Put on your dancing shoes and your #discoskin.

Put on your dancing shoes and your #discoskin.

Community service announcement! If you play or care about the guitar, skip past this story to the one immediately thereafter, using scrolling! (suggested by readership feedback)

A new Live 9 with bug fixes, improvements, and a Disco skin ideal for use in low-light situations. No, not like that other time when we said it was and then it was promptly pulled. This time, for real – as in, I just downloaded it.

What you can’t see is what matters: badly-needed reliability fixes should address performance and stability complaints we were hearing from Live 9 users. There’s no way to picture that, so you’ll have to have a look at the changelog and see if it looks like this is an issue you were having – and do give it a try.

Visibly, of course, the most noticeable change is the new Disco user interface skin. That features a black background with brownish-orange and light-gray highlights, plus icy-blue waveforms. It’s not such an ideal skin for studio use, I think; it seems best for stage use. Turning the brightness down on my laptop, the high contrast becomes perfectly visible. This skin’s colors have earned some comparisons to upstart rival Bitwig Studio. But Bitwig still isn’t shipping, and the comparison might just as easily fit apps like Renoise. (Or Winamp. Or any number of things.) Anyway, dark skins are generally welcome and nothing new.

In fact, if this doesn’t fit your fancy, be sure to check out the beautiful skins produced by our friend Madeleine Bloom:


6 Free Skins for Ableton Live 9

I prefer her black-background Live skin to Ableton’s own, in fact.

Having just gotten sidetracked, though, other updates here are far more important.

First, in 9.0.4 we see an explanation for why 9.0.3 was suddenly pulled:

VST / AU plug-in devices could be inactive after loading a Live set containing a large number of plug-ins (regression in Live 9.0.3).
The “grab_control” function which allows to gain control over a control surface’s button matrix via Max for Live would not work anymore (regression in Live 9.0.3).
Fixed a bug which could cause the File Manager window to reopen after launching Live.

But there are a bunch of changes which, as I said regarding 9.0.3 before it disappeared, are vital to Live 9 users.

This includes, vitally, solving a lot of issues having to do with new indexing features. I’m very keen to hear from someone suffering from that issue with big libraries in Live 9.0.2 and earlier to tell us if they had this problem.

And, if you don’t like the new instant-on record behavior, it also adds a preference that waits for you to launch a clip or hit Play to start recording.

I had been lucky with other Live 9 issues and crashes, but colleagues who hadn’t fared so well are already liking the update as of the 9.0.4 beta. Read the release notes for details on what might impact you, Live users:

Live 9 Release Notes

And then grab the update via your account on Ableton.com.

  • Bitwig hater

    A blog post on Ableton skins… mmm. ok..

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      As I said in this post above, twice, and as I said in the previous post, for an entire story, the important issue was critical performance and reliability issues. The skins thing came up because there’s not a way to show a picture of reliability – and I wrote about it already, before that update was pulled. It’s important to people that this is now available.

      Ableton Live has millions of users – and a large number of people reading this site depend on it. Bitwig Studio we’re watching very closely, but it hasn’t shipped yet.

    • Tomislav Rupić

      Dont waste your energy on somebody named Bitwig hater :)
      Most of us appreciate this post and are thankful for Ableton live skins link.

      Good luck man and keep up the good work 😉

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Heh, well… I *do* want to catch up again with the latest at Bitwig, as I know the folks over there.

      Actually, it’s really funny how much of a difference the skin makes in club lighting conditions.

    • David

      No, he’s unfortunately right. We got a large post about 9.0.3 and the wonderful improvements it supposedly brought. Then it got pulled because it was inexplicably seriously broken, which was not reported on at all (only that it was pulled). Now we have 9.0.4. and we get another rather extensive post, where the only real news is that there are new Bitwig-Styled skins and fixes that 9.0.3 brought plus what it broke. There’s no need to run a major post on every single incremental update to Ableton Live. There’s no journalistic value in fluffing out forum announcements unless there’s a substantial editorial angle, which here there clearly is not.

      With this much Ableton Live coverage I’d at least expect full and balanced coverage. Why Live 9 seems to be Live 8 all over again, that is one of the stories here – especially after those sweeping quality-control promises Gerd Behles made after Live 8. They had a public beta for pete’s sake. How can this much be this seriously broken? These are not just obscure and rare issues they are still fixing and Live 9 is not that substantialy evolved from Live 8.

      And if you want to avoid the negativity by not reporting on this (which is fine), tone down the other end too.

      Just sayin’, Peter. No offense, really! I love your work, just man, get a little perspective on the Ableton stuff. You have a great post up on Paul Vo and you bumped it down with this. Heck, it’s not even news anymore. The forum post at Ableton is 12 hours old and the software itself autoupdates (whenever that works). Nobody really needs to know.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      David: Look, I’m not so happy with Ableton on this, whatever you may think. It was an embarrassment to run a story on software that was immediately pulled. But it happened.

      But having done that, I absolutely feel obligated to run an update that says the fixed release was there.

      These were the two problems that were the reason that the release was pulled:
      “VST / AU plug-in devices could be inactive after loading a Live set containing a large number of plug-ins (regression in Live 9.0.3).The “grab_control” function which allows to gain control over a control surface’s button matrix via Max for Live would not work anymore (regression in Live 9.0.3).”

      I ran two stories that reported on *exactly* what the problems were at the moment I knew them.

      So, to understand your complaint, I either need to
      a) claim that there’s a quality control problem at Ableton that isn’t similar to the problems at every other DAW vendor (which, sorry, I don’t believe is true – read the changelogs) OR
      b) somehow have seen in advance those two problems that Ableton’s team of dozens of engineers and (hundreds?) of beta testers didn’t. AND/OR
      c) ignore the fact that reader feedback says Ableton is the DAW that readers use more than any other, and because they tend to use it in live performance, they need more up-to-date information on upgrades than people using other tools in a studio environment.

      Uh… no.

      Just sayin’.

    • David

      It’s all good, Peter. I understand your dilemma and what gets the clicks, gets posted. I use Live too, FWIW, but I felt that after you (through no fault of yours IMO, nobody saw that coming) ran the 9.0.3 story only to have the update pulled you were rushing in with 9.0.4 again too, with hardly any reference to what a total blunder 9.0.3 was and no confirmation that this was a stable release (it seems to be).

      I don’t even ask for less Live coverage, just more perspective and ‘meat’ on what does get covered. I mean, FL Studio did a a bugfix update on FLS 11 and that was (rightfully) not reported here. People click on the Live stories because they see “Ableton Live” and colorful clip slots. You could run a story titled “No news whatsoever on Ableton Live” with a fancy pic and thousands would read it. That’s not a reason to do so though. 😉

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      I don’t agree 9.0.3 was a “total blunder.” They pulled an update within a matter of hours to avoid regressions. That’s really not a story.

      Now, I screwed up rushing the story. I could focus on that, but I don’t think that terribly interests people, either.

      And yeah, frankly, no, I don’t always keep things balanced. Not at all. It’s really difficult to give things weight in a blog format. It’s tough to determine what to cover. I’m operating on a daily cycle, and the news really *isn’t*.

    • David

      Sorry if I offended you, I admit I may have overreacted to the article due to pre-existing sensitivities to all the exaggerated swooning in certain circles over actual and perceived Ableton achievements. Screw balanced man, just do your thing.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Also, just to keep score:

      1. If I don’t report on the reliability problems in Live 9, people say I’m glossing over them.
      2. When I do report on them, and the fixes, people say I’m giving Live too much coverage.

      So, my alternative would be ignoring Live… no.

      I report on incremental updates only for Live because people do actually read Live incremental updates. They often *don’t* read fairly significant updates to other tools. Unfortunately, the bias here is which tools people in the readership use.

      Yeah, sorry, because of the above factors, I’m just not going to keep everyone happy.

    • donald duck

      i enjoy all of you post’s even if its minor update stuff i wanna know everything that is happening in the industry THANKS!!

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Wait. I just fixed the problem. See above. ^^^

  • http://twitter.com/Xebulon Xebulon

    Reading the Release Notes and I’m like “thank you!”, “thank you!”. I’ve experienced at least half of these bugs at some point in the last month. I’m glad they’re on top of things. Disco skin looks cool too. Now they just need to release an official Push stand…

  • wndfrm

    skins are important, it affects functionality, especially for those of us who are obsessive about aesthetics and find poor colour schemes distracting/non-intuitive. so thanks.

    also, thanks to everyone who is testing out ableton 9 for me while i refuse to be an early adopter, hehe! although i feel a bit left out.. seems like in general it’s pretty stable.

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      This looks like the stable build to me, for sure, as the indexing area was the one pain point.

      “Stable” is funny, though. I knew people who have been using Live 9 for months without issue (before release). Yet, if you did have a big library on Mac, these indexing problems were serious showstoppers.

      It makes it tough for us as press, actually. We have really one window into this stuff – and then the rest of you. Support/engineering have the big picture. So we do rely on your feedback. It’s why I’m a bit skeptical of reviews that are based on *pre-release* builds or written in short periods of time, that give sort of unequivocal advice. That’s not a criticism of any particular outlet as it’s been the norm in all tech writing. To me, it’s maybe more useful just to try to be as detailed as possible about how the software works, point you in a direction, get as much feedback from all of you as possible, and then let you decide. And I don’t mind all this disagreement (even the “bitwig hater” variety); I think it makes sense given the complexity of these tools and the way they’re used.

    • wndfrm

      i think i’m with you in the ‘provide information’ department..

      this is why i tend to not buy-in early. stuff ALWAYS pops up. it’s unavoidable.. just comes down to a ratio of how soon you need the update vs. how much you want to depend on a new build..

      thanks for your efforts.

    • Joshua Schnable

      I’m running Ableton Live (now) 9.0.4 on a Mid-2010 Macbook Pro (Mountain Lion) w/ a 2.4 GHz i5, 256mb SSD and 8GB ram. Things are quite stable, and the only time I seem to run about 50% on the processing power is with a lot of reverb plugs going.

      I use it every day, and I’ve yet to crash with it. The most noticeable improvement (to me, anyway) is the overall sound quality. I’m not sure how much of the audio engine is new over 8, but it sounds dramatically better to me.

    • wndfrm

      hey, thanks for the info, good to hear. i hit 50 percent easily on 8 with my quad core MBP, but i tend to use a significant amount of bus and channel re-routing, combined with plenty of hungry DSP.

      interesting about the sound quality..

  • bluskreen

    Nice. The disco skin looks cool, and the ones from Madeline Bloom look very nice! I posted 14 free skins at my site a while back as well if anyone wants to check them out. Link below.


  • http://www.afrodjmac.com/ AfroDJMac

    Thanks Peter, There were a couple nice updates to Push too. I especially like the one that makes switching a drum rack’s focus a little bit more deliberate (I used to do it by accident all the time).

  • http://www.abrahamingle.com/ abe

    I definitely suffered from the live library issue – I’ve been using a 9 beta until today, as otherwise none of my sounds would show up in Categories.

  • Armando

    Man. Loving this new skin on my retina screen. All this blurry goodness!

  • valiumdupeuple

    Hey, I’ve just released SessionLooper.

    It lets you do multi-tracks synchronized live looping within the Session View, without the need of a boring metronome and/or Global Quantization. If you really want to use Global quantization, it’s ok, this device won’t harm you. It will just deal with your quantization setting, and makes life (even more) easier for you, lazy animals.

    Kind of like some Live’s Looper device looping options, but with independent control over each take.

    Basically, SessionLooper works like this:

    -You record a loop, live, by playing something, yeah!

    -The clip’s length becomes the “reference” length for the next clip.

    -You freely start the recording of a new clip in a new track with one click, and the device will automatically stop the recording and launch the loop for you.

    -This new clip’s length becomes the new “reference”…

    – go to the next track, one click, a new loop… make music/noise.

    It’s really simple, and powerful.

    Info and video here:


  • kent williams

    I think, Peter, that it’s more important to be upfront about your point of view, but to HAVE ONE, than to be balanced. Objectivity is an illusion, unless you’re just reproducing the police blotter in the hometown newspaper.

    People forget that sometimes. You can’t write without a point of view. There are journalistic tricks to making it seem like a story emerges unbidden out of thin air — see NYT and WaPo — but I think that is often dishonest, a way of hiding bias rather than avoiding it.

    Much better to write well, about cool stuff, with your biases and preoccupations flapping in the breeze like Tibetan prayer flags.

    In my opinion of course.

  • ableton9user

    but the skin is awful

  • itchy

    looking forward to more features and new live updates more frequent as they have rewritten the whole program so hopefully they can implement editing within a clip.
    it would actually be cool if they just started implementing all the features bitwig is promising . why not .

    as for peter, don’t worry about the trolls. you posted something that to your knowledge was an update and important news . not your fault they pulled it.
    get off the dudes back cdm is great. as well as ableton.

  • Deaq

    The only thing that bugs me with these dark skins is the white font color on the colored clips. on some background colors like light blue or yellow is unreadable.

  • Klinke

    live 9.0.1 would take about 2 minutes for me to start (i don’t have a ssd but still..), 9.0.4 takes about 15 – 20 seconds. so yeah, i’m pretty happy right now 😀
    also love the new disco skin!

  • ark

    You say: “I’m very keen to hear from someone suffering from that issue with big libraries in Live 9.0.2 and earlier to tell us if they had this problem.”

    For me, 9.0.3 was the first usable release, period. I have such a pile of Live packs (I guess you could call me a pack rat) that it was simply not possible for me to use Live before that without the indexer crashing, after which variously-sized chunks of my library would be inaccessible. I spent several weeks exchanging email with folks at Ableton HQ before they finally found, and then fixed, the problem.

    I’d like to give a big “Thanks!” to Ableton for their willingness to take my problem seriously even though many other users were getting along just fine.

  • MadeInMachines

    I really like the disco skin but I can’t see the clip colours against the bright colours. How can I change the clip font to black?

  • Ratpick

    Is there somethings about guitars on this page? If there is could someone show me it. (nice work t y’all btw 😉

  • Slim_Shady_94

    man this shit sucks