Ableton Live 11.0.5 just became public with loads of fixes, tweaks, and subtle additions – and the free Lite version that comes with lots of hardware now adds Live 11 functionality.

Live Lite also being Live 11 is significant because that’s an entryway for a lot of new users, even if that isn’t you. With MIDI Polyphonic Expression now baked in, this also extends the range of software with MPE support (and other expressive features) out of the box – and since this is really about hardware bundles, that’s potentially a big deal for future hardware support. (That’s why even if you’re not a Live user, you might care this is happening.)

For existing Live users, though, the big news is that 11.0.5 tweaks a lot of the new stuff in Live. So after a big landmark release, here’s that maintenance release that adds some additional refinement.

What’s new in 11.0.5

Full release notes:

It’s worth a read, as there are actually a lot of nuanced improvements, a lot of which seem to respond to user feedback on workflows. But a summary of what’s in there:

  • Sample tab in Clip View is improved, including audio clip adjustment in semitones (finally!) and some visual / usability refinement
  • Updated Help View lessons
  • Various performance improvements (including at least one fixed regression)
  • Improved performance of new devices Chorus-Ensemble, Spectral Resonator, Spectral Time, plus some fixes to how performance was displayed for those devices
  • Tons of subtle improvements to those new Devices’ UI, too – maybe now is the time to do another Device tour
  • Hold ALT+mousewheel / CMD+mousewheel to resize velocity, probability, and per-note expression lanes in MIDI Editor (or use pinch gesture if you have supported hardware)
  • MPE editing view improvements
  • Multi-clip editing improvements, including how it works with Push
  • Random one, but – Wavetable device now does Drum Rack choke groups… which I’d never even thought of doing, but hey, it’s time to build a Wavetable Drum Rack, obviously!

And then there are just a load of fixes. There’s so much work in this release, actually, I thought I had accidentally scrolled down to a previous version’s release notes.

The usability stuff, which I haven’t detailed here, I have to really say I appreciate. With any DAW, what will keep you coming back is not only that it works in ways that grow familiar, but also that some of these improvements make using the software easier without you even noticing. And there’s a lot of that stuff getting slowly improved.

But I am stupidly excited about the improvements to the new devices, including performance optimization. For any of you who did what I did, fell in love with them, put as many of them as you could on, uh, everything, and then watched as it tanked your CPU, performance improvements are welcome. A lot of the new stuff these days from third parties is also not terribly efficient, so this is great. (I will say, everything runs pretty smooth on Apple’s M1, even through Rosetta so – Mac users upgrading are likely to be happy.)

I’m also just really happy about that alt-mousewheel trick, though.

A refresher on what’s in Live 11:

More Max hacking possible

Also, more Max for Live additions – more Clip API stuff.

  • add_warp_marker
  • move_warp_marker
  • delete_warp_marker
  • sample_rate
  • sample_length

That’s very exciting, and we’ll circle back to it soon. There’s also a fix to how the new MIDI input/output routing saves state with the API.

See our previous coverage of the Clip API:

Tuning for performance

According to Ableton’s release notes, 11.0.5 does deliver some performance improvements. For those of you interested in understanding how performance works and how to optimize it – including some advice that covers computers in general, not just Live – Ableton put together a video. I just watched it through and I recommend it; I learned a thing or two.

One thing worth making particular note of is that Live 11 switched to showing more real-time feedback by default in the CPU meter. Just like switching from a slower-refreshing audio meter (or a needle) to a faster-updating one, that means you’ll see more CPU fluctuations that you might not otherwise. Reading through YouTube comments, it sounds like some people are being thrown by the metering and not just performance itself. You’ll read in Live 11’s notes that the ‘Overload’ indicator is also now switched off by default on fresh installs.

But if you’re curious how 11.0.5 and different third-party plug-ins are performing – or if you just got a new Mac or PC and want to compare with your old machine – I think it’s worth watching the video. It makes clearer what’s going on (and explains 11’s updated CPU load metering).

Live Lite 11

Live Lite also includes a bunch of updates and more of the full Live experience. So yeah, if you wondered how it is that everyone wound up using Live – the Lite program is one element of that (without mentioning the thing that happens that is the first word in Disney movies ending “of the Caribbean”.)

Here’s what Live Lite users are now getting:

  • 16 scenes (expanding that limitation – meaning this is a very usable starting point for newcomers on a budget! …heh, I should limit my projects to 16, actually)
  • Full MPE support
  • Tempo Following (using audio input to track your timing)
  • Updated Instrument Racks, MIDI Effect Racks, Audio Effects Racks, and Drum Racks
  • Groove Pool and extract groove – previously required Standard+
  • Added Limiter, Phaser-Flanger, Redux (ah, memories), Saturator
  • Expression Control
  • MIDI Monitor
  • MPE Control

Adding some of the functionality from Big Mama Live is especially welcome, I think, to educators. Having the Limiter, expressive features, and MIDI Monitor finally makes Live Lite a reasonable tool for teaching in labs and schools that might not have money for a bunch of full Live seats.

Details on the Lite side:

And you know, Light. From Berlin with love. Where we definitely listen to … this song?