Time signatures in Live

It’s the little things that matter. Hallelujah, Live 7 finally allows time signatures in Session View. Want more complex rhythms? Want full sets of songs in a single Session? Now it’s possible. There’s also time signature support in Arrangement view, which while anything but revolutionary, is a big relief.

With various applications running roughly an annual release schedule, and lots of competition for attention, just what would it take to get me excited about an upgrade to Ableton Live? My list would look something like this:

  • Time signatures in Session View scenes, so you can create songs that switch meter or put sets of songs into one big Session file
  • The ability to nudge tempo up and down, for electronic music / DJing / changing tempo live for other reasons. (Not everyone wants to stay at 133bpm for four hours.)
  • Side-chaining for Compressor, Gate, and Auto Filter
  • Anti-aliased processing in Operator, Dynamic Tube, and Saturator, so when you don’t want them to sound glitchy and digital, you have an option
  • Export video (warped and unwarped) to files, so Live becomes an alternative video editor and a real scoring tool
  • View more than one lane of automation at a time in Arrangement view. (Come on, occasionally you must want to look at volume and a delay setting at the same time, yeah?

That actually basically sums up my wish list for Live, especially the ability to mix meters. I’m not just writing avant-garde music or doing Yes remixes, either; I’ve even heard DJs complain about that.

Is this the full feature list for Live 7? No way. Is this what you’d use to market Live? Absolutely not. Is this, item for item, exactly what I would wish for in a new version of Live? Heck, yes. I expect your list may look different, but personally, I love upgrades that address the little things that make a good tool into a great tool. I can’t wait to get my hands on the first beta to see how the implementation feels, and see if it’s as good in practice as it looks on paper … or pixels, anyway.

And in the “something I’d wish for if I had imagined to wish for it,” there’s also a new range of Live instruments based on Applied Acoustics’ fantastic physical models for analog synths, electric pianos, and plucked-string instruments. In the form of Analog Studio, Lounge Lizard, and String Studio, respectively, those represent to me some of the best-sounding software synths available, and unquestionably the best realistic physical models of strings that are commercially available. They’re reborn as Live synths.

Spectrum view in Live 7

Spectrum View is a powerful new feature for impressing people at clubs as they look over your shoulder; I’ll be mirroring my display and running it to a projector …erm… you know, doing serious Audio Things. Like adding Doubly.

The only potential disappointments: Ableton still isn’t talking about the fruits of their collaboration with Cycling ’74, though I expect we may hear that information soon. And Ableton’s timing isn’t so hot: they just introduced a bundle of all the new instruments with Live itself for US$999, calling it Live Suite. A month ago, that would have been competitively priced with Apple’s Logic Studio, except — whoops. Now Logic Studio costs just US$499. Ableton isn’t in the comfortable position of selling computers as well as software, as Apple is (to say nothing of phones or, erm, pods), but I imagine this will still make this a slightly tougher sell, at least on the Mac. I don’t think it’s a deal killer for Live or Live Suite, but I figured I’d mention it before you do in comments. (Okay, now, go ahead; tell us what you think.) On the other hand, hey, it’s Live, and Logic still isn’t Live. If you don’t need the extra instruments, Live’s cost is the same as it ever was, and the a la carte approach can absolutely mean you don’t wind up with things you don’t need.

And speaking of Live, there’s quite a lot more in Live 7 itself — some potentially more exciting than the new instruments. Here’s the feature list:

The host itself is improved:

  • New audio engine: 64-bit mix summing, POW-r dithering, optimized sample-rate conversion. (This could please those who said Live mixes were sounding flat on output, and brings Live closer to tools like SONAR — though SONAR has fully 64-bit processing, not just mix summing, I’m still happy with just this.)
  • New MIDI engine: more accurate timing for recorded MIDI. (You’ll still have to contend with your hardware MIDI interface and drivers, which can be pretty variable, but at least Live will be more accurate!)
  • New compression models for Compressor, including a vintage model.
  • Improved EQ Eight, also with a 64-bit mode.
  • Spectral eye candy: new Spectrum analyzer.
  • New automatic memory management for loading big sample libraries.

External MIDI in Live 7

External MIDI integration: Again, it’s all about the little things. Other softwares have had a crack at making it easy to integrate external MIDI gear into a setup, but Live 7 does it in a very … Ableton-y way. It looks lovely, and this being CDM, we’ll be doing something unnatural with it, like hooking up a Wacom tablet or robotic arm or Nintendo DS. Send your suggestions to the site staff.

Beat lovers, rejoice, as you’ve got a delicious Beat Lovers’ Pizza coming your way:

  • New Drum Rack for easier management of drums, with sends/returns/submixes, individual routing to the mixer, and plug-ins / effects chains on individual drum pads. (Okay, that definitely got my interest — software drum machine ninjas, let’s fight back against those hardware snobs!)
  • Drag-and-drop REX files, and a new slicing feature that cuts up REX or audio loop files and loads them onto the Drum Rack. I’ve actually messed about with similar features on hardware from Roland and others; nice to see it integrated with Live.

The new Ableton Instruments are likely to become the banner theme of this release. But doing insane stuff with the Drum Rack could be what makes this version of Live really fun, and holds its place as a … erm … beat factory? Electro-machine? You know. Samplers and electronica fans alike are likely to really enjoy this functionality; in fact, it makes me thing of trying to simplify what I do with Session View and focus on putting samples and patterns into drum racks.

Now, about those instruments: as opposed to Simpler/Sampler, Operator, and Impulse, each of which was developed in-house, the new Live synths all involve some other collaborator. And with physical modeling in the AAS synths front and center, we should have the kind of organic sound that’s tended to be lacking in flatter-sounding (though fun) instruments like Operator.

First, there are the three synths I mentioned that use the AAS engine. Apparently, these have filters, modulation, and effects from Ableton. Exactly how that works out, we’ll have to see; I’m pretty familiar with the AAS synths so you can expect a full comparison.

aas1.png
aas2.png
aas3.png

You, too, will be assimilated: Some software manufacturers just license plug-ins or buy out plug-in developers and re-release existing software. Ableton has done quite the opposite: the Applied Acoustics physical modeling sound engines are there, but everything else about these plugs screams Live. Is that an upgrade, a downgrade, or just something different? We’ll have to see.

  • Tension: physical modeling string synth, as found in String Studio; simulates pick, bow, and hammer excitation of a string.
  • Electric: models electric pianos, a la AAS Lounge Lizard. There’s recently been new competition from Digidesign, but this much I feel pretty strongly: modeled electric pianos tend to be more fun to play than sampled instruments.
  • Analog: models analog synths, a la AAS Ultra Analog, with alias-free oscillators, multi-mode filters, syncable LFOs, looping envelope generators, and so on — hooked up to Live’s pattern magic, this could be wild, and again, because it’s built into Live, you can drop your entire Live set into a ReWire host and still use it.

In soundware land are some new sampled instruments:

  • Session Drums: Multisampled drums … not unlike the library recently introduced with Reason, these “put you in the engineer’s seat” with samples from different mic locations, etc. (Okay, actually, I’m fairly certain Propellerheads even put that same phrase in their marketing, but the idea isn’t new, I suppose. Anyway, that’s been the opposite of the quirky samples that ship with Live, so it’ll be interesting to hear these.) This library comes not from Sonivox, but ChocolateAudio, makers of “Imperial Drums.”
  • Drum Machines: Yeah, enough already about realistic, studio-sampled drums. You want some retro-sounding drum machines? The gang at PureMagnetik, who have already created some terrific soundware for Live, can hook you up. And they promise it’s tweakable, so I’ll be tweaking.
  • Orchestral Strings, Brass, Woodwinds, Percussion, plus Essential Instrument Collection 2: These continue the soundware from Sonivox. The samples chosen for Live 6, honestly, were a bit uneven — it was one of my only criticisms of the last version of Live when I reviewed it. So, some additional soundware could help round things out.

Now, the details:

Availability

Q4 of this year, with a public beta coming soon. (Initial beta begins immediately, including me, and apparently I’m not under NDA, so expect some sneak peaks. I find using released software for music making boring. I love crashing onstage. So, count me in!)

Pricing

Individual instruments are available a la carte, though again, they’re not plug-ins, so they only work with Live. The AAS instruments are all US$159; the others range from US$79 for Drum Machines (heck, on eBay all that’ll get you is the broken shell of a 303) to US$249 for Woodwinds to $799 for the full Orchestral Bundle.

If you unlock Live 6 or the upgrade version starting October 1, you’ll get Live 7 for free, and discounts on the instrument bundles.

Live 7 itself remains $499 for the download version, or $599 list for the boxed version with extra sounds.

The Suite includes everything minus the orchestral library, for either US$799 download (not including the big multisample libraries, Session Drums and Essential Instrument Collection 2), or $999 (with all that extra soundware).

Upgrades run $119-159 for Live, and bundles for $299-$459 with the extra stuff, so existing users do get quite a nice price break.

Having made the comparison to Logic, now that Logic has set a new low price for this sort of thing, I think it’s worth saying that Live is a different program with a different way of working. If that way of working is what you want, the two aren’t really comparable.

We’ll have more on what’s in Live very soon; stay tuned.

Okay, that wasn’t actually all that quick.

  • http://www.stefangoodchild.com/ Stef Stabilizer

    Re: The upgrade price.. I'm just a bog standard Live 6 owner (no sampler or operator) and for just over £200uk I can upgrade to the full download version of the Suite which has all the new instruments bundled in.

    That's a pretty good deal considering the 5-6 upgrade was £150uk

    Logic may only be £100quid more than the Live upgrade but I hate it with a passion every time I try to use it whereas the second I started using Live it just felt right.

  • http://www.stefangoodchild.com/ Stef Stabilizer

    ps.. The real reason I'll upgrade though is the Drum Rack. Blimey that looks great in the video and the fold out mixer for the Racks looks proper.

    Love the auto-follow mapping to my MPD24.

  • hiltmeyer

    pay for bugfixes????

    why???

    pay for new stuff o.k

    but pay for bugfixes f****

    all i like is working midi witch i allready payed for.

    if midi is working i will pay for the new stuff they introduce.

    i think thats not customer friendly.

    o.k the video thing is great the new rack too.

    first fix the bugs and then bring new stuff so i could decide if i like to buy the new things.

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    hiltmeyer, you've lost me — what bug fixes?

    Live is now at 6.0.10. It seems to me to be the most stable version of Live to date. It incorporates major stability and compatibility fixes, including the need to address compatibility issues with Vista.

    What is not working for you in 6.0.10?

    Nothing listed above qualifies as a "bug fix," and the upgrade cost for Live itself is pretty modest, especially if you leave out the extra instruments and such.

  • velocipede

    Not. . . enough . . . time . . . to . . . try . . . all the new software! Logic 8, Reason in the mail… aargh!

  • http://future-tense-cpu.com cyberpatrolunit

    And where is the OpenSoundControl support???

  • Fatlimey

    Surely the tempo nudge is for synchronisation? It temporarily ups the tempo to allow you to sync with external sources more easily. Same as Traktor's tempo nudge buttons, a way better technique for external synch than stopping/restarting.

    Oh, I'm definitely getting this one, and finally chipping in for Sampler too.

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @cyberpatrolunit — yes, there are a couple of additional items I don't see implemented here, though I had them pegged as much less likely. :)

    * OSC support (we'll keep asking … just about zero commercial appeal, but could be powerful with Monome, etc.)

    * Some kind of higher-level set management (this is technically more difficult … meters in scenes are at least a baby set)

    * Follow actions in scenes (not as technically difficult, so maybe we're really lucky and it's in there but not mentioned)

    Also, I was hoping for things like additional LFO sync in Operator — some of these details aren't out yet, so I'll be digging deeper.

    @Fatlimey: Tempo nudge, yes, exactly… but I think probably there are various uses for it. That's one I'll have to see in action. Anything they don't video, I will. :)

  • http://www.myspace.com/davedaviesproductions Dave Davies

    The single feature that I want the most in Live is Bezier curves for automation.

    The way that drawing automation is implemented on Live at the moment is pretty primitive.

    LOTS of people have requested this feater in the feature request section of Abletons forums and have been for a while now so heres hoping they are listening this time

  • Doug Theriault

    Live interface leaves me cold. no thanks, would rather drink water instead of drinking kool aid :)

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Interestingly enough, Doug, I actually like Kool Aid. Hawaiian Punch … mm.

    But, funny you should say that, as you're not alone. People seem to be hot or cold with Live. Then again, maybe that's a mark of a good design: it's *not* all things to all people. I kind of like to think we're not all the same, we don't make the same music, yeah, we probably want software that makes design decisions and design sacrifices and doesn't look the same.

    (See the discussion of Energy-XT … the only thing that would be really unfortunate is if people saw Live, or Logic, or Pro Tools, or whatever, as the only "real" choice … )

  • http://www.sighup.ca Steve

    I believe hiltmeyer was talking about MIDI timing, which has been corrected from what it was in 6.

  • http://www.myspace.com/davedaviesproductions Dave Davies

    @Peter Kirn

    Yep, Totally agree, people either love or strongly dislike live, I personally love it and its largely because of the interface. I think that Ableton have tried to do what they do very well rather than catering to all different kinds of users.

    And for the people like me who find that its the most creativity enabling workflow, its a piece of utter gold.

  • http://www.menwithrecords.com Jason

    Ableton is great, no doubt. But I believe they (and everyone else) are going to have to re-think their pricing with Logic Studio at $499. Different products? Yes. But the price pressure is going to be enormous now with Apple dropping the price down to the same cost as Reason. Crazy times.

  • Matt

    Thank God there is still Ableton though! Price point fogottten. Ableton has done everything an electronic musician could really ask for. I couldn't imagine using another program. What is easier or faster out there? Interested in the drum rack, but I would be happier if all the automation with other plugins was a little smoother (i.e. Kore) and more Cycling '74 stuff!! I'd love to see the crazy alternative controller stuff recognized by Live and marketed for the studio musician other than more soundsets.

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, it's not only the price point — it's, not including upgrade prices, now a full 15 SKUs that appeared in the press release today, on top of Sampler and Operator (that's two more), Live LE and Live Lite. 19 products total from Ableton, which was once a one-product company. So, for me, there's something of a disconnect between the simplicity and elegance of the product and the complexity of the product line and pricing scheme. That doesn't mean you have to have just one product; Live has clearly outgrown that. But it does seem awfully complicated.

    I'm curious, though: how do readers here feel? Do you prefer having choices so you can get exactly what you want and none of what you don't? Or do you care more about price than complexity?

    As a reviewer, this certainly means I'll try to look at these items separately … maybe you discover Tension rocks and the orchestral stuff doesn't, etc.

    Software companies are going to have to start buying reviewers hard drives as these products begin to grow in gigs. I imagine a two terabyte Live 14, with every sample in 12.4 surround. ;)

    But yeah, absolutely I feel like the pricing/bundling/etc. is really secondary. At the end of the day, it's about the host. Things like time sigs in scenes, the drum kit stuff, the ability to mix and warp a video inside Live and then export it, racks with mixers, more unusual sound design tools — I love Logic, and I think Logic 8 is a tremendous value, but these are things Logic simply doesn't do. The flipside being, Live doesn't really have a Soundtrack Pro, or a wave editor, and Arrange in Logic isn't the same as Arrange in Live and Sculpture and Tension sound completely different, and programming Ultrabeat is different than working with clip patterns. So it feels like comparing the price of a trombone to an accordion. That doesn't mean either company is off the hook as far as figuring out pricing and marketing, and that side doesn't feel quite as clear to me from Ableton, but it does mean these are separate issues.

  • dead_red_eyes

    Damn, $1000 ?!?! You gotta be fucking kidding me? I was thinking that maybe now would be the time to jump in to Ableton because of the FINALLY got around to including time signatures/changes. But $1000?

    Reason 4 = $399

    Logic 8 = $499

    Digital Performer 5 = $499

    Max/MSP + Jitter = $850.00

    Ableton Live 7 = $1000

    Anybody see anything wrong here? Even if Ableton comes with that stuff … it's still pretty spendy if you ask me.

  • dead_red_eyes

    Cripes … need an edit button!!! Haha …

    "I was thinking that maybe now would be the time to jump in to Ableton because they FINALLY got around to including time signatures/changes. But $1000?"

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, wait, Live itself is the same price it always has been. It's only $999 if you want the extra instruments. *Everything* else — like the new side-chaining effects — is included. If you go with the download version of just Live, it's $499. And if you were an existing user waiting for time signatures, the upgrade would be more like $119-159.

    Nothing against Reason — it has strengths of its own — but I think Live gives you a lot more raw functionality for $500 than Reason does for $400 (audio recording and plug-in support, for one).

    So it's really not that Live is expensive, it's that Logic is suddenly really cheap. Apple's competitors may have to respond to that, but that's the reality.

  • http://www.myspace.com/tricil tricil

    Speaking of edit buttons, the "edit button" is back.

    DRE, you're calling $1000 the price of live 7.

    this is incorrect. live 7 is $500 for the download version.

    $600 to get the box with the essential instrument collection (a $120 value)

    The three new instruments, Tension, Electric, and Analog are $160 each. Operator will remain $150 and Sampler at $200. Drum Macines is $80.

    The Download version of Suite contains all of these and is priced at $800. That's $910 worth of software for a $300 difference. Boxed, you get all that, the aforementioned EIC and Session Drums (worth $180) for $1000. The total price of everything in the Boxed Suite MINUS Live 7 is $1210.

    The upgrade offers are even more fair.

    Log in to ableton.com with your user account (where you see your serial numbers) and visit here: http://www.ableton.com/live-7-upgrades

  • http://www.myspace.com/ohtravioso Oh Travioso

    REX support finally. Took long enough. I wish they didn't come out with new versions so often. I feel like I just got 6 the other day. Reason just came out with 4. 4! Only been 4 paid versions. And Propellerhead Software started in 1994. I don't know when the first version of Reason came out, but it's probably been around 10 years or so before they got to version 4. Something to be said for that.

  • Adrian Anders

    Ooooh, Drum Racks looks fucking badass. By the looks of it it will make mixing drum sounds from various VSTs (Attack, Drumular, DR-008, Kontakt) into a single kit completely painless. Not to mention the sound design of new drum synth kits via many seperate VAs (like the new analog).

    However, I'm a bit disappointed in the lack of fundamental new features in Live. I really wanted to have the following in the new version:

    - Some sort of groove quantize

    - built-in LFO/Envelope controllers for plug-ins ala FLStudio.

    - Spline-based automation curves.

    - Some way of on the fly mixing between two live sets. That is open one live set, then while that one is playing open another one on the fly, crossfade between the two, close the one that's finished, and open yet another to throw into the mix. One can do this with two laptops, but I really want to be able to do this with a single one mixing the best of true on the fly DJ sets and traditional "Live" sets. Hell there's already a crossfader, but what's the point when you've already put together your set before you even got on stage? I would love to be able to say to myself, "yea, instead of this chill-out live-set track, I want to throw in this faster-paced one" just on the spot when reading the crowd. Ya dig?

    ATA

  • http://myspace.com/drvinay vinayk

    Man… I was hoping that I could save up some money – when I started working full time next year. Now Reason 4 looks amazing.. and Live 7 also! Thats going to be a solid couple of weeks work straight into software pricing.

    I know live is cheaper without the bundled stuff – which is fine if one has lots of good VSTs, but for someone like me who's a hobbyist it's silly to think that I don't care about the included instruments. (Live lite is too limited.. though will give me a bit of a upgrade discount… and freeware vsts I find are pretty buggy – well as a general rule.. and i'm not spending money on that home bundle of live…). I just hope I can manage to buy Reason 4 this year while I'm still a student, and then get live when I have the money… this is starting to become a very expensive hobby! (that said my guitar and amp etc cost a bit more still)..

    When I finally buy a laptop… and it turns out to be a mac.. i'll have to hope that Reaper for mac has gotten a gazillion times better.. or i'm going to have to buy Logic as well to do the audio stuff!! (Live is just so much more fun to use though!!!)

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @vinayk: You can definitely do audio with Live, sans Logic, and the multiple automation lanes at long last should make it very workable. And if you want a traditional DAW on Mac, Ardour is free and open source, and quite robust. So lots of choices — and no need to go broke! Savings is good!

    @ATA: Hear you.

    There is groove quantize in Live, but I would love to see it expanded; it's pretty bare-bones — one of the few truly weak points in the program. (If you missed it, look for Global Groove amount on the top left side of the screen.)

    LFO/envelope controllers … well, no, they're not like FL Studio, but you do have some pretty powerful possibilities with clip envelopes. But yes, some envelope beefing-up would be very helpful, like spline editing.

    Here's what the manual has to say:

    "If you are into sound synthesis, you may want to think of a clip envelope with a local loop as

    an LFO. This LFO is running in sync with the project tempo, but it is also possible to set up

    a loop period odd enough to render the envelope unsynchronized. By hiding the grid, you

    can adjust the clip envelope loop start and end points completely independent of meter

    grid."

    … except, yes, because you can't draw in curves, it's really not very much like an LFO after all. :)

    It'd be great, of course, if we could do some of this stuff with Max patches *inside* the program, but I'm not sure that's where they're going.

    I do hope they add this stuff — and as I said, still don't know what else is packed in Live 7 — but even so, I think you'll still get a different experience out of Reason, FL Studio, etc.; even if they had feature parity, they'd still be different designs.

  • dead_red_eyes

    Ahhh my bad Peter. Sorry.

    I hear you Oh Travioso, I could've sworn that my girlfriends brother just bought Live 6 the day of release a year ago. Oh wait, he did. Live 6 was released in September 2006. Yikes. At least the upgrade price isn't that big … but still. Do they plan on making a new version of Live every year now? Haha.

  • http://www.daevlmakr.com Vlad Spears

    What an amazing 6 months this is going to be:

    Monome 256

    Live 7 Suite

    Max 5

    It's a total upgrade to my core music-making system.

    !!!

  • James

    Any word on possible improvments to making it sound sweeter in a live situation, ie making it sound as loud and proud as cdjs

  • ryan

    Definitely upgrading… If just for the new sidechain tools and the upgraded audio engine.

    Tension sounds nice as well.

  • ryan

    Vlad, I feel your pain…

  • http://www.keithhandy.com Keith Handy

    "Doubly"

  • http://www.keithhandy.com Keith Handy

    Oh f**k, I accidentally made up a non-existent html tag. My comment was longer than that.

    Anyway, does the spectral view continuously update in real time? If so, that could be helpful for zeroing in on unpleasant ringing from badly recorded ride cymbals or whatever.

  • Hawty

    Minor improvements and a bunch of "new" instruments, big deal. That's not why people started to use Live. The suite is fine for users who never upgraded before, but if you paid $318 for Sampler and EIC they only give you $40 discount. I guess I'll be sticking with Live 6.

  • brett

    Can someone explain the difference between live's 64-bit mix summing engine and Sonar 64 bit engine. Thanks

  • http://myspace.com/drvinay vinayk

    @Peter – you make a good point re:savings! I guess I will have have a way to pay off that investment property i'm likely to buy sometime soon.

    It's all a bit of an academic point at the moment anyhow… I have a fully functional Reaper + Live lite + WinXP thing going… i'll go for Reason first to round off some nice synths… and work on live in the future… that way i'm fairly OS-proof.

    I look forward to seeing the beta reviews… now if someone wants to throw some talent my way… it would be much appreciated!

  • http://www.myspace.com/noou (noou)

    YESSSS! :)

  • http://www.wiretotheear.com Oliver Oliver

    Great new version. Live has been my only DAW for a few years now and I have not a single complaint.

  • Fidel

    Ya know.. I hate talking shit about software interfaces.. but really what haven't they done right with it? It's not about looking at something pretty like reason or fruityloops. It's about making music. As to paying for bugfixes.. this is obviously not one of those times. 3 or 4 new instruments? new features? Come on! Live is the fucking shit for doing one thing. Making music. I will never say Fruity sucks because I've loved it for so many years. (reason is another story, buy hardware), but Live completely changed my outlook. I get shit done quickly and without confusing hassles. I only wish I had a grand to plop on the new live.

  • Rozling

    I'm on the beta! literally got 4 hours sleep last night after spending way too much time reading everyone's thoughts & mucking around trying to find new bits!

    @ Keith Handy: Yes the spectral view updates in real time. It's nice too, it can kind of flip up to the session/arrange view to take up 3/4 of the screen – although check out the Ableton forum as there's a nice looking freeware spectrascope on the front page at the moment.

    I'll definitely get the box but the instruments… I'm not so sure. I'm an NI Komplete owner & similarly this is why I'll be sticking to Logic Express if/when I get a mac (mac, so hot right now, mac). I wouldn't have bothered with the box at all except for some reason it's only €30 more than the download for me (probably because I got it last year). I regret getting the box last year as EIC really didn't live up to my expectations and now the manual's out of date!

    I would love to pick up Sampler, and Tension sounds interesting, but I'd prefer to learn the instruments I have, save some disk space on samples and spend the money elsewhere.

    The fact that they've hardly updated the Arrangement window AT ALL means I'll be continuing to use Live more as a sound design/audio transmogrifier/processor than a sequencer. Which is annoying, because it's my only sequencer! That said, I do like the new 'pro-ish' stuff like the side-chaining and higher quality effects.

    And will people stop saying Live is $1000? It's $500!

  • http://lnfalandino.com Naim Falandino

    This is the post I've been waiting to see on CDM for a while now. Everything looks good, and I'll probably be upgrading to the Ableton Suite download pack. EIC2 and Session Drums look fantastic, but they're not essential to what I do.

    Like some others here I was really hoping Bezier curves would make it in for automation. Maybe they snuck it in though, so wait and see. And like Adrian a method to mix between two sets would really be great. One of my biggest issues is set management.

  • http://seismo.blogspot.com/ seismo

    "drum racks" looks like a [fxpansion] guru killer. nice.

    seems like a nice upgrade package.

    otoh, i bet ableton hasn't made live7 any more wacom tablet friendly. i've been asking since v1.0. the answer is, "that would be hard to implement. stop asking."

  • Gorbon

    Actually I'd trade most, if not all of this stuff for multiple waveform view + coloring of warp markers (actually features requested on Ableton forums practically on daily basis since version one. Well, there's always Live 8… :)

  • Cody

    OK OK, I'm a live user, but they still didn't fix my major problem. Its really hard to chop up samples in live. If any of you are familiar with Fl Studio's Edison, then you understand how you can highlight a section of a sample and export it anywhere in the project via one click and drag. Clip view definitely needs this. And also, for anyone who has watched the drum rack video on the Ableton website: You know how it has that really big sample matrix that has the 4×4 box that can be draged over the matrix to select more samples? I really really hope that theres an option to make a 2×4 box as well, because Im an axiom 25 user. But nevertheless Im extremely thrilled about the sidechaining (except you can't assign the mixer faders to it :[ ). Anyway, Im uber excited about the program and am anxious about the public beta (Someone plz upload theres to demonoid: Ill seed!!)

    And another thing: Is this going to be dongle based?

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

    This is basically the upgrade conversation we have every year, right? Ableton's upgrades have been conservative but frequent. So this mostly depends on what's on your personal list / what you care about. I know how frustrating it is to hit a limitation and not get it addressed, of course, but it is interesting to hear the split on the release.

    @Cody: The public beta will actually be public, and it's not far off. No discussions of illegal file sharing, please.

    @brett: SONAR has two 64-bit aspects. First, there's the "computer" 64-bit — SONAR can take advantage of a 64-bit CPU on a 64-bit OS, namely, Windows XP x64 and now 64-bit Vista. This has to do with memory addressing and a performance gain. SONAR is one of the few apps that does this, though; Live isn't one of them.

    Then, there's the "audio signal" 64-bit, which doesn't require either a 64-bit CPU or OS. In SONAR, 64-bit processing can be end to end through the whole signal chain. In Live, as I presently understand it, in a couple of effects and the summing of your mix the software upsamples to 64-bit to perform its processing.

    Now, what this all means for actual audio quality is debatable. Cakewalk has done some tests with SONAR with some pretty impressive results, but I've also heard disagreements from engineers about what's audible. My mixing and mastering skills are poor enough that I'm going to refrain from shooting off my mouth. ;)

  • http://abletonlivetips.com Thatguy1000

    I just recorded my band with cubase sx and im wishing that i would have done it in Live. Live's sound processing just seems better… almost like an analog feel.. anyone else feel this way?

    abletonlivetips.com

  • nylarch

    Drum racks are going to make this upgrade a necessity IMHO – at least if you're like me and have been setting up complicated ways to layer and route drums in Live and/or crazy Combinators in Reason. Or trying to export rex files to .wav and dragging over to Impulses. This is going to be a godsend.

  • bliss

    To me Live's major appeal was being performance software with major features. Now it seems like Ableton feels pressured to compete with full fledged DAWs like Logic 8, Digital Performer 5, Sonar, Cubase, ProTools, etc. What on Earth are Ableton thinking? The Drum Rack is, without question, an amazing addition, but what about features aimed improving the performance of the software towards the aim of improving live performance? I don't see any.

    Why does Ableton want to compete with Native Instruments Komplete series? Why do they want to compete with Apple's Logic 8? Obviously they cannot do this, and the fact that we are having a discussion which highlight's these problems means that Ableton now has to solve an image problem for their flagship program. Is Live for performance, or is it for studio use? Only experienced users are going to be able to tell the difference, but it looks like newcomers are going to be confused by the marketing of Live 7. Hell, even I'm confused, I know Ableton wants my money, but I don't know why they want my money. Being a seasoned user of Digital Performer and sometime user of Logic, there is nothing compelling about Live 7 that makes it a serious contender with either of the aforementioned programs. And being a sometime performer, I don't really hear the message that Ableton used to shout from the hilltops to live music performers. What happened to that message?

  • bliss

    If I'm going to be doing full orchestral arrangements, then I'm going to need a score editor and extensive MIDI and automation implementation. Digital Performer would be my first choice and Logic a distant second. Live wouldn't even be a thought in that context. Sure one can do orchestral arrangements on Reason. Does one want to? The answer generally is, no. But then Propellerhead doesn't promote the idea that one can do everything with their Reason. It is assumed that one would compose in another program like Sibelius or Finale and then transfer the result to Reason's sequencer to make full use of the Orkester soundbank.

    Ableton is definitely sending the message that one can do everything with their Live 7. That it is the right tool for everybody. I think it's a marketing faux pas. And if they get a pie in the face on top of it, it might well be deserved.

    Live 7 is a really good piece of software, it's a shame that Ableton are not highlighting that fact, and improving upon the tradition it has started. It only seems that just within the past two years that folks are starting to catch on to the live performance aspect of Live. New MIDI controllers are coming out every other month it seems, and now Ableton says, "Oh, never mind, we didn't intend to keep supporting live performers with innovative software. We were really after studio musicians and film composers all along." True, Ableton didn't explicitly state that, but that is the message that I've received.

  • http://metro-sonus.com metrosonus

    One question, the drum racks are part of live itself? or the drum machines you mentioned for 79$?

    Mainly that's what im interestead in. I bitched and bitched about Impulse having none of the functionality as other programs. So i'm glad to see I've done some good :)

    My two cents: Impulse was the only thing I really wanted to see improved (as far as instruments). A good drum machine that is part of the DAW is essential to me. I didn't want to have to go with a third party plugin that used a seperate sequencer or hid behind a plugin window; that's a step backwards to me. Ipmulse is integrated with Live, the way it should be, and is finally on par with other drum machines.

    I still want to see studio quality effects. I honestly wish FL would release all of theirs in their Juice Packs, as that's really what I miss from my FL days.

    I hoenstly don't care for the Live instruments. If they followed FL's lead and bundled full versions of others people's software with their box / download sets, I'd be down with it.

    Paying more to get something I already have that just looks like Live and that may not sound as good as the synth I already bought, doesn't make a whole lotta sense to me.

  • enabler

    Peter can you elaborate on this? I can't find anything about it on the ableton site:

    Want full sets of songs in a single Session? Now it’s possible."

  • Mike

    @enabler: I think what Peter was referring to is that you can set up an entire set of songs with different tempos and time signatures in one Live set and not have to deal with loading new sets or changing the time sig and tempo yourself

  • ryan

    Don't upgrade if all you're interested in is the spectrum analyzer and use windows.

    Check out the Voxengo Span VST, it's free.

    Overall though it's a good addition as long as it's solid.

  • nylarch

    I think its clear that even early on a significant amount of musicians liked the workflow in Live so much that they began using it as a primary DAW, particularly in the dance music scene. However now that it has been going in that direction you get 2 groups of users screaming – ones who request every feature that Logic/Cubase/Sonar have and ones that just used it as a sketchpad and don't like the scope creep.

    Interesting to contrast it to the Propheads who have adamantly resisted scope creep on Reason. Don't know who is making the right choice here as a company.

  • Angstrom

    @metrosonus –

    the Drumracks are part of Live, they are included in the basic price.

    They are effectively a massively updated and modularised Impulse. Each pad can have anything from a single Simpler to sub rack or Samplers and effects. There are many good usability features to discover in them.

    I have made a number of 'analogue drum machine' type DrumRacks, which simple allow control over complex sounds in the same way a 909 does.

    As far as not needing the added instruments, well you aren't forced to buy the three AAS conversions. But if you did feel the urge, you would be getting these 'native' versions cheaper than those from AAS.

  • Angstrom

    on the rather stupid requests for filesharing, please understand that the serials are assigned per established user account.

    It will be easier than easy to find the person that shared a download because of the activation procedure.

  • Matt

    Being able to route sounds from the Drum Rack to individual tracks will be great – currently if I want different sounds to have individual envelopes/processing I have to copy and paste the rack and clip to other tracks and deactivate the hits I don't want processed, which is a pain. I'm also looking forward to the ability to do sidechaining in software, for the bass/kick compressor lock trick for example.

    Bezier curves for doing fades would be excellent, as would being able to group tracks by type in the arrangement window, though it doesn't sound like those features made it in. 7.1 maybe?

  • ajeales

    I don't understand who Ableton think they are shooting at with those Orchestral libraries. Seriously, I'm confused about that…

    From my point of view if I owned an orchestral sample set costing – wait for it! – $799 then I would definitely want to use it in conjunction with staff notation. But Live (the core product, the one that used to be Ableton's main/only focus back in the day) does not have staff notation, so that's not possible for a start.

    Also, it's MIDI import and export leave somewhat to be desired.

    And for scoring, like many professionals, I use Sibelius. Version 5 (stunning upgrade, by the way) allows for VSTi to be used for the playback/audio side. But the Ableton orchestral samples won't be available here either.

    So it looks to me like Miroslav Vitous or GPO are much more flexible options, as well as cheaper ones.

    And for those using Live for movie score stuff, if they are serious they probably already own VSL anyway…

    So I think this is a really curious departure for Ableton, and overall it looks to me as if Ableton have slightly lost their way…

    Just a few random thoughts, anyway.

  • Adrian Anders
  • Adrian Anders

    Crap ignore the bad linking… ugh

  • Cody

    I don't want to bootleg live 7, I just want the free beta version early. But if the public one's not that far off, then I'm content.

    Yet still, it makes one wonder: How do these companies stay alive in such times of illegal file sharing? I think if Ableton Suite is going to cost 1000$ then it needs a dongle similar to Cubase 4.

  • Adrian Anders

    Don't encourage them Cody. Dongles BAD Adrian SMASH!!!!

    But seriously guys, if you don't like the pricing of a program then go find an alternative and buy that (if it's commercial that is). Software companies like Ableton need to stay in business through selling their products. You can't blame them for wanting to protect their investment through copy protection. The best way to get companies like let's say Steinberg to drop invasive and clunky protection like dongles is to BUY the software you USE. By reducing the amount of software piracy that goes on in general, companies will be less paranoid about their expensive products and drop their guard a bit (perhaps down to simple serials).

    Even if their product is a flop in sales, if the reasons are simply because the pricing was high or product was poor and not piracy, then the company will spend their time improving the quality or reducing the price of said product rather than coming up with draconian measures to reduce piracy.

    It's simple. You want less hassle when making music? Then support the developers whose software you use.

    ATA

  • 45thousand

    hmmm… Am I the only one who was hoping for an audio overdub feature, similar to the midi one? That would make my life so much easier when using ableton as complex live looping pedal.

    No folder tracks either? (like in cubase sx). After creating 50+ tracks, it just becomes a big mess…

    ..time signatures will be good though!

  • ajeales

    I was hoping for the audio overdub, or better still some good comping tools.

    And how about folder tracks, dual-screen, crossfades, MIDI groove quantise, VST hosting when in Rewire slave mode, full VST automation (not just first 128 parameters), clip envelope recording in session view…

    …oh well.

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  • Wallace Winfrey

    <blockquote cite="seismo">“drum racks” looks like a [fxpansion] guru killer. nice.

    I'm sorry, I just don't see this at all. A Guru killer? Really? I mean, how so?

  • Fintain

    I just wish they would sort out that 3 button midi input overdumb mess.

  • Adrian Anders

    @ Wallace

    I agree that it isn't a Guru killer per se, but I do think that Drum Racks do some pretty cool things that Guru can't do like have a bunch of VSTis (like Guru) being controlled from a common midi channel. So you could mix the sampling of Guru with the synthesis of Attack with the native Ableton kits. At least that's the impression I got from the video demo. Who knows how it will work in practice.

  • http://seismo.blogspot.com/ seismo

    @Wallace Winfrey

    seems to me like there's a huge overlap in functionality between the drum rack and guru. not the least of which is the auto-slice> pad mapping. (the drum rack won't auto detect kick/snare/cymbals, but in my experience guru never nailed this 100%, anyway.)

    i'm not slagging guru, i think it's great. but since i'm a live user, the drum rack's feature set combined with the tight integration with all the things live does (sample tweaking, clip presets, rack presets) makes guru superfluous.

    if i were in love with guru's sequencing functions, i might feel differently… but anytime i've used it i have sequenced the kit from the host DAW.

  • http://indiedanceparty.com DJ McManus

    That's the thing. Should a DAW really be concentrating on making integrated VSTs or on making itself into the best DAW it can be.

    The drum machines do seem to be more integral to Live and more of a continuation of the overall "vibe" of the DAW itself. Also, Live just wouldn't be the same without beat repeat.

    I don't like any of the puremagnetik products that I've tried. It seems like they are a forced effort to use complicated Live functions and features simply for the sake of using complicated functions and features. They just don't yield great results and aren't very intuitive. I think they appeal to a certain type of technical tinkerer who may be working on the next glitch opus?

    This new release actually makes me want the LITE version because of its simplicity. The improved audio engine is great. That waveform viewer looks like something from 1983. The promotional video focussed on the drum machine part so that should tell you how good the rest is.

    I love the program. Great company but a little focus has been lost it seems.

  • Cody

    I have the beta, but apparently my Live six serial isn't valid. Someone please post it or send it to me. I'M Begging of You!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Cody

    Oh I see. Its only for full owners. Maybe the Live Lite owners will be next *crosses fingers*.

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  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Cody: The beta is NOT public yet. Unless you've been explicitly invited to the beta list, you shouldn't be using it. Anyway, I don't expect a public beta is far off, so you shouldn't have to wait long — and that build is likely to be more stable / have more features than this earlier release, so waiting is good.

    It's great to hear all these comments — and very interesting to see the range of reactions.

    What's amusing to me is these debates about whether Live has "lost its focus", "only wants to compete with DAWs," is "split" between user bases are things we've been hearing since Live 3. (I'm even more aware of that remembering Live 1.0. Now there was an application with focus — too much focus. Broadening the feature set can be good, really. You used to have to warp and loop everything — no alternative. That was a bit extreme.)

    Not saying this update is for you — maybe it's not — but it boils down to this (oversimplifying):

    * Make it sound better

    * Stop forcing people to stick to one meter

    * Fully integrate a drum pad interface

    * Add a whole bunch of integrated instruments

    Yes, I think the last one in particular may not appeal to everyone, just as adding on Operator and Sampler didn't — your choice. And I'd personally like to see different pricing, just because I like these instruments and am sorry to see price limit their audience.

    But we're back at the Stages of Ableton Upgrade Angst. First: disappointment. Next: skeptical interest. Finally (for some of us, at least): discovering there's a feature that does vastly more than we thought it did when we first looked at it, and might change how we work in the program.

    These do happen with competitors' incremental upgrades, but they seem to happen even more with Live.

    I can tell you this: I don't know what Ableton was thinking strategically, but for me this upgrade has absolutely nothing to do with being about other DAWs. Yes, Logic was first bundling instruments in a suite, but the approach here is completely different — not for everyone, and you should compare third-party plug-ins, but this isn't Logic Studio. Yes, SONAR was pushing 64-bit mixing first, but Live has a different sound engine, it works in real-time, glitch-free onstage more interactively than SONAR can, and the real story here is that L7 sounds noticeably better than L6 for a range of reasons.

    These contrasts are even more noticeable having sat down with the teams at Apple, Ableton, and Cakewalk in one weekend — they're all competing, but they're all going in different directions, and that's good. Marketing spin does tend to make it sound like each tool is "the ultimate tool for everyone," but clearly that's not so.

    But, speaking as someone for whom Live is all about live performance and the things that set it apart from other tools, I definitely don't feel it's lost its focus. When I disappear for a few days at a time, blame the Drum Rack, and I'll let you know what happens on the other side.

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    … oh, and expect a Drum Rack for Live Performance tutorial. :)

  • Vurnt

    Live isn't perfect. Nothing on the market is. But Live actually doesn't force anyone to use complicated features that they can't handle, unlike Cubase which was once an awesomely intuitive program that has become a royal pain. There are many features that I'm still learning to get comfortable with in Live, but that doesn't hamper me from making music with it at all. If you don't like Puremagnetik or Code Operators LiveRacks–make your own they're not doing anything that we can't wire up ourselves. This update is outrageously cool. DrumRacks with the pad grid alone are worth it. If you can't afford the orchestral bits-don't buy them! The ability to output audio chopped and warped QT movies is unique among DAWs. I hope that they add the ability to add different clips in a single project and turn the world of video editing and vjing on its head! I think that the emphasis on reworking and improving the sound engine, which has been one of the major complaints about Live for pro level project work has been largely overlooked in these posts. Of course hearing is believing at the end of th day, but if Live has really stepped up audio-wise, I think it's great evolutionary step forward for an unintended top contender in the DAW WARS

  • stefan

    Time Signature changes! Finally ;)

    And better control over drumtracks! Nice.

    I'm not a DJ, but use Live as my main DAW, so I love Ableton to include some of the things that Cubase does. I guess I'll take a look at download-only upgrade pricing.

  • http://mf.grimaceworks.com Michael Forrest

    YEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHSSSSSSSS!!!!!!! I can't TELL you how long I've been waiting for Live to support time signatures. Well I can actually. Since Version 1. Check me out asking about it on the forums when I was still 'Smunk' :)

    I was almost ready to throw Live away a few days ago. I was walking through town going 'why haven't they put time sig changes in yet? why?? music needs time signature changes! where would the Beatles be without time signature changes huh? Where!'

    Anyway. I am happy :)

  • martin wheeler

    IMHO Live was already far and away the most advanced, productive and inspiring _general purpose_ music compositional tool ever devised .

    (I emphasise _general purpose_ because for some _very specific_ purposes, there is Max/MSP) … and this Live update looks like it adds many useful and potentially very creative features …

    … BUT … if, in addition to what it already is, Ableton want it to start coming even close to competing as a true general purpose DAW studio in a box (which it seems obvious that they do) then they REALLY need to wake up to the fact that this will not happen until Live can do audio crossfades in a sensible manner … I was convinced that they would fix this absolutely glaring ommission in the next release, the fact that it apparently they haven't (please tell me i'm wrong, but I don't see any mention of it) is totally incomprehensible. It is simply mission critical for many uses.

  • bliss

    Thanks for your latest comments, Peter and Vurt. You both brought up some interesting and good points that I hadn't considered. You've actually made Live 7 sound a whole lot better, more exciting and innovative, than the Ableton marketing has so far done. You guys should call them up and see if you can get in line for a few paychecks! ;)

  • bliss

    [EDIT]^^^^^Ableton marketing team^^^^^

  • bliss

    [EDIT]^^^^^Ableton marketing team have done so far^^^^^

    Talk about missing edit buttons… Lol. I need one in my brain.

  • Fractal Dimension

    Regarding the 128 parameter limitation there's a feature request campaign going on on the Ableton forum, because apparently there's still hope to get it in the v7 release.

    Please go to this forum and vote:
    http://www.ableton.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7449

  • http://www.jeremybible.com Jeremy Bible

    IMO..and in my situation…$120 to upgrade is a steal for the workflow, audio, dithering, automation, and midi improvements alone. Drum racks are a nice and interesting bonus. No need for the instruments really. I already have tools for those functions. I do however appreciate Ableton giving us a wide array of product suite selections.

    Only two things I am still wishing for is automation curves and the 128 parameters issue.

    But overall, and on paper, I am very happy with this update. Have yet to get in on the beta yet.

  • http://melodiefabriek.nl Marco Raaphorst

    the most wanted missing feature: cross fading between clips. All DAW's can do this, but Live won't. Should be simple to implement I guess. I hope they will add this feature soon since Live is becoming as powerful as other DAW systems.

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  • Wallace Winfrey

    @Seismo & Adrian – about DrumRacks being a Guru killer…

    I've been playing around with the beta for the last few days, and I can tell you that the DrumRacks implementation is very very very cool.

    I can definitely see where a Live user, who doesn't have much use for Guru's sequencer and pattern graphs, would no longer need something like it. However, I have to be really blunt and say that anybody who bought Guru and ISN'T using the sequencer and pattern graphs is missing the point. Honestly, if you ask me, more than anything DrumRacks seems like a Battery/[insert drum synth VSTi here] killer.

    Let me tell you what I've been doing…I'm a big fan of Guru's sequencer. Sure it's not for everyone, but it really works for me. I've been setting up DrumRack configs, with multiple synthesis engines & effects chains assigned to different notes, and then taking advantage of Guru 1.5's ability to send MIDI out and sequencing the DrumRack with Guru!

    Could I sequence the DrumRack in Live? Sure! Personally though, I prefer Guru's grid interface & graphs to Live's piano roll, at least for drum programming (when I'm working in Live that is – I still have a deep fondness for doing drums in Renoise. It's all about where and what the Muse chooses to speak to me).

    While Guru might seem like the obvious loser in light of the Live 7 announcement, I find it interesting that, compared to most other drum synths, it actually brings something to the table that others don't. Of course, these are just my initial observations.

  • hiltmeyer

    live update is a big joke.

    look at the beta forum.

    nothing is working right.

    and the midi thing i already paid for with version 5

    so i expect them to make it work propper for what i payed for.

    and i bet i would not work right in version 7

    i´m realy pissed.

    they write in features over features in there tech spec. but the simple essencial ones dont work like they should be.

    and is there anything user have asked for years.

    no i dont think so.

    so i think its always good to listen to the user not to the bank account.

  • crixmadine71

    @hiltmeyer

    Live 7 is in beta for crying out loud. Of course things are going to be broken. Why not wait and pass judgment when it goes GA?

  • http://wheatdesign.com wheat

    There’s a lot of complaining over at the Ableton forums (there always is) but the update looks solid to me, and I like the ala carte pricing. Drum Racks, time signatures, and an improved engine under the hood are worth the upgrade price.

  • Chegevara

    It'll be really strange when I'll buy this AB 7 Update, AB 5.0.1 is just work great with lots of VST's yet for me.

    Whatever new AB also looks nice ! Thanks for Update.

  • ahey

    we are an avant garde band experimenting with the human senses and functions. Basically our next show will revolve around farting. We have gathered up a tremendous amount of farts (soft ones, abrasive ones etc) and have loaded them all into Live. We have a few crates of eggs that we broke open a couple of weeks ago and when we send the farts through the effects processors we will release the smell of the eggs (just like farts). Can anyone tell me if it is possible to purchase a smell-generating machine that could be synched up to Live?

  • billy

    Yes, there is one available actually – you! Put on a pair of headphones, plug into Live and activate the metronome. When the appropriate moment comes, drop yer pants, pull yer big hairy arse-cheeks apart and let rip for all you are worth.

    Good idea to eat a big bowl of curry before the show though. My wife has informed me that the Chicken Biryanny works best, but Chicken Tikka Masala is in beta testing now…….get yer head under the sheets luv and check that one out!

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  • Gregg

    What A Crap Load Of Software… Had The Demo About 3 Weeks Now And Still Can't Use It! And Looked Through And Through ALL!! Of The Tutorials And The Help Guides! Definately Not Worth $1000 What A Fucking Rip!!!

  • SeanSter Mine

    Whatever!!

    Live would get double the amount of sales if they could just have proper gm midi!

    where have these guys been under a rock I know lots of people who use the cracked version of live 7 just to check it out they are not DJs or Electro musicians so they dont actually use it

    but love the program there are a lot of people just waiting for GM work flow to be implemented

    before they buy the full version orignal software ever other feature can wait

    think about your profits ableton

  • SeanSter Mine

    If they put proper GM features in then I would sell my copy of Sonar and and use just ableton with sibelus