Berlin-based Ableton has announced a sizeable update to its Live DAW that is free for existing users. Originally best known for its DJ-style workflow and looping capabilities, Live has grown into a much more mature application though it still very much has its own way of doing things. The company has also updated its only hardware product to date – Push – to version 2 and is offering a trade-in deal for owners of version 1 of the units.
The software update brings the kind of stuff we’re used to seeing in “point five” releases, which is to say important features but not massive overhauls. The built-in generators get beefed up, with Simpler (the sampler) upgraded and more sounds, samples and beats thrown in. For synth-heads there are new analogue modeled filters and metering and waveform displays have been tweaked as well. There’s a new Max for Live Essentials: a bundle of audio effects, MIDI devices and controllers built as add-ons but that can be used in any project.
A more intriguing new feature is “Link”, which Ableton is releasing as part of Live 9.5 and also as a protocol for developers to build into their iOS apps. It looks pretty spectacular: connect your devices to the same wireless network and join the session, then play everything together in sync with no wires and virtually no setup. You can leave and rejoin a session without stopping the rest of the music and you’ll be able to link iOS apps without having any copies of Live running. Some of Korg’s apps, iMPC Pro and Elastic Drums are among the first to get compatibility.
This kind of thing has been tried before with technologies like WIST over Bluetooth but that never really took off. In theory it’s just a wireless MIDI session with one machine acting as the master and the other as nodes or slaves, but the fact that Link is the first system anyone has come up with that actually looks easy to use suggests that the mechanics of it are more tricky than they first appear.
You can read more about Live 9.5 and Push 2 here.
New users can get Live Intro for EUR79, Standard for EUR 349 and Suite for EUR 599.