I started using Live with version 1, and since that version, Live users have longed for an easy way to customize the color scheme in Ableton Live. It’s a no-brainer: two-dimensional interface, high-contrast UI elements, basic graphics — why not be able to choose the color scheme you want? Ableton’s own themes let you abandon the gunmetal battleship colors, but generally for garish nightmare schemes that seem to have escaped from the Windows 3.0 themes from Hell.

SonicTransfer, a site that’s become an increasingly nice resource for tutorials and other info, took matters into their own hands: Matt built his own custom editor from scratch. It works on Windows, Mac, and even Linux, and lets you create custom schemes for Live 6. (Matt also has some of the nicest schemes for six I’ve seen yet — recall that many other custom schemes designed for previous versions don’t yet work in the latest release.) The interface is great, as you can see in the video here; you can quickly highlight what you want to change and tweak as much as you like. There was a brief scare a few weeks ago when Matt posted that he might not be able to release the software without the permission of Ableton. Then, today, Berlin came through and Ableton CEO Gerhard gave the go-ahead. Betas are available now (10/23) and a full release may be up by the time you read this.

Ableton Live Skin Editor [SonicTransfer]

This isn’t just cosmetic: the right scheme can be easy on your eyes in performance and studio situations.

Use at your own risk, as future upgrades are likely to break the editor — but it’s nice that we now have a standard from the always-vigilant Ableton community.

Now, you can make your Live interface match the woodgrain you added to your keyboard.

  • No1

    Hmm, isn't one of the appeals of Live's UI that it is simple. I hate these programs that try and look like hardware, to me it makes things seem gimmicky. Minimal interfaces allow work to get done without concentrating on poncey graphics which is the reason I chose Live, skins suck and are for retards who are more worried more about how their music looks than sound, I wonder how many ppl chosse plugins based on which looks the coolest, retarded.

  • No1

    Not implying that this is trying to look like hardware, but really what is the point?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    The interface remains minimal; it remains the Ableton interface you know and love. What you get to do here is change the color scheme. (Actually, "skin" is probably a misleading term, but that's what Ableton calls them.)

    It's no less minimal if you use white-on-black instead the (largely) black-on-gray. This is a chance to improve readability and keep something minimal that you find aesthetically pleasing.

    And if you don't have time to fiddle around with schemes, it also means that others will likely be generating schemes you like without you even lifting a finger. :)

  • http://www,myspace.com/etaro etaro

    the problem with live is its price

    not the color scheme

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    See our Straight Out of No-Cash series for budget alternatives. But many of us feel Live's price is worth the investment; compare what you'd pay for a good musical instrument, or a good piece of audio gear. Just because something's software doesn't mean it's not worth money. And, likewise, the one advantage of software is that if you don't have the money to invest, you can still find excellent open source and budget options. The choice is yours.

  • http://sidechainmusic.com Dave Dri

    People will still pay AUD$300 for a Roland MC303 Groovebox but they wont pay AUD$500 for Ableton Live 6? Someone might be forgiven for thinking thats a little odd.

    Now to finally settle on a skin… Thanks for the heads up Peter.

  • lowercase

    Actually, I do pick my vst's partly based on appearence. They don't have to be flashy or pretty, they just can't look like crap. I find it hard to be creative when I'm looking at something that was designed with absolutely no inspiration.