Ableton Live 8 Review


ableton live 8
Amazingly, the world’s population has grown by 500 million people since I reviewed Ableton Live 2 in 2002. And while each year brings a new version, it’s surely getting harder for Ableton(.com) to convince all these people that Live comes from the future, like it seemed to back at the start of the 21st century. Nowadays people just expect to be able to ‘extract grooves’, ‘deep freeze tracks’, ‘add pseudo warp markers’, and other sci-fi sounding techniques – all of which should work in real-time thanks. So whats’s a software company to do? Sometimes you just need to consolidate, and 2009 seems to be one of those years, Live 8 delivering a range of incremental adjustments, a couple of new effects here, a couple of new workflow enhancements there. The calm before the storm perhaps, when the release of ‘Max for Live’ takes us back to the dizzying multi-dimensional future ( Max for Live = full Max/MSP/Jitter functionality inside Ableton Live – including video synthesis and animation via Jitter objects ). Where were we?

Ableton Live 8
So what stands out as new?

I like the simple addition of Looper, a new audio effect modelled on people you’ve seen in a pub pressing their foot on a pedal, while they’ve layered beatboxing, violins, weird noises, singing and the like into a buzzing swarm of sound ( and if you’re needing a foot pedal for this, try a $10 DIY one).

There is a new warping engine which now allows a more intuitive manipulation of time markers, and adds a new complex warp mode, plus you can slice audio files to MIDI tracks based on transients. Also baked? A new groove functionality which allows subtle or extreme control timing controls on a per clip basis, including the sci-fi option of being able to extract grooves ( which get stored in a ‘groove pool’ for application onto other songs later ).

Being able to create crossfades between adjacent clips in arrangement view? That’s a win. Or a little victory at least.

Session view tracks can be easily grouped together, to allow easier control of many at once.

The interface comes with a zoom option – allowing nice customisation to suit the current screen being worked on, and preferred number of tracks visible.

Operator has a new waveform editor – draw your own waveforms, and there’s a new Vocoder.

Supports ogg vorbis and flac file formats now* ( for those seeking better sounding, less license restrictive formats than mp3 )(*at least it’s the first I’ve noticed that support)

The browser tab previews samples nicely now – showing a waveform for them, allowing them to be scrubbed, and giving the option of them playing back at native tempo, or matching the current tempo of the session being played.

Instruments and FX can now be copied and pasted with standard clipboard commands. ( That won’t excite the 500 million digital natives too much )

And supposedly all computing happens in the cloud these days, so it shouldn’t be no surprise that Live 8 comes with an option to upload your current set and media files to your area at the ableton mainframe, with options for sharing this publically or storing for private use.

What You’ll Need :
Cash – Ableton Live 8 (Download) EUR 349/USD 449
Australian Pricing : Ableton Live 8 RRP $999.99 Ableton Live 8 Suite RRP $1399.99
Enquires: Australian dealer listings

MachinesMac: 1.25 GHz G4/G5 or faster (Intel Mac recommended), 1 GB RAM (2 GB recommended), Mac OS X 10.4.11 (10.5 or later recommended), DVD-ROM drive. Or Windows: 1.5 GHz Pentium 4 or Celeron compatible CPU or faster (multicore CPU recommended), 1 GB RAM (2 GB recommended), Windows XP or Windows Vista, Windows compatible sound card (ASIO driver support recommended), DVD-ROM drive, QuickTime recommended

Another fine release from Team Ableton. While there’ve been some grumblings online about the mac version of Live 8, it has worked flawlessly for me ( albeit without pushing it in multi-dimensional hell for leather ways ), and others have reported it feeling much snappier. With the upcoming Ableton + Akai hardware controller, and the release of Max for Live, the refinements continued with Live 8 further solidify their key position in real-time performance software.

( And going back in time : reviews of Ableton Live 7 / 6 / 4 / 2 )

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