase using Ableton now. I’m a Bitwig user but don’t forget how Ableton actually changed music forever. We will read about it in history books that same way we read about Fender, Marshall and Les Paul.

      • R__W

        bitwig costs 400 dollars though

        I dont deny Live is an important piece of software. I don’t even think or suggest people will stop using it. I just think a cheap competitor could make a lot of money.

        If a new app costs less than half the cost of a DAW’s upgrade, people will buy it just to check it out. Especially if the upgrade is what to most musicians is esoteric stuff like Max 4 Live

        Pro DJ software all cost 400 dollars too, then the Algoriddm Djay guy made his 50 dollar DJ app and sold a million copies.

    • max

      I doubt it will get better. Now they bought cycling; the standard answer to everything will be use max …

    • Neil

      That’d be Tracktion, but whenever it’s mentioned, no one is interested! And that’s with T6 being free for goodness sake.

  • Jack Mazzotti

    The future is surround? The future is MPE!

  • Velocipede

    I think the Suite upgrade price is not unreasonable, but I don’t launch Live every time I do something musical and I don’t particularly need the new features so I decided the money for the upgrade (even discounted) would be better spent on something else music-related. The time may come when I know I “need” Live 10 (or 10.5/11), but it is not now.

  • One of the things I still miss in Live is a way to put metering at the end of the master signal chain. You can’t. The master fader is AFTER the last plugin. So any master metering you’re doing can be overruled by the master fader. Which is a mistake imo.

    • What is the problem with that? You usually keep the fader at zero and level your monitors with your interface’s or monitor controller’s physical fader/knob.

      • Yes I keep it at 0 as well. But you can easily make a mistake. And then your meters are not showing you what is going on. Meters should be 100% clear.

  • After checking the price im not reading anything about Live 10. I dont care how better it become or what it does offer… I’ve bought my Ableton licence in 2009 and upgraded ever since. Not anymore.