Ableton Live didn't get a significant update as expected
yesterday (4.1 proves to be a bug fix release only), but the company
did introduce its first sold-separately product, the Operator synth.

First, the good news (plenty more info over on Ableton's site, but these are the things that get me excited):

  • FM synthesis is made unusually easy with an interface that could only have come from Ableton
  • Built-in looping envelopes and unique Time and Tone controls
  • Full clip envelope integration
  • Integrated learning: interactive lessons included (much nicer
    than flipping back to a PDF manual, as I've been doing with Logic!)

The bad news:

  • Not included with Live; must buy separately
  • EUR 129 / $ 149 price seems a bit steep given the virtual instrument / synth competition
  • Still just an FM synth at its core (either great news or bad news depending on your tastes!)

This is NOT a review, just initial impressions. The synth itself looks
fantastic; the criticism from the Live community is likely to come from
unbundling the synth from Live. And that is a little disappointing —
if nothing else because the integrated, one-product experience of Live
is a big part of its appeal. I would rather see Ableton recruiting more
Live users than trying to get its existing user base to buy more stuff.

Now that we've got that gripe out of the way, though, I'm anxious to
give it a try as an instrument, which is what is really exciting. (Clip
envelopes + FM synth, folks!)