Product Type: Ableton in Multimedia
Newest Review: ... roll (For Midi) and the main sequencer window to begin arranging your song. Ableton Live 8 is bundled with a great selection of instrum... more
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Ableton Live 8
Member Name: LaptopAcidX
Ableton Live 8
Advantages: Endless possibilities, Cool instruments and effects even in standard version,Improved beat analysis.
Disadvantages: Suite is expensive, steep learning curve, loop based production not to every musicians taste.
Ableton Live 8 is PC and Mac software for writing, producing and performing music. As it's an incredibly complex piece of software the best I can do here is provide something of an overview and opinion.
The work flow consists of two main interchangeable views with file directories on the left hand side and instrument or waveform windows at the bottom.
Session View is one of the two main views, it's a grid for creating and playing musical (and percussive) loops. Being non linear it is possible to record and play back loops in any order so it can be used to quickly knock up loops and jam with them. It's also the window to use for live performance, either using your own loops or DJ'ing, it's possible to use AIFF, WAV, MP3, Ogg Vorbis and FLAC files.
Arrangement View is the second main view and is similar to other sequencing software such as Cubase or Logic and it can used for traditional linear recording, arranging and mixing. Audio and MIDI information can be recorded on the fly in Session View, loops and samples can be dropped in, effects added and all in real time. All of this ends up in the arrangement view where it can be edited in minute detail.
The heart of Live is a real time analysis engine that can pitch shift, time compress and expand audio (Ableton refer to this as warping) and it allows the user to mix and match tracks and loops automatically. Although it has been significantly updated in version 8 it's not perfect and still requires some manipulation by the user to get tracks in time. Warping has made Live popular with DJ's including Sasha, Pete Tong and Ritchie Hawtin.
The standard version of Live comes with a couple of useful built in instruments; Sampler (a multi sample player) and Impulse (a percussion sample player), which are both very useful. There is also Drum Rack which is a drag-and-drop pad style groovebox that can slice beats, loops or REX files to MIDI and use the new groove feature to add swing to percussive loops. In addition there is a ton of excellent built in audio shaping effects (from traditional reverbs to weird sound mangling things) and it also possible to use warping as sound manipulation tool, allowing for a veritable myriad of audio sculpting.
As well as the standard version of Live 8 there is also Ableton Suite 8 which in addition to the Live sequencing software includes several synthesizers and a selection of sample based instruments:
Sampler is a sampling instrument for multisample playback and sound design.
Operator is an frequency modulation (FM) synthesizer similar in sound to Yamaha's famous range of DX synths.
Collision is a physical modelling instrument for mallet sounds and creative percussion.
Electric emulates classic electric pianos using physical modelling synthesis.
Tension is another physical modelling synth capable of creating reproductions of stringed instruments or otherworldly hybrids.
Analog is a simplistic vintage analogue synth emulator although it is particularly useful for fat bass sounds and sounds fantastic.
If you are already a user or a convert with an existing collection of VST (Virtual Studio Technology) instruments and samples it's probably not worth the extra £300 for the Suite. Although these instruments integrate well there are many free third party synths that are just as good and probably better sounding.
USB hardware controllers (for tweaking eq/mixer and synth controls etc) are instantly recognised and assigning custom MIDI controls is unbelievably simple using the point and click midi learn feature. Third party VST effects and instruments are fully supported and many integrate well although NI Reaktor for one is somewhat unstable.
Live can also integrate (using the ReWire protocol) with other Digital Audio Workstations such as Pro Tools, Logic, Cubase and even Reason. This is something of throwback to when Live wasn't as fully featured as it is now and I suspect it is also to entice users of the above mentioned software to move over.
I've been using Live for about four years, and with every update it gets better and better as Ableton respond to user feedback (particularly from pro users like Ritchie Hawtin). Although there is a steep initial learning curve once the basics have been mastered (the inbuilt tutorials go along way to alleviate this) a whole new world of creating music is there for the plundering. It is quick and easy to get up and running with a new track and the totally flexible work flow positively encourages you to experiment. I've dabbled with a couple of other music production packages over the years but nothing is as flexible for loop based production as Live. Ableton are now introducing features to encourage more traditional musicians and long awaited audio editing features, and there's a good chance it will become truly become all things to all musicians (and DJs).
Summary: Once learning curve climbed possibilities become endless.
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