NAMM week is one of our favorite times of the year for lots of reasons, but one in particular: We get sneak peeks of all the coolest new innovations in the music world! This year Ableton invited us to their private suite to get an exclusive walk through of their newest features in Ableton Live 10. There were so many updates to the seminal recording software that we would have been there for hours had we tried to get to them all, but here's a few of Ableton staffer, Ben's favorites!
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Ableton engineers have focused on making their already efficient workflow even cleaner with their latest revision. To achieve this, they've implemented a few changes to their file browsing system, made it possible to control more than ever before directly from the Ableton Push and made some huge revisions to the functionality of clip and session views.
Ben takes us through a new feature in the browser called Collections. Collections are color coded categories that allow you to store literally anything within an Ableton session to it, which could be extremely helpful if you produce multiple genres of music or simply want to start cultivating material for a new project. They've made it extremely easy to assign VST's, FX, Instruments, Samples, etc to a collection by simply right clicking on it.
Another new exciting feature is what Ableton is calling Capture. Capture takes the old tale of "WHY WASN'T I RECORDING THAT?!" and turns it into- "NO BIGGIE!" If you're just jamming out on your Push or other midi controller and forgot to hit record, or just happened to unexpectedly bang something out that you really liked, you can now retain simply navigate to the Capture icon, click it and live will automatically capture that information into a new clip. Not only does is capture that information, but it will also detect the tempo, adjust the rest of the project to that temp, and analyze your playing to determine a start and stop time. No more counting down the metronome and hoping to nail a take under pressure!
Speaking of the metronome, Ableton has added a bunch of new sound options for your click, but more importantly- in Ableton Live 10 you can choose new rhythmic subdivisions, which is extremely helpful in you're working in a slower tempo or maybe you would like the click to play in triplets to encourage you to play differently.
Ableton has also introduced a new synthesizer in Live 10- Wavetable. As you would expect, Wavetable employs wavetable synthesis, which means that it essentially uses existing samples repeated in cycles or a "table" to generate tones. This type of synthesis is extremely versatile and Ableton has packaged it with a number of familiar subtractive and FM synthesis methods so that creating with Wavetable is an intuitive experience from the outset. Wavetable has also been designed to be accessible directly from Push and every single parameter can be edited from Push. You can even setup modulation matrix's and build patches from scratch, without ever touching your computer!
While we're on the subject of Push, Ableton has made some huge improvements to Push's step sequencer. Designers have combined their famous notes mode, with their step sequencer- which converts the top half of Push's pads into "steps" of the sequence you're working on, while the bottom half is converted to a key bed, just like a keyboard controller, but with all of the notes of scale or key you're working in, including their chords function. This function will trigger a desired type of chord with Push's pads and they will play solely in your desired key, making creating as intuitive as ever.
Ableton has also improved several different views in Push's OLED screen, for example- you can now see and fully edit notes within your sequence directly from Push. You can add devices, and audio effects directly from the hardware and you have improved visualizations for EQ Eight, Compressors and more with a full spectrum readout, making it much easier to dial your sound in.
In Ableton Live 10 you'll also find a creative new audio effect- Echo. Ableton already has a number of delays designed in, but Echo has been created with a new goal in mind- to create a warm and vintage sounding delay to capture a sort of "greatest hits" of legendary hardware tones. To touch on a few of it's unique features, Echo has it's own input drive function to create unique saturation, reverb and visualization for delay time and feedback. In Echo's character tab you'll find a host of unique parameters that emulate hardware defects such as wobble, noise and morph effects, to really get creative.
Probably one of my favorite new Live 10 features is multi-clip midi editing. You can now select several clips and see and edit all of their midi notes in one clip at one time. If you're reading this far, I'm assuming that you've produced a track from start to finish in Ableton and I don't need to tell you how huge this is. You're going to save an enormous amounts of time that would be spent clicking in and out of clips by just selecting them all at once to make sure your drums are in time with your bass, snares are in tune, etc etc. Another nice addition to Live's editing abilities is a new automation shortcut- simply hit "A" and automation lanes will appear/disappear within your session. Automation can also now snap to your beat grid to make editing automation a bit faster an cleaner.
Overall we're extremely impressed with Ableton Live 10 and we definitely suggest you grab a copy or an upgrade!