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Ableton Live 9 Suite - Impressions

By Edited Jan 19, 2016 0 1

As long anticipated successor to Live 8, Ableton Live 9 came out in February of this year. Having used Ableton products - since being introduced to Live 7 several years ago – I was bound to end up using Live 9, if only because of familiarity.

As long anticipated successor to Live 8, Ableton Live 9 came out in February of this year. Having used Ableton products - since being introduced to Live 7 several years ago – I was bound to end up using Live 9, if only because of familiarity.


Ableton Live 9 takes the winning formula of previous iterations and improves (or hopes to) on it. Anyone who has used an Ableton product before will feel instantly at home, though there are many new features worth mentioning. Ableton 9 has caught up with the competition and now offers the ability to convert audio into MIDI sequences, able to recognise drum beats, melodies and chords. Also Ableton finally offers dedicated amp and cabinet modelling.


As I mentioned earlier, anyone familiar with previous versions will find the new layout very similar, there are a few notable differences. The arrangement and session views are still featured as one would expect although the side bar for navigating plugins and effects has been significantly improved. The categories can now be shrunk down to just symbols, giving you more screen space for the main track view. My one criticism is that the In/Out setting for each track are no longer shown by default in arrangement view A minor inconvenience, but an inconvenience nonetheless.


The first new feature worth mentioning has got to the introduction automation curves. It's seems impossible that Ableton didn't have automation curves for so long, especially when so much of the competition did. I seem to remember that even Audacity (popular open-source audio editing software) had automation curves. Anyway, this addition give a lot more control over automation of all kinds of track parameters.

Secondly there is the much hyped Audio to MIDI functionality. This is something that has been done before, but Ableton has pushed the envelope by including 3 settings – Melody, Harmony and Drums. The Melody setting is fairly self explanatory – it will convert any melodic audio into a MIDI sequence. From my quick tests, this function performs better with some things than others. For example, it failed quite spectacularly at converting a melody played on an over-driven guitar. More promisingly, the Audio to MIDI drums setting detects kick drum, snare and hi-hat like sounds and sequences them to work with the vast majority of Ableton's inbuilt software drum kits.

Finally there is the inclusion of Max4Live with Ableton 9. This is such a powerful tool. I honestly don't really understand it yet, there is so much functionality here – hundreds of plugins that allow massive potential for the creation of new sounds. Also allows the use of convolution reverb in Ableton.

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Ableton Live 9 Suite comes with a huge library of pre-built instruments as well as the tools to make your own unique sounds from their world-class instrument modelling plugins. There are also a whole host of packages available to download (often free) from the Ableton website. These include multisampled orchestral brass and woodwind and some stranger atmospheric sound libraries.


There are only a few new effects in Live 9. The amp and cabinet modelling tools allow you to digitally recreate the sound of various amps heads and cabs. They also allow you to alter the sound based on microphone type and position as well as providing mono and stereo output. There is also the inclusion of the Glue Compressor – modelled on classic analogue compressors – and all the other effects normally bundled with Ableton, many of which have improved interfaces and functionality.


Overall Ableton Live 9 is a definite improvement over Live 8, with a host of powerful new features and a number of smart, well-designed tweaks to the staple functions. Well worth the investment, I expect to be using it for many years to come.



May 25, 2013 12:59am
Excellent article! Thanks for sharing.
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