Ableton’s announcement of the next generation of Push, Live 9.5 update, and introduction to the new Link technology has us excited. Dubspot’s SentZ takes us through some of the new features and improvements in Live 9.5, as well as introduces the new Push 2.
Today signaled a few significant changes to Ableton Live as the software updated to version 9.5. Although a lot of the news revolves around the announcement of Push 2, current Push owners, and Ableton users, in general, have a lot of benefits to look forward to in this new release. Let’s take a look at some of the big changes that don’t require a hardware upgrade.
As a former MPC user, the updates to Simpler and waveform based sampling are probably my favorite new additions to the software. Simpler’s interface has been fully updated, and now offers the option of a large detached screen similar to EQ Eight, perfect for trimming samples. Lot’s of flexibility has been added with regards to warping too. When working with samples one can choose to have them re-pitch, so the timing changes across the octaves of a keyboard, or you can take advantage of Live’s warping algorithms and adjust the pitch of the sample while retaining the time. You can also warp long samples to a specific amount of bars so that they sync properly with the timing of your music. This feature is great for breaks, percussion, and found-sounds.
Simpler now runs in three modes now as well: Classic, One Shot, and Slice. Classic mode has all of the features you’re used to, allowing you to play looped samples or simple playback with full control of volume envelopes. One Shot works in a similar fashion, but by default will play an entire sample from front to end regardless of how long you hit the key (assuming Trigger mode is enabled). The Envelope section is also replaced with simpler “Fade In” and “Fade Out” controls. This mode is great for drums and transient material.
Slice mode is the most expanded of the three, and will likely be well received by hip-hop and electronic producers who like to chop samples. If you’re familiar with the “Chop Shop” from the MPC, you’ll be pretty comfortable with Live’s new warping options that expand on the options quite a bit. When you enable Slice mode, Live will chop your sample up into multiple cells in a Drum Rack, placing automatic start markers on transients. The number of markers the Live chooses to create is based on the “Sensitivity” setting. Adjusting it will increase or decrease the number of slices, and you can then move the markers around to fine tune the start point each slice.
If you prefer to manually chop your slices, which is especially useful for long samples, you can also opt to clear all automatic slices, and double-click to add your own start points wherever you want. Every time you double-click on the sample, a new Drum Rack cell will be made containing that slice. In essence, you can drag an MP3 into simpler, double-click various “sample worthy” points on the mp3, and when your done, you’ll have a Drum Rack full of samples ready to chop. With 64 Drum Rack pads now available at a time on Push, you can have a lot of sample material at your fingertips. I should also mention that although it seems minor, being able drag the start time of a slice around while hitting a pad on your MIDI controller to audition the slice is a great workflow tweak. Anyone who has worked with a dedicated hardware sampler knows how much it clarifies the “feel” when picking perfect sample start points.
Analog Modeled Filters
Neatly incorporated in Simpler, Sampler, Operator, and Auto-Filter are new Analog-modeled filter types based on vintage hardware. Harmonic and colorful, these filters, designed in conjunction with Cytomic, take advantage of the vintage tones achieved through feedback and self-resonation, as well as give’s you way more control over the sound of your audio. Below are five filter types:
- Clean: The original filter used in EQ Eight
- OSR: A State Variable filter with hard clipping, similar to the OSCar filter
- MS2: Sallen Key Filter with soft clipping, similar to the MS-20 MK II
- PRD: Ladder Circuit filter without resonance limiting, great for formant tones
- SM2: Custom Hybrid that is a cross between the MS2 and PRD filters
Playing with the drive and resonance on some of these filters will get you some really interesting results. Take caution with raised resonance levels though, especially with the PRD filter. You don’t want to wreck your speakers or ears!
Peak vs. RMS: All VU’s now contain both Peak and RMS info. In extremely basic terms, Peak signals give you a good idea of the transient or peak levels of your audio, while RMS is a more accurate assessment of the overall volume. Being able to see both should prove extremely helpful when mixing, especially when compressing to try to get more overall power in a mix.
Color Coding: Every track in Live now gets assigned a color out of the gate. Clips will also, by default, retain their tracks color. This improvement should ensure that sessions stay organized without the required extra clicks you’d need to color code everything yourself.
New Sounds and Instruments
Live 9.5 introduces three new Max 4 Live Synths: Poli, Bass, and Multi. Multi was designed with Push’s tweak-ability in mind while Poli is mainly designed for strings and pad sounds. Bass sounds should be pretty straightforward. Also included are new Drum Kits, samples, and presets for you to use.
Third party VST and AU plugins can be directly loaded from Push now. A folder called Plugins now appears in the Push browser, with full access to hot-swap capabilities. When working with AU plugins, hot swapping also allows you to browse the plugins presets.
Sounds can now be previewed directly from the Push Browser as well. For example, with a Drum Rack loaded, you can click an empty pad, browse your collection of samples, and preview the audio of the samples as you scroll through the Browser menu on Push. This limitation was one of the biggest workflow issues that still required your mouse up until now. It’s great to see the new features of Live further encourage getting away from the screen.
Scale Mode changed the game when it was first introduced on Push. In essence, when enabling “In Key” mode, Push only displays notes that are in Key of whatever scale you choose. One issue that bothers a lot of producers is that the Scale info does not store into a Live Set, so once you close a session, you have to manually setup the Scale settings again. This limitation presented problems if you forgot to write it down in the first place, especially when working with more exotic and unfamiliar scales. The new update now ensures that Scale settings are saved directly into the Live Set, so that as soon as you reopen a session, Push is in key and ready to play.
Link is a technology that keeps devices in time over a wireless network, so you can forget the hassle of setting up and focus on playing music. Link will soon be available to Live users as a free update, and to the wider music-making community as a built-in feature of a growing number of iOS apps.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we begin to roll out more in depth tutorials on Live’s new features as well as Push 2 and the upcoming Link feature.
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