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Ableton recently announced the details of their much anticipated release of Live 9. Everyone in the Live community knew that this would be coming soon, especially after the release of a 64-bit Live 8 Beta earlier this year and has been eagerly awaiting the details. While the Steve Jobs-esque launch event left something to be desired, the new features that they are rolling out are definitely eye-catching. They also completely reinvented their website to go along with Live 9. Here’s a look into some of the new features…
New Automation and Session View Features
Live’s use of macro controls and the easy recording of automation in arrangement view has always been one of it’s advantages over other DAWs. The downside was that this automation was relatively useless in a live performance setting unless you cut-copy-pasted individual sections from arrangement to session view. In Live 9 you’ll now be able to record your automation directly into clips, which will speed up a lot of the creative process for many producers and performers. Another handy new feature is the addition of automation curves. Many other DAWs have had this feature for a while, so it is nice to see Live finally add it to the roster.
A new ‘arrangement to scenes’ feature is going to be a huge time-saver for producers who play their own tracks using scenes. In Live 8 you would have to copy and paste each individual stem to it’s own clip slot and manually arrange all of your scenes in order to play it back. In Live 9 all you have to do is highlight an area in arrangement view and there is a feature in the secondary-click menu that will do all the work for you.
The browser has been redone to look more like a split-window browser, almost a hybrid of the Mac OSX Finder. Search functions have been improved, a new ranking system shows how much you use various items, and you can now preview instrument sounds without loading it onto a track. While some of these changes might have negligible results, the instrument preview will probably save some hassle for quite a few people.
Audio to MIDI Functions
One of the biggest updates for Live is the new batch of audio-to-MIDI functions. In Live 8 you could easily slice an audio track into a playable MIDI instrument, but now you can convert individual audio clips into a MIDI representation of it’s composition. The Drums-to-MIDI function will take any percussive audio clip (whether a drum sample or you beatboxing) and convert the waveform into a new MIDI drum pattern that you can manipulate. The Harmony-to MIDI and Melody-to-MIDI functions will perform this same operation on audio that has chordal and/or single-note musical phrases.
While the addition of these functions might trigger a wave of questionable remixes when used improperly, there will be a world of opportunity for producers who can harness them. The accessibility of this technology is a fairly large step in the digital audio production and performance world.
MIDI Note Manipulation
In addition to the new MIDI features described above, Live is also adding a host of new note transformation tools in MIDI editor. Transpose, reverse, duplicate, and invert are just some of the functions that you will be able to quickly apply to any MIDI clip. For producers who work a lot with complex MIDI clips, this could easily become a new source of creative inspiration.
The EQ Eight, Compressor and Gate have all been improved with better sound and controls. They also feature a new interface that includes a spectrum analyzer so that you can see what you are doing to the waveform. Many producers will probably find the spectrum analyzer on the EQ Eight to be particularly helpful. In addition to the enhancements made to these devices, there will also be a new compressor, called Glue, modeled off of a classic 80s console compressor.
Suite 9 will come with over 50GB of sounds! There will be enough new sounds straight out of the box to inspire any producer whether you work with loops, samples, or MIDI. Max for Live now also comes bundled with Suite 9, which can help seasoned Live users find new inspiration. There are already over 900 devices available through the Max for Live community and you can build your own custom devices with a little bit of tweaking.
In a huge step forward for the company, Ableton announced the release of it’s first branded MIDI controller called Push. The previous collaborations with the Akai (APC40/APC20) and Novation (Launchpad) were extremely successful for Live 8, but for Live 9 Ableton will be releasing their own piece of hardware. Upon first inspection it looks like they took the best things from the APC40, Launchpad, and the Maschine and combined them all into a super-controller. There are too many details to go into here, but check back for an upcoming post on Ableton Push.
They haven’t announced an exact release date yet, but it looks like it will be in the first half of 2013. There will be three different versions at different price points; Intro, Standard, and Suite. If you already own an Ableton product they are offering 25% discounts on upgrades to Live 8 with a free upgrade to Live 9 when it comes out. You can check out the differences between the three versions here.